UPDATE NOVEMBER 2011:
My review is now over a year old, as is the "Kindle Keyboard" as Amazon calls it now. There are newer models: the basic, cheapie Kindle and the Kindle Touch, and of course the Kindle Fire quasi-tablet.
Each of these models is an excellent choice. Whichever one is right for you just depends on your preferences.
The 3 e-ink Kindles are Kindle Keyboard (this one), Kindle Touch (the newest "flagship" model), and the basic Kindle. All 3 of them have EXACTLY THE SAME 6" DISPLAY, with the same sharp typeface and high contrast that reads like ink on paper with no eyestrain. The Kindle Keyboard is the oldest of these models, and I got one of the first ones when they came out in August 2010.
I still absolutely LOVE my Kindle Keyboard and use it almost every day. I have read dozens of books on it. I like the newer models, they have some neat features, but the experience of reading a book on them is no better or worse than on my 1-year-old Kindle Keyboard. Page turns are now smoother and faster on the newest Kindles, but the difference is not enough to make it worth the cost of upgrading, in my opinion.
The touch-screen interface of the Kindle Touch is pretty neat. But, unlike my iPad, I only use my Kindle to read books, and reading books is just as nice on any of the current Kindle models. I don't consider the touch screen a "must have" feature, and I'm normally obsessed with having the latest version of every tech product I own.
For that reason, I think the cheapest Kindle is an excellent choice. It has less memory than the Keyboard or Touch, but it has plenty enough for 100s of books, and of course you always get free storage in the Amazon cloud for any books that you don't need to have on your device at this moment, such as books you've already read. All your Kindle books are automatically stored in Amazon's cloud, whether they're on your device or not, and getting them back on your device is super-easy, regardless of which Kindle model you have.
If this will be your first e-reader, you can choose one of these Kindle models or the Barnes and Noble Nook Simple Touch. The Nook Simple Touch has the same 6" e-ink display as the 3 Kindle models, but different typefaces. I think the letters are a little sharper on the Kindles, but the Nook Simple Touch typefaces are also very readable, plus you get a few more choices of typefaces compared to the Kindle.
The "Nook First Edition" is still available at a steeply discounted price, but it is a poor performer by today's standards. (You wouldn't buy an "ipod first edition," except possibly as a collector's item, would you?)
Those are the e-ink Kindles and Nooks. Of course, you might be considering one of the quasi-tablets, Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet. Both are excellent, both have their strengths. Nook Tablet's main advantage is it has twice the internal memory as Kindle Fire - but B&N only lets you use a small fraction of it for third-party content, whereas you can use all of KF's available memory for 3rd party content. And, KF is more affordable.
In my opinion, the real deciding factor between a Kindle product and a Nook product is not any specific feature of the hardware or software - both product families are excellent. The real decision point is whether you prefer living in Amazon's universe or Barnes & Noble's. Content you buy from Amazon only works with Kindles, while content you buy from B&N only works with Nooks.
Both universes have their advantages, so it's a matter of personal preference. B&N's main advantage is you can take your device into your local B&N store and get real assistance from a human being. But Amazon has dedicated customer service lines for Kindle support and you can get a real human on the phone very quickly (in my experience), and they are very helpful. Plus, Kindles and Nooks are generally very easy to use, so you'll probably need very little tech support.
I'm already heavily invested into the Amazon universe, having purchased many dozens of Kindle books; plus, I have an Amazon prime membership, which to my family is very worth the cost (you get free streaming video of TV shows and movies plus unlimited free 2-day air shipping on most Amazon purchases). So if my Kindle were lost or stolen, I'd buy another Kindle product rather than a Nook product.
Whatever you buy, you'll probably be happy. The choices available now are quite good, and prices are better than ever. It's hard to believe that the basic Kindle at only 79 bucks performs better and costs 1/3 as much as the now two-year-old Kindle 2 (an older, slightly larger version of the Kindle Keyboard).
If you're considering the Kindle keyboard, you can read my original review of it below. (Sorry it's so long!) The "nook" it refers to is the "Nook first edition," which was fine in 2009 but is a poor choice by the standards of currently available Nook and Kindle models.
If you're trying to choose between a Nook and a Kindle, perhaps I can help. I and family members have owned a Nook (the original one), a Kindle 2, and a Kindle DX. When Amazon announced the Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard) in summer 2010, I pre-ordered two Kindle 3's: the wi-fi only model in graphite, and the wi-fi + 3G model in white. They arrived in late August and we have used them very regularly since then. For us, Kindle is better than Nook, but Nook is a good device with its own advantages that I will discuss below. I'll end this review with a few words about the Nook Color.
First, reasons why we prefer the Kindle:
In our experience, the Kindle is very zippy compared to the Nook. Page refresh speed (the time it takes a new page to appear after you push the page-turn button) was WAY quicker on Kindle 2 than on Nook, and it's quicker yet on Kindle 3. Yet, I read a whole book on the Nook and didn't find the slower page refresh to be annoying - you get used to it, and it's not a problem.
