The Amazon Kindle 3 After Almost a Month

Almost a month ago, I video-taped the unboxing of my new Amazon Kindle 3 and posted it here on my blog. I shared my initial impressions. However, after using it for almost a month, I wanted to share my thoughts here in a little more depth.

Amazon Kindle 3 in a Hand

I should start by saying a few words about the iPad. I have pretty much set it aside. Why? Two reasons.

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First, it isn’t sufficiently powerful enough to replace my laptop. If all you do is consume media, the iPad is great. It is lighter and smaller than most laptops, and thus easier to lug around. But, if you create content like I do—blogs posts, presentations, and other documents—you might find it too cumbersome. I did. It did not replace my laptop, and I ended up carrying both devices around.

Second, while the iPad can do much more than the Kindle, I found this multi-function capability frustrating. While reading, I was constantly tempted to pop out of the iBooks app and check my email or Twitter account. The iPad is also much heavier, and I found the backlit display tiring to my eyes. I just didn’t find that it contributed to “an immersive reading experience.”

Consequently, I think we will see a growing divergence between smaller devices: multi-function tablets like the iPad and dedicated eReaders like the Kindle. I think you have to assess your own needs and workflow to determine which is right for you. For now, I am sticking with the Kindle 3.

Here’s what I like about the Kindle 3:

  1. Affordable price. At $139 for the wi-fi only version and $189 for the free 3G plus wi-fi version, the Kindle is more affordable now than ever. When I have shown the device to friends and told them the price, they can’t believe it. Several have ordered one on the spot.
  2. No monthly fees. Although you will pay $50 more for the 3G version (which I did), you won’t have any monthly fees for 3G access. This means you can access the Kindle Bookstore where ever you have cellular access (via AT&T), even though you might not have wireless—like after boarding a plane.
  3. Big selection. The Kindle Bookstore has almost almost 700 thousand books available (excluding public domain books). While I still can’t find some book I want, it is rare. Conversely, I rarely found the books I wanted on the Apple iBooks store, although this is gradually improving. As a result, I had to resort to the Kindle app on the iPad.
  4. Smaller footprint. The Kindle 3 weighs just 8.7 ounces—about one-third the weight of an iPad. This might not seem like a big deal, but I found the weight of the iPad annoying for protracted reading. At just 7.5″ tall by 4.8″ wide, the Kindle 3 feels just right in the hand.
  5. Greater battery life. With 3G and wireless on, the Kindle will last 10 days. With it off, it will last one month. That is a very long time, especially compared to the iPad.
  6. Easier page navigation. The page-forward and page-backward keys are easier to use and seem more intuitive than even the Kindle 2 (which was a big improvement over the original Kindle).
  7. Higher screen resolution. Amazon has really improved the screen resolution in this new model. Frankly, I didn’t think the resolution on the Kindle 2 was bad, but if you put them side-by-side, you can definitely tell the difference. The text truly rivals the printed page.
  8. More storage space. I can’t remember how many books the Kindle 2 can store, but the Kindle 3 will store 3,500. That’s amazing when you think about it. It’s like an entire library in your hand. It’s certainly more than enough for most people.
  9. Lighted case. The case for the Amazon Kindle 3 is really nice. It is similar to a Moleskine notebook, with an elastic band that holds it shut. I bought the lighted version. It has a built-in retractable LED reading light that pulls out from the back cover and slides away to become invisible when not in use. The cover comes in seven colors.

Here’s what I don’t like about the Kindle 3:

  1. Lack of a touch screen. After using an iPhone for a couple of years and an iPad for a couple of months, my brain is conditioned. I automatically want to interact with every device by touching the screen. The navigation selector is improved in Kindle 3, but it’s still not as straight-forward or intuitive as touch screen technology.
  2. Clunky, bland interface. I also wish the Kindle 3 had a color screen. I don’t miss this too much for straight text books, but the iPhone and the iPad have raised our expectations. In addition, highlighting text and adding annotations are cumbersome. The chiclet-style keyboard takes some getting used to.
  3. Elimination of number keys. One of the reasons the Kindle 3 is smaller than the Kindle 2 is because Amazon eliminated the top row of keys. They are now accessible through the “Sym” key. Frankly, this makes the keyboard even more awkward. I don’t understand the design objective since there is still plenty of room for these keys on the current design.

So far, I am loving the Kindle 3. I am carrying it with me everywhere. The only downside is that I am back to taking notes in my Moleskine notebook (as opposed to Evernote on my iPad), but that is not a big loss. Best of all, I am finding myself voraciously reading again. I was starting to lose this with the iPad, and it made me nervous about the future of book publishing.

