The Kindle always reminded me of an over-sized Palm Pilot. So why would you buy a device that doesn’t have a colour screen? When it comes to reading novels, is colour required? Probably not. Is size, weight, battery life, price important? If so, a Kindle might not be a bad idea.
After using my iPad for awhile I got tired of it’s size and weight. It was also hard to read in direct sunlight. As great as the iPad is, there are some things about it that make me think twice about packing it on my trips. I was browsing around Bestbuy when I saw the Kindle 3. I remember reading about the Free 3G and WiFi. What caught my attention was the fact this “Special Offers” edition was $50 less at $139. Something that I can impulse buy. Basically, to save $50 I agreed to put up with some ads. When you’re in the home screen there are ads on the bottom of the screen and when you turn off the Kindle, an ad is flashed on the screen before turning off. It isn’t too intrusive. The ads never show up when you’re reading a book. And if it really bothers you, you can hack it to disable the ads. This really didn’t bother me so I think I might leave it alone.
The Kindle 3 has a 6″ screen. It’s an unlit E-Ink Pearl display. It’s not like an LCD display and only displays grey-scale, so no colour and also no backlight. For reading text it’s perfectly ideal. Also keep in mind there is no touch interface. It’s operated solely with buttons. In direct sunlight blasting at the E-Ink display, the Kindle3’s screen was very readable. Try that with an LED backlit LCD, and you’ll know why the Kindle wins. In complete darkness, the iPad wins obviously, but some find having a screen glaring back at you rather unpleasant to read for long periods of time. Since the Kindle doesn’t have a back-light, you’ll need some sort of light shining on it. Any book light will do. It would be no different if you were reading a real paperback book, you’d need some external light source. Who knows… maybe they’ll come out with some sort of “Indiglo”/electroluminescent screen to light up the Kindle in the future? But that would no doubt cut into it’s battery life.
To transfer files to your Kindle, just plug it in via the supplied micro-USB cable. It’ll show up as a device and just drag and drop. The Kindle will read books in TXT, PDF, .MOBI, and Amazon’s native formats. Just drop the PDFs or MOBI files in the document folder and it’ll show up on your Kindle. If you have books in EPUB, TXT, or other formats, I would advice converting them to .MOBI with a program called Calibre. You can then just drop them on your Kindle.
The neat thing about this Kindle is the Free 3G. Basically you don’t have to pay for internet access. Amazon made agreements with cell carriers around the globe to allow it’s Kindle devices to connect to the cellular network for free. Sure enough, upon turning on my Kindle, I had internet access via my local carrier, Rogers. No GSM SIM needed, no data plan, nothing. It just works. I was able to download books from the Amazon store. I was also able to launch the web browser and checkmy gmail and facebook. If you’re at home, you can have it connect via Wi-Fi and benefit from faster download speeds. The Free 3G service isn’t super fast, but I was able to download books in seconds. There are many other E-readers out there, like the Nook, Kobo, etc. But the Free 3G sealed the deal.
The battery claims to last about 2 months with wireless turned off. Even at 1 month, that’s a long time. I usually load my books and then shut off the wireless to conserve power. With wireless turned on, the battery drains a lot quicker.
If you want someone to read to you like when you’re a kid, there is text-to-speech mode. Just hit the Shift+SYM key and it’ll start reading out load to you. Maybe have it read to you before going to bed like in your youth.
For those new to the English language a very neat feature is the built-in dictionary. When you cursor to a word, the definition of the word will popup. I find it useful when reading books that very scientific vocabulary. It’s just nice to be able to do that.
If you want to listen to some tunes on the go, the Kindle can satisfy that. Just copy some mp3’s to the “music” folder on the Kindle. Hit Alt+spacebar on and it starts playing. Alt+F, advances to the next song. The built-in music player is rather simple so don’t expect shuffle other common features. The built-in speakers are surprising good. But the headphone jack is there for private listening.
A picture viewer might not be the first thing you want to use the Kindle 3 for. However, it’s capable if it fancies you. Just create a folder called “pictures” on your Kindle. Then create sub-folders for your images. ex. \pictures\Mexico-vacation.
If you’re a fan of japanese comics (aka manga), the Kindle 3 is great for this. It can read .CBZ files (which are basically images zipped), or folders with images. It does a really good job with manga because most of the time it’s black and white. For colour comics, nothing beats the iPad with Comic Zeal though.
The Kindle 3 is a great little device that you can use to read books. At first glance, it seems like technology from the past. When most devices today features colour screens, it can seem like taking a step back in time. However, when you think about what you’re using it for, a full featured tablet like an iPad seems excessive. It’s not designed to replace a tablet or laptop. For it’s size, weight, price, and battery life, it’s hard to beat. The screen is very easy on the eye. It’s like reading from book or newspaper. I can’t wait when e-readers in the future will have colour e-ink screens with Indiglo backlights. That’ll be awesome!
Amazon Kindle 3 (WiFi only)
Amazon Kindle 3 (3G+WiFI)
Amazon Kinde 3 (3G+WiFI w/Special Offers) *** best value!
Leather case (black)
Leather case (white)