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.

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