The Amazon Kindle 3 was launched in September 2010 after a media frenzy following the unveiling of the ebook reader many months before.
The big question is, does the Amazon Kindle have what it takes to be the ebook reader of choice this year?
The Amazon Kindle 3 is available in two flavours:
Kindle WiFi: £109/$139
Kindle 3G: £149/$189
These price points are really attractive, and seriously undercuts the competition making the Kindle 3G and Wifi not only more affordable than its closest competitors, but it adds features such as free 3G connectivity available around the world.
The WIFI and 3G connectivity enables you to buy and download ebooks straight from your kindle, using a simple one click purchase process. The engineers at Amazon have really worked hard to make this a no brainer, and it means you don’t actually need to own a computer to use the Amazon Kindle. (at the time of writing only the Bebook neo has access to a bookstore from the ebook reader itself)
I found this to be really useful whilst waiting for my flight from Bangkok for example, where I had just finished a novel, and the airport book store was charging 200% more than list price for some English paperbacks!
In terms of technology, the Kindle 3 uses the latest Pearl high contrast E-Ink screen, which provides 16 shades of grey for a really comfortable reading experience (this is comparable to the screens used in the Sony PRS 350 and PRS650).
The 6 inch screen is crisp and clear, and is readable in most conditions including bright sunlight. This is one of the problems with the previous Sony PRS600 and the Apple Ipad, whereby their screens make it difficult to read in direct sunlight.
Another advantage of the new Pearl E-Ink screen is that text read from it will look as sharp as reading printed copy. A big gripe I have with reading books on my Apple Ipad for example, is that I get eye strain from reading from the backlit reflective screen. Thankfully this isn’t the case with my Kindle, which lets me read for hours, just like reading a real book.
In terms of aesthetics the Kindle 3 is really attractive, featuring a nice matte graphite exterior, a super thin design, and an elegant design. In my opinion the previous Kindle readers had too much of a retro look to them, and this latest reader is just perfect.
The Kindle 3 and the Sony PRS350/PRS 650 are my favourites in terms of product design, the Sony ebook readers get a slight edge because of their metal alloy frame which makes them feel really solid. But the Amazon Kindle also looks great, and always gets compliments on the tube or train.
Because it’s so light you can hold it for hours without getting tired, and keep it in your coat pocket without having any unsightly bulges!
The Kindle has a new Li-Polymer 1750mAh battery which gives you up to 1 month of reading time if you turn off the 3G/Wifi settings (10 days with 3G wireless on, 3 weeks with Wifi). In my tests I found that I can get around 2-3 weeks of “normal” usage with 3G on before having to charge it up.
Charging takes an hour or so, and you get a proper charger included with your Kindle (Other ebook readers like the Sony PRS series only provide a usb cable for charging).
Ebook Compatibility & The Kindle Store
In a way this is the Amazon Kindle’s Achiles heel, as the Kindle only supports Kindle (Azw) and non DRM Mobi/Pdf files natively. You can also send .txt, audible, .doc, html,and image files through your amazon email which loads them onto your device too.
What this means is that you will be restricted to buying ebooks from the Kindle store only (you won’t be able to use Waterstones, WHSmith, Diesel Ebooks, Kobo etc).
But on the flip side, you get access to one of the biggest ebook stores in the world, with some of the most competitive prices around.
I regularly check prices of ebooks across the main ebook stores and Amazon usually matches other prices or is 10-25% cheaper. Plus you can buy books straight from the device and be reading within minutes.
If you own an Iphone, or Ipad you can also install the Amazon Kindle reader app, and get access to all your purchased books too for free.
Features Unique To Kindle 3
The Amazon Kindle differentiates itself from the crowd mainly because of its free 3G connectivity, which enables you to buy books whilst travelling.
You also get text to speech built in, which makes your books sound like a cross between Stephen Hawking and an actual American lady/ or man. This is great for accessibility, especially until the library of audiobooks expands to cover all books available.
Amazon are also experimenting with new features, and you get access to a beta web browser too, which you can use to browse the web for free. In theory it’s a great idea, in practice it’s a slow and awkward process. But you can’t really complain with free web access can you?
The Amazon Kindle 3 is priced at £109/$139 for the Wifi version, and £149/$189 for the 3G version.
In comparison, the closest competitors in terms of features are the Sony PRS 650 available for £199/$229 and the BeBook Neo available for £229/$350.
The Kindle 3 is therefore great value, as you’re not only getting more features, but its around £50/ $40 cheaper than the competition.
We recommend getting the 3G version as it makes getting new ebooks really easy and convenient, especially for non technical users.
The Technical Bits
You can read about the technical specifications and compare the Kindle 3 to the leading ebook readers using our 6″ ebook reader comparison table here.
Amazon have a real winner on their hands this year with the Kindle 3 ebook readers. Not only are they priced very competitively, but they make purchasing and reading books easy, and convenient.
The 3G connectivity and direct access to one of the largest ebook, newspaper and magazine stores in the world means you are literally a few button presses away from nearly any book, wherever you are.
This range of ebook readers are ideal for non techie types too, as getting to grips with the device literally takes minutes and doesn’t require any computer. Just buy from amazon and the device will come pre-registered with your Amazon ID, ready for you to charge up and use.