Kindle 3 reviews from users at Amazon

There are now Kindle 3 reviews from Kindle 3 owners available at Amazon.

There are just 168 Kindle 3 reviews at the moment but they are very revealing. Let’s dig in.

Update: This post discusses reviews and it’s not really helpful if you’re trying to decide whether to buy a Kindle 3. Please take a look at my Kindle 3 Review or read the reviews at the Kindle 3 product page.

Kindle 3 Reviews at Amazon – The First 168

Here are the things that really stand out -

  1. There are 124 five-star reviews and 27 four star reviews – That means 89.9% of Kindle 3 owners love their Kindle 3. Update: Actually, it’s more like 80% since some of the 4-star reviews are not very positive.
  2. Just 3 three star reviews and 2 two star reviews but 12 1 star reviews.
  3. The most helpful 4 star reviews are – a comparison of Kindle 3 and Sony PRS-505, a comparison of Kindle 2 and Kindle 3. The most helpful 5-star review is a comparison of Nook and Kindle 3. That’s quite a trend.
  4. The most helpful 4-star review claims Kindle 3 and Sony 505 screens are in a tie – Yes, our color-magical-revolutionary-spectrometer found 50% better screen contrast but your eagle eyes think an eInk screen from 2 years ago is just as good.
  5. There are a noticeable group of people paying Kindle 3 back-handed compliments. In fact, a quarter of the 4 star reviews read more like 1 star reviews. Which makes the break-up more like – 80% love it, 10% think it’s only marginally better, and 10% hate it.
  6. There are still people talking about how the Kindle 3 isn’t good as a do-it-all device. It’s marvellous that despite Amazon trying to hammer home the fact that it’s a dedicated ebook reader people still try to see Kindle 3 as a do-it-all device.
  7. Just the way people are attached to their physical books people are attached to their Kindle 1s and Kindle 2s and Nooks and Sony Readers. It’s quite interesting to see some of the criticism the Kindle 3 receives.

If we go into more detail we find out some interesting things about the Kindle 3 such as the fact that the Korean font used is barely readable and ‘not pretty’.

12 One Star Kindle 3 Reviews, 2 Two Star Reviews, 3 Three Star Reviews

1 star reviews are always fascinating to me -

  1. Review 1: Something rolling around inside the Kindle, buttons and casing felt delicate.
  2. Review 2: This user is upset she can’t transfer books from Kindle 2 to Kindle 3. Well, they’re specific to the Kindle so they can’t just be transferred over. Felt buttons on the side were too delicate. Didn’t like buttons and not having number keys.
  3. Review 3: Browser worked but Kindle Store didn’t.
  4. Kindle 3 Review  4: Upset with Customer Service.
  5. Review 5: Claims you lose all your Kindle books if you change your email address. Not going to test the validity of that claim – too much of a risk if it turns out to be true.
  6. Review 6: Didn’t like default Korean Font.
  7. Didn’t like default Korean Font.
  8. Korean font.
  9. Someone who bought a Kindle 2 for $259.
  10. Someone who ordered August 1st and hasn’t received it yet.
  11. A complaint about there being no magical 1 device that does everything. Steve Jobs, your magical powers have deserted you.
  12. On cue, someone pushing the iPad.

Here are the two 2-star Kindle 3 reviews -

  1. Korean Font is not readable.
  2. Negative flash you get when you turn pages.

Finally, the three 3-star reviews -

  1. WiFi problems for this user with browser not working. This user says he bought Kindle 3 for the browser – when he gets the browser working he’s going to come to the painful realization that it really is an experimental browser – Amazon didn’t just put in experimental because it goes well with browser.  
  2. Complaint about Customer service. 
  3. 10-20% of Asian language characters are not supported. Also says Kindle 3 crashed 4 times in 1 day.  

These are fine – People don’t like Kindle 3, they give it 1 stars and that’s alright. The ones that really threw me off were the 4 star ones that were so critical and demanding.

Two Categories of Positive Kindle 3 Reviews

There’s no way to avoid saying it. There are clearly two categories of positive reviews -

  1. The people who love the Kindle 3.
  2. Those who begrudgingly are saying Kindle 3 is the best eReader. It’s almost like they’re trying to find out any way they can to avoid saying – Great job, Kindle Team. You made a great eReader.

The latter group of reviews are troublesome. It’s rather depressing that it pains people to give a straight compliment after there are something like 15-20 solid improvements. Here are 16 reasons why people paying Kindle 3 back-handed compliments (it’s marginally better than my Sony 505) are being rather unfair -

improved battery life, better PDF support, better browser, article mode.

faster page turns, eInk Pearl screen, smaller size, lighter weight.

3 font types, sharper fonts, double the memory, $189 price.

more words per page, better button placement, lighted cover powered by Kindle 3, Voice Guide.

We’re used to seeing 4 to 8 improvements in an eReader release (Example: Nook brought LCD touchscreen, LendMe, PDF support, SD Card Slot, replaceable battery).

