Kindle 3 at Night Review

The Kindle 3, when combined with the Kindle Lighted Cover, is amazing for reading at night. This Kindle 3 Review will focus exclusively on describing the kindle 3 reading experience at night.

Read two books in the last two nights (including American Gods by Neil Gaiman) and felt its the perfect time to review Kindle 3 for night reading.

Kindle 3 Night Reading Review – the Positives

We’re combining the $189 Kindle 3 with the $59 Kindle lighted cover for reading at night. The positives that really stood out were -

  1. The LED reading light is powered by the Kindle 3 so you never have to worry about batteries.  
  2. The light is bright enough for reading in the dark. It also covers the entire screen – There have been concerns because it lights the edge of the screen that’s closer to it more than the opposite edge. When you’re reading everything is fine and the farther corners are perfectly readable.
  3. The Page turn buttons are pretty quiet. They’re quietest if you press the inner centre part (the part closest to the screen and at the half-way point of the button) and louder if you use the lower part.
  4. The Lighted Cover and Kindle 3 combine to be around 16.5 ounces. Kindle 3 is 8.7 oz and Lighted cover is 7.8 oz.
  5. Since the stem of the reading light is bendable you can read in almost any position. It bends but it can’t be re-arranged or set to a particular position.
  6. The LED turns off if your Kindle 3 goes to sleep.
  7. The charge was more than enough to read entire books. Didn’t really measure exactly how much of the battery was left but after the first book there was around 75% left. This might vary from Kindle to Kindle. 
  8. The cover gives a sense of security (perhaps a false one) that if you drop the Kindle 3 or sleep on it the screen won’t break.  
  9. It’s just a very cool feature – your cover has a reading light that is powered by the Kindle 3 itself.  
  10. It isn’t tiring for your eyes like LCD screens tend to be and since the light is falling on the eInk screen and not straight into your eyes it’s less stressful. Yes, you can lower the brightness on LCD screens but a bright LED falling on the eInk screen is much better for reading than a LCD screen with the brightness level set low.
  11. It’s very comfortable because you can take up pretty much any position and it works. For some positions you have to readjust the stem of the reading light (example – if it’s partially hidden) but that’s easy to do.

It is a really, really good reading experience. 

Kindle 3 Night Reading Review – the Negatives

There are also some negatives -

  1. The stem of the reading light can’t be twisted into different configurations. It would also have been nice if it could slide along the side edge and/or the top edge.
  2. There have been complaints that using the reading light drains the battery. Think this is to be expected – You can’t expect an LED light to be as power efficient as eInk. Haven’t figured out how long you can go on one charge but a full book (5-6 hours of reading) seems to take 25% or less battery life when the LED light is on.
  3. It becomes a very bad idea to start a good book right before going to bed because you will be able to read a lot longer than you would with a LCD screen (which tires the eyes, also it loses battery life sooner) or a reading light (since it disturbs others).
  4. The Lighted Cover is not light. It weighs nearly as much as the Kindle 3.  
  5. In a few reading positions the LED light gets twisted away from the screen and you have to readjust.
  6. You can’t adjust the brightness of the LED light.
  7. The Lighted Cover is pretty expensive at $59. Yes, buying a cover and light separately would be as much or close but Amazon must be selling hundreds of thousands of these – They should definitely find a way to knock down the price.
  8. Page turn buttons are not completely silent – they are very quiet but it could still affect light sleepers if you press the page turn buttons at the bottom instead of in the middle.

The positives far outweigh the negatives – the Kindle 3 is really good for reading at night.

Kindle 3 at Night Review – Comparisons with iPhone, Physical Books

There isn’t exactly a vacuum when it comes to reading at night. Lots of people talk about reading on their iPhone or Android Phone and it’s worth contrasting the Kindle 3 reading at night experience with other common options.

Kindle 3 + Lighted Cover vs LCD screen devices like iPhone and iPad

Well, my earlier default option used to be the iPhone because of the backlight. The iPad is just too big and just too heavy and just too awkward. If you manage to read on the iPad you have my admiration – A 1.5 pound book with touch controls is just too difficult for me plus it makes one-handed reading impossible.

Kindle 3 is great for one-handed reading. The screen is bigger than the iPhone but it’s still a manageable size. The in-built reading light eliminates the need for attaching things and for batteries.

Having a LED light that falls on the eInk screen is much better than having a back-lit LCD screen. Reading at night on the iPhone usually gives me a headache but reading on the Kindle 3 (and this was entire books) had no side-effects. The reflected light is also not so bright that it affects your sense of day/night. It doesn’t tire the eyes either.

If you were to try both options you would be hard-pressed to find enough reasons to choose iPhone or iPad – unless, of course, you don’t read much and can’t justify $189 on a dedicated eReader.

Kindle 3 + Lighted Cover vs Nook/Sony Reader + Reading Light

Have no idea what this would be like.

The effort involved in using batteries and in finding a good reading light that could be attached on to various eReaders meant eReaders at night were just too much effort – far easier to read on my iPhone and kill my eyes.

There are two big conveniences with the Lighted Cover for Kindle 3 – The reading light is in the cover itself and can be tucked away into it when not being used, there’s no need for batteries. These are both very significant. Since neither Nook nor Sony Reader offer these advantages there isn’t really any motivation to choose them instead.

Will try out the Sony 350 with a reading light and let you know how it goes.

Kindle 3 + Lighted Cover vs a Physical Book

This is an interesting comparison. There are a few areas where the book is better – You don’t have to worry about damaging it or dropping it, the book never runs out of battery life (though a reading light might), there are less page turns, paperbacks are much lighter than the Kindle 3 plus lighted cover combination.

