I guess my motivation throughout is to learn: To understand. I feel that when we read things that others have written we can get a real sense of the authors mind. I find it fascinating to gain understanding of the individual psyche in this way.
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ALL singing and dancing, or just Kindle 2 redone?
public domain availability, digital notes, free internet, page numbers, pdfs, char support, price
starting off painful, DRM, no java or flash, storage space
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The Kindle "3", now called the Kindle Keyboard or ďKindle third wireless generationĒ is the ebook reader created by Amazon and released on the 25th of August 2010. Itís smaller still than the previous versions and features a cool new chrome look, better internet, faster speeds, better disabled access with talking menus and, my favourite, the ability to make notes on PDF files. This review was the first written on the Kindle 3, and is (as of 10/2/11) the most up-to-speed with the way things are moving. I'm sure you'll understand how important this is given the speed the market is moving at, the challenge of competitors and the frequent automatic patches which add features to the kindle.
This review is split into three sections, split up by triple line breaks like the one just above. The first section is an introduction to modern ereaders, the second is how the kindle series and the kindle 3 compare, and the third is made up of the things which really need improving about the kindle and my conclusions. If you own any ebook reader I recommend skipping straight to the second section, and if you know exactly whatís new about the kindle I recommend skipping straight to my point of view in the third section.
Ö Modern Ebook readers for Dummies
Technology has come on a lot in the last few years. All of the best ebook readers now use a technology called e-ink. This means they DO NOT have lcd or plasma screens Ė the screens do not have a backlight, they are designed to read just like paper, they are even supposed to so feel like (lighter) books although the usefulness of this feature could be questioned. You should be able to read on an ebook reader for hours even if normal computer screens make you dizzy, itís not an order of magnitude, the screens are in a completely different class. This does however, mean that you wont ever be able to watch movies on them, and currently the technology only supports greyscale, so no colour pictures for you (although this may be a feature of the future kindle 4/5).
The most mind boggling and important thing about any eBook reader is that all the books are digital. This means they take up no space on your shelf (or around your shelf, if youíre like me). Ebooks do not get wear and tear, and they can be backed up on your computer easily. Amazon has also been very busy rolling out "apps" for all other portable devices, so you can read you kindle books on your iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, PC or Mac computer. Also, there is probably a greater range of books available for kindle online than you could find in all the bookstores your home town. Also, the internet doesnít have a closing time, and should be available in your home, without you needing to go anywhere. This has saved me literally hundreds of times and dozens of trips to town.
Although this is my 3rd Kindle, I still have most of my notes from the first two. The only ones I've lost have been those from ebooks I've made personally (.txt "unicode" style files are no longer compatible - convert them to "utf"s). With that said, one of the Kindle's obvious disadvantages is that it can run out of battery, (which it frequently does, although if you switch off wireless when it warns you will get a few more hours out of it), and water doesn't agree with it. There are waterproof, floating cases available, for those strange people who like to read in swimming pools/the bath, and this can (I've heard) be easier, with no strain on the arm, but obviously that the device is electronic can be a disadvantage as well as an advantage.
Authors like Howard (conan, solomon kane) and his arch-nemis Lovecraft, Poe, Verne, Bram-Stoker (Dracula), Conan-Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), and almost every single pre-Victorian author can be downloaded for free because they are legally in the public domain, and websites like Gutenburg and archive.org have hundreds of thousands of books available for kindle for free. I am a student at the moment, and my discipline (medieval british studies) has had most of itís main source materials edited and best essays published in the 19th century, and I can get far more online from this period than I can in the university library. On the other hand, the only scholarly books available online are very, very expensive (like the paperbacks I suppose). The support for modern free books on Kindle is currently weaker (ebrary works as I explain below) and some libraries will let you borrow ebooks.
Having said that, you can buy a very large proportion of recent books from the Kindle store wirelessly and directly from your kindle. Amazon say they aim to have every book ever published available for Kindle, and they are adding books astoundingly fast, so they might succeed in this sooner than you think. There are a few authors who are refusing to digitalise their work (most notably J.K. Rowling) but at the most this will only gain them a few years, and makes them the frequent target of unauthorised kindle additions.