For me, the more important speed difference concerns navigation - moving the cursor around the screen, for example to pick a book from your library, or to jump to a chapter by selecting it in the table of contents. On Kindle, you do this by pushing a 5-way rocker button, and the cursor moves very quickly. On Nook, you do this by activating the color LCD touchscreen (which normally shuts off when not in use, to conserve battery). A "virtual rocker button" appears on the screen, and you touch it to move the cursor. Unfortunately, the Nook cursor moves very sluggishly. This might not be a big deal to you, but it really got annoying to me, especially since my wife's Kindle was so quick and responsive.
In November 2010, Nook got a software upgrade that increases page refresh speed and makes navigation more responsive. I returned my Nook months ago, so I cannot tell you if the Nook's performance is now equal to the Kindle's, but Nook owners in the comments section have convinced me that the software update improves the experience of using the Nook. If performance is a big factor in your decision, visit a Best Buy and compare Kindle and Nook side by side.
* Screen contrast
You've seen Amazon's claims that the Kindle 3 e-ink has 50% better contrast than Kindle 2 or other e-ink devices. I have no way of precisely measuring the improvement in contrast, but I can tell you that the Kindle 3 display definitely has more contrast than Kindle 2 or Nook. The difference is noticeable, and important: more screen contrast means less eyestrain when reading in poorly lit rooms.
In well-lit rooms, the Nook and Kindle 2 have enough contrast to allow for comfortable reading. But I often read in low-light conditions, like in bed at night, or in a poorly lit room. In these situations, reading on Nook or Kindle 2 was a bit uncomfortable and often gave me a mild headache. When I got the Kindle 3, the extra contrast was immediately noticeable, and made it more comfortable to read under less-than-ideal lighting conditions. (If you go with a Nook, just make sure you have a good reading lamp nearby.)
* Battery life
The Nook's color LCD touch screen drains its battery quickly - I could never get more than 5 days out of a charge. The Kindle 2 had longer battery life than the Nook, and Kindle 3 has even longer life: in the 3 months since we received our Kindle 3's, we typically get 3 weeks of battery life between charges. (We keep wireless off about half the time to save battery power.)
Nook weighs about 3 ounces more than the new Kindle, and you can really feel the difference. Without a case, Nook is still light enough to hold in one hand for long reading sessions without fatigue. But in a case, Nook is a heavy sucker. The new Kindle 3 is so light, even in a case, we find it comfortable holding in one hand for long reading sessions.
Reasons some people might prefer the Nook:
* In-store experience
If you need help with your nook, you can take it to any barnes and noble and get a real human to help. You can take your nook into the coffee shop section of your local B&N store and read any book for free for up to one hour per day. When you take your nook to B&N, some in-store special deals and the occasional free book pop up on your screen.
* User-replaceable battery
Rechargeable batteries eventually lose their ability to hold a charge. Nook's battery is user-replaceable and relatively inexpensive. To replace Kindle's battery, Amazon wants you to ship your Kindle to Amazon, and they will ship you back a DIFFERENT Kindle than the one you sent (it's the same model, for example if you send a white Kindle 3, you get a white Kindle 3 back, but you get a "refurbished" one, NOT the exact one you sent them). I don't like this at all.
However, several people have posted comments here that have eased my concerns. Someone looked up statistics on the Kindle's battery and did some simple calculations to show that it should last for 3 or more years. Before that happens, I will surely have upgraded to a newer Kindle model by then. Also, someone found some companies that sell Kindle batteries at reasonable cost and have how-to videos that demonstrate how we can replace the battery ourselves. Doing this would void the Kindle's warranty, but the battery will probably not fail until long after the warranty expires.
[update June 2011: The batteries in the Nook Color and Nook Simple Touch are not replaceable, but the battery in the original Nook is.]
Nook uses the ePub format, a widely used open format. Amazon uses a proprietary ebook format. Many libraries will "lend" ebooks in the ePub format, which works with nook but not kindle. However, a free and reputable program called Calibre allows you to translate ebooks from one format to another - it supports many formats, including ePub and Kindle. The only catch is that it doesn't work with copy-protected ebooks, so you can't, for example, buy a Kindle book (which is copy protected) and translate it to ePub so you can read it on a Nook.
* Nook's color LCD touchscreen
The original Nook has a small color LCD screen on the bottom for navigation. This could be a pro or con, depending on your preferences. It makes the Nook hipper and less drab than Kindle. Some people enjoy using the color LCD to view their library or navigate. I did, at first. But after two weeks of use, and comparisons with my wife's Kindle, I found the dedicated buttons of the Kindle easier and far quicker to use than the Nook's color touchscreen. I also found the bright light from the color screen distracting when I was trying to read a book or newspaper (though when not in use, it shuts off after a minute or so to conserve battery).
* expandable capacity
Nook comes with 2GB of internal memory. If you need more capacity, you can insert a microSD card to add up to 16GB more memory. Kindle comes with 4GB of internal memory - twice as much as Nook - but there's no way to expand that. Kindle doesn't accept memory cards of any type. If you mainly use your device to read ebooks and newspapers, this shouldn't be an issue. I have over 100 books on my Kindle, and I've used only a tiny fraction of the memory. Once Kindle's memory fills up, just delete books you don't need immediate access to; you can always restore them later, in seconds, for free.