There are also areas where Kindle 3 and the Lighted Cover are better – One-handed reading is easier, the reading light is integrated into the cover and you don’t need batteries, you get all the Kindle 3 features like dictionary and browser, page turns are much easier.

My preference would be the Kindle 3 – you avoid the hassle of batteries, you avoid needing a separate reading light, and page turns aren’t painful (especially when reading with one hand).  

Closing Thoughts on reading on the Kindle 3 at Night

Whether you buy a Kindle 3 or Sony 350 or iPad or iPhone you probably need a cover. $59 isn’t a super high price if you factor in what you’d pay for a cover plus the fact that getting a cover to protect your Kindle 3 is a very good idea.

The Kindle Lighted Cover is a killer feature – It’s really well done and a cool feature and it makes night reading great on the Kindle 3.

Kindle 3 ends up being better for reading at night than the iPad (which was quite bad) and iPhone (which was quite good). This is hugely significant because ‘you can read at night’ was perhaps the single biggest actual advantage the iPhone and iPad had over eReaders like Kindle when it came to reading.

People might not want to use a separate reading light and probably hate batteries and they might have forgotten that books have always needed reading lights at night – But if your light comes in your Kindle 3 cover and is powered by your Kindle 3 you really can’t argue that the iPad and iPhone are better options for reading at night.

Not only does the Lighted cover make reading on the Kindle 3 at night a pleasure it negates probably the biggest iPhone/iPad advantage (backlight for reading at night) and gives Kindle 3 a significant advantage over other eReaders.

Kindle 3 review insights from user reviews

The Kindle 3 product page now shows 614 customer reviews.

These kindle 3 reviews are surprisingly insightful and bring up a lot of things the big press reviews don’t. Let’s take a look.

Kindle 3 Review Insights – Kindle 3 Positives

The various positives (and the negatives in the next section) are arranged roughly in order of frequency of occurrence. So the Kindle 3 pros and cons that were mentioned most often are usually at the top of the lists.

The positives mentioned in 4 star and 5 star Kindle 3 reviews -

  1. Lots of praise for the Screen and Contrast – Much better contrast. eInk is amazing.
  2. Lots of praise for the light weight and compact size. Small enough to fit in most purses. 
  3. Great value for money.
  4. Very long battery life.
  5. The ease of getting new books.
  6. Readable in sunlight. No Glare.
  7. Far superior to Nook, Sony Reader, and Kindle 2. Best eReader on the market.
  8. Browser is better than expected and free Internet is very good value. Lots and lots of mentions of how this is very usable and very readable. Please note that this isn’t really a full-fledged browser – just a useful one.  
  9. Faster page turns. Speedier device in general.
  10. Page turn buttons on both sides. It’s interesting how having the Previous Page button on the right side make such a huge difference in ease of use and in one-handed reading.
  11. Option of graphite or white. 
  12. New 5-way controller is good. Yes, it’s definitely better than the older 5-way.
  13. Page turn buttons are quiet.
  14. Rubber back grip.
  15. Recharges quickly.  
  16. Better PDF Support. Note that it still isn’t usable as a PDF reader – It has a 6″ screen and highlighting doesn’t always work.
  17. Lighted cover is awesome. It really is. Just read an entire book last night and the lighted cover works perfectly.
  18. Kindle Browser is faster – especially over WiFi.

Note: Didn’t go through all 5 star and 4 star Kindle 3 reviews as there are 476 of them.

Perhaps the best Kindle 3 story is this one (courtesy bstar) -

We all agree (from our 10 year old on up) that the new model is much easier to read. I was going to be busy the night it arrived so I loaded up one of my daughters books and she read almost the entire book at one sitting (160 pages!).

This is someone who likes to read but rarely reads more than a chapter at a time.

She asked if she could ‘upgrade’ her original kindle to the new model for Christmas. A 10 year old, asking for an e-reader as her primary Christmas present.. wow.

Positives mentioned in 3 star Kindle 3 reviews -

  1. Lots of praise for the screen – Contrast much improved. Very readable. Zero eye strain when lighting is good. Overall, it doesn’t make my eyes bleed like a LCD does.
  2. Easy to hold in one hand. Much better than hardcovers and paperbacks for one-handed reading and for holding.  
  3. Experimental browser is pretty usable.
  4. Fabulous device for readers.  
  5. Low Price.  
  6. Battery Life is great.
  7. Hands down the best eReader.

The positives mentioned in 2 star and 1 star Kindle 3 Reviews -

  1. Lots of positive feedback on the screen – Display is quite readable. Contrast is gorgeous. Love the new screen.
  2. Small and Light.  
  3. Great technology – 4 stars out of 5.  
  4. Faster Page Turns.

It’s pretty interesting that a lot of people didn’t want to give Kindle 3 1 star reviews. Here are examples of what people wrote -

If it worked, it would be my favorite

I would really love this one, if the software could be a little bit better.

Overall, the Kindle 3 gets a ton of praise – even from people who give it only 3 stars.

Kindle 3’s Most Valuable Features

These were the star features -

  1. The eInk Pearl screen and readability – It gets mentioned so much there’s little doubt this is the #1 feature.
  2. Lightness and Compactness – This also gets a ton of praise.  
  3. Value for Money.
  4. Battery Life.
  5. Ease of getting books. 
  6. Experimental Browser. 
  7. Ease of one-handed reading and great readability in general.

For me the eInk Pearl screen, the browser, and the one-handed reading are the three real gems.

Kindle 3 Review Insights – the Negatives

Note: Please keep in mind that there are 476 4 star and 5 star reviews and 138 3 star, 2 star, and 1 star reviews. Most people (77%) are liking the Kindle 3 a lot.