You can also get blogs and newspapers autodelivered delivered straight to your kindle in the morning before you wake up. This is quite expensive, especially for Blogs, which are free to visit online, (99p-£2 a month) but newspaper readers may like not having to rely on a minimum wage delivery-child, or the chance of them actually leaving the house in the morning themselves. At time of writing, September '10, the Independent is £13.99 a month and the Daily Mail is £8.99.
You should also try a gamebook series while weíre on the subject of books. I would suggest for an introduction go to "http://www.choiceofgames.com/" from the kindle and try out one of their games, they work brilliantly and are superfast, if sometimes annoyingly buggy. If you dont have internet, download a project aeon Lone Wolf gamebook.
One final extra bonus of digitalisation is indexing. I can search through all my books for a single word, which is really handy when Iím researching something or trying to remember where in a book something was. I can also easily write notes and highlight text on the kindle at any point in a book, and this text is saved, both in the book itself, and in a central note taking facility. Using the cursor you can highlight words or phrases, and if you press enter you can search for them throughout the rest of the book, or online. I can easily afterwards copy all the text onto my computer, which makes taking notes for essays really easy and much less of a wrist bender, especially when combined with the search function. (Please note that the Kindle 3 might not be able to read your old .txt files though)
So you can see that I am mostly in favour of ebook readers. They save a lot of time and are really convenient. However, all modern ereaders do all of the things which I just mentioned. So letís talk about the Kindle 3 in more specific detail.
The Kindle series and the Kindle 3
The Kindle 3 has similar hardware to the Kindle 2. The Kindle 1s rolling wheel is seemingly forgotten, as is the kindle 2ís joystick. We now have a ď5 wayĒ. The control is a box with the 4 sides acting as direction buttons. When youíve highlighted what you want on the screen you press the big button which fills the centre. (Unfortunately this doesnít always work, and often you have to press down until you get to an ďokĒ box, and press the button on that instead - using the enter key often works faster in these circumstances). You also need to use the previous and next page buttons, which go backwards and forwards pages when youíre in a book/on your list of books/on the internet when thereís too much for one page. There is one page forwards and one page back button on both the left and the right side of the device, and these are not easy to press accidently (rejoice!). It takes a bit of getting used to, but eventually youíll find it makes for less movement than turning pages in a book, so your arms get a rest. ;>
The kindle has a main ďhomeĒ screen, which you can get to at any time by pressing the ďhomeĒ button. This is annoyingly easy to press accidently, which might be why there is a "back" button as well. From here, you can see a list of all of the books, saved webpages, personal pdfs, audio books you can get from audible.co.uk, etc. You can press next and previous pages to see more, if your content doesnít fit on one page (haha, ďifĒ) and the screen also tells you whether your content is pdf, a sample (which you contains the first few chapters of a book, and you can get for free on the amazon website for any book). You can press the menu button here, to get the options of changing the order of your books (I usually have my books in straight alphabetical order, but alphabetical order by author is better if all your books are from amazon and have the author in the metatext. You can also go straight to amazon.com for some shopping, turn the wireless on and off, create collections, which make your books easier to look through, go to settings, which is where you can log in and out of wifi networks, and use the ďexperimentalĒ features like the web browser, mp3 player, and the up and coming ďappsĒ. When you go into a book you can also use the text size button, which lets you change font, size, line spacing and page orientation. You can zoom in and out (a combination of zoom and page orientation lets you read most PDFs pretty well. You can also highlight text and make notes and bookmarks - these are super easy with the new cursor - just go to exactly where you want the bookmark and double-click.