A few other notes:
Kindle and Nook have other features, such as an MP3 player and a web browser, but I caution you to have low expectations for these features. The MP3 player on the Kindle is like the first-generation iPod shuffle - you can't see what song is playing, and you can't navigate to other songs on your device. I don't like the browser on either device; e-ink is just not a good technology for surfing the web; it's slower and clunkier than LCD screen technology, so even the browser on an Android phone or iPod touch is more enjoyable to use. However, some commenters have more favorable views of either device's browser, and you might, too.
* ebook lending
If you have a Nook or a Kindle, you can "lend" an ebook you purchased to someone else with the same device for up to two weeks. The Nook has always had this feature. The Kindle just got this feature as of December 2010. Most but not all purchased ebooks are lendable, due to publisher restrictions.
* PDF support
Kindle and Nook both handle PDF files, but in different ways. When you put a PDF file on your nook, nook converts it into an ebook-like file, then you can adjust the font size, and the text and pagination will adjust just like with any ebook. But you cannot see the original PDF file in the native format in which it was created. Kindle 3 and Kindle DX have native support for PDF files. You can see PDF files just as they would appear on your computer. You can also convert PDF files to an ebook-like format, and then Kindle handles them just the way the Nook handles them - text and pagination adjust when you change the font size. Unfortunately, some symbols, equations, and graphics get lost or mangled in the translation - even when viewing PDF files in their native format on the Kindle. Moreover, the small screen size of the Kindle 3 and the Nook is not great for PDF files, most of which are designed for a larger page size. You can zoom and pan, but this is cumbersome and tiresome. Thanks to commenters who suggested viewing PDF files in landscape mode on the Kindle (I don't know if you can do this on Nook); this way, you can see the entire top half of the page without panning, and then scroll down to the bottom half. This works a little better.
Nook and Kindle each offer their own advantages. We like the nook's user-replaceable battery, compatibility with ePub format, and in-store experience. But we strongly prefer Kindle 3 because its performance is zippier, its higher-contrast screen is easier to read, and it's smaller and lighter so it is more portable and more comfortable to hold in one hand for long reading sessions.
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.
I researched the purchase of a Kindle for a long time. I couldn't decide whether or not it was worth buying a dedicated e-reader. Boy am I glad I made this purchase. The downside to Amazon's online selling of Kindle 3 is that the customers don't get to see it in person. It is much better in person. This may sound stupid, but when I got my new Kindle, I thought there was a stuck-on overlay on the screen containing a diagram of the unit's buttons, etc. I actually tried to peel it off. Doh! The e-ink on this unit is THAT good. I didn't realize that I was staring at the actual display. I also didn't realize that no power is required until the display changes. (thus the great battery life) I do a lot of reading, but was facing the prospect of reading less or buying large type books because of my variable and deteriorating eyesight. The new Kindle has been a godsend. Now, I can decide the size of type I need depending on my level of fatigue among other things. The weight and ergonomics are very good. For someone, like me, with neuropathy in his hands, it is extremely easy to manage and enjoyable to own. To me, it is easier to read than print books. The ease of navigation is great as is the speed. The battery life, so far, has been extraordinary. It easily connected to our home Wi-Fi, which by design does not broadcast an SSID. It downloads books so fast that I almost thought they were not completely received. I did not buy the 3G version because of the price difference and the fact that there is no coverage where I live. If you are not constantly traveling, I don't see the need to spend the extra bucks, but that is a matter of personal choice. For those who have no Wi-Fi at home, remember that you can always download the material to your computer and transfer it via USB. Just today I was watching an interview with Tony Blair on TV. He was talking about his new book, which sounded interesting. I picked up the Kindle and downloaded a free sample before the interview was over. I have only read the preface so far, but will probably buy the book. Now THAT is a great way to buy a book! I haven't used online browsing extensively yet, but find it reasonable for what the device is. This is primarily a book reader, not a laptop or notebook. They are great for what they do, but can't match the e-ink display, or the light weight. For those of you worrying about the wait for the new Kindle, let me end with, "It is worth the wait" This new Kindle is all about the quality of experience. There are many format choices for electronic reading. If you want the best experience, go with the Kindle.
I just received my new Kindle, and my early impressions are very positive - it's definitely a solid step up from the previous generation Kindle. Check out my video review to see/hear more!
UPDATE 9/7/2010: Hey guys - based on the comments received there are definitely some questions that people are interested in that I didn't touch on in my video review - so I wanted to take some time to answer some of those questions here. Hopefully this is helpful!
Q: Is the Kindle 3 backlit? If not, then how do you see it at night?
A: The Kindle 3 is not backlit. For the Kindle 2 I used a leather case with a reading light clipped to it. For the Kindle 3 Amazon produced a leather case that has a built-in reading light. I've been using it since day 1 and I love it. I made a video review for that also if you want to check it out:
Q: How well does the new joystick control work?
A: The new Kindle replaces the old five-way navigation joystick with a center button surrounded by a thin 4-way directional control. After messing around with both of these approaches, I don't really have a strong personal preference one way or another - they both work fine for me.
