Customer Reviews: Kindle Keyboard, Wi-Fi, 6" E Ink Display - includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon August 28, 2010

My review is now over a year old, as is the "Kindle Keyboard" as Amazon calls it now. There are newer models: the basic, cheapie Kindle and the Kindle Touch, and of course the Kindle Fire quasi-tablet.

Each of these models is an excellent choice. Whichever one is right for you just depends on your preferences.

The 3 e-ink Kindles are Kindle Keyboard (this one), Kindle Touch (the newest "flagship" model), and the basic Kindle. All 3 of them have EXACTLY THE SAME 6" DISPLAY, with the same sharp typeface and high contrast that reads like ink on paper with no eyestrain. The Kindle Keyboard is the oldest of these models, and I got one of the first ones when they came out in August 2010.

I still absolutely LOVE my Kindle Keyboard and use it almost every day. I have read dozens of books on it. I like the newer models, they have some neat features, but the experience of reading a book on them is no better or worse than on my 1-year-old Kindle Keyboard. Page turns are now smoother and faster on the newest Kindles, but the difference is not enough to make it worth the cost of upgrading, in my opinion.

The touch-screen interface of the Kindle Touch is pretty neat. But, unlike my iPad, I only use my Kindle to read books, and reading books is just as nice on any of the current Kindle models. I don't consider the touch screen a "must have" feature, and I'm normally obsessed with having the latest version of every tech product I own.

For that reason, I think the cheapest Kindle is an excellent choice. It has less memory than the Keyboard or Touch, but it has plenty enough for 100s of books, and of course you always get free storage in the Amazon cloud for any books that you don't need to have on your device at this moment, such as books you've already read. All your Kindle books are automatically stored in Amazon's cloud, whether they're on your device or not, and getting them back on your device is super-easy, regardless of which Kindle model you have.

If this will be your first e-reader, you can choose one of these Kindle models or the Barnes and Noble Nook Simple Touch. The Nook Simple Touch has the same 6" e-ink display as the 3 Kindle models, but different typefaces. I think the letters are a little sharper on the Kindles, but the Nook Simple Touch typefaces are also very readable, plus you get a few more choices of typefaces compared to the Kindle.

The "Nook First Edition" is still available at a steeply discounted price, but it is a poor performer by today's standards. (You wouldn't buy an "ipod first edition," except possibly as a collector's item, would you?)

Those are the e-ink Kindles and Nooks. Of course, you might be considering one of the quasi-tablets, Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet. Both are excellent, both have their strengths. Nook Tablet's main advantage is it has twice the internal memory as Kindle Fire - but B&N only lets you use a small fraction of it for third-party content, whereas you can use all of KF's available memory for 3rd party content. And, KF is more affordable.

In my opinion, the real deciding factor between a Kindle product and a Nook product is not any specific feature of the hardware or software - both product families are excellent. The real decision point is whether you prefer living in Amazon's universe or Barnes & Noble's. Content you buy from Amazon only works with Kindles, while content you buy from B&N only works with Nooks.

Both universes have their advantages, so it's a matter of personal preference. B&N's main advantage is you can take your device into your local B&N store and get real assistance from a human being. But Amazon has dedicated customer service lines for Kindle support and you can get a real human on the phone very quickly (in my experience), and they are very helpful. Plus, Kindles and Nooks are generally very easy to use, so you'll probably need very little tech support.

I'm already heavily invested into the Amazon universe, having purchased many dozens of Kindle books; plus, I have an Amazon prime membership, which to my family is very worth the cost (you get free streaming video of TV shows and movies plus unlimited free 2-day air shipping on most Amazon purchases). So if my Kindle were lost or stolen, I'd buy another Kindle product rather than a Nook product.

Whatever you buy, you'll probably be happy. The choices available now are quite good, and prices are better than ever. It's hard to believe that the basic Kindle at only 79 bucks performs better and costs 1/3 as much as the now two-year-old Kindle 2 (an older, slightly larger version of the Kindle Keyboard).

If you're considering the Kindle keyboard, you can read my original review of it below. (Sorry it's so long!) The "nook" it refers to is the "Nook first edition," which was fine in 2009 but is a poor choice by the standards of currently available Nook and Kindle models.


If you're trying to choose between a Nook and a Kindle, perhaps I can help. I and family members have owned a Nook (the original one), a Kindle 2, and a Kindle DX. When Amazon announced the Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard) in summer 2010, I pre-ordered two Kindle 3's: the wi-fi only model in graphite, and the wi-fi + 3G model in white. They arrived in late August and we have used them very regularly since then. For us, Kindle is better than Nook, but Nook is a good device with its own advantages that I will discuss below. I'll end this review with a few words about the Nook Color.

First, reasons why we prefer the Kindle:

* Speed

In our experience, the Kindle is very zippy compared to the Nook. Page refresh speed (the time it takes a new page to appear after you push the page-turn button) was WAY quicker on Kindle 2 than on Nook, and it's quicker yet on Kindle 3. Yet, I read a whole book on the Nook and didn't find the slower page refresh to be annoying - you get used to it, and it's not a problem.

