The Kindle 3 Has Arrived!
Yesterday, much to my glee, the new Kindle 3 arrived. With the Kindle 3, comes the new option of getting the Wifi only version or a Wifi+3G version. As I do love my ability to buy books ANYWHERE (like when you are standing in line to board a plane), I bought the Wifi+3G version (in Graphite). In case it wasn’t already abundantly obvious, I’m very excited about this unit. I’ll admit, I’m a Kindle fanboy. After receiving and playing with it, I’m even more impressed. Unlike the Kindle DX, I know this one won’t be returned to Amazon. I’ve had more than enough time to get a good idea of how the Kindle 3 works, and how it compares to the Kindle 2, so I thought it was time to share.
The Screen – I never really thought of the screen on the Kindle 2 as “pale”, but looking at the K2 and K3 side by side, text on the K3 is much darker. Amazon says the screen contrast has been up’ed by 50%, and I’ve got no way to prove that – but it does look much nicer. They also made the screen flips faster. I’m not sure how much faster, maybe another 50% faster. Needless to say it is very fast and shouldn’t be problem unless you’re stabbing the page button as fast as you can.
Size and Weight – Amazon says the K3 is 21% smaller and 15% lighter than the K2. This is obvious right off the bat; as soon as you pick up the device you will feel the difference. At this point, the weight of the device only makes a difference for long reading sessions, but I know the K3 will be nicer to hold in the longer run. As for the size, if you take off the top bar and right bar of the K2, you’ve got the size of the K3. The one thing I will note, the K2 and K3 are exactly the same thickness, so nothing has changed there.
The Exterior – Everyone knows the Kindle 1 was not exactly a sleek device. The K2 definitely fixed that issue. The K3 improves yet again upon the sleekness. First off, they moved the speakers to the top (back) of the K3, so your hands aren’t covering it. Second, they moved the power button, headphone jack, and volume control to the bottom of the device. I do mean the absolute bottom, on the same line as the power charger (which is still Micro-USB, thankfully). Lastly, One very nice and unexpected change was the case itself. They made the entire unit one type of plastic (no more brushed metal back). This (what I am assuming is a new) material also has been given a slight rubbery feel. It isn’t so much that it feels like you are holding a tire, but just enough so the Kindle 3 doesn’t feel so slippery. Plus you can prop it up on a slippery surface (like a hard plastic palm rest of a keyboard) and it is much less likely to slide.
The Speakers – While the Text-to-Speech feature on the Kindle is nifty, I rarely use it. Generally, when I want to read, I want to actually read. That being said, I’ve been known to load up a few MP3s on my Kindle 2 so I can listen to some tunes as I read. Just for fun, I loaded up the same MP3 on the K2 and the K3 and I’ve got to say, the Kindle 3 sounds much better. The Kindle isn’t going to win any awards as an MP3 player, but the speakers do play a fairly good rendition of the music. They are much less prone to clipping on the high volumes, and possess a much more balanced tonal range. Heck, I can even feel the slightest hint of bass coming from the unit on the drum beats. Sure, it isn’t going to blow out any windows, but for an eBook reader, it is impressive.
The Page Buttons – So the Kindle 1 had HUGE buttons that were way to easy to accidentally press. In the refined Kindle 2, the buttons were much smaller, but still had a tendency for accidental activation. For me they were a problem after longer reading sessions where I ended up wanting to hold the K2 almost on top of the button because that was most comfortable for me. In the K3, the buttons are tiny. The K2’s buttons measure 1/2″ in width, the K3’s measure in at about 3/16’s of an inch (that’s less than half the size). Effectively, the K3’s buttons are just the edge of the unit. They’ve also changed up the layout a bit so Next Page and Previous Page are on both sides, while Home, Menu, Back, and the direction pad have been moved to keyboard.
The Keyboard – With the exception of the addition of the Menu, Home, and Back keys, the keyboard doesn’t look much different. They did remove all the numbers (they now appear after clicking the Symbols button) and the forward slash. With the shrinkage of the case, the keyboard also takes up less real estate. The keys themselves are the same size, but the space in between them is greatly reduced. I haven’t done much typing yet, but the keyboard seems to be much of the same. The new direction pad, on the other hand, is quite nice. It is smooth and integrated. Most importantly, the K3’s direction pad doesn’t stick out like the K2’s joystick.
The Reading Interface – Most of the Kindle 3’s interface is just like it is on the Kindle 2 (nothing major enough to worth noting), but they made a number of changes to the reading interface which are quite nice. First off, once you are into a book, the title bar (containing title, time, etc) disappears. If you press the menu button, it reappears to tell you the book title, time, wifi status, 3g status, and battery status. The only difference from the K2 is the fact that the K3 no longer shows you the amount of free space. Note: this is only when reading a book; when you are at the home screen, pressing Menu will still show you the free space. The second change was to get rid of the bottom “bar” of empty space that you had in the K2. In the K3, the location bar is now directly flush against the bottom of the screen. These two changes combine to give you 3-4 more lines of reading space out of the same screen (on the smaller font settings). The third change is the addition of new options in the font settings. In the Kindle 2 you could change only the font size and “Words per line”. In the Kindle 3 they have also added “Typeface” which gives you the options of “regular”, “condensed” and “sans serif”. You also have “Line Spacing” with the options of “small”, “medium”, and “large” which reduces the amount of vertical space between lines (the “large” option is the default, and the size the Kindle 2 used).
In conclusion: If you don’t already have a Kindle and have been thinking about it, go buy a Kindle 3.
As for whether it is worth the upgrade, to me it definitely is, heck I thought it was worth it when I first heard about them, which is why mine arrived yesterday (Editor’s note: Jon preordered THE moment he heard about it.).
The question you should be asking yourself is: Are there any items in this list that I really wish I had on my Kindle?