Text and photos by Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
We were big fans of Amazon’s Kindle 2 eReader when it was released in Canada two years ago. At that time, its free-3G wireless feature (which allowed users to search for and buy eBooks, magazines and newspapers instantaneously) was positively cutting edge.
The device’s slim profile, built-in keyboard and astounding battery life (thanks to the superb yet low-power E Ink display) made it the most compelling eBook reader and service at the time.
Since then we’ve seen a flurry of competition from Barnes & Noble (the Nook), Sony (Sony Reader), Kobo (Kobo Reader) and a few others. The result was an unprecedented price war for the readers themselves as well as increased interest in consumers. Amazon responded by innovating and downsizing some features and the result was the Kindle 3.
The Kindle 3 is a smaller, more portable and thoroughly improved device. It eschews 3G in favour of Wi-Fi, which in most cases is more than suitable for browsing the Amazon store and buying new things to read. The new Kindle is a more intimate device and now that it is slate grey in colour, it seems less toy like and more serious than its predecessor.
One can’t help but wonder at the foresight, care and attention that went into designing this device. The subtle yet coarse texture on the keyboard’s keys, the almost organic way it feels to the touch and the hyper-intuitive, utterly idiot-proof user interface that ties it all together defines a less-is more approach that just works.
Sure, its competition may be clad in metal enclosures, some may have touch-enabled screens while others run stymied versions of the Android OS for show rather than for substance but we feel the Kindle 3 beats them all.
We’ve had a succession of E-ink devices starting from the very first Sony Reader to the earlier Kindle and some of the newer devices and we’ve seen how the screen technology has evolved from a tentative and slow-refreshing experience to a faster, easier to read and even more economical one.
The Kindle 3 has been a blockbuster so far and it is the fastest selling eBook reader so far. New features in this version, aside from the smaller size and US$140 price Amazon lists the device’s new features
“Kindle is our #1 bestselling item for two years running. It’s also the most-wished-for, most-gifted, and has the most 5-star reviews of any product on Amazon. Now it's even better.
- · All-New, High-Contrast E Ink Screen – 50% better contrast
- · Read in Bright Sunlight – No glare
- · New and Improved Fonts – New crisper, darker fonts
- · New Sleek Design – 21% smaller body while keeping the same 6" size reading area
- · 17% Lighter
- · Battery Life of Up to One Month – A single charge lasts up to one month with wireless off
- · Double the Storage – Up to 3,500 books
- · Built-In Wi-Fi – Shop and download books in less than 60 seconds
- · 20% Faster Page Turns – Seamless reading
- · Enhanced PDF Reader – With dictionary lookup, notes, and highlights
- · New WebKit-Based Browser – Browse the web over Wi-Fi (experimental)”
We’ve had the device for just a couple of days and we are already finding ways and means to read more and use it. We also find that unlike the earlier Kindle, this smaller model travels a lot better. Waiting room at the doctor’s, afternoon subway or bus ride or even enjoying a cold beverage at the pub are all great Kindle occasions.
The additional “experimental” WebKit browser is usable if you don’t mind reading greyscale webpages, it works great for RSS feeds but isn’t optimal for images.
This third version of the Amazon Kindle is a top-shelf book reader in a fast maturing market. Its feature set, new size and screen plus the vast amount of content on the Amazon Kindle store solidify its place as the no.1 eBook reader device in North America.
Rating: 5 out of 5