If you have been waiting to justify the price for making the leap from paperback to e-ink – then the wait maybe over. Amazon’s third generation of the Kindle has just launched and not only is it more affordable than ever – it’s also damn adorable. The 3rd Generation Amazon Kindle form factor is smaller and slimmer than the previous Kindle models and now truly makes a great travel companion, whether you are relaxing on the beach or sitting in the subway.
Being a first time user of the Kindle I have to say I am quite smitten with it. Not only is it is easy to carry around with you, it’s also incredibly easy to read. Till now I had been reading books and magazines on the iPad but I could never really enjoy reading iBooks outside in the sun because the iPad’s display is almost unreadable in direct sunlight. However the Kindle Wi-Fi 3rd generation is a joy to read, whether it’s resting under the bright sun or in a dark room. The same goes for lounging. Where I used to cuddle up with the iPad, as sophisticated as the iPad is - it becomes unwieldy and too heavy for long reading periods. On the other hand, the new Kindle is super light in your hands and feels more along the line of a paperback book in terms of weight. The Kindle also has a new soft rubberized back which enables you to hold onto it with a more secure and comfortable grip than ever.
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In comparison to the Kindle 2′s basic design scheme, nothing has changed drastically. All the buttons are in the same places and the operation of the device is exactly the same, and even the screen is the same size at 6 inches. However this newer model is 21% smaller than previous models, 15% lighter than previous models, and extremely light at 8.5 ounces in comparison to the original 10.2 ounces of the Kindle 2 model. Also, one glaring difference is the lack of number keys on the keyboard which are now located under the symbol button. That said, the 3rd Generation Kindle’s keys are very easy to type on, however there is a slight lag during typing. The sliding power button has also been relocated to the bottom of the device and is no longer on the top left. On the bottom there is also the headphone jack and volume buttons. The only gripe I do have is the quality of the side buttons – they feel cheaply made and certain if you pressed hard enough, they almost feel as if they could break off.
The battery on the 3rd Generation Kindle is intended to last now from two weeks to four weeks, that is of course if you limit your wireless activity – which with a device like this I highly doubt it will be used for anything more than downloading books. The Kindle now comes with a WebKit browser that lets you search Google, Wikipedia, and the web, which are certainly nice built-in options – however the refresh and load rates can be a bit daunting when using this browser. Still, I give Amazon props for including it anyway in such a budget friendly model. The Kindle also now has support for reading PDF files – once again, this is a nice touch. In comparing it to the previous Kindle 2, the Kindle 3rd generation also has 4GB of built-in storage vs its prior 2GB capacity – that certainly provides plenty of room for hours and hours of reading. Downloading books over Wi-Fi on the Kindle took an average of a minute, but took my money very quickly! However download speeds can vary depending on how good your Wi-Fi connection is. Ather cool features include the fact that Kindle can playback MP3 and AAC files, it offers text to speech capabilities that not only applies to books but also to the menu system, it also has a dictionary look-up system, and offers notes for you to take advantage of the keyboard.
So being a virgin to this whole crazy world of the Amazon Kindle I have to say I may actually enjoy its delectable delights. Not only is the Kindle Wi-Fi 3rd generation super adorable and a great travel companion, the battery life is impressive, it offers more storage space than ever, and you’ll actually be able to read it comfortably in bright sunlight without the issue of glare – unless the sun is really just beaming over your head and directly into your eyes. Overall, the Kindle continues to be a great device for those who love to read and want to carry something around that is portable – affordable – and won’t make you cry if you lose it or drop it. I did find myself however at times touching the screen (force of habit) and maybe for future generations a touch screen surface will be included. The lack of color was also a bit disconcerting and so was the refresh issues when going from page to page of a book, as well as the lag between what is typed in versus what appears on the screen. But overall, the construction is solid for the price and minor improvements certainly add value. For those who were discouraged by the Kindle’s previous generations’ price tags, this new pricing makes it more enticing than ever to finally get an ebook reader. At the end of the day – this latest Kindle has gotten some decent upgrades, a great price point, and is the perfect standalone device for those who love books. The only thing that might want to hold you back is the fact that many color ebook readers are finally starting to pop up, and we’re sure that within 6 months, the market will be saturated with them. That said, the Kindle has years of experience to build on and continues to remain a quality product with a large library of books to purchase, blogs, newspapers, and magazines to read. The Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi 3rd Generation – Graphite (2010) retails for $139 and the Amazon Kindle Free 3G + Wi-Fi 6″ (2010) retails for $189.
The Good: New smaller and slimmer size. New higher contrast display is better than ever, makes books super easy to read in any environment. WebKit browser is a nice touch. Now with a 4GB internal memory. One word – PRICE!
The Bad: Interface is a bit sluggish and not very fluid. Side buttons feel a bit cheap. Memory is not expandable and battery is sealed in device.