Negatives mentioned in 4 star and 5 star Kindle 3 reviews -

  1. No ability to add custom screensavers. Lots of complaints about this. It’s amazing that for people who don’t have the freezing issue this is perhaps the #1 feature request.
  2. Buttons are too small. Valid complaint. It’s interesting to see so many complaints about the buttons and layout.  
  3. Buttons are too close together. True.
  4. No number buttons. This is a pain. It’s pretty interesting to see that the 2nd biggest issue for customers who don’t get the freezing issue is the size and layout of buttons.
  5. A few mentions of freezing. It really does seem that most Kindle 3’s don’t have the freezing issue. Only around 10% of the 4 star reviews reviewed mentioned it.  
  6. No option to create sub-categories.  
  7. Price of ebooks – although nearly everyone who mentioned this noted that it’s outside Amazon’s control.  
  8. No Page Numbers and no idea of how far into a chapter you are.
  9. Text to Speech doesn’t work on every book. True. Unfortunately, Publishers can choose to disable text to speech though the National Federation of the Blind is taking them to court over it (to the best of my knowledge).
  10. No SD Card slot.
  11. No ePub support.
  12. Really good point about Kindle 3 having hinges on the wrong side if you want to have a pad next to it for taking notes. Really, really good point.
  13. No password protection for books or for purchases.
  14. No lending books.
  15. Page turn buttons could be quieter. Yes, if your partner is super sensitive then they’ll notice/hear even the quieter page turn buttons. Press them on the inner middle portion and they’re super quiet but still not 100% quiet.
  16. A little more ghosting. This is probably because of the better screen contrast and, in particular, because of the darker blacks.
  17. No visual ‘folder icons’ to show collections.
  18. No playlists in mp3 player.

The relative lack of mention of Kindle 3 freezing in 4 star and 5 star Kindle 3 reviews (around 10% mention it) suggests that either most Kindle 3’s don’t have this problem or their owners just aren’t noticing it enough.

Negatives mentioned in 3 star Kindle 3 reviews -

  1. Lots of freezing and restarts. This is a pretty frequent complaint amongst the 3 star reviews.
  2. WiFi problems. An interesting new problem mentioned was having to enter a password multiple times before it got accepted.
  3. Complaints about shipping delays.
  4. More page turns than in physical books. One of the people mentioning this does note that Kindle 3 has quicker page turns than a physical book.   
  5. Pointer navigation in browsers is terrible. Have to agree with that. A touch screen would come in handy here.  
  6. Lighted case is too expensive. Agreed.  
  7. No Page Numbers. There’s mention of a simple fix Sony uses i.e. place a Page Number at the right end of each line of text at which a page ends.
  8. Quality of text to speech is not very good. Agreed – the voices aren’t human sounding.
  9. Poorly designed controls. A few complaints about the page turn buttons being placed where you’d hold the Kindle 3.
  10. Complaints that battery life isn’t 10 days with wireless on. Haven’t measured it so couldn’t say for sure.
  11. Migrating books from Kindle 2 to Kindle 3 is a tedious process. Agree with this – Amazon dropped the ball here as expecting users to re-download every book is a bit ludicrous.
  12. Lack of ePub.
  13. Highlighting in PDFs doesn’t work well. Agree – for some PDFs it doesn’t work or the wrong text gets highlighted.
  14. It can’t display Chinese characters properly. Only one complaint about this so not sure how valid it is.
  15. A complaint about the black screen flash when turning pages. Surprised that very few people mention this – guess the quick page turn makes this a non-issue for the vast majority of people.

Kindle 3 negatives mentioned in 2 star and 1 star Kindle 3 Reviews -

  1. Crashes and Freezing – Easily the #1 issue. Note that there is a fix available now as an ‘early preview’ that fixes this crashing/freezing issue for most Kindle 3s. On my Kindle 3 there has been zero freezing after installing the update (usage – 2.5 hours on Apps, 4.5 hours on a book).
  2. Quite a few complaints about having to wait for the Kindle 3. Probably the 2nd biggest complaint. A lot of people seem to have missed the ‘Ships September 20th’ message and probably assumed they’d get the Kindle 3 in 2 or 3 days. Some people have genuine complaints.
  3. Connection problems. Mostly WiFi related. Probably the 3rd biggest complaint after freezing and availability/shipping. It’s hard to say whether this is related to WiFi network issues or Kindle issues – perhaps a mix of both. 
  4. A few people are able to access the Kindle Store but not the browser while a few people are experiencing the exact opposite problem.
  5. Battery Life. Reports that the reading light and indexing of books might be eating up battery life faster than expected.  
  6. Something rolling around inside the casing. Enough mentions of this to make you wonder.  
  7. Very Delicate. That’s a fair point – the thinness and light size and compactness does make Kindle 3 feel very delicate and it probably is.
  8. Korean fonts issue – Apparently, Amazon chose the most aesthetically unappealing Korean font possible.  
  9. Some people really don’t like the new buttons.
  10. A few complaints about the color of the text on the keyboard keys (golden/light gray text on graphite colored keys). It’s a good point.
  11. Someone from Greece saying they got charged 130 Euros by their Customs department. Perhaps it’s the Customs department that’s to blame.
  12. A few people who haven’t bought it but stopped by to give it a 1 star review and complain.
  13. A complaint about the AT&T powered 3G coverage.
  14. 1 or 2 complaints about seeing a negative flash when you turn pages. Page turns are pretty fast so this isn’t very noticeable but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re sensitive about such things.

It’s interesting to see the variety of complaints and also the fact that the vast majority of complaints center around just three issues.

