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With the presentation of the Third generation of Amazon Kindle, the online retailer has all the reasons to celebrate: this ebook reader is not only better than everything has been built before in this category, but it is also ready to meet the mainstream masses. With the Amazon Kindle, Amazon solves all the negative aspects of earlier ebook reader generations, such as slow page turns, finger-unfriendly button designs and heavy weight. This doesn't mean there is no room for improvement, but this Kindle is the first I will certainly recommend to my friends. Value There are two versions of the third-generation Amazon Kindle. The Kindle Wi-Fi costs $139, while the Kindle that has both Wi-Fi and 3G and costs $189. The 3G-only Kindle 2 cost previously just as much. Please remember the third generation Kindle is not only a minor update, display improvement or a color refresh, just like we have seen in the case of Kindle DX (Graphite). It can be seen from a distance that there is a lot of work and attention in this ebook reader. This might show that the company thinks its hardware strategy to be very important, in complementing its software (the Kindle apps for Mac, Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, and PC) and e-bookstore strategies. One has to notice that the new Kindle comes in two colors: eye-pleasing graphite (just the same as the Kindle DX presented earlier this summer) and the usual Kindle white. Some might argue that dark ebook readers are easier to read, because they give a perception of better contrast. However, this is only an impression. Others might feel they can read the white one better. The display was enhanced, too. The Amazon Kindle now has a 6-inch E-Ink Pearl display just like the Kindle DX (Graphite). This display has 50 percent better contrast, which is quite noticeable in use. Just like on Kindle DX (Graphite), the text looks smoother, and the blacks are more solid. The Pearl display also has faster screen refresh rates, which improves user experience significantly (more on that later). Smaller The streamlined design of the Amazon Kindle made possible to shrink the reader by 21 percent. However is we look at the numbers, it doesn't seem that much is shaved off. The new model measures 7.5 by 4.8 by 0.34 inches, versus the 8 by 5.3 by 0.36 inches of the Kindle 2. However if you look at the two devices side-by-side, it is obvious that the third generation Amazon Kindle became significantly smaller. In order to get this smaller design, the manufacturer primarily trimmed the superfluous, wasted space around the edges, so the device is now dominated by its 6-inch screen. The functionality is not affected by this: there is still enough room around the edges for the fingers to rest comfortably while holding the device.
Lighter The design of Amazon Kindle is a pleasure to hold in hand. The user can read a couple of hours without feeling any pain or stiffness in his hands. This fact is even more interesting because the same thing cannot be said for the multipurpose Apple iPad: this device with its 1.5 pounds (25 ounces) weight is almost three times heavier than the Kindle (8, 7 ounces). This fact makes a really strong argument in favor of the Kindle. However, this review is not only about comparing the iPad to the third generation Amazon Kindle. The Kindle is a masterpiece in itself, and it is the first time I can say that it is a pleasure to hold a Kindle ebook reader in hand. I must also say that the Kindle is not the lightest ebook reader available on the market: there is an ebook reader that is nearly one ounce lighter, the Kobo eReader, which also has a 6-inch display. Then the Bookeen Cybook Opus, with a 5-inch display, is even lighter, with 5.3 ounces. At the same time, the Barnes & Noble's Nook (11.6 ounces for Nook Wi-Fi, 12.1 ounces for Nook Wi-Fi + 3G) is significantly heavier than the Amazon Kindle; and the new Kindle is 15 percent lighter than its 10.2-ounce predecessor. Better Design The new Kindle, with its lighter weight and more compact design, the third-generation Kindle also provides a more pleasing reading experience than the earlier models. Its curved back cover made from a subtle, rubberized material, also makes it easier to hold. Because of the more compact design, Amazon had to modernize and thoroughly redesign the keys and buttons. Near the screen now there are very simple forward and back buttons, mirrored in shape and size, and signaled by arrows instead of words. With this feature, the Kindle is suitable for both left- and right-handed users. The unit's buttons, when used, seem to be in very well-thought, convenient and ergonomic places. A drawback of the second-generation Kindle was that the page-forward and page-back buttons depressed inward, into the screen: as a result, when they were pressed, a noisy, mechanical sound was heard. The third generation Kindle now has buttons that depress away from the screen, and are much slimmer, like a rocker-style button that melds into the edge of the device. This solution is much better, as the fingers don't need to hover in a single place to turn the page. The hand can be moved and the page can still be turned with the heel of the palm, or even with the thumb: a rather unique experience. In addition to this, Amazon corrected the unfunctional, outwardly page-turn buttons of its first-generation Kindle that led to many accidental page turns. Navigation The navigation buttons were also completely redesigned. They were rearranged and clustered together, the page-forward and -back buttons have shrunk dramatically: to only one-quarter of an inch wide. At the bottom of the keyboard there is the Home button, ant the joystick-navigation cluster of the Kindle 2 was replaced with a very comfortable D-pad-like approach with a five-way navigation square, with an oval Menu button above it and a Back button beneath. When you use the Amazon Kindle, your fingers will find the new layout very convenient and finger-friendly. It is very easy to adapt to the new organization, which is way better than the joystick of the previous models. The buttons respond promptly, and the Amazon Kindle is kept up well.