For me, the more important speed difference concerns navigation - moving the cursor around the screen, for example to pick a book from your library, or to jump to a chapter by selecting it in the table of contents. On Kindle, you do this by pushing a 5-way rocker button, and the cursor moves very quickly. On Nook, you do this by activating the color LCD touchscreen (which normally shuts off when not in use, to conserve battery). A "virtual rocker button" appears on the screen, and you touch it to move the cursor. Unfortunately, the Nook cursor moves very sluggishly. This might not be a big deal to you, but it really got annoying to me, especially since my wife's Kindle was so quick and responsive.

In November 2010, Nook got a software upgrade that increases page refresh speed and makes navigation more responsive. I returned my Nook months ago, so I cannot tell you if the Nook's performance is now equal to the Kindle's, but Nook owners in the comments section have convinced me that the software update improves the experience of using the Nook. If performance is a big factor in your decision, visit a Best Buy and compare Kindle and Nook side by side.

* Screen contrast

You've seen Amazon's claims that the Kindle 3 e-ink has 50% better contrast than Kindle 2 or other e-ink devices. I have no way of precisely measuring the improvement in contrast, but I can tell you that the Kindle 3 display definitely has more contrast than Kindle 2 or Nook. The difference is noticeable, and important: more screen contrast means less eyestrain when reading in poorly lit rooms.

In well-lit rooms, the Nook and Kindle 2 have enough contrast to allow for comfortable reading. But I often read in low-light conditions, like in bed at night, or in a poorly lit room. In these situations, reading on Nook or Kindle 2 was a bit uncomfortable and often gave me a mild headache. When I got the Kindle 3, the extra contrast was immediately noticeable, and made it more comfortable to read under less-than-ideal lighting conditions. (If you go with a Nook, just make sure you have a good reading lamp nearby.)

* Battery life

The Nook's color LCD touch screen drains its battery quickly - I could never get more than 5 days out of a charge. The Kindle 2 had longer battery life than the Nook, and Kindle 3 has even longer life: in the 3 months since we received our Kindle 3's, we typically get 3 weeks of battery life between charges. (We keep wireless off about half the time to save battery power.)

* Weight

Nook weighs about 3 ounces more than the new Kindle, and you can really feel the difference. Without a case, Nook is still light enough to hold in one hand for long reading sessions without fatigue. But in a case, Nook is a heavy sucker. The new Kindle 3 is so light, even in a case, we find it comfortable holding in one hand for long reading sessions.

Reasons some people might prefer the Nook:

* In-store experience

If you need help with your nook, you can take it to any barnes and noble and get a real human to help. You can take your nook into the coffee shop section of your local B&N store and read any book for free for up to one hour per day. When you take your nook to B&N, some in-store special deals and the occasional free book pop up on your screen.

* User-replaceable battery

Rechargeable batteries eventually lose their ability to hold a charge. Nook's battery is user-replaceable and relatively inexpensive. To replace Kindle's battery, Amazon wants you to ship your Kindle to Amazon, and they will ship you back a DIFFERENT Kindle than the one you sent (it's the same model, for example if you send a white Kindle 3, you get a white Kindle 3 back, but you get a "refurbished" one, NOT the exact one you sent them). I don't like this at all.

However, several people have posted comments here that have eased my concerns. Someone looked up statistics on the Kindle's battery and did some simple calculations to show that it should last for 3 or more years. Before that happens, I will surely have upgraded to a newer Kindle model by then. Also, someone found some companies that sell Kindle batteries at reasonable cost and have how-to videos that demonstrate how we can replace the battery ourselves. Doing this would void the Kindle's warranty, but the battery will probably not fail until long after the warranty expires.

[update June 2011: The batteries in the Nook Color and Nook Simple Touch are not replaceable, but the battery in the original Nook is.]

* ePub

Nook uses the ePub format, a widely used open format. Amazon uses a proprietary ebook format. Many libraries will "lend" ebooks in the ePub format, which works with nook but not kindle. However, a free and reputable program called Calibre allows you to translate ebooks from one format to another - it supports many formats, including ePub and Kindle. The only catch is that it doesn't work with copy-protected ebooks, so you can't, for example, buy a Kindle book (which is copy protected) and translate it to ePub so you can read it on a Nook.

* Nook's color LCD touchscreen

The original Nook has a small color LCD screen on the bottom for navigation. This could be a pro or con, depending on your preferences. It makes the Nook hipper and less drab than Kindle. Some people enjoy using the color LCD to view their library or navigate. I did, at first. But after two weeks of use, and comparisons with my wife's Kindle, I found the dedicated buttons of the Kindle easier and far quicker to use than the Nook's color touchscreen. I also found the bright light from the color screen distracting when I was trying to read a book or newspaper (though when not in use, it shuts off after a minute or so to conserve battery).

* expandable capacity

Nook comes with 2GB of internal memory. If you need more capacity, you can insert a microSD card to add up to 16GB more memory. Kindle comes with 4GB of internal memory - twice as much as Nook - but there's no way to expand that. Kindle doesn't accept memory cards of any type. If you mainly use your device to read ebooks and newspapers, this shouldn't be an issue. I have over 100 books on my Kindle, and I've used only a tiny fraction of the memory. Once Kindle's memory fills up, just delete books you don't need immediate access to; you can always restore them later, in seconds, for free.