If you have big hands then I can definitely see having a bit of trouble getting used to the new joystick. The directional control is very thin, and if you're going to have trouble with any button on the Kindle... that's definitely going to be the one.
Q: How is viewing PDFs on the Kindle 3? Are they easy to upload onto the Kindle?
A: Uploading PDFs to the Kindle is very easy. You just connect your Kindle to your computer via USB cable and then drag and drop the PDFs. Totally simple. Viewing them is pretty decent, but the major problem is that most PDFs aren't designed for a 6 inch screen. You might have to do a lot of zooming and panning to see the content you want. If you plan on viewing a ton of PDFs, then you may want to check out the Kindle DX Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G, 9.7" Display, Graphite, 3G Works Globally ' Latest Generation .
Q: How well does the text-to-speech work?
A: It's ok. You definitely won't mistake it for a professionally produced audiobook, but it doesn't sound as bad as you may think it will. Also note that text-to-speech is not available for every book. You can see on the product page for each Kindle book if text-to-speech is enabled or not.
It's no longer necessary to write about how desirable the Kindle is (or, for that matter, e-readers generally). Books and text and reading are with us to stay; only paper is becoming unnecessary. What we can discuss is how well a device performs its intended task(s), and how it compares to its competition on an absolute basis and for the price.
My wife and I share a last gen 6" Kindle and just received a new 6" display K3. I know, Amazon doesn't call it that, but how else can users refer to it? In twenty words or less, it is an improvement over an already excellent product. Smaller, but not too small to be held comfortably. Same size display, but sharper and crisper, better contrast. Easy to use, somewhat smaller keyboard that takes a little, but very little, getting used to. It took me a few hours to stop accidentally pressing some neighboring keys, but now using the keyboard is second nature. And the page turning buttons are silent, but have sufficient tactile feedback, excellent feel.
I found it very easy to duplicate our library from our older Kindle to our new K3, and to activate our home wifi. I don't like to say I "transferred" our books because that could be understood to mean they were taken from our old Kindle to our new one. I say "duplicate" because they reside on both Kindles. The instruction manual is detailed and somewhat lengthy, but very understandable. (It's 200 pages, but don't let that scare you; it's easy to find the parts you need, and you will never need more than a few pages at one time.) The manual is published on the device, as in the past, and can also be downloaded to your computer as a pdf file so you can read the instructions from your computer as you apply them to the K3.
If you have wifi at home, which we do, when you are in range of a wifi that you have activated in your K3, it automatically uses that wifi, instead of connecting to the 3G AT&T network, assuming, of course, you have a 3G+wifi K3. It works faster on my home wifi than on the 3G network, so much so that if I had really thought it through before I bought it, or if I were to buy another, I would probably go wifi only and save $50. The only reasons to get the 3G+wifi model would seem to be if you don't have reliable access to wifi or if you travel a good deal to places that don't have a lot of wifi access, but do have AT&T connectivity AND you have need to download books or periodicals on a regular basis or without delay while you are away from home or office. If you can plan ahead and stock up on a few good books, and you have reliable access to wifi, such as at home/office, McDonalds or Starbucks, I suggest you think twice about whether you want the 3G+wifi K3, or the wifi only.
Each K3 has its own email address and you can send documents to it, including Word and pdf docs, and photos. Of course, the photos are B&W, but very detailed and clear. The K3 permits surfing the web, although I haven't used it much for that purpose and, other than saying it works, I hesitate to pass judgment on how well I think someone who uses it for web browsing would like it.
I can't compare it to other dedicated e-readers because I haven't used them. People seem to be interested in how I think it compares to the iPad, which I don't own but have "played with" somewhat extensively at the Apple Store. My assessment is that there is no comparison. The iPad will do much more, but as an e-reader I think the K3 is superior. I don't need color for reading text, the K3 is a fraction of the cost, and its smaller size makes it much more convenient to tote around. However, what kills the iPad as an e-reader, as far as I am concerned, is its weight. I suspect most of us are the same in this regard, but I tend to read for an hour or two at a stretch. A pound and a half doesn't sound too heavy, but I held an iPad for five minutes, literally, and my hands ached. It is simply too heavy to use as a book reading device, while the K3 is light as a feather. For reading, a cheaper and significantly lighter K3 as a dedicated e-reader is, IMHO, the way to go (compared to an iPad). BTW, a recent (in Aug. 2010) report from Taiwan said Apple in making a 6" iPod, which, depending on size and weight, could change the equation. It will be interesting to see how the e-reader market develops. I said I can't compare the K3 to other competitors, and I won't, but I can say I am completely satisfied with Amazon as an e-book seller. I've only had a few occasions to need support (on my old Kindle), but that has also been entirely satisfactory.
Bottom line: my wife and I both like the K3 very much and recommend it to anyone considering buying an e-reader. I don't think you will regret buying one, with or without the free 3G.
When I first unboxed the new K3, I was slightly disappointed. The new 5-way appeared to be harder to used than the little joystick of the K2. I have to say, though, two days later, I'm liking it much better. Since I'm getting used to it so quickly, I think in another day I won't know the difference.
