Thoughts on the new Amazon Kindle 3 & eReaders
Courtesy of my friend @sitar, I was able to play around with the new Amazon Kindle 3 + 3G yesterday. I quite like it. It is really small, thin, and feels much better than the previous generation, which I reviewed here.
However, some of the things that bothered me about the previous generation are still there… namely that I’m used to ‘i-touching’ things and having to resort to the Kindle’s button-driven menus feels quirky and slow now. The menu system on the Kindle isn’t great and probably the least user-friendly part of the whole device. Whilst reading is straight forward, I couldn’t find some things I wanted to do, until I realized that I need to see the settings in the home screen rather than just anywhere within a publication. As with anything, I imagine you’ll get used to it.
The screen itself is very nice. Continues to impress me at how much it can resemble a piece of paper when on standby. The battery life I haven’t tried yet, but I’ll give Amazon the benefit of the doubt on that one.
I was able to try the PDF import option (I dragged a PDF into the drive when the Kindle was mounted on my Mac as an external drive), but I must say that PDFs rich in graphics are still a bit slow to deal with considering that you will need to zoom in quite a bit sometimes and pan around.
Which bring about the whole ‘panning around’ experience. In general I have found that the Kindle is excellent with any kind of text that is (un)formatted. Text that is meant to be read without any serious ‘richness’ embedded. Be it graphics, or weird fonts, or colored backgrounds, the Kindle doesn’t handle them well. This means that books, regular old books from their Kindle store are great, but PDFs and browsing the web where you may have a mishmash of font sizes and images within, is just too annoying and slow to deal with. Don’t expect to be using the Kindle with the 3G as a cheap black and white iPad.. it’ll just annoy the hell out of you.
So should you get the 3G option then? Well, having been using the Kindle app on my iPhone when I have a spare moment and then using it on my iPad to read at home.. being able to synchronize the devices to be at the same page is great. The 3G kindle is great in that sense that you’ll never have to worry about waiting to synchronize with a wifi network so that all your other readers are up to date. Also, I found that typing in the wireless password in the Kindle was quite a pain in the WiFi settings due to the lack of number keys and thus requiring the use of the symbol key.
So back to the usual dilemma of iPad vs Kindle. One thing that I noticed across the different stores available on the iPad is that the pricing can be quite different. I bought a development book (O’Reilly type book) for about $5 on the App Store and on the Kindle store the same book was about $27. That’s a huge price difference and the iPad gives you the ability to sort through different stores since you can have the Kindle App and the Nook app, for example. However, as a standalone reader tied to just one store (the biggest) and with a great price to boot, the Kindle is a great little device which I’ll be buying to give my parents for Christmas (dad, if you’re reading this, pretend you didn’t).
In general, the whole e-reader market has seen quite the explosion lately from what was almost sleepy growth only a year ago. Over Christmas 2009-2010, the Amazon Kindle was one of the most gifted items revolutionizing for many the process of buying books, and now, within the last month, e-reader darlings of last year like Plastic Logic have had to bow to the success of the Kindle and the iPad as the two dominant ebook/ereader platforms. I look forward to seeing this sector stabilize around a few formats that are priced reasonably for both books (getting there) and periodicals (totally not there right now). If you want to read more about eBook readers, GP Bullhound has a great report on the market and players here.
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