A few other notes:

Kindle and Nook have other features, such as an MP3 player and a web browser, but I caution you to have low expectations for these features. The MP3 player on the Kindle is like the first-generation iPod shuffle - you can't see what song is playing, and you can't navigate to other songs on your device. I don't like the browser on either device; e-ink is just not a good technology for surfing the web; it's slower and clunkier than LCD screen technology, so even the browser on an Android phone or iPod touch is more enjoyable to use. However, some commenters have more favorable views of either device's browser, and you might, too.

* ebook lending

If you have a Nook or a Kindle, you can "lend" an ebook you purchased to someone else with the same device for up to two weeks. The Nook has always had this feature. The Kindle just got this feature as of December 2010. Most but not all purchased ebooks are lendable, due to publisher restrictions.

* PDF support

Kindle and Nook both handle PDF files, but in different ways. When you put a PDF file on your nook, nook converts it into an ebook-like file, then you can adjust the font size, and the text and pagination will adjust just like with any ebook. But you cannot see the original PDF file in the native format in which it was created. Kindle 3 and Kindle DX have native support for PDF files. You can see PDF files just as they would appear on your computer. You can also convert PDF files to an ebook-like format, and then Kindle handles them just the way the Nook handles them - text and pagination adjust when you change the font size. Unfortunately, some symbols, equations, and graphics get lost or mangled in the translation - even when viewing PDF files in their native format on the Kindle. Moreover, the small screen size of the Kindle 3 and the Nook is not great for PDF files, most of which are designed for a larger page size. You can zoom and pan, but this is cumbersome and tiresome. Thanks to commenters who suggested viewing PDF files in landscape mode on the Kindle (I don't know if you can do this on Nook); this way, you can see the entire top half of the page without panning, and then scroll down to the bottom half. This works a little better.


Nook and Kindle each offer their own advantages. We like the nook's user-replaceable battery, compatibility with ePub format, and in-store experience. But we strongly prefer Kindle 3 because its performance is zippier, its higher-contrast screen is easier to read, and it's smaller and lighter so it is more portable and more comfortable to hold in one hand for long reading sessions.
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VINE VOICEon August 31, 2010
The Kindle is my first e-ink reader. I own an iPad, an iPhone, and have owned a Windows-based phone in the past that I used as an ereader.

My overall impression of the device is good.

The good:
I'd honestly rather read linear (read from page one to the end, one page at a time) fiction from it than a book, because I can't always get comfortable with a book. Hardcovers are sometimes a bit heavy, and paperbacks don't always lie open easily. The Kindle is incredibly light and thin. I can hold it in one hand easily. The page turn buttons are conveniently located. Page-turns aren't instant, but they're probably quicker than turning a physical page in a printed book (there are just a lot more page-turns unless you choose a small font). The contrast is better than other ereaders I've seen. There is zero eye strain in good light. My eyesight isn't the greatest and I like being able to increase the font size and read without glasses. I love being able to browse the Kindle store and read samples before deciding to purchase. The "experimental" browser is surprisingly usable, but isn't great. It is useful for browsing wikipedia and blogs. The biggest drawback to the browser is the awkward pointer navigation, using the 5-way pad. It syncs your furthest read page over the internet so you can pick up where you left off using your iPhone or iPad.

The so-so:
The kindle store could use more categories and sorting options. You can't sort by "top rated," and there is no category for "alternate histories," for example. Finding a very-specific type of fiction relies on keyword searches, which don't do a great job. The wifi sometimes doesn't connect before it times-out. You rarely need the wifi, but it is annoying if you change a setting, answer "OK" to the prompt to connect, and the thing tells you it failed to connect two seconds later (the exact moment it indicates that it did finally connect, then you need to go back to update the setting again). Most settings don't require a connection, but it is a minor annoyance. Most of your time will be spent reading, and of course your books are stored on the device and a connection is not required. Part of me wishes I'd bought the 3G model, because the browser is good enough that having lifetime free 3G wireless would be worth the extra money. Magazines don't look very good and are not very easy to navigate. There is minor glare in some lighting conditions, mostly when a lamp is positioned behind the reader's head.

The bad:
The contrast is fair to poor in dim light. It is much easier to read a printed page in dim light. In good light, contrast is on par with a pulp paperback. In dim light it feels almost like reading from an old Palm Pilot (resolution is better than an old Palm, but contrast is bad in dim light). The screen is small enough that the frequency of page turns is pretty high. Even in good light, the light gray background is less pleasant than the eggshell background of a printed page. You must tell it to sync before you switch it off, if you expect the feature allowing you to pick up where you left off using other devices to work correctly. The copy protection prevents you from using the files on anything other than Kindle software or devices.

Vs iPad:
IPad is a lot better for magazines, reference materials, and illustrated materials. Kindle is worlds better for reading novels. IPad is pretty heavy, making it more difficult to hold in your hand or carry with you everywhere. Kindle is much more portable and easier to hold. IPad has some amazing children's books and magazines, which take advantage of its multimedia features. IPad is unreadable in sunlight and glare is bad in bright light. Kindle is as good as a printed page in bright light. Ipad serves as a creative tool, a computing tool, a gaming tool, and a communication tool. Kindle is only a novel machine. I don't regret buying either one of them. An iPad won't replace books, but a Kindle can, if the book is text-only.