The size is absolutely perfect. In the Amazon cover, it is exactly like reading from a paperback book. It's noticeably lighter and easier to hold for reading, even with arthritis in my hands. The page turn buttons are wonderful. Almost no noise, and you don't have to push them as hard. It should make it much easier for those with weak or disabled hands. I also like have next page and previous buttons on both sides. I didn't think it would make a difference to me, but it really does.
I tried a couple of times to connect the WiFi, but didn't get it to work. Today I had more time so I thought I'd try to puzzle through it. But when I navigated to the wireless menu, it had somehow figured out how to connect on its own. The browser is MUCH faster, and it made buying a book a breeze.
I haven't had it long enough to comment on the extended battery life. But I was honestly fine with the more than 10 days I always got with K2.
And the FONTS! My word what a difference! I can practically read in the dark! I've been able to reduce the font size from 4 to 2. Combine sharper contrast with better fonts and it's an unbeatable combo.
The ONLY thing I would change if I could is to move the Menu button, and especially the Back button. I'm having a little trouble navigating with the down arrow because I hit Back. But I'm starting to get the hang of it.
All in all, I think Amazon hit it out of the park with the K3!
In my previous Kindle (2nd generation) review, I called it the cheddar cheese on my omelet and the whipped cream on top of my frappuccino. Can't beat that - or can you? Hmmm... my favorite cold frappe is the caramel kind. If you are very lucky, the barista will drizzle a little extra caramel on top of the whipped cream. Yeah, the 3rd generation is kind of like that caramel. When you see it, you cannot believe your luck and you cannot decide if you should dive right in or take your time and savor it... Amazon has outdone themselves with the new generation. Wow. Wow. Wow. I opted for the wifi only version because I'm rarely without a hotspot and I don't need to use the browser on the go or download a book in a moving car or anything :)
I think you can read the description for yourself so I'll concentrate on the differences. But, overall, reading on a Kindle is like nothing you imagine it will be. I always said that I would never get one. I wanted to keep my paper books and couldn't believe someone would want to read on that computer thing. Now I'm one of the biggest "enablers" of the Kindle. This thing gave my mother back the ability to read all books again (her eyesight is not what it used to be and you can adjust the font from tiny to very large - this is also great for me when I read in bed. I don't have to wear my glasses!). It also allowed me to clean up some of the stuff in my house. I used to hoard books. I still do, but they all fit in one little bitty Kindle now and not on the shelf, under the bed, in drawers, etc etc. But again... the differences, as I see 'em....
Changes from the K2 to the K3 include:
1. Compared with the K2, it feel so tiny and light. The difference is actually small, but it feels so small and light in the hand that I had to lay them side by side to satisfy myself that I didn't get some super secret new tiny Kindle. Hey, it's possible that good old Jeff Bezos wanted me to have the K4 here folks!
2. The next thing I noticed is that I couldn't figure out how to turn the darn thing on. They moved the slider to the bottom. Okay, not loving that, it feels more awkward, but I'm going with the assumption that I won't notice after a few days. Also at the bottom, the charger light is brighter, small change.
3. I thought the text was super crisp on my previous Kindle. Nay. Wow. This is SO MUCH darker. I'm actually shocked at the difference, it's really very significant. I was hemming and hawing over upgrading but this alone makes it work the price of the upgrade. I'd seen photos online, but you simply cannot understand until you see it. It's a huge difference. Did I mention you can choose between 3 fonts? Yeah baby!
4. Gone is the HOME button the right side of the Kindle. FINALLY. I cannot tell you how many times, after 18 months of use, I STILL wanted to use that button to go to the previous page. Bye-bye to my button nemesis! WooHoooooo!! It is replaced with slimmer Next and Previous buttons that are just arrows. I'm still getting used to this as I'm used to pushing slightly inward to change the page, but after several pages, I adapted pretty well.
5. Gone is the joystick. I should say that I didn't hate the joystick. I always thought it was fine. A little finicky, but just fine. What they have given us now is a little four way pad with the select in the middle. I thought this would be a little difficult to navigate, but nope, I have yet to have it go where I didn't want it to go. Fabulous! Along with that the Menu, Back and Home keys are now arranged around the little pad. All very well laid out. It is bit of an adjustment, but just taking the time to get my books settled back in was enough for me to get used to it and I don't even notice it.
6. The keyboard thingy... there has been a little bit of tension in the kindle community about this. Some people are pretty peeved that the number keys are gone. Me? I don't care, you just press the SYM key now to get to them. I don't use the keyboard very often and the numbers even less often so perhaps that's why I don't care. It also leaves a little space between the screen and the keyboard for me to put a little label about what to do if it's lost, but that's my own reasons. I don't see anything wrong with them being gone myself. BUT the keys are GREAT. Pressing them is much easier than on the K2. Oh, you aren't going to be typing 50 words per minute (or even 20) but it's a much more pleasurable experience.
7. The back is ... a little more "grippy" now - not like rubberized or anything, but it's not slick. Gone is the shiny back. I almost missed this because I always read my kindle in a cover/case so I don't really have an opinion. I guess it's good if you read your Kindle naked (which makes me quite... uncomfortable)
Overall this is a GREAT upgrade. I knew I'd like it, but I honestly didn't think I'd be THIS impressed by it. Seriously, get one. So worth it!