3 Issues Amazon should consider fixing quickly

Amazon could solve 80% of its problems with 3 fixes -

  1. Amazon could probably resolve 60% to 70% of complaints by fixing the freezing issue.
  2. It could fix another 10% of issues by getting Kindle 3 back in stock and shipping it the day orders are made.
  3. The addition of WiFi has created a ton of problems as most people don’t know how to use WiFi and some people seem to have genuine problems using Kindle 3 with their home WiFi network. Better customer education regarding WiFi, making the feature easier to use, and fixing the intermittent ‘Browser doesn’t work, Store does’ issue would solve another 10% of issues.

It’s interesting that 80% to 90% of customer complaints could be fixed by fixing these 3 problems. Since the freezing issue fix has worked for most Kindle 3’s it’s been tried on and getting Kindle 3 back in stock shouldn’t be a problem Amazon seems very well placed.

Going through customers’ reactions almost suggests a product release strategy of releasing a product with 1 or 2 easy to fix, noticeable bugs and then sending out an early fix. It sounds crazy but if people were to research it they’d probably find those customers were much more loyal than people who never found an issue.

It’s unfortunate that am running out of time and can’t go through all the Kindle 3 reviews. People have written some really, really good Kindle 3 reviews which are far more comprehensive and insightful than the reviews on main stream sites. You have to love the fact that even 5 star Kindle 3 reviews tend to include comprehensive lists of pros and cons.

Kindle 3 user review compilation

Now that the Kindle 3 is reaching readers it’s worth taking a quick look at the early Kindle 3 user reviews and reactions.

Kindle 3 user reviews – the Good

Timothy K. Bryant Kindle 3 Review

Timothy says -

Have to say I’m pretty impressed! First off, the e-ink pearl screen is just gorgeous! The contrast is sooo much better. Online comparison pics don’t do it justice.

Have to agree – There have been some people who feel the Kindle 3 videos and Kindle 3 photos don’t show any difference between Kindle 2 and Kindle 3 and, while that’s a bit of a stretch, it’d be quite accurate to say that photos don’t really capture the difference well. The contrast really is 40% to 50% better.

He adds -

Secondly the new page buttons are wonderful, much quieter clicking. Plus the new size is a joy to hold with its reduced footprint & lighter weight. Wi-fi worked without a hitch & I downloaded my library in just a few minutes.

It’s much zippier than I expected it to be not just downloading but cursor movements & simple tasks are much faster now.

The speed is definitely much better across the board. Tim thinks the refresh rate is ‘near instantaneous’ and perhaps that’s being too generous – It is, however, faster than any other eReader.

Then we get -

I like the feel of the new plastic as well. Kind of hard to describe, it feels smooth yet a slight hint of rubber. (that may not come out right, clean minds people) It gives it a lil traction in your hand without being sticky.

Well, in the midst of giggling like a schoolgirl, have to agree – The surface has a little bit of friction and combined with the texturized back is easier to grip. 

E. Yasi Kindle 3 Review

Apparently, this ‘love touching the Kindle 3′ thing is quite popular -

I really like the hand-feel of it. The smooth yet ever-so-slightly grippy back is a joy to hold.

It was touch and go whether I’d get a lighted cover or a slipcase, and since I loved holding a ‘naked Kindle’ before, I went with the slipcase.

The K3 is even more delightful to hold than prior kindles

Hand-feel of it, naked kindle, delightful to hold, smooth and yet a slight hint of rubber, traction in your hand – You’d think it was an eToucher and not an eReader (still smiling).

This review is worth reading in its entirety as it’s quite comprehensive. Also, on the second page, there’s another good review from Susan Lynn Umpleby.

Erick R. Williams Kindle 3 Review

Very good, short review -

The screen is nothing short of amazing. It is as good as paper and better than some paper books that have text that is a bit light.

The page turns are very fast. I do not feel like I am waiting for the page to turn. It happens fast enough that I don’t lose my sense of “moving” through a book or magazine.

The body is solid yet so light. It feels like holding a small book.

The keypad is pretty easy to use though the keys are a bit on the small side. It feels odd to have to “shift” to get to numbers.

It does feel really odd to use the shift key to get numbers. It’s also super painful when entering passwords in the browser or adding notes.

Ripley’s Kindle 3 Review

Here we go -

I love the smaller, lighter form factor with the soft touch back.

The power/rocker switch has softer action than previously and has a fun little light.

The screen is richer and sharper than previous versions.

Kindle 1 to Kindle 3 Comparisons

First we have Lexi’s thoughts -

I went from a K1 to the K3 and love it. There is a very obvious improvement in clarity and contrast. Also the speed increase makes a huge difference in menus and scrolling around within books.

Then M. Soar chimes in -

Much smaller, much lighter, so far quite a bit quicker, as far as upload and loading books. Haven’t decided what I think about the change in size and “firmness” of the page turn buttons yet.

 the improved contrast … Very, very nice.

The only negative – I don’t like the fade out/fade in for a page turn (instead of page – blank – new page).

The entire screen flashes black when you turn a page. It’s a bit disconcerting the first few times – then you’ll probably get used to it.

Most Popular Kindle 3 Features

The Screen is a HUGE hit

Here are a few Kindle 3 user review snippets talking about the screen (each paragraph/line is from a different user review) -

the screen is gorgeous, the Kindle 2 is no slacker but the 3 just has so much contrast.

I love the lighter weight and improved contrast. I feel like Amazon just took an already fantastic product, and made it PERFECT!!!!

even small text is easy to see with the darker, sharper font.

Everyone who’s seen it has told me the screen looks “fake” because it’s so amazingly clear.