I highly recommend this device at its new low price if you are a frequent reader of novels. I love my kindle. Just don't expect it to be more than it is. Leave the magazines and such to the tablet computers.
204204 comments| 11,972 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I'm a first-time Kindle owner, so I have nothing to "compare" the latest Kindle to. I don't own a Nook. I don't own an iPad (and, in any case, that's comparing apples to oranges). I don't have a Sony e-reader. '

This will be a short, simple review.

I received my Kindle about a week ago and haven't been able to put it down.

Things I like about my Kindle?
1. The e-ink display is amazing.
2. Using the 5-way controller is simple and effective.
3. Page turn speeds are faster than I thought they would be.
4. It's lightweight, even with the attached cover (I have an Amazon cover with a built-in light)
5. Page-turning buttons are quiet and well-placed.
6. Recharge time is fast.
7. I can order a book and start reading it in less than 60 seconds. Nice!
8. Portability... I can take 3,000 books with me when I travel for work and not require additional suitcases or baggage fees.

Things I'm not too keen on?
1. Buttons are too close together and are laid out oddly.
2. Lack of individual number buttons is frustrating.
3. Power button on the bottom? Not a bad thing. Just an odd thing. (Same for the headphone input). I usually rest the "bottom" of a book on my lap when I read.

Things I hope change in the future?
1. How books are organized... When I put a book in a collection (which is actually a "tag"), it still appears in the main list. It's not actually "moved", it's merely associated.
2. The look of the main screen. I'd like "folders" or some other way to display "collections".
3. Ability to create personal "screen savers."
4. E-book pricing, though Amazon has little control over this. Still, most titles are the same price as or less than their hardback/paperback counterparts. (And I'm not opposed to paying more for convenience and portability).

Things that don't bother me regarding other reviews?
1. The browser is experimental. Amazon has created a dedicated e-reader, and it's meant to be used to read. Period. Not browse the web. If you want to browse the web, get a computer -- not an e-reader.
2. The Kindle is not an mP3 player, either. Yes, it's nice to have some classical music playing in the background while I read, but I don't need to see the title of the song, album art, etc. (And you can skip from track to track on the Kindle using shortcut keys).
3. Lack of a "color" or "touch" screen.

In summary, for $139, I'm quite thrilled with my purchase and have arleady read multiple books on it. In fact, I think I've read more in the past week than I've read in the past month.
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on August 26, 2010
I woke up to a nice surprise this morning: a new kindle as a gift. I have an iPad and a Kindle DX, but I guess someone heard my complaints of them being too heavy and difficult to do extended-reading on. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my iPad and DX, but this new generation of Kindle is perfect for reading outside and for long periods of time. The iPad gets completely washed out in sunlight and often irritates my eyes staring at it for more than a couple of hours. The DX was my go-to device for those extended/outdoor reading periods, but now I have a new friend for reading novels. Instead of a replacement, this one seems more like a companion to the other devices and is a different class. The iPad works great for web browsing, shopping, productivity, games, etc while the Kindle falls short in those areas. The Kindle works great for reading novels, where the iPad falls short. For those that love to do extended-reading of magazines, newspapers, research articles, etc, I find that the DX is the go-to device.

Without a doubt, the size and weight of the new kindle is the biggest draw for me. It's smaller than the last edition by a significant margin. I've played around with the Kindle 2 and was impressed, but now looking at the size of the new Kindle, I'm blown away. It's the absolute perfect size. Smaller would be unmanageable and larger wouldn't feel nearly as good. This is a device that you can hold up, read, and just forget that it's there. Compared to other e-readers I've tried, it's much smaller and much lighter.

One of my biggest complaints about the previous generation Kindles and the DX is the speed. It sometimes takes a while after you push `next page' for it to actually change. In addition, the web browsing feature was so slow and clunky that it is really unusable in my opinion. Two additions to the new Kindle have helped attenuate these issues. First, the pages do flip quicker (albeit, still slow in my opinion), and the addition of wifi has allowed faster connection for wireless activities (much better than only relying on 3G). I still can't see myself using the Kindle as an internet browsing tool or really doing much online aside from purchasing reading material, but the faster connection at least opens up the possibility - something that would only frustrate me on previous editions.

The new Kindle also offers a better contrast than previous editions and it looks fantastic compared to every other e-reader I have seen. I have no trouble seeing the screen in dim light or in bright sunlight - it really opens up the ability to read almost anywhere you are. Of course, you'll still need a separate light for extremely dark areas.

Another big addition to the Kindle 3 is that it offers double the storage compared to Kindle 2. I've never had a problem with the amount of storage since I can't possibly see myself filling up that much space (I don't put mp3's on it), but perhaps in the future, if certain applications or media files are put on the kindle, it could have been a problem. The additional space in the new model is definitely a welcome addition, but bringing back the memory card slot that was included on Kindle 1 would have been an even more welcome addition in my opinion.

