Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Amazon's third-gen kindle: the best e-reader yet.(Reviews &Rankings)(Product/service evaluation).

Kindle2 Unboxing, originally uploaded by legendarypoet.
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AMAZON HAS FINALLY created a dedicated e-reader that not only slays its current rivals but also seems ready to win over the masses. With the third-generation Kindle, Amazon addresses many of the transgressions of earlier iterations.

Better Readability

The new device comes in two versions: The Kindle Wi-Fi costs $139, while the Kindle (as Amazon calls it) has both Wi-Fi and 3G and costs $189. This is also the first smaller Kindle available in two colors: eye-pleasing graphite (the same shade as on the new Kindle DX that debuted earlier this summer) and standard white.

In my experience, a darker border enhances readability, giving the perception of better screen contrast. But the display itself has improved, too: The Kindle now has a 6-inch E-Ink Pearl screen, one of whose benefits is SO percent better contrast. The difference is striking: Blacks are more solid, and text looks smoother. Screen refresh rates are faster, too.

Comfortable to Use

The streamlined design has allowed the Kindle to shrink by 21 percent, says Amazon. The new model measures 7.5 by 4.8 by 0.34 inches. To achieve that, Amazon trimmed the superfluous space around the edges so that the device is dominated by its 6-inch screen. I still found enough room around the edges for my fingers to rest comfortably while holding the device. I also liked the subtly rubberized, curved back cover. In fact, I could hold the Kindle to read for a couple of hours and not feel as if I were encumbered. I can't say the same thing for the Apple iPad: At 1.5 pounds (25 Ounces), the iPad is nearly three times the weight of the new 8.7-ounce Kindle.

Although this Kindle is not the lightest e-reader around, it feels dramatically lighter than Barnes & Noble's Nook (which is 11.6 ounces for the Wi-Fi version and 12.1 ounces for the Wi-Fiand-3G model). And the new Kindle is 15 percent lighter than its predecessor (which weighed 10.2 ounces).

Amazon also reworked the keys and buttons, to great effect. Now flanking the screen are simple, slimmed-down forward and back buttons. In having these buttons on both sides, the Kindle accommodates left- and right-handed users alike. Overall I found the new layout finger-friendly and convenient. Navigation now involves a D-pad-like setup, with a Menu button above and a Back button beneath. This organization is easy to adapt to, and certainly light years better than older Kindles' rather stiff joystick.

The keyboard's layout is tighter, and its buttons are more rounded. I found it easier to type on than the prior Kindle's keyboard.

Fast Page Loading

Scrolling through menus has practically no lag, and page turns are zippy (20 percent faster, according to Amazon). Although page turns remain accompanied by an annoying flicker--LCDs still have the edge here--the boosted speed helps minimize the flicker to acceptable levels.

The one place I noticed a lag was in the Kindle bookstore; cover thumbnails routinely lagged behind the page load of the rest of the content. I couldn't tell, however, whether the lag was due to the 3G connection's integrity, the bookstore's responsiveness, or the display's redraw speed.

New Features

You can finally change typeface (to regular, condensed, or sans serif). Although I would like to see some other font options, as well as to see the names presented in sample text, I'm glad that Amazon added a change-fonts capability, since the Nook and almost all LCD-based e-readers have had it for some time.

This Kindle introduces a WebKit-based Web browser; it's still classified as experimental, but it provides better browsing than before. The PDF viewer is improved this go-round, too, but ultimately Amazon needs to figure out how to reflow PDFs so that users can read them directly on the unit. (The closest workaround today requires you to e-mail a PDF to your Kindle device.)

The internal memory has grown to 4GB, which Amazon says translates into 3500 books (up from 1500). Amazon claims that the Kindle has up to one month of battery life, as well. Lastly, 3G wireless continues to be delivered at no charge via AT&T.

For anyone who wants the advantages of a dedicated e-reader device--long battery life, a paper-like screen that you can read in bright light--the third-generation Kindle can't be beat.

**** 1/2 SUPERIOR

Kindle (third-generation)

Source Citation
Perenson, Melissa J. "Amazon's third-gen kindle: the best e-reader yet." PC World 28.11 (2010): 48. General OneFile. Web. 9 Nov. 2010.
Document URL

Gale Document Number:A240588176

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