NOTE: Amazon limits the video size and duration, so I targeted what I thought were some key points.
I check comments, so leave one if you have any questions not covered in the video or below and I'll try and answer.
First off I love this device!!
Like ipods are the king of MP3 players, this is the king of ebook readers in my opinion.
I've been looking at this thing for at least 7+ hrs today and my eyes don't feel tired at all.
If you want. . .
* a low cost eBook reader
* that allows you to read books
* looks great
* easy to setup
* easy to hold/carry
* easy on the eyes (no getting tired eyes from a glaring screen)
. . . then look no further than this product!
**Adding updates as I find other feature behaviors**
- The comic I converted to PDF when emailed to my kindle email address the conversion process didn't like it too much. Better to not use the conversion process for those types of PDFs. Other PDF's converted just fine.
- Emailing PDF = the conversion process seems to cut off the cover page each time
- Emailing and having amazon convert is fast. I like it!
- You can plug the kindle into the USB, then "eject" it from the OS. This allows you to continue to charge the kindle and read it at the same time. You could also just plug it into an electrical socket and read from it too.
- If you stop/pause your MP3 music it will start all the way back at track #1. This is not an MP3 player. It also plays the most recently added track first
- 10 minutes it goes into sleep mode, but if you leave Wi-fi on = drains your battery quicker. Better to turn Wi-fi off when not using it
- Buy a case to protect it and get yourself a light for times when you don't have enough light to read by. This is not a cell-phone screen, meaning you can't read it in the dark. The screen very much simulates paper in this case.
- Manual even states...you cannot connect the Wi-fi to a corporate wi-fi. Most companies require VPN of some sort, which is not supported here.
- Loaded a 25Mb PDF and when when trying to search I get the following error message, ""your search can not be completed as this item has not been indexed. Please try again later." Found forum posts that said give the Kindle at least 10 minutes to complete indexing the file. . .longer if file if big. Sure enough, about 30 minutes later I tried again and was able to search this large PDF.
- Just got back from Starbucks
* Turned wi-fi on
* Menu > Settings > Wifi Settings and selected the attwifi network option
* Home > Menu > Experimental > Launch browser
* zoom in on the terms & agreement checkbox and use the spacebar to check the box
* click continue button and you are on the internet at the coffee shop!!
- A week later, I haven't charged the unit nor shut it down, I've only put it into sleep mode. Battery indicator is still more than 80% full. Nice!
- Someone pointed me towards "Calibre" a free conversion utility. Totally supports the Kindle 3 and converts to PDF, ePub, Mobi, etc. Works great and you can have the program send the converted document directly to your device via USB or email. The program also acts as your own "backup" by creating a document library on your hard drive that can be sorted, metadata updated, etc. It's very cool!
- I kept getting unconverted PDFs (PDFs copied directly to unit via USB vs. sending to email for conversion) would result in the unit restarting when trying to access the PDF. Found forums that said you need to reset the unit. Slide & hold the power button for 15 seconds. Let it take the 20 seconds to reboot. This worked for me.
Comments discussion & answers on the following:
- Annotating PDFs, then accessing these notes for later review on a laptop/desktop
- Is there an auto-scrolling for PDFs? = No
- What its like to have the kindle "read" back to you? = robotic voice that ignores punctuation
- More info on document conversion, including sending emails to the kindle for conversion?
- The ability to access Gmail from the kindle? = yes, works fine though a bit slow on wi-fi
- Check out the comments for my answer to, "Should I buy 3G or is wifi good enough?" = need to buy a book on the run, then get 3G. If you can wait till you get home or a coffee shop, then wi-fi works fine.
Comments discussion & answers on the following:
- Exactly how does an Audible audio book work with the Kindle?
- Possible causes for why MP3 music is not recognized by the device?
Comments discussion & answers on the following:
- Can you play Audible audio books while at the same time reading along? = for all intents and purposes, no
- How easy is it to register a new/used K3 to a different owner? = easy as pie
Comments discussion & answers on the following:
- Can you change out the battery yourself? = no
- Can you share your documents with other kindle users? = legally only if both devices are under the same user account
Comments discussion & answers on the following:
- Can a color document show up as color on the kindle? = No, doc will be converted to greyscale
- Able to support textbooks? = Yes, if in a supported document type
- Should I pay the extra $50 for 3G in order to more easily access websites? = Up to you...many sites have mobile versions that load great on wi-fi. NOTE: still doesn't support sites that use Java
- Will I have 3G coverage in my rural area? = Amazon gives a disclaimer in their FAQ that 3G connection is not guaranteed in some areas
- Should I get the K3 for my 10 year old? = I personally feel this is a great device for any age reader. . .and gives the parent control/visibility to what is being read
Comments discussion & answers on the following:
- Can I read ebooks from my local library? Depends. My library system has you download an ePub format book to a computer, ereader device or mobile phone. So for me, yes! I can download and convert to Kindle friendly format
- Is it easy to get started with the Kindle? Yes. The device comes pre-charged and pre-loaded with the User Manual which is clear and easy to read.