Among e-readers, I definitely recommend the Kindle 3 if not just because it has a better size/form-factor, contrast, battery life, and speed compared to every other e-reader I have tried. On top of that, you get the wonderful amazon buying experience and selection for all your literature and can keep your kindle library intact between whatever other device you want to download a Kindle application onto.

The question of whether you need a Kindle vs another type of device for reading becomes a little more tricky and really comes down to what you want to use it for.

Do you want a device to read novels on, perhaps read outside, and have something very light that you almost forget it's there? Buy the Kindle.

Do you want something to lie in bed with for short periods of time while surfing the web? I might suggest going with the iPad, a different tablet, or a netbook.

Do you already have a Kindle 1 or 2? That's a tough one.... I don't think the new edition has enough `new' to it to warrant the upgrade in my mind, but some might value the new size and wifi capabilities even more-so than I do. For me, the new Kindle was a welcome addition to my family of devices since I didn't have anything anywhere near its form factor and convenience.

Should you get 3G + Wifi or just Wifi? I think this question can be answered simply by asking yourself if you travel a lot. Being able to buy books and access wireless content on the road is an indispensable option and well worth the extra money in my mind. Keeping the device mainly at home or near wifi hotspots really negates the need for 3G though.

Overall, I have to give the Kindle a 5 star rating because it does what it was designed to do very well, and in my opinion better than any of the competition. While the new features and capabilities aren't game-changing and truly outstanding, it is smaller, more capable, and better than any other e-reader out there. If you want `one device to handle it all', this isn't the place to look, but If you want a fantastic device solely for reading books, this is what you want.
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on September 2, 2010
I researched the purchase of a Kindle for a long time. I couldn't decide whether or not it was worth buying a dedicated e-reader. Boy am I glad I made this purchase. The downside to Amazon's online selling of Kindle 3 is that the customers don't get to see it in person. It is much better in person. This may sound stupid, but when I got my new Kindle, I thought there was a stuck-on overlay on the screen containing a diagram of the unit's buttons, etc. I actually tried to peel it off. Doh! The e-ink on this unit is THAT good. I didn't realize that I was staring at the actual display. I also didn't realize that no power is required until the display changes. (thus the great battery life) I do a lot of reading, but was facing the prospect of reading less or buying large type books because of my variable and deteriorating eyesight. The new Kindle has been a godsend. Now, I can decide the size of type I need depending on my level of fatigue among other things. The weight and ergonomics are very good. For someone, like me, with neuropathy in his hands, it is extremely easy to manage and enjoyable to own. To me, it is easier to read than print books. The ease of navigation is great as is the speed. The battery life, so far, has been extraordinary. It easily connected to our home Wi-Fi, which by design does not broadcast an SSID. It downloads books so fast that I almost thought they were not completely received. I did not buy the 3G version because of the price difference and the fact that there is no coverage where I live. If you are not constantly traveling, I don't see the need to spend the extra bucks, but that is a matter of personal choice. For those who have no Wi-Fi at home, remember that you can always download the material to your computer and transfer it via USB. Just today I was watching an interview with Tony Blair on TV. He was talking about his new book, which sounded interesting. I picked up the Kindle and downloaded a free sample before the interview was over. I have only read the preface so far, but will probably buy the book. Now THAT is a great way to buy a book! I haven't used online browsing extensively yet, but find it reasonable for what the device is. This is primarily a book reader, not a laptop or notebook. They are great for what they do, but can't match the e-ink display, or the light weight. For those of you worrying about the wait for the new Kindle, let me end with, "It is worth the wait" This new Kindle is all about the quality of experience. There are many format choices for electronic reading. If you want the best experience, go with the Kindle.
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon August 27, 2010
I just received my new Kindle, and my early impressions are very positive - it's definitely a solid step up from the previous generation Kindle. Check out my video review to see/hear more!

UPDATE 9/7/2010: Hey guys - based on the comments received there are definitely some questions that people are interested in that I didn't touch on in my video review - so I wanted to take some time to answer some of those questions here. Hopefully this is helpful!

Q: Is the Kindle 3 backlit? If not, then how do you see it at night?

A: The Kindle 3 is not backlit. For the Kindle 2 I used a leather case with a reading light clipped to it. For the Kindle 3 Amazon produced a leather case that has a built-in reading light. I've been using it since day 1 and I love it. I made a video review for that also if you want to check it out:

Q: How well does the new joystick control work?

A: The new Kindle replaces the old five-way navigation joystick with a center button surrounded by a thin 4-way directional control. After messing around with both of these approaches, I don't really have a strong personal preference one way or another - they both work fine for me.

If you have big hands then I can definitely see having a bit of trouble getting used to the new joystick. The directional control is very thin, and if you're going to have trouble with any button on the Kindle... that's definitely going to be the one.

Q: How is viewing PDFs on the Kindle 3? Are they easy to upload onto the Kindle?

A: Uploading PDFs to the Kindle is very easy. You just connect your Kindle to your computer via USB cable and then drag and drop the PDFs. Totally simple. Viewing them is pretty decent, but the major problem is that most PDFs aren't designed for a 6 inch screen. You might have to do a lot of zooming and panning to see the content you want. If you plan on viewing a ton of PDFs, then you may want to check out the Kindle DX Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G, 9.7" Display, Graphite, 3G Works Globally ' Latest Generation.

