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.

Kindle 3 cons from Kindle 3 Reviews

Now that the Kindle 3 is in lots of readers’ hands it’s interesting to see all the Kindle 3 cons they are mentioning in their Kindle 3 reviews.

Please note that there are very few complaints – This post might seem scary because it’s leaving out the hundreds of positive things said and noting down only people’s thoughts on Kindle 3 cons.

Will add my own thoughts wherever possible regarding how valid these concerns are.

Kindle 3 Cons – The Significant Ones

Here are some of the Kindle 3 cons that seem like they might be important issues –

  1. Lack of library books. A few people have mentioned that they chose Nook or Sony instead of Kindle only because of the lack of support for library books. This is a real issue.
  2. Lack of ePub support. This is usually mentioned in connection with library books. However, a few people also mentioned it independently. Don’t see how this is relevant. If you feel very strongly about ePub then this is an issue – not otherwise. The only significant way in which it currently impacts readers is lack of support for Library books.  
  3. Freezing – Kindle 3 is freezing on some PDFs, some websites, and rarely in other situations. That’s what it seems like from the forums and from my experience. This might be a real issue and might need a software fix. This does happen – not often enough to be a big issue but often enough that you can’t disregard it.
  4. There might be variation in screen quality. Have taken a lot of photos of my Kindle 3 and the review unit Amazon sent me and can’t really find anything conclusive – So the probability is low but not zero. Lots of people look at the same thing and see different things so it’s quite possible that the screens are all within 5% to 10% of the same basic improved level of screen contrast.
  5. The size of the screen isn’t conducive to PDFs. This really isn’t the Kindle 3’s fault. It does very well as this Kindle 3 PDF post shows. However, if you’re expecting to be able to read PDFs page by page you’re going to be disappointed – the screen is 6″ and not an A4 size sheet of paper.
  6. The thinner page turn buttons have got some people upset. You can hold the Kindle 3 along the side edge (a tiny bit to the back so you don’t press down on it) and then this shouldn’t be a problem.
  7. The 5-way being next to Back and Home means you sometimes accidentally press Back. The solution to this is to keep your thumb over the 5-way centre button and then move down or up or left or right from this central position to press the inside edges of the up,down, left, and right buttons. This works much better.
  8. The 5-way and page turn buttons take a little getting used to. There’s no way around it – you have to spend a little time to get familiar with them.
  9. There are no number keys. You have to either use Alt+Top Row to get numbers (Alt+Q = 1, Alt+W = 2, etc.) or use the SYM key.
  10. The Kindle 3 Graphite gets pretty hot in direct sunlight. This is actually a pretty important point. It’s a bit obvious but it might mean that when it’s really hot outside you can’t take the graphite Kindle 3 out for reading. Hopefully, someone in a hotter place than Montreal will let us know if that really is the case.

That’s a good collection of Kindle 3 cons and it helps highlight that while Amazon did get things right with the Kindle 3 it is by no means perfect. You can find discussions of various Kindle 3 Cons as well as lots of Kindle 3 reviews at the official kindle forum.

Kindle 3 Cons – The Interesting Ones

Here are some interesting Kindle 3 cons –

  1. A few people find the new size too small and the weight too low. They felt using the Kindle 3 with the cover fixed the issue.  
  2. A few people don’t like the new layout of buttons. The top complaint seems to be the power slider being at the bottom.
  3. There are some concerns about the Kindle 3 graphite not disappearing in the background as well as a white Kindle would. For me there was no difference and in fact the better screen contrast of the Kindle 3 helps make it more engrossing than Kindle 2. If we were to compare the white Kindle 3 and the black Kindle 3 perhaps there’s some difference – Haven’t tried it so don’t know.
  4. Concerns about the weight of the lighted case.  Well, it’s 7.8 ounces.
  5. Concerns about the uneven lighting the Lighted Cover provides. Well, you can read the entire screen but the top corner (that is closest to the light) is brighter than the opposite corner (which is the case with every reading light in my experience).
  6. It’s smaller and the bezel around it is narrower so you have to be careful how you hold it. Tip: You can only press the page turn buttons if you have downwards pressure on them – so just hold them with your fingers a little to the back of the side of the buttons. Try a few positions and you’ll see what I mean.
  7. PDFs still can’t be downloaded using the web browser.
  8. Several people are finding that they need to try a few times to connect to WiFi. Sometimes it’s a WiFi network issue solved by resetting the WiFi network or changing the type of encryption by choosing ‘Enter other WiFi network’ in Kindle 3’s WiFi dialog.
  9. Sometimes the browser will cause a problem where the top bar of the browser with the url etc. stays even after leaving the browser. A reset (slide and hold power button for 15 seconds) fixes this bug.

There’s also this interesting tip on finding out information about WiFi and 3G network –

Go to Settings page and type in 311 or 711 or one of the other numbers listed below –

311– providers
411– one page of info
611– now 6 pages of info on everything 3G communication
711– wi-fi

It’s interesting that most of the complaints stem from a core group of people. You have to appreciate their desire to point out each and every flaw in the Kindle 3 so that prospective owners are fully aware that the overwhelming number of positive Kindle 3 reviews don’t mean the Kindle 3 is perfect.

Please do read the kindle 3 user review post which covers what Kindle 3 owners love about the Kindle 3. Also, my kindle 3 review includes kindle 3 strengths and weaknesses. You can get the Kindle 3 at Amazon for $189.

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.