It’s clearly the most popular feature

Size and Weight getting a lot of praise

Here are a few Kindle 3 review snippets -

it’s super light. I have the wi-fi only model. I too was amazed how much smaller it is.

never realized how much smaller it is from the K2 until you see them side by side

Note that the Kindle 3 is 8.7 ounces and the Kindle WiFi is a bit lighter at 8.5 ounces.

It’s a bit surprising to see how popular the smaller size and lighter weight are. For me it wasn’t that big a deal. So many people are blown away by the compactness that it’s beginning to seem like a killer feature.

Kindle 3 user reviews – the Bad

Well, there aren’t very many bad Kindle 3 reviews.

Here were the downsides people found -

  1. The new 5-way takes getting used to. 
  2. The page turn buttons are new and some people said those would take getting used to too. They are also thinner and there were a few complaints about that.
  3. Some complaints about the missing number keys.  
  4. A few people don’t like the gold lettering on the graphite casing. Well, it shimmers in sunlight – as does the graphite Kindle casing.
  5. Quite a few people ran into problems because they started charging the Kindle 3, the light flashed green in a few minutes, and they disconnected. In my experience the light is all kinds of strange and flashes green at unexpected times. Let the Kindle 3 charge for at least a few hours before starting to play with it.  
  6. The Lighted Cover lights up one corner quite a bit more than it lights up the opposite corner. A few complaints about this – your preference might be different from mine (love the lighted cover and think it works just fine).

There just aren’t very many complaints.

Here’s one of the rare negative reviews  (courtesy Mike) -

First off downloading samples of books and then end up getting charged for the samples, Kindle CS tells me I will be refunded in 2-3 days … sorry but this is unacceptable.

Second stupid thing froze, called CS they tell me hold down power button for 15 seconds on like the fourth try the kindle finally reset.

Well, the Kindle 3 does freeze sometimes. We might have found the Achilles Heel of the Kindle 3 – let’s see if there are more freezing complaints.

Credit for the Kindle 3 Reviews

Thanks to the users at the Kindle Forum for their reviews and thoughts.

Only Kindle 3 reviews and reactions from the official Kindle Forum were considered when compiling this post. There are so many reactions and reviews there it didn’t seem worthwhile to check any where else.

Change Your Shipping Method to get early delivery, other Kindle 3 Insights

Here are some Kindle 3 insights -

  1. Apparently, if you change your shipping method from standard to 2-day, or from 2-day to 1 day, it usually moves your Kindle 3 shipping date to earlier. A few people are seeing August 28th and Aug 30th shipping dates after doing that. You can then change back to a cheaper shipping method and the early Kindle 3 shipping date stays.

    ordered my K3 on 8/19 with standard shipping and checked today and there was no estimated delivery date ..

    After reading all the posts I had to change the shipping method to 1 day!

    … when I changed the shipping method it came up saying estimated delivery date of 8/30!

  2. There might be a million Kindle 3s shipping (it’s hard to believe) -

    [Kindle Customer Service Phone Call] The other thing he said, after assuring me my account was fine, was something along the lines of that NATURALLY with MILLIONS of orders going through some might take longer to get to–and they were basically going in order.

  3. To type numbers on your Kindle 3 use Alt+Q = 1, Alt+W =2, and so forth i.e. Alt+Q/W/E/R/T/Y/U/I/O/P = 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/0.  
  4. You can now set your Kindle’s Time on the Settings Page.
  5. The screen size stays the same although the Kindle 3 is a lot more compact.
  6. It’s best to let it charge for a few hours after you unbox it. 
  7. If Kindle 3 freezes or locks up – restart. If you haven’t charged it fully – charge it first before trying to resuscitate it.  
  8. Don’t load all 1,000 of your books instantly. The indexing of so many books might overwhelm it – so perhaps batches of a hundred each.
  9. Kindle 2 covers will not fit Kindle 3. The covers with hinges that lock into the Kindle’s notches definitely won’t as the notches on Kindle 3 are spaced further apart.
  10. You can have as many Kindles and as many devices with Kindle Apps on your account as you like. Each individual book will only be sharable between 5 to 6 of these – after loading it on to 5 to 6 Kindles/Devices you won’t be able to download it to any more devices.

There are actually quite a few gems hidden in all those forum posts.

The Lighted Cover

Quick notes on the Lighted Cover -

  1. Yes, it lights up the entire screen.
  2. No, it doesn’t light up the entire screen evenly.
  3. Yes, you can read all the words on the screen clearly (have done it multiple nights so am not just imagining it).
  4. No, there’s no way to bend the light so that the entire screen gets even lighting.
  5. It’s a matter of personal preference. The top corner which is right next to the LED light gets more light than the bottom corner. To the best of my knowledge there really isn’t any way to construct a light that lights up something 6.9 inches away as well as it lights something 3 inches away. You might not like the way the light illuminates the screen – in which case you can return it.

Here’s a comment from Gabriela if you’re still worried Amazon is shipping hundreds of thousands of lights that don’t illuminate the entire Kindle 3 screen -

tested the light in a dark room. Without the light you can see zero, of course. With the light you see well enough to comfortably read the page, but it is not a bright overglowing light.

The light is not reflected by the screen, which is matte, and the transition between the upper right corner which is closer to light to the bottom of the page is gradual. It makes for comfortable reading, at least for me.

Despite what my preference might be (love it), and what Gabriela says, it’s a personal thing – if you don’t like it return it and get something else. No point keeping a $60 cover+light if you don’t like it.

Also, we finally have a weight for the Cover -

On my digital kitchen scale, the lighted cover weighs 220 grams, or 7.8 ounces.

A 7.8 ounce cover for an 8.7 ounce Kindle 3 – surely, it’s a joke.

