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.
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).
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.
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 amazon 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.
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.