Now I said at the beginning that the kindle is similar to the kindle 2, and this is true when you look at core specs, but itís not true when you consider the feel of the thing in your hands. The kindle 3 feels much better: itís really, really light and small. (I'm gonna need a pencil case to carry it 'round in). Think about one of those leaflets you get at the doctors with about 30 pages Ė itís about that size and only a tiny bit heavier. The plastic isnít entirely smooth either, itís slightly rough on the front and feels good (I didnít believe it either until I felt it). The speed is incredible, and only gets faster as the device optimises itself. Moving the curser up and down a page, you can just hold down the key, and itís almost as fast as a computer curser. It doesnít have to refresh the whole page just for the curser either, which is good. It does leave ghosts of itself behind it as it goes, but thatís not really a problem. You canít skim through, but you wont be pausing your reading between each page for any significant amount of time. Going to a location is now instantaneous, but searches aren't really any faster at all. You can, however, choose exactly where you want to search from "this item" to "all items" to just "google".
Physically the device is chrome black, which is supposed to add contrast to the text on the screen by magic. I donít think it actually does this very well, at least in the centre of the screen, but at least it doesnít show up my fingerprints anymore. America also has a white Kindle 3, but apparently Amazon.co.uk isn't allowed that. The screen resolution is incredibly improved though. The eink looks closer to the surface Ė with earlier kindles itís more like looking through a piece of glass, but now it almost feels like thereís nothing between me and the ink (possibly I just need to clean the older kindles though :p).
Overall, the design is very ergonomic, and the numbers are now gone from the keyboard. This has caused some contention, but you can use the alt key+ the top row of letters to type them almost as easily though, so I donít know what everyone is complaining about. Of course, the back is still locked on tight, so theyíll be no changing the battery, or using SD cards for you, which is a shame because on the Kindle 1, SD cards were very useful when you had a massive collection like mine, and the Kindle 3 is still less than half the virtual size of the Kindle 1 with an 8gb SD card, so it could do with a bit more space. I do like the usb-mini usb lead being able to be plugged into the mains though, very thoughtful of Amazon.
The first time you use the kindle it can be frustrating. There is a bad bug where if you try to copy across your library yourself you can end up breaking it Ė the kindle will keep trying to index all your books, but wont be able to access half of them and hang, which is really annoying. Unfortunately this is also the same with samples. If you want any samples or books, you have to download them. With books this is really easy, you can just go to you ďmy archived itemsĒ selection (after registering) and redownload all your books (remember there is no longer a restriction on how many times they can be downloaded). With samples though, youíll have to re-find every single one if you decide you want them. Your personal files are fine to open as long as they donít already have a notes file attached. If they do, you wont be able to use them until theyíre indexed, and for me this took DAYS, and it's left the .txt files 'til last. Some of these still cant be opened now, I'm still waiting for 150 files! Also, after only an evening of transferring 700 files, (it managed about 50) and playing around while they indexed, the 8 hour charge I put into the thing was on its last legs! So much for a monthís charge!
EDIT: I've worked out one reason why Kindle couldnt index or open my files - I save a lot of files on notepad using the "Unicode" or "Unicode Big Endian"setting - THESE FORMATS DO NOT WORK. If you want to read any of these ebooks on the kindle 3 you'll have to open them all individually and re-save them as UTF-7. Unfortunately though this also breaks the locations, so that all your notes and highlights are saved in the wrong place. One way or another you're going to lose all your notes on your personal documents. Sorry. :(
Despite nice touches, like Amazon sending me a (personal) letter thanking me for buying a new kindle and telling me how to easily transfer the books Iíd bought from them and the shape of the parcel and courier service that delivered it, the first days were very traumatic, lots of freezes, and I couldnít read anything, and thatís from an experienced kindle-user! Despite claiming to be delivering 2 days early, the item didnít arrive until a few days after the time I was expecting it, which is a very different service to that which I would get from a physical shop if I made an advance order there. Somehow I keep hearing the same story from others about when they first get their kindle, no matter when they order it (except bloggers who get the best treatment). Itís a bit strange considering how well they deliver books like the harry potter series for a midnight release for example.
EDIT: I am still getting some freezes a month after I got the thing when i first press highlight or bookmark of an evening... This hasn't been happening so frequently since it ran out of books to bookmark though.
