New Kindle Review: Is it good enough?

A few weeks ago, I opened my mailbox to reveal a slender brown box. Elated, I rushed into my apartment and tore into the packaging. I oohed and ahhed as I pulled out a sleek charcoal device, complete with a 6″ eInk display; it was the new $109 keyboard-less Kindle ($79 if you get the version with Ads). Since then, I have been tirelessly reading, downloading, researching, and just plain playing with it.

The reading process has, thus far, been my absolute favourite aspect of this Kindle. The beautiful six-inch display appears more paper-like than any eInk screen that I have seen to date. Page turning is very smooth and the buttons are well-located, if a bit difficult to push sometimes. The other buttons are central and perfectly responsive, making highlighting easy.

Along with reading, my eBook buying experience has been quite delightful. The Kindle’s store is easy to search or browse. The category filtering, thumbnail displays, and reviews appear as eInk versions of what would appear when searching the Kindle Store on a computer. The one drawback of the shopping experience is that the lack of a keyboard or touchscreen makes typing somewhat difficult; however, the quick-loading search suggestions often negate the necessity of the keyboard altogether.

Unlike in the past, buying eBooks is not the only way to get them onto the Kindle. ePub library books are now available from 11,000 American public libraries. The major issue with this is that the eBooks cannot be downloading directly onto the Kindle, but they can be easily transferred from a computer. There are thousands of titles available for free for a temporary period, making reading even more accessible.

Amazon also offers an alternative library for Amazon Prime members. It is a fantastic paid service, allowing members to borrow books without due dates and get other exceptional deals from Amazon.

Another way to view files on the Kindle is by viewing .PDF files. While screen rotation, brightness, and zoom are all adjustable, most .PDFs simply do not look right on the Kindle. Pictures are grayscaled and made to look grainy on the eInk screen and words within comic books and brochures are nearly always too distorted or small to read.

Finally, the Kindle has games, applications, and an experimental browser. These features all give the Kindle a well-roundedness. The Kindle has always been viewed as purely an eReader, but since the release of the Kindle Fire and these features, the image of the Kindle is changing, but this Kindle is lacking the ability to listen to music. That could be a step in the wrong direction for Amazon.

The applications and games available for the Kindle are similar to what applications and games are available for other tablets and smartphones, but with less animation. Amazon has focused these apps around reading, writing, and expanding your mind. Moving back and forth between the apps and eBooks is seamless; however, the browser does have some issues and without a keyboard, it is practically unusable.

The new Kindle has been altogether a surprisingly useful device, with far more features and functionality than I had expected. While the device definitely has its flaws, I cannot say that I regret buying it. Anyone who is seeking a fantastic eReader with great usability and a clear, beautiful display will be delighted with the new Kindle.

20 Responses

  1. Great review except for this paragraph: “Finally, this Kindle has games, applications, and an experimental browser. These features all give the Kindle a well-roundedness that it had been lacking until recently. The Kindle has always been viewed as purely an eReader, but with the release of the Kindle Fire and these features, the image of the Kindle is changing.” The K3 has had games and every Kindle has had the experimental web browser. In fact, the K4 looses audio.

  2. I’m still debating over which Kindle to get. HELP!!!! I was fairly sure I was going to get the Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi (Although I have a Verizon MiFi/WiFi my current Kindle doesn’t pick it up, but does pick up WiFi at other spots, and gets ZERO signal on 3G), but since I don’t want ads, it’s $189 and for $10 more I can get a Kindle Fire. I can drive 5 miles down the road (according to the map of Kindle 3G coverage) and pick up 3G, or drive another 10 miles into town (obviously, I live in a rural area) and get WiFi at any number of spots.

    Now, I’m confused. (Normal feeling for me, I should say “more confused.”)

    So, let’s take a tally. Y’all tell me what Kindle I want.

