It was just yesterday that we had said there is something to the mysterious disappearance of the Kindle 2. And now, before the mystery could deepen any further, here it is: a new Kindle is coming our way. Not so radically new that Amazon won’t be sticking to the same form as the old Kindle. So what’s the new bit all about? It’s in the size and weight group. The Kindle 2 has already set new benchmarks with its lightweight design and a super slim construction, but now these factors have been worked upon further and what we have in the end is a Kindle that is even more light and thin. Amazon claims that it is 21 percent smaller than the previous model while also being 15 percent lighter.
Among the other notable visible changes, the keyboard and five-way controls are now better streamlined and slightly tweaked, adding to the freshness of the design. The rocker has also been altered a bit, which has made it more compact and flush with the new Kindle. The side buttons have been given a once over and been modified lengthwise, which now emphasizes the forward paddles, while the back buttons have been given a downsize treatment.
Now coming to the other rather non visible changes: the screen is still of 6 inches and the display the same e-ink. However, the refresh rate is faster by 20 percent while display contrast is better by 50 percent, which puts it in the same league as its big brother, the Kindle DX. The internal memory has also gone up to 4GB while battery capacity has been enhanced. So what was already good and was measured in week is now even better and is measured in months. Yes, its a month of backup time that you now have with the Kindle on a single full charge (though with the wireless turned off) and which comes down to 10 days (with the wireless turned on).
There has been some interesting developments on the software front as well, the most noticeable of which is the WebKit browser that Amazon would like to call it as still being on the ‘experimental stages.’ And the overtly visible experimental aspect of it is for the pages that take time to load and when they do, its not always rendered as it should have been. Then the directional controls also fail to make things simpler. Instead, it can make web-browsing quite a clunky experience. However, the browser’s ‘article mode’ that acts to transform the web pages into an article format that is much easier to read does make it up a bit. Overall, the browsing experience on the new Kindle is true to its name as being still experimental, though its a step in the right direction in terms of adding a much needed utility to the e-reader. Hopefully it will be sorted out further and attain a level of maturity in a future software upgrade.
The new Kindle, or just Kindle as it now being called, (and not Kindle 2 or 3) will be available in two flavors, one with a 3G model installed in it which will continue to sport the same price of $189, and also a WiFi only version that will come for 50 bucks less, at $139. There will be two color options as well, the original white and the new graphite that has come to adorn the new Kindle DX. Amazon also announced there will be a version dedicated to the UK markets that will cost £109 and £149 respectively, while there will also be a UK e-book store.
Bookings have already started with the actual delivery slated to begin from the 27th of August. But for those who have been waiting for a Kindle that would have color display, or with a touchscreen, there is some disappointment. Amazon has made it clear a color display is not in their pipeline of future products.
Here is what Jeff Bezos had to say about the present and future of Kindle:
“For the vast majority of books, adding video and animation is not going to be helpful. It is distracting rather than enhancing. You are not going to improve Hemingway by adding video snippets.” He further added later, “there are going to be 100 companies making LCD [screen] tablets… why would we want to be 101? I like building a purpose-built reading device. I think that is where we can make a real contribution.”