The technical support team for kindle are fairly good. They listen (but donít reply) to what people have to say. They offer loads of temporarily free new releases each month if youíre strapped for cash, (and recently games as well!) but theyíll also remove books if they think they breech copyright. Youíre probably better off going onto the internet to find fellow users at some of the amazing blogs which have popped up.
The Kindle series of ereaders are known for being able to go on the internet by themselves, without the need to plug them into a computer to transfer the books. This is as true on the Kindle 3 as it was on the previous versions, although now the Kindle comes in two versions, the cheap wifi and the expensive 3G. With wifi you can get on the internet and download books as often as youíre in a wifi zone (local coffee shop/home system. 3G refers to the third generation fast version of the mobile network, but itís a bit misleading because kindle 3g can connect to the slower networks as well. Basically your kindle should work anywhere you can get a signal on any mobile network in the world.
I say the internet here, because kindles 1-3 are able to go onto any webpage, as well as just Amazon for free, using an ďExperimentalĒ Web browser using 3g data anywhere using a mobile network. (THIS FEATURE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE ON ANY MORE RECENT KINDLE). Compared to the kindle 2 however, on the Kindle 3 this has been improved still further, with faster page loads, and better looking pages, especially when you use the ďarticleĒ mode, which is basically made to eliminate ads and annoying pictures. Itís great for going on your emails when youíre not by a computer, and downloading more books, but I think itís still a bit slow to do much else. Amazon has been trying to find some use for it recently by allowing you to share passages or notes from your books on facebook or twitter, and automatically back up all your notes and highlights online so they canít be easily lost. It can however, use the normal internet as well as the mobile internet, so itís probably better than your mobile phone, and donít forget the eink screen means you can read a lot more easily if you frequent news or fiction sites in your spare time. Searching google for something is pure pleasure and (in my urban setting at least) the 3g speed is very good!
On the first day I got it, as luck would have it, our shared flatsí internet access went down for the day. This was a great chance to try out the thing, so I looked up some cinema times for the next day, checked my emails and some news sites. The cinema site loaded fine, despite cinema websites in general being notoriously flash driven. The kindle has a special zoom feature when you first get to a page, you select the area of the page youíre interested in (if youíre not in article mode) and it zooms into just that part. This is great for finding things like cinema listings when I was only interested in one cinema and one film. My emails were a bit more tricky, but mainly because I donít really know what password I use from site to site (I use fingerprint-login on my computer). I got in eventually, but really the experience wasnít really as fun as checking emails on computer it isnít a broadband connection, it can be fiddly because Iím not as used to it and the browser doesnít get an update every month like my computer browser. On the other hand, I did really like not having to be at my desk, being able to lie down/look at the internet with the kindle above my head, and the screen quality compared to plasma has to be seen to be believed. Also you can't open emailed links on kindle because they'll all try to open in a new tab which the kindle wont allow.
The news sites are the next thing I checked. These are hit and miss. All look normal, which is the first thing I was amazed at. It doesnít look like a mobile phone screen, it doesnít look like a screen on a browser which has loaded it wrong, or failed to load the flash, it looks just like it does on a computer screen, just in miniature form, so your first step in the basic web mode is to zoom into the area youíre interested in. I thought this would be really annoying at first, but mostly I find Iím only interested in a few bits of information on each page, except when we get to the actual news articles themselves. For these you can turn on ďarticle modeĒ and read them just like a book.
Since then Iíve also tried facebooking on kindle. That doesnít really work for me at all. Itís slow, and when it does load it quite often hangs for a minute or so when Iím trying to zoom in. Unfortunately the mobile facebook doesnít work at all because it needs php support.
EDIT: Amazon have just released the first patch for the kindle here (http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200529700) (a bit rubbish since it's in the second week). This is meant to stop the freezing issue, and has certainly made Facebook useable for me, although I think it may have slowed down Yahoo. In any case, hopefully this means that in the future the browser should be fine.