You can get the Kindle 3 at Amazon for $189 (the Kindle WiFi is $139). Please let me know if you have any questions – have both the review Kindle 3 and my own Kindle 3 so will gladly answer any questions. Yes, even ones asking whether the Lighted Cover leaves 75% of the Kindle 3 screen bereft of light.

Kindle 3 Reviews – Review Compilation

Reviews of the Kindle 3 are springing up everywhere. You got a chance to see my Kindle 3 Review and take a look at lots of Kindle 3 photos earlier today.

What about the other Kindle 3 reviews?

Well, this post will cover all the most interesting parts of the other Kindle 3 reviews.

Kindle 3 Reviews – What Kindle 3 Strengths do Kindle 3 reviews point out?

Here are the strengths of the Kindle 3 according to various Kindle 3 reviews -

  1. Sharpness of the display – Nearly everyone mentions this. The fonts are smoother and sharper, the black are darker, and the screen is whiter.
  2. Compact Size – Len at Kindle Chronicles makes a good point that the weight and size makes quite a difference when reading. He also points out that Kindle 3 fits into a coat pocket (a decent sized one). Lots of praise for the smaller size and the lighter weight and PC Mag even considers it the most dramatic change.
  3. Speed – Page Turns are definitely faster. Lots of the Kindle 3 reviews are effusive about the speed improvements.
  4. Accessibility – Len at Kindle Chronicles points out that the combination of the new Voice Guide and the older Text to Speech feature makes for solid accessibility. A few of the other Kindle 3 reviews also mention this.
  5. WiFi – Faster than 3G. WiFi lets you connect in places where 3G isn’t available. Lots of praise for the WiFi.
  6. PDFs support Notes and Highlights, Search, and the Dictionary. This is a valuable addition and hopefully makes its way to Kindle 2, DX, and DX 2.
  7. Price – The $189 Kindle 3 is good value for money. At $139 Kindle WiFi is even better. 
  8. Lighted Kindle Cover – CNet calls it Amazon’s secret weapon and have to agree. Wish the price were lower than $60.
  9. Graphite casing enhances readability – Melissa Peterson at PC World mentions this and couldn’t agree more.
  10. Rubberized, curved back – Makes Kindle 3 easier to hold.
  11. Reorganized Keys – Lots of mention of the keys being easier to use (although there are a few downsides too – no number keys, 5-way too close to back button). Melissa Peterson at PC World uses the phrase ‘more finger friendly’ and that sums it up perfectly.
  12. Quieter Page Turn buttons.
  13. Praise for the WebKit browser was muted. It’s one of the best additions in my opinion and the lack of praise for it is strange.
  14. Solid build quality.
  15. Double the memory.
  16. Built in microphone. Lots of talk at CNet of the possibilities – Skype, voice recognition, voice notes.
  17. Potential new Kindle Games and Apps. The possibility of new Kindle Apps seems to get Kindle 3 reviewers very excited.
  18. Lets you read without getting in the way.
  19. Synchronizes your place in a book (and your notes and highlights) across a variety of devices. There was lots and lots of praise for this.
  20. Design – A couple of Kindle 3 reviews praise the design a lot. To me it seems good but not extraordinary.

Kindle 3 Reviews – What Kindle 3 weaknesses do Kindle 3 reviews point out?

Here are the various things the Kindle 3 Reviews point out as Kindle 3 weaknesses -

  1. Missing Numbers Row on the Kindle 3. 
  2. Pressing Back or Menu by mistake when using the 5-way. This comes up a lot – if almost all the Kindle 3 reviews mention something it’s a legitimate problem.
  3. Power switch placement feels awkward.  
  4. Speed of 3G is slow. A valid criticism – especially now that we have WiFi which is much faster.  
  5. Not enough font options. 
  6. Lighted Cover’s LED spreads light unevenly.
  7. PC Mag makes a big hue and cry about the lack of ePub support. Some Kindle 3 reviews don’t mention this at all and you get the feeling ePub is becoming less and less relevant (except when it comes to supporting Library books).
  8. A couple of Kindle 3 reviews (CNet, PC Mag) think the Kindle 3 is not revolutionary. Found this a bit strange – Isn’t improving in 15 different ways just as impressive as adding one revolutionary new feature?
  9. No memory expansion slot.
  10. No Nook-like lending feature – To be fair, the Nook’s lending is a one-time, 14 day book loan to one single person. After that the book can never again be lent out.
  11. No case included – Well, not that many devices come with a case so not sure why this is a criticism. This comes up multiple times so perhaps there’s merit to it.
  12. Lighted Cover is too expensive at $60.
  13. No replaceable battery.
  14. Screen rotation isn’t automatic.
  15. You’re locked into the Kindle 3 ecosystem. Telegraph UK points this out and also mentions that the Kindle ecosystem isn’t a bad place to be locked into.
  16. No touch screen – It’s impressive that just one Kindle 3 review mentions this.
  17. Interface for newspapers and magazines is still not good.

Kindle 3 Reviews – The Reviewers

Here are the Kindle 3 reviews referenced -

  1. Len Edgerly at the Kindle Chronicles has a great 12 minute Kindle 3 video.  
  2. Melissa Peterson at PC World calls Kindle 3 the best Kindle yet. She has strong praise for Kindle 3 -

    … not only slays its current competition, but also feels ready to meet the mainstream masses.

    … this Kindle is the first I feel comfortable recommending to friends.

  3. Matt Warman at Telegraph UK loves the Kindle 3 and says he’ll buy one. He agrees with Melissa Peterson that Kindle 3 might be the eReader for the mass market -

    Amazon’s new Kindle is the first ebook reader that has a credible chance of cracking the mass market.

