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.


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