    A) Do I want to just go with the WiFi touch Kindle for $99 and save money, and just download everything at once when I’m somewhere with WiFi? Or

    2) Do I want to splurge and go for a Kindle Fire and look for WiFi?

    c) Do I want to get the WiFi Kindle Touch with 3G and go sit on the lake 5 miles from home and download stuff? Or go to a WiFi spot when it’s handy?

    So, tell me quick so I can let Santa know.

    Also, is there any way to download to my current Kindle everything that is archived, or do I have to do it one book at a time. Currently, if I “synch” it will download by itself anything I’ve purchased since the last synch, and put it in the lineup with “NEW” beside it, but, everything that’s listed in archive (currently over 300 books, so this is an important question) I have to click on one by one and wait while they download (and no matter where I am it is never within the whatever-seconds they advertise.) The Kindle I have now is the….2nd generation? 3rd? It has 3G and WiFi and a keyboard at the bottom.

    Thanks in advance for the avalanche of answers I expect. *grin*

    Bobbye

    • How many books do you tend to read. If your #1 use is reading then $99 WiFi Touch Kindle is best.

      If you would also like other things then Kindle Fire. Kindle Fire will list all items but won’t download them until you tell it to.

      Kindle Touch just has Archive and you can go in. In Archive section you can press right on the 5-way to start downloading a book without exiting Archived books section.

      3G doesn’t seem worth it – based on what you’ve said.

  3. “Unlike in the past, buying eBooks is not the only way to get them onto the Kindle. ePub library books are now available from 11,000 American public libraries. The major issue with this is that the eBooks cannot be downloading directly onto the Kindle, but they can be easily transferred from a computer. There are thousands of titles available for free for a temporary period, making reading even more accessible.”

    Actually, you CAN send library books directly to your Kindle via WiFi. You can’t send them via 3G (so if you have a Kindle 1 or Kindle 2, you’re stuck downloading and transfering with a computer), but you definitely can send them to a K3, K4, or KT. Hope this helps!

    • Well, thank you for that information. I’ll be sure to try it!

      • Agree on the sending directly to the Kindle via Wi-FI, although that might be one of those things that vary by library system.

        BUT … “ePub library books”? To my understanding, the Kindle still will not read the ePub format. As far as I know, you have to get a Kindle format library book to read on the Kindle.

        Have you (or anyone else here) been able to read ePub library books on the Kindle? And if so, how?!? There are a lot more ePub library books available at my local library than there are Kindle versions.

        Thanks!

      • Nope … they are mobi files only. You have to select the Kindle format through your library’s Overdrive system.

        I did notice that error in the author’s understanding as well … but didn’t want to pile on the corrections. I wasn’t impressed with the fact-checking or lack thereof in this article.

      • Rachel, she meant library books in Kindle format. Kindle supports only Kindle format through Overdrive. Overdrive also does ePub so there’s some confusion around formats there.

    • For some reason I’m not getting a “reply” button under your response to my question, so I’ll just put it here …

      Thanks! :)

  4. Caroline is right. I transfer library books directly to my K3 by wifi all the time.

    I bought a kindle because I wanted a reader. I wouldn’t have bought it if it was “well rounded.” The K3 can handle games and it also can function as a browser.

    As for Amazon Prime, you neglected to mention that you are only allowed to read one book per month.

    Reviews give the most useful information when they give both the positives and negatives of the item being reviewed. This post reads more like an advertisement than a review.

    • These are all great points. I, however, was looking for an inexpensive eReader that would provide me with a bit more than just reading — I simply can’t afford anymore than this Kindle.
      Regarding my review reading as an advertisement, well, I wish that wasn’t the case. I have certainly enjoyed owning my Kindle and am glad to have gotten it, so I would recommend it to others, but I am not trying to act as an advertiser – just an informer. Perhaps I am just too kind at times.
      Thanks very much for your feedback, I always appreciate it.

      • I didn’t mean to come off as picky; I was just making a small correction. I really liked the article. I’m considering passing my K3 to one of the children and getting the new cheap Kindle. I don’t need the extras and like the smaller size.