Q: How well does the text-to-speech work?

A: It's ok. You definitely won't mistake it for a professionally produced audiobook, but it doesn't sound as bad as you may think it will. Also note that text-to-speech is not available for every book. You can see on the product page for each Kindle book if text-to-speech is enabled or not.
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on August 28, 2010
It's no longer necessary to write about how desirable the Kindle is (or, for that matter, e-readers generally). Books and text and reading are with us to stay; only paper is becoming unnecessary. What we can discuss is how well a device performs its intended task(s), and how it compares to its competition on an absolute basis and for the price.

My wife and I share a last gen 6" Kindle and just received a new 6" display K3. I know, Amazon doesn't call it that, but how else can users refer to it? In twenty words or less, it is an improvement over an already excellent product. Smaller, but not too small to be held comfortably. Same size display, but sharper and crisper, better contrast. Easy to use, somewhat smaller keyboard that takes a little, but very little, getting used to. It took me a few hours to stop accidentally pressing some neighboring keys, but now using the keyboard is second nature. And the page turning buttons are silent, but have sufficient tactile feedback, excellent feel.

I found it very easy to duplicate our library from our older Kindle to our new K3, and to activate our home wifi. I don't like to say I "transferred" our books because that could be understood to mean they were taken from our old Kindle to our new one. I say "duplicate" because they reside on both Kindles. The instruction manual is detailed and somewhat lengthy, but very understandable. (It's 200 pages, but don't let that scare you; it's easy to find the parts you need, and you will never need more than a few pages at one time.) The manual is published on the device, as in the past, and can also be downloaded to your computer as a pdf file so you can read the instructions from your computer as you apply them to the K3.

If you have wifi at home, which we do, when you are in range of a wifi that you have activated in your K3, it automatically uses that wifi, instead of connecting to the 3G AT&T network, assuming, of course, you have a 3G+wifi K3. It works faster on my home wifi than on the 3G network, so much so that if I had really thought it through before I bought it, or if I were to buy another, I would probably go wifi only and save $50. The only reasons to get the 3G+wifi model would seem to be if you don't have reliable access to wifi or if you travel a good deal to places that don't have a lot of wifi access, but do have AT&T connectivity AND you have need to download books or periodicals on a regular basis or without delay while you are away from home or office. If you can plan ahead and stock up on a few good books, and you have reliable access to wifi, such as at home/office, McDonalds or Starbucks, I suggest you think twice about whether you want the 3G+wifi K3, or the wifi only.

Each K3 has its own email address and you can send documents to it, including Word and pdf docs, and photos. Of course, the photos are B&W, but very detailed and clear. The K3 permits surfing the web, although I haven't used it much for that purpose and, other than saying it works, I hesitate to pass judgment on how well I think someone who uses it for web browsing would like it.

I can't compare it to other dedicated e-readers because I haven't used them. People seem to be interested in how I think it compares to the iPad, which I don't own but have "played with" somewhat extensively at the Apple Store. My assessment is that there is no comparison. The iPad will do much more, but as an e-reader I think the K3 is superior. I don't need color for reading text, the K3 is a fraction of the cost, and its smaller size makes it much more convenient to tote around. However, what kills the iPad as an e-reader, as far as I am concerned, is its weight. I suspect most of us are the same in this regard, but I tend to read for an hour or two at a stretch. A pound and a half doesn't sound too heavy, but I held an iPad for five minutes, literally, and my hands ached. It is simply too heavy to use as a book reading device, while the K3 is light as a feather. For reading, a cheaper and significantly lighter K3 as a dedicated e-reader is, IMHO, the way to go (compared to an iPad). BTW, a recent (in Aug. 2010) report from Taiwan said Apple in making a 6" iPod, which, depending on size and weight, could change the equation. It will be interesting to see how the e-reader market develops. I said I can't compare the K3 to other competitors, and I won't, but I can say I am completely satisfied with Amazon as an e-book seller. I've only had a few occasions to need support (on my old Kindle), but that has also been entirely satisfactory.

Bottom line: my wife and I both like the K3 very much and recommend it to anyone considering buying an e-reader. I don't think you will regret buying one, with or without the free 3G.
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on August 28, 2010
When I first unboxed the new K3, I was slightly disappointed. The new 5-way appeared to be harder to used than the little joystick of the K2. I have to say, though, two days later, I'm liking it much better. Since I'm getting used to it so quickly, I think in another day I won't know the difference.

The size is absolutely perfect. In the Amazon cover, it is exactly like reading from a paperback book. It's noticeably lighter and easier to hold for reading, even with arthritis in my hands. The page turn buttons are wonderful. Almost no noise, and you don't have to push them as hard. It should make it much easier for those with weak or disabled hands. I also like have next page and previous buttons on both sides. I didn't think it would make a difference to me, but it really does.

I tried a couple of times to connect the WiFi, but didn't get it to work. Today I had more time so I thought I'd try to puzzle through it. But when I navigated to the wireless menu, it had somehow figured out how to connect on its own. The browser is MUCH faster, and it made buying a book a breeze.