- Can you get books in foreign countries? As long as you can get a wifi or 3G connection to amazon's web site, then yes!
Comments discussion & answers on the following:
- Can I lend ebooks to others for use with their eReader (Kindle or not)? No, not purchased, legal copies. Plus Kindle uses a file format (azw) that isn't supported by other brand readers
- Can I convert downloaded ebooks to a format that I can share with others? No. DRM prevents the conversion and even Calibre refuses to convert if the document is DRM enabled.
- Can I change the images of the screensaver? No. Kindle Support says there are no "supported" methods by which to change this.
*** UPDATE ***
I will lead with the update; see below for the original, detailed review that generated the issue in the first place!
It has been about a year since I went through my ordeal with the Kindle Gen 3. My problem (again as described below) is resolved, and I have put the rating back up from 1-star to 5-stars, which is what the Kindle deserves!!! But I want to leave this legacy in case anyone after me runs into the same problem. Perhaps it will help you...
So (if you read the detailed story below)...what did I end up doing with (buggy/sleepy) Kindle Gen 3, replacement #3? I kept it! I gave the Gen 2 I bought off eBay to my daughter, who - even a year later - could not be happier. And I kept the (seemingly faulty) Gen 3 for myself as a potential replacement for my original Gen 1. And the problem HAS been resolved! :) How? I am not 100% sure, but it is one of two things:
1. I read a report some months ago that the inexplicable "Rip Van Winkle - I will not wake up" issue in Gen 3's was being caused by a short created when you use one of the Amazon-made cases with the metal, locking tabs that insert into the Kindle along its left side. Honestly, I found this a bit hard to believe, but I figured it worth a shot (as I wanted a better case anyway). So I got one that does not use those pins, and instead uses the elastic bands to hold the Kindle inside. BINGO! Coincidence? Pure luck? Who knows. But I *can* say that this Kindle - which was failing at least once a day - has not failed since I put it inside the new case!
2. It is certainly possible in the intervening time that Amazon uncovered a software flaw (my original assumption for the cause of this issue) and released an update. I honestly did not notice if an update arrived, and the sleepy problem disappeared at that time.
So, if you are faced with a sleepy Gen3, I suggest you try: (1) installing the very latest software update, and (2) if that fails to resolve it, get a case without those metal pins that attach to the Kindle itself.
Good luck and happy reading!!!
------------ ORIGINAL REVIEW --------------
Let me start off my saying two things to be very clear:
1. I LOVE Kindle in general! We now have 3 of them in our family (nice for sharing books, which IS allowed if you are all on the same account, as we are). I bought Gen 1 for myself a long time ago, and it still works beautifully! I bought Gen 2 for my wife (who resisted for a long time), and she LOVES it. Finally, I bought Gen 3 (the newest) about 2 months ago for my daughter on her birthday....and this is where problems began.
So to be crystal clear: my review and the 1-star rating is ONLY for the newest (Gen 3) Kindle! Kindle as a concept and in general is 5-star in my book. But not this Gen 3!
2. Amazon customer service has been OUTSTANDING throughout the two month (and counting) ordeal. I definitely cannot fault them for what is happening, nor have I become upset with Amazon or the Kindle concept. They have been prompt, courteous, and helpful. They get a 5-star rating for service!
But...as you will soon see...the problem is STILL not resolved. Read on...
It is my belief that the Kindle Gen 3 (newest) has a significant design flaw, probably in the underlying software. Here again, let me be precise: The Kindle 3 ships with ver. 3.0.1 of the software. Very shortly after you first turn it on, you will get updated to ver. 3.0.2 which as of today is the highest "release" software out there. As a result of telephone troubleshooting, I have installed the very latest software (in beta) which is ver. 3.0.3. So this review applies to a Kindle Gen 3, with software 3.0.3 or older (the issue described below happened with all 3 software packages installed). I cannot speak for what happens if/when they resolve the fundamental issue I am seeing; which I suspect is in the software. I sure hope it happens soon, to remove the blemish from this otherwise outstanding product!
So what is wrong...?
Very simple: The unit will NOT come out of sleep state on a very regular basis. When you slide the power switch over to wake it up, it just sits there like Rip Van Winkle. No amount of sliding and waiting makes a bit of difference. The ONLY way to get control of the unit back is to do a full "reset" by holding the switch over for 15 seconds and forcing a reboot. Even then it takes 1-2 minutes to respond to this, and when it finally does awake, it goes through a full update/reset procedure that takes another 1-2 min. Oh, and when it is done, you have LOST all of your current locations in the books you are reading. Now, you can re-sync your placemarks from the server, but in my case I tend to leave the radio off (to preserve battery), and we share books at home, so syncing to the server produces very erratic results, and more time than not is useless. So then you have to crawl your way through your current book(s) again to find your place.
This happens at LEAST once per day; usually after an extended (a few hours; not days) sleep state.
So in a nutshell: the Kindle 3 (at least mine) does not wake consistently, and when it gets stuck (at least daily), it is a 5-minute process to get it back, plus hunt for your page again. This is, to say the least, VERY frustrating!