Finally, I tried a gambit, an MUD RPG game I used to play called Vagabondís Quest. Itís the only online RPG I could think of which didnít use either a Java Console or Flash (both unsupported by Kindle 3). It was very slow, and a bit cumbersome to login, but would you believe it did actually work! Unfortunately the game is really just a relic, and you can only get into the first room, not get any further, but there must be something similar out there! If you have any other suggestions for text based fantasy rpgs which use only Java Script, HTML code and/or perl like Vagabondís quest, then definitely let me know in the comments box!
Later still I tried a game called Utopia (quite famous online). This is a text based empire builder sort of game and although this is not my favourite game in the world it does technically function. Unfortunately it is a bit slow for me to want to use it on Kindle instead of on the computer though. Other silly little online text based games you've found over the years will work just as well, like the dragcave.net or even Ciao if you're in to that sort of thing. Some of these make for an amazing break from reading when you're bored, and doing them on an e-ink screen actually feels cooler!
EDIT: I'm writing this on the kindle just to confirm that ciao looks great! logging on is a tiny bit fiddly, but the "article mode" looks made for reviews! I'm finding myself reading more closely as well. I'm not so sure about writing though. The keyboard is slower and there's a distracting lag time between pressing each letter and the letter coming up on the screen. It does work though, as this edit proves.
EDIT: I'm just reading an article on ebrary.com. It's tricky to navigate and the page turns a bit slow, but it is possible to read these modern books on the kindle with your internet connection! Unfortunately you cant use an institution login because the kindle can't handle proxys. However, if you put $5 on your account, then you should be able to read using the personal area of the site (make sure the address says "shop" and not "lib". The best way to read is to go for a 200% zoom and change the kindle to landscape mode. You can make notes if you go to the top under . The kindle screen is a tiny bit too narrow to do this easily, you'll need to shift direction to the top of the page, then go down one step. This should make the screen go just down enough so you can select "write a note" without the page scrolling down. Highlights are impossible though, but that's the price you pay for free, in-copyright books!
Overall the kindle's internet is not really as good as that of a pc. It's too frustrating although it is liberating being able to read websites anywhere Ė I think Iíll keep using the computer when Iím at home, but the kindle is BETTER for when Iím reading long articles. Ė I donít suppose everyone does this, but there are some things I look at online (longer articles, short stories, blogs, reviews and conspiracy theories (to name my favourites ;>) which are really almost books in their own right, and I think kindle is better for reading these. It's also really easy to quickly research a topic. You can search wikipedia easily from within a book if you want some background knowledge about something you're reading about. Looking up film plots/game walkthroughs while you're playing them is also pretty good, and in those circumstances kindle might be less of an immersion break than the possible moving rooms that looking for a pc, or even switching on a netbook might require. Emails on the move are possible, and growing on me a bit as well to find those last minute cancellations.
Last year a pilot study was done using the kindle 3. Washington university tried out giving some of their classes of students kindles for their assigned reading (http://web.reed.edu/cis/about/kindle_pilot/Reed_Kindle_report.pdf - careful, itís a PDF). They found that the kindles were not suited to reading for three main reasons Ė you couldnít quickly flip through the pages, the preferred new editions of scholarly books were not available and although text to speech was available to read to blind and partially sighted students, they couldnít navigate the menus by themselves. Amazon seems to have listened to this, because the new kindle offers much quicker search, go-to and page turning and the kindle will read the menu options out as well as the text itself. There is also a top secret microphone in the kindle, which is not currently enabled for use (Amazon tend to release lots of patches for their kindles, which can add large amounts of content) this is tipped off to let students talk at their kindle instead of selecting the options with a joystick they canít see, which seems quite a good idea. All the accessibility features make up one of the most promising aspects of the kindle in my opinion.
As for the other findings of the study, the price for scholarly books has come down from preposterous to unreasonable, perhaps due to a new pricing model. Unfortunately, on the contrary, the price for bestsellers has gone up a little bit, but the great thing about this is that UK prices have become lower than the US prices. It seems to have really upset lots of americans, which is both a funny and partially scary thing. ;>
Speaking of the international market, kindle support is being added further for more languages. The Greek and Chinese/Japanese (kanji/hanzi) alphabets are now supported in normal documents (before you had to create a pdf to view them), which is pretty useful even if you only see the occasional Greek character. This is the sort of thing that might be updated on a patch, so if youíre looking for a particular character set you might want to just keep watch over a kindle news page. Unfortunately this increased text support has meant that I've had to reformat all of my .txt documents as I said above.
