The Kindle 3 is shipping already and the major reviews are out but one of the features the generally effusive reviews have neglected to cover is the Kindle 3’s new WebKit Browser.
It’s surprising because the new Kindle 3 Browser and its Article Mode are amazing. This post covers the Kindle 3 browser and has loads of photos.
2 sentence summary – The Kindle 3 Browser is great for reading things, especially news sites and blogs. It’s not usable as a full browser and can’t handle Flash and Java and, as far as my experience goes, Ajax doesn’t work either.
Kindle 3 Browser – What Sites Work
The new Kindle 3 Browser can handle complex websites easily. You don’t have to use the mobile sites – the actual sites load up fine.
Here are the websites that work fine 90% to 100% of the time –
- Gutenberg.org, ManyBooks.net, and Archive.org all work fine and you can download books straight from them. Choose Kindle or .Mobi format files.
- BBC and New York Times.
- Hotmail works fine. Update: Yahoo Mail works most of the time. Be sure to choose ‘Classic Mail’ option when it fails to load the new version.
- Unsurprisingly, Amazon.com works great. The entire structure and all the links and menus including scroll over menus.
- The Bookseller and Teleread.
- Most WordPress Blogs.
- Most of the websites tried worked.
- Don’t have a Facebook account but touch.facebook.com is supposed to work (courtesy Joe).
Nearly every website tried worked just fine. Even things like signing up for accounts work fine (Hotmail, GMail).
Kindle 3 Browser – Sites that don’t work
Update: The main versions of some Google sites don’t work but the mobile versions work –
- Gmail – http://mail.google.com/mail/x/
- Google Reader – http://www.google.com/reader/m/view/ works. The main Google Reader site also works if you give it a few tries.
- Google Maps – doesn’t seem to be working.
Thanks to Joe for the update.
Interestingly enough you can go through and sign up for a GMail account from the main site but not use the main GMail site. The mobile version works fine.
Updated: Yahoo Mail breaks down when you try to log-in and offers you Classic Mode – that works fine and is quite easy to use though moving around is a bit of a pain.
Let me know if you have a particular site you want tried out on the Kindle 3 Browser.
Kindle 3 Browser – Article Mode
On nearly every article or blog post page, and on most other pages, you can go into ‘Article Mode’. If it’s not an article page you get a warning message but you can still go ahead – it works most of the time.
In Article Mode all the banners and extrinsics like drop down menus and non-article graphics are stripped out. All you get is the text and occasionally the main image. Basically it works like Readability (a desktop browser plug-in that strips away everything except the main Article) and converts web articles and blog posts into little book chapters.
It’s a killer feature all by itself.
Kindle 3 Browser – Zooming in, Other Features
Whenever a page loads the Kindle 3 Browser recommends a default zoom level – It does this by showing a box outline with a magnifying glass icon in it. In fact you can’t click on anything until you zoom in.
Once you zoom in you can move around and use the cursor to get to whatever you want to click on. The experience varies from being easy on some sites to incredibly painful on other sites.
You get lots of zoom options – Fit to Screen, Actual Size, 150%, 200%, and 300%. You’ll usually be using the Kindle 3 Browser’s recommended zoom level or 300%.
There are some other useful features –
- Browse through your History and delete it if you like.
- Delete cookies.
- Bookmark Websites.
Overall, the Kindle 3 Browser is a big improvement over the older Kindle 2 browser and the Article Mode makes it better than the Nook’s impressive browser.
However, it’s nothing like a real browser. There are some important sites that don’t work (Google Maps) or work sporadically (Yahoo Mail).
Moving on …
After the jump – Lots of Kindle 3 Browser Photos and a Kindle 3 Video (more soon).
Kindle 3 Browser – Photos
Let’s start off with a couple of photos that’ll give you a good idea of what the Kindle 3 Browser is capable of.
Wikipedia in the Kindle 3 Browser –
Article Mode strips out ads and menus and lets you focus on the text –
New York Times in the Kindle 3 Browser
NY Times in the Kindle browser –
Zoomed into the NY Times website –
An individual article in the Kindle 3 browser –
Macro Mode shot of the NY Times on Kindle 3 (after zooming in once) –
Email Sites on Kindle 3 Browser
First, we have Yahoo Mail –
It works some of the time. You have to choose Classic Mode. Here’s a shot –
Next, we have Hotmail which works great every time (though it has the most painful sign up process ever – it’s as if they’re trying to get you to choose Yahoo or Google instead) –
It’s a pity they make it so tough to sign-up because it’s the only one that works fine on Kindle 3 –
Various Websites in the Kindle 3 Browser
Let’s start with ESPN –
Being able to handle that monstrosity of a website is impressive. Once you zoom in you see much better detail. Here’s a macro mode shot illustrating the quality –
Next, we have the BBC website which looks fine most of the time. This is a particularly good shot –
Finally, our last Kindle 3 browser photo – a close-up of the Amazon.com website after zooming in once.
Overall, the new Kindle 3 Browser is a big jump from the older ‘super experimental’ Kindle 2 browser. However, it’s not a full-fledged web browser by any stretch of the imagination. Fundamentally, it’s a ‘great for reading articles on websites’ browser.
New: Kindle 3 Browser with foreign language websites
First, we have ynet.co.il which shows up fine –
Here’s a shot after zooming in that clearly shows the writing –
Then, we have books.com.tw which shows up fine. This is a photo after zooming into the page.
This is the product page at Books.com.tw without zooming in –
Note that upn.com shows up fine but isn’t clickable so doesn’t work.
Kindle 3 Browser Video
Here’s a video that ought to help illustrate how the Kindle 3’s web browser works. It shows how ESPN.com looks on the new Kindle 3 Browser and includes some close-ups –
Hopefully, the Kindle 3 Browser photos and video helped you decide whether the Kindle 3 (Kindle 3 UK link) meets your needs. Please keep in mind that the browser is good but nothing like a full-fledged web browser.