Sometimes you just go with crowd. Kindle is the number one selling item on Amazon and has received more 5 star reviews than any other product sold on the site. It’s easy to see why. The third generation Amazon Kindle, released just a few weeks ago, refines CEO Jeff Bezos’ vision of an uncompromising e-Reader, and makes it even more affordable with the Wi-Fi model starting at only $139 (note: Amazon is sold out until mid-September, but you can pre-order now to secure a spot in line). In short, it’s a winner.
Fans of the Amazon Kindle are loyal and passionate. They excitedly talk about number of “locs” read (e-Reader parlance for number of pages), share passages they’ve highlighted from digital books, and, most importantly, appreciate the purity of the experience. Single purpose in mind, Kindle is all about reading. Those that love apps, surfing the web, social networking, and gaming, please click through to the Apple store for an (also excellent) iPad. But if what you want to do is read … and read some more, then the Amazon Kindle is the best choice out there today.
So how good is Kindle 3, and how’s the experience of transitioning from paper to digital?
We received a Wi-Fi ($139) model last month on August 27, and immediately put it to the test (More: Amazon Kindle series).
The simple, brown packaging was understated in a UPS sort of way. Open the box, and you’re greeted by the dark grey digital reader. A sticker on the screen tells me to plugin. So I do just that using the enclosed power adapter/USB cable.
Then I decide to remove the sticker. But I can’t find the edge to strip it off. Then, moments later after a brain hiccup: Ah Ha! Followed by a Matrix-like Whoa! That’s the screen! Yes, it’s that good. The message that I thought was printed on a sticker was in fact the Kindle display. I examined it closely. The text was crisp, completely absent of any flicker, and contrast ratio appeared excellent (it’s 50% better than previous models). Turns out e-ink looks a lot like … well, ink. Very impressive, and unlike anything I’d seen before. (More: Amazon Kindle 3: Unboxing, first impressions).
Kindle is perfectly readable in daylight. However, you will need external light when it gets dark.
In the hand, Kindle feels svelte and solid. It’s light (8.5 ounces) and can be easily held in one hand; at times it may feel like you’re holding half a paperbook. Of course, now you don’t need to worry about crimping the spine to straighten the pages.
I slid the small power switch at the bottom right edge and Kindle came to life. In short order I was reading the user guide on the device. Gadget guy that I am, the small physical user manual rested, neglected, next to an empty bottle of Artesa Chardonnay on our sideboard.
Configuring wireless was a breeze, as is the case with most consumer electronics these days. I clicked the “menu” button and chose settings. From there I selected our network and entered the password. A small Wi-Fi icon and signal bars indicated it was connected.
Typing on the small chiclet keyboard at the bottom can be a chore. Keys are spaced close together, especially the arrow pad which is adjacent to the “back” and “menu” buttons.
If you have big fingers expect to make several typos before you get the hang of pecking at the tiny keys. Still, recall we’re talking about reading here, not writing–the keyboard is adequate for entering short search phrases, and simple navigation.
Buying a digital book
Kindle Store is a fun place to visit, especially if you like choice. Take your pick: magazines, blogs, newspapers, and, of course, books–about 700,000 titles. A summary screen on Kindle gives you easy navigation options to peruse. You can also search. Recommendations at the bottom provide that warm fuzzy Amazon shopping experience we’ve all come to know and love (that’s what $24 billion of it looks like).
Books are typically priced at $7-10 each. Magazines $1-3 (weekly/monthly) . Newspapers $10-20 (daily). And don’t forget, there’s always that legacy library of free, pre-1923 books that features over 1.8 million titles including Pride & Prejudice.
Content is seamlessly delivered via “Whispernet” using Wi-Fi or Sprint’s 3G network.
My wife wanted to read the hottest title on the planet, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, on an upcoming trip. So I enter the first few words into Kindle, and press enter.