  5. I’ve been a Kindle fan now for several years. My first was the Kindle 2 3g version, When I upgraded to the Kindle 3 Wifi, and passed my K2 on to my daughter. I love the K3 with the lighted cover. Later I bought another kindle, the Kindle 4 with offers. At $79 you cant beat it. I find the offer screen savers are more interesting than the old boring screen savers on my K3. So, I see it as a plus. So with two readers I find that I use them both. K3 on my night stand and the K4 floats around the house. When you consider the money you will spend over time buying books, the initial costs of the reader is pretty much irrelevant. It’s sort of like having a dog or a cat, the reals cost is feeding it! Don’t tell Ciscothecat however.

  6. “The beautiful six-inch display appears more paper-like than any eInk screen that I have seen to date.”

    This is rather misleading, unless you’ve been dwelling in a cave for the past two years. The Pearl eInk screen has been out for well over a year, and has been standard on nearly all eInk readers. What improvements does the screen offer over Kindle 3/keyboard, Nook, Sony reader, or Kobo reader?

    • Charles, not really.

      Kindle 3, Kindle DX 2, and Kindle 4 all have eInk Pearl. So does Kindle Touch.

      1) There are variations within eInk Pearl screens (random variations).
      2) Amazon does software tweaks including faster page turns on Kindle Touch and Kindle 4 and only 1 flash every 5 page turns.

      So, while some readers might get a very good Kindle 3 eInk Pearl screen and feel Kindle 3 is better, for most readers the slightly faster page turns and the far less frequent screen flashes will make the Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch screen seem a bit better.

      I have all the eReaders you mention and Kindle 4 has as good or better a screen than any of them.
      Perhaps Meaghan should have been clearer in specifying that it’s what she felt and not some test carried out over 1,000 screens.

      • I think you’re really stretching here for an argument.

        1) I strongly doubt variations in manufacturing are note- or discussion worthy.

        2) When people discuss screen quality on these devices, they refer to contrast and resolution. Page turn is a separate issue.

      • First, I think you need to step back and realize this is a blog post and the blogger’s opinion and it’s probably not going to match yours. And that neither is correct or perfect and shouldn’t be.

        My opinion: New Kindle Review was different. Where i specifically recommended Kindle 3 or Kindle Touch.
        Meaghan’s opinion is different. She loves the Kindle 4 and that’s what she should write. What she felt.

        They’re both valid as is your opinion.

        However, there are a few things

        a) If you take the time to do a search you’ll see that eInk panel differences are a very common issue. It happened with Kindle 2 and Kindle 3 too. People have had screens worse than their previous Kindle and some have had better (with new Kindle). This is because there are variations in screen quality. I had 2 Kindle 2s and they had different screens.

        b) Page turn is not a separate issue. Screen quality is measured in terms of how close it is to reading a real book. Some people are bothered by screen flash and some aren’t. So for the former, the Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch and Nook Touch offer much better screen quality because it is CLOSER to reading an actual book. They don’t really care about how many pixels there are or anything else.

        Of course, if you are measuring it in technical terms Vs what the book reading experience is like, then what Meaghan wrote would make no sense to you. Because you are separating the contrast and resolution and assuming that is the only thing that means anything. It’s not.

        It’s the reading experience. When she writes ‘appears more paper-like’ then she isn’t narrowing it to 600 by 800.

        Why don’t you let us know what ereaders you own etc.

        I’ve been blogging about the Kindle since December 2011 and have owned EVERY eReader from the top 3 except the latest Sony Reader. Her review is a bit effusive but she clearly mentions the things that don’t work and is pretty clear about the fact that she likes it.

        I see no reason for you to write things like ‘have you been living in a cave’. Obviously, since you are completely unaware of the variations in eInk Pearl screens, an issue important enough for tons of people to return their Kindles, it’s not as if you’re perfect. So stop expecting other people to be perfect and stop being so negative.

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