  4. Dan Costa at PC Mag reviews Kindle 3 and gives it 4 stars out of 5.
  5. David Carnoy at CNet reviews Kindle 3 and he also gives it 4 stars out of 5.
  6. Steven Levy at Wired really likes the Kindle 3 and gives it 9 stars out of 10.  
  7. Left out the BBC’s Kindle 3 Review since it’s more of a philosophical discussion.

The Kindle 3 reviews are overwhelmingly positive – Kindle 3 mostly gets 8 or 9 stars out of 10. If they’re right Kindle 3 might be the first eReader to become a mass market success.

You can get the Kindle 3 at Amazon for $189. Hopefully this compilation of Kindle 3 reviews was useful.

Kindle 3 Review – Detailed Kindle 3 Review

This Kindle 3 Review is based on 4 days with the new Kindle 3. Thanks to the Amazon team for sending out a Kindle 3 for me to review.

You can buy the Kindle 3 at Amazon for $189.

The 1-sentence review would be – If you love to read, or want to read more, then the Kindle 3 is absolutely perfect unless you need support for library books.

This is a pretty long review. For a shorter review please check out my Kindle 3 review. You might also want to look at my Kindle 3 Review Videos page or at my Kindle 3 Photos page for Kindle 3 videos and photos.  

Kindle 3 Review – The 8 big improvements

The Kindle Team has improved the Kindle 3 in almost every possible way. There are big improvements like the eInk Pearl screen and a WebKit browser and there are tiny improvements like being able to set the Kindle 3’s time.  

Here are the 8 Kindle 3 improvements that really stood out – 

  1. The eInk Pearl Screen is a thing of beauty. The combination of the 50% better contrast of the eInk Pearl screen, the graphite casing that helps highlight the improved contrast, and subtle software tweaks means that the Kindle 3 leaves every other eReader behind.  
  2. Much lighter weight and more compact size. The smaller size of the Kindle 3 makes it more portable while the lighter weight (8.7 ounces) is a huge difference-maker – Reading for long stretches is much, much easier now as is one-handed reading.
  3. More Text per Page. The top bar is gone, the location bar is moved to the very bottom of the page, and the gap between the last line of text and the location bar has been reduced. This combines to make a significant difference – At size 4 (or perhaps it was 3) the Kindle 3 fits in 4 more lines per page (19 compared to 15).
  4. WiFi support – WiFi support is important as now you can connect to WhisperNet anywhere there is either AT&T coverage or a WiFi hotspot. WiFi is much faster than 3G so you can browse faster, shop faster, and you get more time for reading.
  5. Improved PDF support – PDFs finally support notes and highlights and it makes a big difference for everyone using PDFs (students, academics, etc.). There are 6 contrast settings for PDFs which is useful and Kindle 3 also supports password protected PDFs.
  6. Accessibility – The combination of the Voice Guide and the Text to Speech feature gives low vision and blind readers their first usable, cheap Kindle.
  7. New WebKit Browser. The new browser handles complex websites, allows zoom options, and has an Article Mode that lets you read just the article (it strips away the ads and other extrinsics).  
  8. Kindle 3 is great for reading at night. The iPhone and iPad are no longer needed for reading in bed. Kindle 3’s lighted cover has a LED light powered by the Kindle itself and is very convenient though it’s expensive at $60. Since the LED light throws light only in the direction of the Kindle’s screen and since the page turn buttons on the Kindle 3 are very quiet you can now read in bed without waking your spouse. Press the page turn button in the middle section of its inner edge for the lowest noise – Also, it’ll be easier to not disturb your partner if they sleep on your right side.

These are all significant improvements and they make the Kindle 3 much, much better than Kindle 2.

11 More Improvements in Kindle 3

Given the sheer number and variety of improvements the theme for Kindle 3 seems to be ‘improve everywhere’ -

  1. Kindle 3 maintains the reduced $189 price the Kindle 2 had in the last few weeks before Kindle 3 was announced.
  2. Better Font Support – Kindle 3 has 3 font choices with a Condensed Typeface and a Sans Serif typeface added to the original Serif typeface (Caecilia).
  3. Double Memory – Kindle 3 has 4 GB memory.
  4. Battery Life is now up to a month with wireless off. With wireless on Kindle 3 battery life is 10 days while Kindle WiFi battery life is 3 weeks. 
  5. Button placement is much better – The on-off slider and volume controls are at the base of the Kindle 3. The 5-way and the Menu, Back, and Home buttons are next to the keyboard. The Previous Page and Next Page buttons are now on both sides.  
  6. There’s a new 5-way – It’ll take a little getting used to but it is easier to use and push and there are far fewer wrong pushes.  
  7. The Kindle team did some tweaking of waveforms (no idea what that means) to make the fonts on Kindle 3 sharper.  
  8. The back of the Kindle 3 has a better grip and the whole Kindle (front and back) is one smooth color.
  9. There’s a microphone in the Kindle 3 which leaves the door open for voice commands and hands free reading.
  10. The progress bar has been improved a little and the charging light is clearer and bigger.
  11. Page turns are 20% faster.

It’s just fun to see all the ways in which Amazon is improving the Kindle.  

Kindle 3 Review – 5 Big Kindle 2 Strengths that are carried over

There are 5 big existing Kindle 2 strengths that are carried over. These include -

  1. eInk Screen and Focus on Reading – An eReader should be focused on reading and should be optimized for reading and Kindle 3 definitely is. eInk is easy on the eyes, works in sunlight, and has great screen contrast.  
  2. Simplicity and Close to Zero Learning Curve – Kindle 3 is just as simple to use as Kindle 2. The learning curve remains close to zero. 
  3. Kindle Store – You get the best ebook store with 510,000 books at or under $9.99 and 630,000 total books.
  4. Free 3G and Free Global Wireless for US users – Any user can browse the Kindle Store for free in any of 100+ WhisperNet enabled countries. US owners can buy books and download them without any extra charges and can also surf the Internet for free in all these countries. Users in some other countries are beginning to get free Internet browsing. 
  5. Text to Speech – Kindle 2 was the only eReader that had text to speech and Kindle 3 keeps it. Please note that Publishers sometimes disable this feature (perhaps 40% of the time).