Amazon says that Kindle users buy 3.3 times the number of books as non-Kindle customers. If my experience is any indication, I can definitely see why.

Questions: Do you have a Kindle 3? What has been your experience?
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  • 117len

    Amazon needs to add page numbers.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      They really can’t. One of the key features of the Kindle is the ability to change the font size. Every time you do this, you change the page count. The content flows differently based on the font size, rendering page numbers meaningless. Their location system is the most accurate. Everything will eventually convert to this kind of designation.

      • ruach

        the location system is becoming acceptable in academia although I have not seen the final MLA format convention

  • ruach

    I am definitely reading more with the kindle although I have not stopped reading printed material. I discovered a new fiction series and read all three books in a matter of weeks–so easy and I think my reading is faster with the kindle.

    In reading my more academic books, I use the highlighting feature a lot and have to limit my posts to facebook. Because I am reading six books on my kindle at a time, I find that I need to go through and transfer my text file from my kindle to my computer and then copy/paste the highlighted portions to a new word doc that I have opened for each particular book. If I don't, it is unweildy to work with. I wish a separate text file could be created for each book I am reading so i would not have to do this. As it is, all the highlights are in a generic my clippings text file.

    Other minor complaint concerns kindles requirement to use mp3 files while itunes uses mp4 files and I have yet to find an easy way to convert them. So, it forces me to buy them on amazon and then import them into itunes rather than the other way around

    • pritchett4

      If I am understanding your comment correctly about highlighting – you can go to kindle.amazon.com and browse by book (Your Books) where all of your highlights and notes are organized according to each book that you have read rather than one large file – hope that helps.

      Note: I just purchased the Kindle 3 and still learning!

      • ruach

        Wow, thanks. I had not known about that–it does work! That is helpful and will save me time if I want to cut and paste the file when I have finished the book to put it into a word document and edit. Thanks so much.

  • Shari

    My Kindle 3 arrives today. While I have relied heavily on my iPhone to read Kindle content, especially at night, I too have experienced frequent distraction to check my GReader or Mail resulting in fewer books read. I have tried to use my husband’s iPad to read in bed and found it awkward. I ordered the Kindle case with light and hope to enjoy distraction-free dedicated e-reading in bed again. Thank you for the thoughtful review!

  • http://cross-views.blogspot.com/ LP

    Thanks for the insightful review. I love my Kindle because it’s so portable and easy on the eyes, and it also allows me to create e-books out of any texts that I can download from the internet. I’ve been using my Kindle for a couple of months, and I still haven’t bought anything from the Kindle Store because of all the great stuff I can get for free!

    I also agree that the greatest weakness of the Kindle (1,2 or 3) is it’s cumbersomeness when it comes to other functions that accompany thoughtful reading (notes, highlights, etc.).

    • Gretchenwhicker

      I have had mine for 1 day ;D. I have the standard , but am considering returning for an upgrade.. at which device do you start to loose the sleekness of the Kendle 3, and wil the 1st upgrade to touch screen with audio allow for mp3 ?

  • http://relateinfaith.com Todd Stanfield

    I prefer the iPad because of the ability to touch a word and instantly get a definition, rather than needing to navigate the cursor to it. Same applies to highlighting a passage. Simply wonderful!

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yep, the touch interface is awesome. I would love to see Amazon add that.

  • alitagtagjac

    Thanks for the review: covered all the bases, straight to the point. I especially appreciate the Kindle-3 vs Ipad comparison, even though they are different devices: I can;t be alone in weighing the cost-benefit of one over the other. Can’t wait till our his and hers get here.

  • http://twitter.com/ThatGuyKC K.C. Procter

    I’ve had the Kindle 3 for a few months now and just posted my review here:
    http://thatguykc.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/kindle-a-passion-for-reading/

    Thank you for always sharing value added content and being accessible. It is a great opportunity to interact and learn from a leader like yourself.

  • Bobseymore

    One of my favorite features is the option to load the kindle app on up to 5 devices and sync your reading and notes between all 5 devices. For casual reading I can use the Kindle, but I can seamlessly read a couple of pages on the fly off of my Iphone or my Macbook where all of the same notes are stored and it opens to the exact page I was reading in any of these devices. I love the Kindle on the plane or in my chair by the fire place, but the same book is on my Iphone when I am waiting at the doctor or at my desk when I am preparing for a meeting with the notes and highlights.