I haven't had it long enough to comment on the extended battery life. But I was honestly fine with the more than 10 days I always got with K2.

And the FONTS! My word what a difference! I can practically read in the dark! I've been able to reduce the font size from 4 to 2. Combine sharper contrast with better fonts and it's an unbeatable combo.

The ONLY thing I would change if I could is to move the Menu button, and especially the Back button. I'm having a little trouble navigating with the down arrow because I hit Back. But I'm starting to get the hang of it.

All in all, I think Amazon hit it out of the park with the K3!
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on August 31, 2010
I have owned a K2 for over a year now and have really loved it. However, when I saw the K3, (or next generation Kindle), was coming out and was able to find a few images and specs, I knew I wanted it. I ordered immediately and began the long wait.

It was well worth it.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with my K2, it's still going strong and has never given me any problems at all but I had a number of reasons for ordering the K3:

Graphite- Yes,really. I wanted something not white. I think the graphite looks better and cleaner. While skins are available, I found them to be a bit distracting so I'm very glad that Amazon gave us the choice to order white or graphite.

Size- The K2 is actually nice but it seems a little big, especially in a case. I wanted something smaller and the K3 fits my hand perfectly. It's like it was designed around my hand that's how well it fits.

"Previous Page" button on both coasts- I found this to be very important because it just feels right and it's necessary. See, there you are, in bed, all propped up on pillows, comfy, holding the Kindle in your right hand, reading, while your left hand dips in to the bag of Peanut M&Ms. You're reading along, engrossed in the story-you click the next page button and for whatever reason, miss something. "Wait, what?", you say and you have to go back to the previous page to pick up that word you missed but now you have to take your hand OUT of your bag of chocolates to hit the previous page button and it disrupts the entire flow and pulls you out of your comfy little cocoon for a second. With the previous page button on the right hand side as well, you don't have to stop using your left hand to shove candy down your throat, stop petting the dog or cat, stop twisting your hair, you just continue on, reading, using one hand. The Kindle needed that button on the right side, they put it there, I could not be happier.

Placement of "Home", "Menu" buttons- While I may be used to the K2's button placement, the K3's home and menu button are where I intuitively want to press. It makes more sense to me to have them by the keyboard. This is where the bulk of the function buttons are, why have them spread out all over the place? All in one little area.

The 5 Way Controller- I am so happy with the new 5 way controller. The one on the K2 stresses me out. It's a little knob and I have been very anxious this entire time that I'm going to break it right off. This was really noticeable when I started building my collections because I had to use that controller button a lot. It took me probably twice as long as others because I was very careful touching that controller, delicately pushing it to the right or up/down. The 5 way controller on the K3 works well, more responsive to the touch and I'm less stressed. It may take some getting used to for some when using it to navigate up or down a page as the Menu and Home buttons are very close to those controls but for me, again, no problems. LOVE it.

Contrast- Ok, I read all kinds of things about contrast when I first got my K2. I, luckily, never had a problem with my contrast. It always seemed dark to me and I never felt the need for a hack or to return mine because it was good. Or so I thought. When I got the K3, holy cow what a difference! The fonts are so much darker, crisper, so much easier to read. What an absolute pleasure! They still have the grayish background and when I compare the two, the background looks almost the same color. On the K3 it's just more...clear, really. In fact, when I put my K2 and my K3 next to each other, I marvel at how I ever thought my K2 had dark fonts. It looks faded, sun bleached, hard to read compared to the K3. When they said better contrast, they absolutely meant, better contrast. The K2 was already easy on my eyes but this contrast is even better for my eyes. It's hard to tell from photos, you really have to see it in person. Excellent job on this part. Beautiful.

Wi-Fi- I ordered the 3G/Wi-Fi because I'm not always going to be home when using my Kindle. But I am so happy that they added wi-fi because this entire time, I've been mainly using the USB cord to do anything with the Kindle. I've had to shop on my computer, send the book to my Kindle, hook up the USB cord, drag it to my Kindle...and no, it's not hard but you know, sometimes I just don't feel like getting out of bed to get the laptop and the cord and set it all up. Sometimes, I just want to order the next book in the series without moving. Oh yes, the Kindle is spoiling me and now, having the wi-fi, I don't even have to MOVE at ALL to get another book! How grand is life? The set up was laughably easy. At first when it scanned for a hot spot it didn't detect mine but I don't take "no" for an answer so I made it look again. It found my signal, I put in the password and now I can shop around in the Kindle store like everyone else, I can get on the web, browse around and get my books in 60 seconds, (or less), like all the others. I didn't feel I had missed out on too much before with my K2 but now that I've been able to do this with the K3, I realize I have been missing a lot of the Kindle experience. Thank you, Amazon, for adding this feature.

So those were the reasons I ordered this unit.

As far as weight is concerned, I'll be honest that I don't really notice much of a difference. I do carry both in a case, maybe that has something to do with it but, seriously, they feel just about the same. Also, I don't mind the number keys not being on the keyboard. I never really used them anyway and it's a matter of hitting the "sym", (symbol), key to get the number menu. I guess if you like to jump around to different locations it might get old but I have discovered there are ways to get around that. (Find out which letters associate with those number keys and you don't have to use the symbol menu.) But again, for me, not a big deal.