The Kindle 2 was a really good eReader to begin with. The Kindle 3 keeps nearly all of the Kindle 2’s strengths while adding on a long list of improvements.

Kindle 3 Review – The Weaknesses

Kindle 3 isn’t perfect and has some obvious weaknesses -

  1. There is no support for library books (since Kindle 3 doesn’t support ePub). That leaves Kindle 3 as the only eReader out of the Big 3 (Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader) that doesn’t support Library Books.
  2. Kindle 3 sees occasional crashes/freezing for some people. The factors that lead to the Kindle freezing or crashing seem to be complex websites and some PDFs. A few users have also seen crashes outside of the browser and PDF reader.
  3. Kindle 3 is not good for anything other than reading. The Kindle 3 is tailored for people who want a device dedicated to reading and that’s great if you love to read. However, its focus on reading rules Kindle 3 out if you want a device that can do 10 different things.
  4. Kindle 3’s eInk Pearl screen doesn’t support color. This makes it non-optimal for textbooks with lots of color diagrams, illustrated books, and comics.
  5. There is no touch screen – The Sony Reader 600’s touch screen allows easier usability i.e. tap any word on the screen, take down notes with a stylus, etc. Kindle 3 won’t have this since it doesn’t have a touch screen.
  6. Kindle does not support DRMed books and does not support ePub – Basically, the only DRMed books you can read are those from the Kindle Store. Most of the other large ebook stores use DRM and thus are ruled out. At the moment it’s not a big deal since the Kindle Store has the best range and the best prices. 
  7. The Kindle Lighted cover is a must have since it makes night-time reading very convenient – However, it’s very expensive at $59. It should have been $30 to $40. Also, Kindle 3 won’t fit Kindle 2 covers since the grooves for hinges on Kindle 3 are further apart than on Kindle 2.
  8. There is no feature like Nook’s LendMe feature to let users lend books to each other.
  9. The Kindle 3 battery is not user replaceable.
  10. There is no SD card slot. Though the Kindle 3 has double the memory (at 4GB) it’s still possible that some people want the flexibility of more storage.
  11. There is no option to turn off 3G and stick with just WiFi.
  12. There are no language translation dictionaries.
  13. PDF Support is still missing a few features.
  14. Page Turn buttons are improved but are a bit thin. The Back button and Menu button are placed too close to the 5-way and it’s easy to mistakenly press them (especially Back).
  15. The keyboard is missing the row for number keys which makes taking notes and using numbers difficult.
  16. There’s no longer a shiny aluminium back.
  17. The number of options in the Font menu is a little overwhelming. The default font settings aren’t as good as on the Kindle 2 though that may be a personal preference. Also, there are now just 3 line spacing options instead of the Kindle 2’s 10 and the wide and small line spacing options don’t correspond to the earlier maximum and minimum settings (the line spacing is lesser now).
  18. Kindle 3 feels fragile. The lower weight and more compact size are great and they also make you wonder about stability and durability.

That’s a pretty long list because we want to make sure we cover all the aspects. One strange thing is the disappearance of the note on the Kindle 3 product page which mentioned CJK font support and Cyrillic font support (thanks to the commenter who mentioned this). This would be a strength if it were present and a weakness if it weren’t.

The Kindle 3 weaknesses that Amazon really ought to fix are – freezing, library books, touch (if it can be added without affecting readability), a cheaper lighted cover, an SD card slot, Nook’s LendMe feature, option to turn off 3G, more space between 5-way and other buttons, number keys, and an unbreakable screen.

Adding support for Library Books would probably have the most impact. An unbreakable screen would probably have the 2nd most impact as then parents could let their kids use Kindles freely.

Kindle 3 Review – Strongly Recommended if it’s what you’re looking for

At $189 the Kindle 3 is very tempting. It’s also the best eReader released in the 2.5 years this blog has been around.

Your decision to get a Kindle 3 should, however, depend on what features you value the most and on whether the Kindle 3 is the eReader/device that best meets your reading needs.

Here are the main reasons to stay away – it’s not a multi-purpose device, there is sporadic freezing, it’s probably not going to bestow an aura of coolness on you (although it might make intelligent people view you more favorably), the $139 Kindle WiFi is even better (if you don’t need 3G), there is no support for library books, Kindle 3 doesn’t support ePub, it does nothing other than read, no SD card slot and no replaceable battery, it’s not open, there’s no color, there’s no touchscreen.

Here are the main reasons to buy it – you love to read, you like to read and can afford $189 for an eReader, you want to read more, you get tired reading from LCD screens, you want to read in sunlight, you want a device built for reading from the ground up, you want to be able to buy books anywhere, you want to be able to read books anywhere and anytime, you want lots of free public domain books, you want your books read out to you, you want access to the best ebook store, you want access to the best eReader infrastructure.

The Kindle 3 has set a very high bar for the Nook 2 and Sony Reader 650. Kindle 3 will easily become your first choice for reading and if you get the Lighted Cover it’ll be your first choice for reading regardless of the time of day.

If the Kindle 3 meets your needs and you don’t need library books or ePub support or ‘a device that does more than just read’ then my strong recommendation would be to get the Kindle 3.

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