Finally, for me the second best current feature of the kindle 3 is the new PDF support. The kindle 2 had PDF support added in a patch, but the Kindle 3 has it from the box, and it is faster and easy than using the kindle 2. You can easily zoom, pan and rotate like you could on the kindle 2, but you can also now take notes in the file, which for me actually makes it worth while reading PDF files. This is really important, because usually if someoneís scanned in a book, or a few pages of a book, or even just created a report itís likely to be in PDF format, so the kindle getting that right was essential. On the kindle 1 you had to wait a looong time between page turns when you were looking at pictures in a book, and the zooming took even longer, not to mention the pictures were not crisp enough.
Iíve been reading a comic book in pdf format, and Iím amazed with the results. The page turns were instantaneous, even with big images. I did have a little bit of trouble seeing the text, but when rotated and filling the screen the Kindle is almost as big length ways as a comic page is width-ways, so you can read half a comic page and then carry on with a next page button. I think it would be fine with a comic book that wasnít made for near A4 size (manga/webcomic?) or just one which is less verbose than my favourite. The thing stays zoomed-in and rotated as you read. The new resolution really helps you see the pictures and I found that on black and white comics, the detail was just as good as a paper copy would be. The only problem with pdf is that the kindle browser canít download files in .pdf form like it can to those in .mobi or .txt, but hopefully this will be improved soon.
Text-Speech is our final amazing feature. With it, if you get tired/are driving you can get kindle to read your book to you. Unfortunately it's blocked on most new Amazon-bought books (all the more reason not to buy books from amazon if you have the choice, right?) There are two voices, one male, one female. They both have slight American accents, but not too bad. They read pretty well based on context, not getting the pronunciation of acronyms wrong for example. They do read a bit fast, but you can get them to read slower (e.g. at a normal speed) in the options menu. They will also read out menus and title lists to you, so the Kindle is disabled-accessible!
EDIT: Amazon have recently released a new feature - Lending. It's currently only available for trades originating in the US, but it should be extended soon. With this you can offer a book to someone by email. If they accept, the book is temporarily made unreadable on your kindle, and it is sent to them. Now they don't get any of your notes of marks, which is annoying because that can be one of the best parts of borrowing a book, but they can make notes in the book themself (if you followed my gender-neutral third person singular). Later on, if they decide to buy the book, their bookmarks and notes will be available to them.
Unfortunately there are some limitations. Each of your books can only be lent once in its lifetime. The book is returned to you 14 days after they accept it (they have a week to accept it), even if they decide they haven't finished it. There are some schemes online where you can swap your books, but you have to wonder if it's worthwhile. What I'd really like to see is the Kindle supporting LIBRARY BOOKS like some of its competitors. And that's not the only thing...
Amazon itself invites you to have more than one person on each Amazon account. In the Kindle 3 user manual they draw an example of Judy and Tomís kindles being on the same account, and downloading and reading books together. If you put your whole family on one account you could save a lot of money on books like this, although if you ever choose to ďsyncĒ all the notes and annotations will be on the same book file, and indeed everyoneís annotations and notes will all join together. Now itís not all bad news. Two kindles on the same account can have vastly different content, because all Amazon data is backed up online. I might have 10 of my familyís 50 paid for books on my kindle, along with say, the entire Conan collection, while my fiancťe could have 20 entirely different ones, with the works of Lovecraft, so itís not like weíre going to be inundated with each otherís stuff. But, anyone with a kindle can buy using the main credit card, which could get messy if you have any impulsive buyers around you. However, this way you can share content with no restrictions and share notes and marks.
The Kindle of the future?
