I woke up to a nice surprise this morning: a new kindle as a gift. I have an iPad and a Kindle DX, but I guess someone heard my complaints of them being too heavy and difficult to do extended-reading on. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my iPad and DX, but this new generation of Kindle is perfect for reading outside and for long periods of time. The iPad gets completely washed out in sunlight and often irritates my eyes staring at it for more than a couple of hours. The DX was my go-to device for those extended/outdoor reading periods, but now I have a new friend for reading novels. Instead of a replacement, this one seems more like a companion to the other devices and is a different class. The iPad works great for web browsing, shopping, productivity, games, etc while the Kindle falls short in those areas. The Kindle works great for reading novels, where the iPad falls short. For those that love to do extended-reading of magazines, newspapers, research articles, etc, I find that the DX is the go-to device.
Without a doubt, the size and weight of the new kindle is the biggest draw for me. It’s smaller than the last edition by a significant margin. I’ve played around with the Kindle 2 and was impressed, but now looking at the size of the new Kindle, I’m blown away. It’s the absolute perfect size. Smaller would be unmanageable and larger wouldn’t feel nearly as good. This is a device that you can hold up, read, and just forget that it’s there. Compared to other e-readers I’ve tried, it’s much smaller and much lighter.
One of my biggest complaints about the previous generation Kindles and the DX is the speed. It sometimes takes a while after you push `next page’ for it to actually change. In addition, the web browsing feature was so slow and clunky that it is really unusable in my opinion. Two additions to the new Kindle have helped attenuate these issues. First, the pages do flip quicker (albeit, still slow in my opinion), and the addition of wifi has allowed faster connection for wireless activities (much better than only relying on 3G). I still can’t see myself using the Kindle as an internet browsing tool or really doing much online aside from purchasing reading material, but the faster connection at least opens up the possibility – something that would only frustrate me on previous editions.
The new Kindle also offers a better contrast than previous editions and it looks fantastic compared to every other e-reader I have seen. I have no trouble seeing the screen in dim light or in bright sunlight – it really opens up the ability to read almost anywhere you are. Of course, you’ll still need a separate light for extremely dark areas.
Another big addition to the Kindle 3 is that it offers double the storage compared to Kindle 2. I’ve never had a problem with the amount of storage since I can’t possibly see myself filling up that much space (I don’t put mp3′s on it), but perhaps in the future, if certain applications or media files are put on the kindle, it could have been a problem. The additional space in the new model is definitely a welcome addition, but bringing back the memory card slot that was included on Kindle 1 would have been an even more welcome addition in my opinion.
Among e-readers, I definitely recommend the Kindle 3 if not just because it has a better size/form-factor, contrast, battery life, and speed compared to every other e-reader I have tried. On top of that, you get the wonderful amazon buying experience and selection for all your literature and can keep your kindle library intact between whatever other device you want to download a Kindle application onto.
The question of whether you need a Kindle vs another type of device for reading becomes a little more tricky and really comes down to what you want to use it for.
Do you want a device to read novels on, perhaps read outside, and have something very light that you almost forget it’s there? Buy the Kindle.
Do you want something to lie in bed with for short periods of time while surfing the web? I might suggest going with the iPad, a different tablet, or a netbook.
Do you already have a Kindle 1 or 2? That’s a tough one…. I don’t think the new edition has enough `new’ to it to warrant the upgrade in my mind, but some might value the new size and wifi capabilities even more-so than I do. For me, the new Kindle was a welcome addition to my family of devices since I didn’t have anything anywhere near its form factor and convenience.
Should you get 3G + Wifi or just Wifi? I think this question can be answered simply by asking yourself if you travel a lot. Being able to buy books and access wireless content on the road is an indispensable option and well worth the extra money in my mind. Keeping the device mainly at home or near wifi hotspots really negates the need for 3G though.
Overall, I have to give the Kindle a 5 star rating because it does what it was designed to do very well, and in my opinion better than any of the competition. While the new features and capabilities aren’t game-changing and truly outstanding, it is smaller, more capable, and better than any other e-reader out there. If you want `one device to handle it all’, this isn’t the place to look, but If you want a fantastic device solely for reading books, this is what you want.
Review by C. Vincent