To see 16 solid improvements is very, very impressive. Kindle 3 is the first time we’re getting a massively better eReader since the Kindle 1 was released and perhaps we should appreciate it and acknowledge it.

Nook was a good solid release and it got crucified and Kindle 3 is a super solid release and people are trying to damn it with faint praise. It seems no matter how much you improve a product some people will still find flaws and ignore the good things.

Real Problems identified in Kindle 3 Reviews

Here are my predictions for things that are going to cause Amazon problems -

  1. Ghosting. Basically, the much darker black also means more ghosting – that’s probably why Amazon does a screen re-flash after every single page. It’s also why there is a tiny bit of reflection/glare if you have a dark image (because the dark is so good at being dark).   
  2. Freezing. There’s little doubt that Kindle 3 freezes more than Kindle 2. Have run into a dozen different threads on this and at some point people are going to realize that it’s not just a first few days thing. Perhaps it is just a ‘first few days’ thing and it goes away – However, it certainly seems that Kindle 3 crashes are here to stay.
  3. Reading Light’s effect on Battery Life. This is pretty unfair because people should take into account that using a reading light will obviously drain the battery. However, customers are so mollycoddled that they want their reading light and their wireless and their 1 month of battery life.

The first two will have to be fixed – except the first might not be fixable. It just might be the price of having a super high contrast.

We’re getting more and more spoilt as Customers

There’s this belief growing, and it’s fed in large part by companies with ridiculously good customer service like Amazon, that amazing customer service is the norm and easy and doesn’t cost anything. In parallel, we have the expectation that products will keep getting better and better while also getting cheaper and cheaper. Again, companies like Apple and Amazon are feeding this.

It’s reached a stage where we manage to look at a very impressive product, block out all the good things, and complain about one 1 or 2 things that we would have liked -

  1. The iPhone has changed what smartphones are and what they can do and people still fixate on the lack of Flash and it not being an open system. 
  2. Kindle 3 has managed to raise the bar for eReaders sky-high and we still have people complaining because the magical reading light that is powered by the Kindle itself and frees you from ever having to worry about batteries drains the battery life. Sorry, we couldn’t put a mini-Sun in there that combined hydrogen with oxygen to power your reading light.
  3. Nook came out and it forced Kindle to add PDF support. B&N also tried to get a working model in place for lending ebooks. However, Nook got crucified because it would freeze and was sluggish. They didn’t do enough bug-fixing – they’re human- to forgive is divine. You still got your amazing ebook reader that can download books wirelessly and has a LCD touchscreen so you can see book covers in color. Does that register? No. People are upset because they have to wait a few extra seconds to read their books – That is obviously far more important than the fact that their books magically appear out of the ether.

Apple and Amazon are training us to expect superhuman performance and it’s just not sustainable. Zappos too – the whole notion that you can order three pairs of shoes and send back the two that aren’t a perfect fit. No wonder they had to sell themselves – they were training customers to kill profits.

It’s encouraging that 80% of Kindle 3 owners love the Kindle. It’s also disheartening that even after releasing a super impressive Kindle 3 Amazon still can’t get some people to appreciate the work put in.

The Kindle 3 has had a lot of work and thought put into it – Criticizing the lack of support for library books or other real Kindle 3 flaws is valid. Criticizing the cord on the lighted cover or the fact that the reading light uses up the Kindle 3’s battery is absurd.

13 Responses

  1. I dunno. I think the lack of support for Flash especially and other common internet technologies secondarily are significant issues with the iPhone and other smartphones – one of their key functions is to be a mobile web appliance, and an amazing amount of the web does not work because they lack that support. It’s doubly bad for the iPad, because the iPad is (at least to me) going up against similarly sized portable computers that -can- do Flash and Silverlight and whatever, while nobody in the smartphone market can.

    It’d be like…oh, I don’t know. A Kindle that couldn’t display punctuation. Sure, one can live without it, but it would be a significant blow to the Kindle as a reading device.

    • That’s a good point. Also agree that it’s even more significant for iPad.

      Apple has to do it to an extent because they have to keep their App Store as the primary way to add games to iPhone. Basically, they want to ensure uniqueness and tie developers into their eco-system.

    • Just to correct you – there are smartphones that can do flash. The latest Android OS can do Flash if your phones processor can handle it. Unfortunately my HTC Hero isn’t up to it but the HTC Desire very much can. It works really rather well actually.

  2. I’ll be receiving my K3 today and I’m sure I’ll love it. I have an iPad but reading on that after a long day of looking at a bright LCD screen (I’m a graphic designer) is somewhat torturous, not to mention the fact that the screen is so bright while reading in a dark room and the resolution isn’t all that great for hours of reading.

    So I’ll just be using the K3 for what it was built for… reading. Can’t wait to try it out, hopefully it doesn’t crash too often, that’d make for a discouraging first day. Amazon can probably fix that with a firmware update in the near future.