Everyone is calling this the best an ereader can be. Is it really? I canít imagine a significant improvement in the details (graphics, support, speed) until we see some more features (colour, java, etc). We hardly saw any extra features as I keep saying. So here are some of the features which the kindle is still LACKING, and would still be amazing to see in patches if possibleÖ
EDIT: The worst problem right now, is that the freezes are really annoying. It is now a year since I got the thing, and it does still freeze. This mainly happens when I am reading a book in a .txt (notepad) file or a large .mobi, It almost never happens when reading books from Amazon.co.uk. On some problem-books annotating will sometimes be fine, but sometimes the system will have some problems with it. This does not happen so often with writing notes, but creating bookmarks and making highlights puts such a strain on the system sometimes it will freeze for about 5 minutes (with the worst offenders I've had the gameboy beside me to play while I wait). This problem comes and goes, and in my opinion is the biggest annoyance on the kindle right now. The issue is ameliorated with later kindles with better CPUs.
Storage space is still an issue, at least for me. With all the massive pdf files I have, I need about 3GB of space for just my documents. My audible file takes up another 500mb and that should leave 1GB left but doesnít Ė Kindle might claim to be 4gb but actually registers on computer as 3.05, pathetic. Deleting and redownloading archived items is easy and superfast, but kindle only archives items Iíve got from Amazon, and Iíve already explained why Amazon files are not the most important ones on kindle. Really Iíd hope to see at least double this for the next generation. I can get a 16GB SD card for £10, and if Amazon isnít prepared to include that much storage in itís device then it needs to allow me to add my own.
Battery storage is quite poor. Amazon claim their kindle 3 battery life will last one month. No, no, NO! If you don't use wireless, or read anything, or have any books then it might last a month. However if you actually get some use out of the thing you'll probably have to recharge it every few days. On the one hand, this isn't so bad as the kindle plug doubles up as a USB, so you can charge via laptop or computer easily enough, and carry on reading whilst you do. However Amazon blatantly lying about it is a bit irksome.
EDIT: Amazon have just changed their specification to two months of battery life. This is to match the new Nook which argues for 2 months, but has based its estimate on less reading time each day. Don't listen to the hype!
EDIT: Ciao's own EssexGirl2006 has informed me that her battery life does last three-four weeks, and that is with an hour of reading every day. She reads novels instead of journals and textbooks like me, and has 50-60 books on, instead of 600+, but it is definitely something to consider. I need to have all the books available to search, but if you are only reading fiction on it you may not need hundreds of books available at any given time...
I intensely dislike writing lengthy notes on kindle. It's amazing for short notes, and continuous while reading notes, but when taking longer ones I invariably will press "menu" or "back" in a typing frenzy, losing all the note since I last "saved". You can save by pressing save, but that ends up creating loads of useless entries in the my clippings file from various parts in the notes life cycle. Finding the symbols is also really annoying. I'm afraid I'm lazy enough that I don't care that I'm not easily getting any of the millions of accents all my languages seem to need ŠťŪůķŗŤžÚýńńďńęŇŇę, but Welsh at least, and English to a certain degree, really needs apostrophes all over the place. And if i leave the symbol box open it makes it more likely ill press menu by mistake for some reason. Previous kindles had not just the number keys, but shortcut keys to get symbols on screen which I think was easier.
From the most backward properties of the kindle 3 we can move straight onto another of the most promising Ė applications. Now you canít expect anything like the iphone apps store with no colour and a screen which canít move but only refresh, but you can expect some games! Just before the release of the Kindle 3 two games were released for the kindle 2 which users were invited to download for free. They were both word games, where you are given a series of letters and have to make words out of them, which are ideal for kindle. There are also lots of ďultimate sudoukuĒ type games, which give you an unlimited number of random games as long as you are connected to the internet. Perhaps less helpful is an app Iíd dearly like to use, a book which has lists of all the common birds. Attached to them is a little video and clip of their bird song. Unfortunately this app only works on Kindle for iPhone/iPad, but although I can see why Kindle canít use the video, a nice picture with a bird song sound-effect would still be pretty cool.
EDIT: Amazon have just come out with "Scrabble" for the kindle, of which there is a 1 player and 2 player mode. Pretty good, but not what I really want...
