The Amazon Kindle 2 has always been an amazing device. Light, compact, easy to use, good battery life and excellent display along with so much more, which made the e-book reading device an instant favorite with book lovers world wide. In fact, so good was the device that nobody ever thought there was still scope for improvement without going for radical changes with the device. Many thought the only way forward for the next iteration of Kindle was to have a touchscreen interface along with color display. Clearly Amazon had other ideas so that when the new third gen Kindle came out in the open, it was a pleasant surprise. But then more surprises were in store and it’s here that the real story begins.
To begin with, the new Kindle continues with the same form factor as its predecessor, which means there is still the physical keyboard below the reading area, though many had thought it would be done away with. But the difference lies elsewhere: the size of the new Kindle is now even more compact and slim. Amazon claims size has been reduced by 21 percent while the weight has gone down by 15 percent. For those who prefer raw figures, the new Kindle is all of 7.5 x 4.8 x 0.335 inches while the weight is just 8.7 ounces. What this means is that the Kindle is now even more pocket friendly than ever before and has evolved into a device that can be carried at all times anywhere.
The basic layout of the device has a lot in common with the erstwhile Kindle 2 though subtle changes abound here and there. Like the number keys that formed the top row is now no where to be seen probably because the device itself as a whole has shrunk in size. Or maybe Amazon is preferring to have as few keys as is feasible. As a result, the numbers can now be accessed via a symbol menu. Next to have been tweaked is the rocker switch that has been subjected to significant changes since the first iteration of the Kindle. And in the latest device, the rocker is now almost completely flush with the surface of the device. While its operation itself takes a bit of getting used to, its working is a lot more smoother than what it used to be in the earlier versions of the Kindle.Also, the keys now are a lot more closely packed than before.
Among the other changes introduced in the new Kindle, the sliding power button along with the volume button and the headphone jack has now been included at the bottom of the unit. Then the side buttons too have undergone transformation and are now a quarter of an inch wide. Also they carry the arrow symbols now denoting forward and back instead of words.
As an e-reader:
And its here that the real stuff is all about. For the Kindle excels in almost all aspects save a niggling few. The internal memory at 4 GB is now good enough to gobble up almost 3,500 books, almost twice that of the Kindle 2. The new Kindle also includes three new fonts – Condensed, Serif, and Sans Serif while also allows three setting for the line spacing that range from mall, medium, and large. The new Kindle also come with much improved PDF handling capabilities. Like PDF files can now be viewed in landscape mode or can be zoomed 300 percent. Other standard Kindle features like notes, highlights, and the dictionary have now been extended to work on PDFs as well while one can now also password protect PDF files. There is also the feature to even increase the darkness of PDF texts.
The text-to-speech feature has been extended to include the menu options as well, something that will be liked by the visually impaired the most as it will now read aloud such things like content listings on the home screen, item descriptions, as well as all the menu options available.
There is also a new browser included and “experimental” it might be but the fact is, its incredibly fast and works surprisingly well. A unique feature of the WebKit browser is the “article mode” that allows it to display pages as plain text optimized for reading. One benefit of this is it focuses on the main content of the page which it presents for easy reading as an article while removing the ads or extra columns.
The display still continues to be of 6 inches in spite of the device on a whole having shrunk in size though what you get in the 6 inch space is simply awesome. For not only has the display become more rich and vivid but refresh rates too have improved. All of these have made reading off the screen a dream and has been achieved by the use of new new e-ink Pearl screen that allow 50 percent more contrast. Also, since its still e-ink screen, there is no back lighting involved. On the one hand this is a boon as this allows for the utmost pleasure inducing reading experience with any strain caused to the eye being just negligible at best. What’s more, the screen will also allow one to read in bright sunlight with equal ease. However things take a different turn as light begins to fade for e-ink screens are at their best only in the presence of an external light source. So if you wish to continue reading into the night without disturbing your partner, you can procure a protective cover marketed by Kindle that includes a retracting LED light. The light, which draws power from the Kindle remains unobtrusive and has been brilliantly designed.On the flip side, it costs a rather high $59.99.
Here too is another glaring example of the best getting even better. For the battery can now continue to keep things going for an impressive 10 to 14 days on a single charge with the Wi-Fi turned on. Turn the Wi-Fi off and battery life will double to four weeks. Which mean the next time you are going on a vacation you won’t have to worry about your Kindle running out of juice.
However, on the down side, the battery is sealed with the device and is not user replaceable. So in the unlikely scenario of your battery ever getting fizzled out, the entire device will have to be sent to Amazon for the needful.
The new Kindle is compatible with the following formats: AZW, PDF, TXT, MOBI, PRC, AAX, AA, MP3; HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP.
The new Kindle has evolved from its predecessor and there is no revolutionary stuff here. Nothings that changes the rules of the game or something that’s radically different than the Kindle 2. But then, Amazon has further refined what it had set out to do – develop an e-book reading device. And the new Kindle conforms to this in the truest sense. Its never one of those devices that can do a lot of things with reading books being one of them. Rather its a device that’s purely about reading e-books. And it does this admirably well. More so if the price too is accounted for: $139 for the Wi-Fi only version or $189 for the Kindle with 3G. The new Kindle is available in Graphite and White.
> Lack of a touchscreen can make the device seem a bit archaic.
> No external memory slots.
> Display is still black n white.
> Not compatible with ePUB format, one of the most widely used e-book formats worldwide.
Sovan Mandal is the senior tablet and tech corespondent for goodereader.com. He brings a international approach to news that is not just applicable to the North American market, but also Asia, India, Europe and others. Sovy brings his own writing flavor to the website and is interested in Science Fiction, Technology and Writing. Any questions, send an email