When this first happened, I phoned Amazon and got a very helpful tech support specialist. Together we walked through how to update the software to the beta version, in hopes that would eliminate the issue. It did not; the next day it was very sleepy once again.
I phoned Amazon again, and they immediately shipped me out a replacement for free, via overnight. And they sent me a free label to return the "defective" one. I was very pleased and hopeful.
Sadly, literally 1 day after registering the next Kindle 3, the EXACT same symptoms appeared. Exactly. I phoned, and we did the same software update. Nope, it failed again the next day. I phoned again, and they sent me a THIRD Kindle Gen 3 (free of course, and again overnight); plus the return shipping label. I think my UPS guy is wondering about now whether I am cornering the market on these things or something!
Well, you have guessed it by now...within 1 day the THIRD Kindle Gen 3 had also failed to wake-up, showing the identical symptoms. Yes, I phoned again, and we did the exact same software update...failed once again the next day. Sigh.
And that is where I am today: a Kindle Gen 3 that refuses to wake up properly, and the prospect of calling Amazon and having them offer to send me a FOURTH Kindle Gen 3. Oh my.
I believe electronics can have random issues and bugs, so I was not surprised with one failure. But THREE of them in a row??? No, the engineer in me (my profession) says this is more than just random bad luck; this is a serious design flaw. I have to assume some (even many) of them are working properly, or Amazon would have stopped shipping them by now; but I sure have not gotten a good one in three tries! So my guess is the design flaw is much more than a tiny fraction. The chances are just too remote, IMHO.
My one "ding" for customer service is I asked specifically all 3 times if there is a fundamental problem with Kindle 3, and I keep getting told: "No, this is very unusual". Well, for me 3 times in a row is more than unusual; it is a big problem. And I have since Googled the 'net on this issue, and now discover it is in fact quite widely reported in various user reviews.
What am I doing now?
I just bought a "refurbished/repackaged" Kindle *Gen 2* off eBay so at least my daughter would have a birthday present that works (and so far it does work beautifully!). And I am about to get on the phone again with Amazon to work out what we are going to do about this Gen 3 that is soundly sleeping right now in front of me.
To wrap up: I love Kindle, and I recommend it to anyone. BUT if you buy a Gen 3, I sure hope your luck is FAR better than mine, and you get one of the units that actually comes out of sleep state. And if it does not, know that you are not alone out there!
I'll begin this review with the important caveat that I've only had my K3 for a day, so it's possible in a week, it will explode, leaving scorch marks on my hands and tears in my eyes. That being said, apocalyptic scenarios aside, this thing is amazing!
The "feature" that will strike you first is how small it is, especially if you're a K2 user. The width is perfect for a "man's hands," being easily held between the thumb and middle finger. This isn't necessarily the most comfortable way, but it's a good sign of the size. Even my wife with "woman's hands" thinks it's far easier to hold than the K2 (not that the K2 was difficult, mind you). It HAS taken some time figuring out how best to hold it, since some of the K2 real estate is missing, but it's definitely nice to have something this small.
The weight is what'll hit you next. Or rather, it WON'T hit you. In fact, if you looked away, you might wonder if you were actually holding it. The K3 gives new definition to the word "featherweight," and is a delight to hold for longer reading sessions. The K2 is like a brick compared to this.
The screen and/or speed are the "last" of the first impressions. From a faster boot up to richer blacks to snappier page turning to faster highlighting, the K3 does not disappoint. Text is sharp and crisp, and the screen refresh when turning a page is EASILY "20% faster" (I'd say twice that). The new fonts are an added benefit.
After these three "first impressions," other things strike you at various intervals. The new 5-way navigation device is amazing! It's not as tactilely "present" as the K2, but defintely responsive and far less likely to break off. The "rubberized" back feels nicer than the K2 metal back and isn't slick or sticky, just the perfect amount of grip. The power button is larger and easier to slide (though it's on the bottom, which has resulted in a few "tummy sleeps") . The Keyboard is easier to "thumb-type" on. The graphite color only serves to further enhance the text. And there's a "Back" button at the left AND right!!!! PDF reading is much faster now, thought the 6" screen is still the limiting factor.
The absence of numbers is a bit of a drawback, and I'm disappointed that Amazon didn't at least stencil in the numbers above the letters.
Overall, I've VERY impressed by the K3. The loss of the row of number buttons is a bit of a miss, but they're far less important than the letters and the smaller size. (Sure, you can hold down ALT and press the buttons along the top for numbers, but it can get annoying when you're counting in to make sure you hit 6, not 7) Amazon really got it right this time, and at a price of $139, I can't see much reason NOT to spring for this one.
EDIT: One VERY important caveat on the Wi-Fi only version: it does NOT handle WPA Enterprise (as noted in Amazon's product description). For college students, this could be a deal-breaker. I'm lucky that my campus has an unsecured network, but if it didn't, I'd have no wi-fi options aside from home and the random Starbucks. I'm a bit frustrated by this (hopefully Amazon will address it with a future software update). WEP, WPA/WPA2 personal networks work fine.