The latest generation of Amazon’s e-reader, the Kindle 3, is available this month, but due to demand you won’t see yours ship until early September if you order today.
It wasn’t so long ago that I was a bit of a stickler for tradition, attaching some kind of romantic notion to holding onto and retaining outdated modes of digesting media. I mean, I’ve never been opposed to the computer, cell phones, HDTVs, or even MP3 players (they’re just another Walkman, right?). However, for the longest time I was opposed to purchasing digital music as I clung to my CD collection and even wished for the return of vinyl to prominence. (Hell, a big part of me still loves liner notes, having something tangible in my hands, and believes the compressed MP3 format deteriorates the recording.) And if I was stuck on CDs, there was no way on God’s green Earth that I was going to give up my spine-bound books. I’m not so naïve anymore and, as I’m sure I’ll still buy CD and vinyl copies of albums I love, I’ve embraced the newish way of consuming music and I’m fully aware that I’ll someday own an e-reader.
Thank God I woke up from that horrid nightmare to realize that clinging to the past is as foolish as it is stubborn.
Perhaps the e-reader I’ll own will come from Amazon, but it certainly won’t be this generation of the iPad. This fact is due to an e-reader’s e-ink as opposed to the iPads backlit computer screen.
Undressing the Amazon Kindle 3
While reducing the overall size, Amazon has maintained the 6-inch screen on the Kindle 3 and improved the contrast of the e-ink screen, making it 50% better than that of other e-readers. The reduced size has also reduced the weight, which comes in at just 8.7 ounces. What hasn’t been minimized, however, is the Kindle 3’s memory capacity, which has been doubled to 4GB (only 3GB is available for user content) and holds 3,500 books.
Speaking of books and content, there are 630,000 available books, audiobooks, periodicals, and blogs. Also, Kindle 3 owners will have access to over 1.8 million free books, all of which must have been published prior to 1923.
How much will you have to spend? The Wi-Fi-only Kindle 3 will run you $139, while the 3G and Wi-Fi version will cost $190. Arguments supporting the 3G variant include the ability to download books in 60 seconds and the fact that the 3G service is free. And, of the 630,000 books available, 510,000 of them cost $9.99 or less.
Amazon has improved the page turn speed and made the page turn buttons quieter. At the same time, you can also share passages you like over Twitter and Facebook. And, if you’re English literate, the Kindle 3 will read to you with its text-to-speech feature.
The battery life is as tough as nails, lasting up to a month with the Wi-Fi turned off and 10 days with it on.
Among many more features, some of the highlights include the ability to make bookmarks and annotations, use a built-in dictionary, have wireless access to Wikipedia, and Whispersync (which allows you to access your Kindle books on your iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, Android device, and BlackBerry).
Sure, the iPad might be a more robust device, but if you’re looking for a device that’s mastered its raison d'être, then the Kindle 3 might be for you.