To be honest, what I am most hoping for is some RPGs. (Kindlequest.com does not count!) Iím keeping an eagle eye out for more games like Vagabondís Quest which I mentioned earlier, but if weíre talking an app, and considering the Kindle 3ís speed, maybe a (2d, sprite) graphical rpg, where you just press the 5-way in the direction you want to walk, and use the keyboard to attack/loot would be almost as fun, and the old turn-based versions didnít exactly need a fast internet connection. An app could even be offline...
This interactive, graphical novel from Amazon.com looks amazing... One day we might even have it in the UK. (http://www.amazon.com/Dusk-World/dp/B004EP3040/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297349994&sr=8-1)
Of course, ultimately the kindle is for reading, and games will only ever be secondary for it. For that reason, Iím not going to quibble too much about the biggest lack on the kindle 3 Ė colour. The kindle 3 does have a vastly improved contrast and resolution, which makes pictures look much better, so for now Iíll forgive it for not using colour. On the other hand, without colour, or a touch screen, the only really important improvements for the kindle 3 are increased PDF foreign language and internet support, plus easier disabled accessibility, which is hardly what weíre used to seeing from generation to generation of electronic.
However, the interesting thing is that Kindle prices are not going up and up, they are going down and down. The first Kindle was originally £230, and now you can pick up the Kindle 3 wifi for £111, and the 3g for £152 (Get the 3g, you never know when you'll want internet in the park/on the beach!). For some reason, the prices in the US are even better, although you can console yourself with a lack of after sales tax and cheaper ebooks.
EDIT: A new kindle is out in america, without a real name to it. Its only new feature is that it has advertisements which come up on the screensaver, and may in the future, start coming up at the beginning of every book. For this you will pay about $15 less. In my opinion its not worth it, but some of the adverts are very good, like buy a $20 gift certificate for $10... This is likely to come to the UK soon. It's definitely not worth downgrading from your Kindle 3 without adverts, but if the price means a lot to you it will be better than the Kindle 2...
EDIT: The Kindle 1 and 2 never had page numbers on Kindle files. Yes, you could use the Internet Archive, and you might be able to get onto Ebrary.com the way I described earlier on the Kindle 2, but the Kindle 3 has recently unleashed a new firmware update (this will be installed automatically as long as wireless is on) which adds page numbers to all the main bestselling and scholarly kindle books. This is a REALLY significant update, and alongside the above two mentioned sites makes the Kindle a truly powerful tool for research... If you can afford the cost of the scholarly from the Kindle store (ouch!)
Purely because of this last added feature I am going to have to change my final recommendation. Page numbers is one of the big, big features not available anywhere else. All the other ereaders are either more expensive, don't use e-ink or simply don't have the Kindle 3's range of features. The other improved features of the Kindle 3 over the Kindles 1 and 2 are actually almost ignorable, slightly improved internet access, and the ability to take notes and highlights on pdf (just convert them if you want that on the Kindle 2). However, page numbers is significant enough that if you are a student or scholar the Kindle 3 is well worth the upgrade. (The only downsides being the necessity to get rid of the old kindle and the possibility of losing all your notes...) I suppose if you don't buy books from the kindle store, or if you just only buy the latest bestsellers it might not be that important to you though... Kindle DX users might want to hold out in the hope of a new model to come...
Final EDIT ---- Kindle 3 compared to the newer Kindle mini, the Kindle Touch, and the Kindle Paperwhite.
+++ The Kindle 3 has more storage space for books than the kindle mini and Paperwhite, but the same as the touch.
The Kindle 3 allows use of free internet using 3g unlike all the others
- - -
The Kindle 3 obviously does not have a touch screen unlike the Kindle Touch and Paperwhite.
The Kindle 3 does not have a front light like the Kindle Paperwhite
The Kindle 3 does not have the new X-Ray feature.
Finally, the Kindle 3 is far slower than the Kindle Touch and Paperwhite.
Advice - get the Kindle Touch, or Paperwhite if you can afford it unless the internet means everything to you.
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