  3. I played around with my new Kindle 3 (3G/Wifi) a lot this weekend (having gotten it on Friday). This is my first e-reader, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was immediately pleased by the screen and the reading experience. Refresh rate, which I’d read about as a concern with e-ink in general, seems completely fine and I have no issues with it. I actually don’t even notice it as I read.

    However, the freezing is a real annoyance. This happened frequently while I used the device this weekend (sometimes while browsing for books on the online store, sometimes while simply using the “Go To” function in a novel). When it freezes up, it freezes up good, and the only seemingly full-proof cure that I’ve found (again, only after two days of concerted use) is to hold the power slider for fifteen or twenty full seconds until the device completely reboots (and once I had to plug it in to a power socket, even though it wasn’t out of battery life). That really does merit some review by Amazon; perhaps a firm-ware update might cure it. I don’t know.

    But other than that, the experience of reading on the device is very positive.

  4. I’ve spent the weekend with my new K3. In that amount of time I’ve gotten to know it pretty well, it’s capabilities and (minor) faults.

    We live in an era of instant information and of people being able to share their OPINIONS instantly. Even this post is an opinion.

    I didn’t purchase a prior Kindle because I thought they were too expensive as dedicated devices. The pricing on the K3 (and my aging eyes) pushed me over the edge for a K3. So far the experience has been enjoyable.

    As with ANY chip-based device, there have been hiccups. I have had a couple minor restarts and one major freeze, but in the former the unit recovered by itself and in the later a 15-second-power-button-reset solved the issue.

    What continues to amaze me is how well the Kindle design team did at bringing out a refresh to an already successful product. That, and their commitment to READING, the primary focus of the device.

    The fact is, we as consumers have been spoiled by convergence, and most people expect their devices to do multiple things. This is where the problem with the Kindle (experimental) browser come in: people simply have grown accustomed to having a (nearly) desktop experience on a hand-held device. I purchased the K3 with my eyes wide-open. I didn’t expect a stellar browser experience. What I got is fine for my use: A browser that can be accessed nearly anywhere (with WiFi or 3G) to get information-in-a-pinch. A quick address look-up or restaurant review.

    Because I mainly wanted a very good dedicated reader, my expectations for the more “experimental” functions of the K3 were tempered. By not having high expectations for those functions I can be blown away by just how well the K3 DOES perform and how integrated it is with the Amazon ecosystem.

    To me, one the most amazing things has very little to do with the K3 at all: Whisper Sync. I am amazed (Thanks, Amazon!) that I can synchronize what I’m reading across multiple platforms. Everyone is always looking for the “killer app” for a new device. For me, the killer app for the Kindle is the Amazon Store, along with Whisper Sync.

    My only niggle to date has been the battery drain, but in hind-sight I realized that I was using the lighted cover A LOT as well as WiFi and and 3G.

    For the time being, I choose to remain amazed and to be able to enjoy digital reading again, after a hiatus of several years.

    • OOPS!

      New problem: Every time I try to access one of the PDF’s I transferred to my K3 yesterday (no matter how small the files size), it crashes the unit and resets the device. I was able to show an associate my PDF’s this morning (doing a little sales spiel for Amazon…) just fine. The unit had locked-up and restarted once before I showed him.

      Now every time I try to open a PDF, it restarts the K3. I suspect that somehow a RESET was triggered and those files were lost or corrupted. (They still show up on the Home page…)

      Since I didn’t bring my cable with me, I cannot reload them and I was unable to send even the smallest of them wirelessly via my Kindle email address. Looks Like I’ll have to call Amazon customer service, not that I expect them to help me, but so they’re aware. I’ll have to wiat to delete and reload the files when I get home.

  5. We got a picture of the Korean font here. It is indeed hideous.

  6. [...] and very thorough meta-analysis of Kindle 3 reviews at Amazon by Switch11 at Kindle Review.  Who knew: people hate the Korean font (image here).  Most [...]

  7. The KIndle 3 is my first ereader and am very impressed. As for the iPAD versus Kindle 3 debate these products are clearly in different categories. I own an iPAD and like it but its not suitable for reading for long periods, simply too heavy and holding it becomes uncomfortable.

    I have experienced my Kindle 3 suddenly freezing then shutting itself down then rebooting several times. Doesn’t seem to consistently happen when I repeat what I did just appears to happen randomly. Is probably (hopefully) a software bug.

  8. This made me chuckle, “Sorry, we couldn’t put a mini-Sun in there that combined hydrogen with oxygen to power your reading light.”

    I have been scouring this page for the last few weeks agonising over whether or not to buy the new Kindle 3. These reviews and peoples comments have been really helpful and I ordered my K3 today. It’s (understandably) out of stock but I take that to be a good sign!

  9. [...] of Kindle 3 reviews are 4 stars or 5 stars. That’s down from the initial Kindle 3 review trends when 89.9% of owners had given Kindle 3 4 stars or 5 stars. There are people who mention reducing [...]

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