  • shopgirl

    Agree with you on most. I love my kindles. I have two (one is a gift) and both are the 2nd generation. My one big dislike is the lack of ability to “search”, which is also related to difficulty in navigation. I basically only buy books on the kindle now if I know it is (more or less) a once over. For reference things that I need to frequently go back to a specific page, or other random access reads, I would go for the real thing that opens however I want. Plus the real tree smell and feel is always nice.

  • http://twitter.com/eric_connor Eric Connor

    Have a Kindle 3 myself and also love it…but also wrestle with how to best take notes with it. I keep a Moleskin myself handy to jot things down. That being said, I find the highlighting/bookmarking in the Kindle 3 pretty cool when you consider you can access all of it together under “My Clippings.” I’ll highlight sentences/paragraphs while reading a book and then download all of them through clippings to my desktop – from there you can slice and store them any way that fits you best.

  • Nora

    I have been using a Kindle since January of this year and preordered the K3. It’s a great reading experience . I have over 150 books with me wherever I go, I can buy books wherever I am and the dictionary is so handy. I have never been able to read for very long on a backlit screen. The Kindle is really easy on the eyes. I don’t have an iPad but did consider getting one and wouldn’t rule it out for the future. I wouldn’t give up my Kindle though. The free book samples are great, making it easier to know if I am really interested in a book before I buy it. As for the higher price for Kindle books- I have seen it several times and have held off buying several books because of it.

  • Nicole

    I don’t have any of these yet, but I’m in the market for one.

    I have different specs I’m looking for, though. I travel internationally a lot and am looking for something that will still work well when electricity and internet access are spotty or rare. That is, a charged battery needs to last a long time and the books should be stored on the device, not a website. The format of the books that the reader accepts also matters since I have downloaded books as PDF, EBUB, and others. Due to the wear & tear travel puts on electronics, I actually like the ones that do not have a touch screen, as they have less to break.

    With all that in mind, does anyone have a good recommendation?

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  • Kim Leslie

    I love my kindle. It’s just so easy and that makes reading fun! However I’m disappointed about 2 things: (1) no book sharing between other kindle readers, and (2) the book prices are escalating from the initial price of $9.99 per book to $14.99 for new releases. I’m sticking w the kindle for space reasons but I wish the prices would come back down.

  • Williamdavid1218

    Hey! This may be slightly off topic. But just wanted to let you know about one small kindle issue. When you buy a kindle cover make sure that the hooks on the cover that connect to the kindle are not made of metal or are at least painted well. Otherwise the hooks will act as conductive point (remember the cover with the light uses those hooks to power the light) which causes the Kindle to crash

  • http://twitter.com/wadegoodman Wade Goodman

    Love my Kindle. But here’s my wish list (just in case someone has an in-road with Bezos)…

    1. Page Numbers that correspond with print books. I understand the need for “locations” but for group study, reference, etc. we need pg#s.

    2. Free Blogs — Free on my computer and iphone but a fee on my Kindle. Strange.

    3. Facebook Posting to a Fan Page. Not everything is suitable for my personal FB page.

    4. Book Loans — Would love to loan my books to other Kindle owners

    5. More Library Views — “collections” are great. How about books by cover, sortable by title, author, last read, percentage read, date purcahsed, etc.

    6. Highlight/Note during text-to-speech — or, at least, while text-to-speech is paused.

    7. General Notes – a place to store general notes and thoughts not linked directly to a book and available online for download like book notes.

    8. Reading stats – Number of books read, amount if time spent reading for period, start/end dates, etc.

    9. Link to Shelfari (or other social book sites)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I don’t think you will ever see page numbers. The location of a word or sentence changes with the size of the font (e.g., if you use a larger font, the “book” will have more pages). I agree with your other items. Thanks for commenting!

  • New Kindle User

    I’m a new kindle user and a long time audible.com book listener. My favorite thing to do is listen to a book as I go to sleep. What’s missing as far as I can tell is a “go to sleep after 30, 45, 60 (etc.) minutes mode. I pull the same thing off using my netbook using a sleep mode widget from yahoo.com and was looking forward to the same experience using the kindle.

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  • http://duane-Scott.net/ Duane Scott

    “If all you do is consumemedia, the iPad is great. It is lighter and smaller than most laptops, and thus easier to lug around. But, if you create content like I do—blogs posts, presentations, and other documents—you might find it too cumbersome. I did. ” 
    I bought an iPad two days ago and returned it today because of that reason. 

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  • http://kindlepublishingmadeeasy.com kindle ebook publishing

    Yes, these are good points for kindle 3.

     

  • Anonymous

    to be honest, personally I think Kindles products have become too complicated, they haven’t differentiate them wide enough 

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