The previous/next page buttons are a little different but once again, these work perfectly for me because as I was reading on the K3, I noticed that I hit those keys towards the very edge anyway. I picked up my K2 just to test and yep, that's how I held the Kindle so I don't have to put any effort in to turning a page. And they are quiet. No more, "click", read, read, "click", read, read, read, "click" can't hear them.

And finally, page turns: I put my two Kindles next to each other and hit the "next page" buttons simultaneously and they both turn at pretty much the same speed. I really don't notice much difference there.

Anyway, my K2, as I said, still works and I'm keeping the K2 but this K3 is stunning. It is glorious. I absolutely love it. I had enough time between ordering and receiving and I wondered if maybe I would send it back, maybe I could just keep using the K2, maybe I'm being a bit of a tech junkie...but that would be wrong. There is NO WAY I would send this thing back. It's absolutely wonderful. I love it. I absolutely LOVE the K3.
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In my previous Kindle (2nd generation) review, I called it the cheddar cheese on my omelet and the whipped cream on top of my frappuccino. Can't beat that - or can you? Hmmm... my favorite cold frappe is the caramel kind. If you are very lucky, the barista will drizzle a little extra caramel on top of the whipped cream. Yeah, the 3rd generation is kind of like that caramel. When you see it, you cannot believe your luck and you cannot decide if you should dive right in or take your time and savor it... Amazon has outdone themselves with the new generation. Wow. Wow. Wow. I opted for the wifi only version because I'm rarely without a hotspot and I don't need to use the browser on the go or download a book in a moving car or anything :)

I think you can read the description for yourself so I'll concentrate on the differences. But, overall, reading on a Kindle is like nothing you imagine it will be. I always said that I would never get one. I wanted to keep my paper books and couldn't believe someone would want to read on that computer thing. Now I'm one of the biggest "enablers" of the Kindle. This thing gave my mother back the ability to read all books again (her eyesight is not what it used to be and you can adjust the font from tiny to very large - this is also great for me when I read in bed. I don't have to wear my glasses!). It also allowed me to clean up some of the stuff in my house. I used to hoard books. I still do, but they all fit in one little bitty Kindle now and not on the shelf, under the bed, in drawers, etc etc. But again... the differences, as I see 'em....

Changes from the K2 to the K3 include:

1. Compared with the K2, it feel so tiny and light. The difference is actually small, but it feels so small and light in the hand that I had to lay them side by side to satisfy myself that I didn't get some super secret new tiny Kindle. Hey, it's possible that good old Jeff Bezos wanted me to have the K4 here folks!

2. The next thing I noticed is that I couldn't figure out how to turn the darn thing on. They moved the slider to the bottom. Okay, not loving that, it feels more awkward, but I'm going with the assumption that I won't notice after a few days. Also at the bottom, the charger light is brighter, small change.

3. I thought the text was super crisp on my previous Kindle. Nay. Wow. This is SO MUCH darker. I'm actually shocked at the difference, it's really very significant. I was hemming and hawing over upgrading but this alone makes it work the price of the upgrade. I'd seen photos online, but you simply cannot understand until you see it. It's a huge difference. Did I mention you can choose between 3 fonts? Yeah baby!

4. Gone is the HOME button the right side of the Kindle. FINALLY. I cannot tell you how many times, after 18 months of use, I STILL wanted to use that button to go to the previous page. Bye-bye to my button nemesis! WooHoooooo!! It is replaced with slimmer Next and Previous buttons that are just arrows. I'm still getting used to this as I'm used to pushing slightly inward to change the page, but after several pages, I adapted pretty well.

5. Gone is the joystick. I should say that I didn't hate the joystick. I always thought it was fine. A little finicky, but just fine. What they have given us now is a little four way pad with the select in the middle. I thought this would be a little difficult to navigate, but nope, I have yet to have it go where I didn't want it to go. Fabulous! Along with that the Menu, Back and Home keys are now arranged around the little pad. All very well laid out. It is bit of an adjustment, but just taking the time to get my books settled back in was enough for me to get used to it and I don't even notice it.

6. The keyboard thingy... there has been a little bit of tension in the kindle community about this. Some people are pretty peeved that the number keys are gone. Me? I don't care, you just press the SYM key now to get to them. I don't use the keyboard very often and the numbers even less often so perhaps that's why I don't care. It also leaves a little space between the screen and the keyboard for me to put a little label about what to do if it's lost, but that's my own reasons. I don't see anything wrong with them being gone myself. BUT the keys are GREAT. Pressing them is much easier than on the K2. Oh, you aren't going to be typing 50 words per minute (or even 20) but it's a much more pleasurable experience.

7. The back is ... a little more "grippy" now - not like rubberized or anything, but it's not slick. Gone is the shiny back. I almost missed this because I always read my kindle in a cover/case so I don't really have an opinion. I guess it's good if you read your Kindle naked (which makes me quite... uncomfortable)

Overall this is a GREAT upgrade. I knew I'd like it, but I honestly didn't think I'd be THIS impressed by it. Seriously, get one. So worth it!
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