There is a tighter keyboard layout, the key are a bit closer and the row of numbers is removed. So you will have to press the symbol button to get to the numbers, just like you do on a touchscreen phone keyboard. Because the keyboard buttons are rounded and they are closer together, it is much easier to type on this keyboard than that of the second-generation Kindle. The typing experience resembles very much the typing on a physical cell phone keyboard. Every Amazon Kindle button and port (the headphone jack, the micro-USB, power switch and volume rocker) is now situated along the bottom edge, in a neat row. The power switch was on the top, and on Kindle 3 it was moved down, which might seem a little bit unexpected and awkward, but the other buttons are very comfortable. And there is a cute thing: when you slide the switch or plug the device into the power, the healthy battery life is shown by a green light. When the battery needs to be charged, it glows in amber. Technology The Amazon Kindle, unlike its predecessors, just breezes thorough the pages. Even very impatient persons can be happy with the way the new Kindle turns the pages. And there is virtually no lag in scrolling through the menu options. The page turns are 20 percent faster, according to Amazon. The manufacturer says that the increased speed comes from the Amazon's proprietary waveform and controller technology (this technology is essentially a series of pulses that move white and black electronic ink particles to give the grey level that makes the final text or image), and the new display. When the page turns, there is still an annoying flicker, but because the speed is much increased, the flicker is rather acceptable. In my experience, the speed issue is very important. The second generation of Kindle was quite unresponsive and sluggish, but I must mention that the slowest ebook reader I ever saw was the Kobo eReader. There is only one place I noticed a lag: in a Kindle bookstore. However it is until today unclear to me whether the lag was due to the speed of the display's redraw, the bookstore's responsiveness or the integrity of the 3G connection. No matter the cause was, in this situation several times the book cover thumbnails lagged behind the page load of the rest of the content. The Experience The e-reading experience on the Amazon Kindle remained largely unchanged. However, even here Amazon added some cool new features. You can change line spacing from within menus (there are three options: small, medium and large), and you can also change the typeface too (the options are condensed, regular and sans serif). These options can be accessed from the font's button, now situated on the bottom row, between the space bar and the home button. Some other font options would be welcome, and the options could be presented in the sample text, much like the font-size options are presented. Despite this, it is good to see Amazon add the option to change fonts, because virtually all LCD-based ebook readers have this feature for some time. It would be also great if Amazon would take the opportunity to start to improve the speed and presentation of its bookstore. While shopping, it occurred to me that the page redraw speeds are slower than when I was elsewhere in the device. This might be caused by the Kindle bookstore's design or 3G connection. Just like Kindle DX (Graphite) and the second-generation Kindle with updated firmware, the third-
generation Kindle supports sharing passages via Twitter and Facebook. It also supports popular highlights and viewing collections: these are created from the data of what passages Kindle users are sharing. There is also a new WebKit-based Web browser in the new Kindle. This browser is still in an experimental stage, but it evolved from the second generation Kindle. The PDF viewer is also improved, but the manufacturer still has to come up with a solution for how to reflow PDFs so we can read them directly on the unit. (The closest approximation today requires you to email a PDF to your Kindle device.) More Memory The new Kindle increased its memory from 2GB to 4GB, which means that it can hold up to 3500 books (the second-generation Kindle only could store 1500). The manufacturer also claims that the Kindle can function up to one month with one single battery charge. Amazon says that it doesn't use any revolutionary battery technology for this: the performance could be obtained thorough software modifications. The 3G wireless is still delivered by AT&T with no charge. For those who want a lighted E-Ink screen, the case solution of Amazon can be a great choice. The case worked splendidly on a night-time plane ride, without the need of an overhead light. The leather case sold for $60 feels good in hand, and has an ingenious pull-out extendable light that curves around and illuminates the screen. It is a clever, but not perfect design: if you don't have any fingernails, the light might be difficult to pull out. Besides, the light spread proved to be uneven: more intense in the upper right quadrant than in the lower left. My Conclusion The third generation Amazon Kindle is ideal for those who want the advantages on a dedicated ebook reader. Its greatest advantages are long battery life and a paper-like screen that can be read in bright light. The new Kindle is worth its money because the mix of its price, features and performance. Its great build quality, along with the improved design, integrated store and crossplatform transportability make the third generation Amazon Kindle a leader in its segment. I have to say that this is the first ebook reader after a long time that left me wanting to read more. I will probably buy one myself.
Want to learn more about the new Amazon Kindle? For a FULL out the box and technical review visit our site at Kindle Reader Review for the complete low-down on the All-New Kindle.
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