The third iteration of Amazon's Kindle e-reader ships Friday boasting a lower price, improved E-ink display, longer battery life, slimmer profile, and faster page turns. The new Kindle, dubbed the Kindle 3, ships in two versions: 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity for $189 or Wi-Fi only for $139. You can also buy the Kindle 3 with Amazon's new graphite color (first introduced with the new Kindle DX in July) or the Kindle's standard white.
Many critics are wondering whether the Kindle 3 might be the device that finally convinces people to toss out their trade paperbacks forever in favor of the Kindle. Assuming they haven't already, that is. Amazon is fond of saying the Kindle is the online retailer's best-selling item. The problem, however, is that Amazon never provides solid sales figures to reveal exactly how many Kindles are being sold.
Nevertheless, the Kindle 3 looks like it is going to be at least as popular as its predecessors since the newest Kindle is currently back-ordered until September 17.
Bumped Up Specs
The Kindle 3 has some vast improvements over the original Kindle and Kindle 2. Perhaps the most important tweak is the Kindle 3's faster page turns, which Amazon says has improved by 20 percent. The Kindle and Kindle 2 were often criticized for their slower response times especially when compared to multipurpose devices like the iPad.
The new Kindle weighs just 8.7 ounces, a 15 percent weight drop from the Kindle 2's 10.2 ounces. Amazon has also shaved the Kindle 3's figure down to a 0.34-inch thickness, making the device slightly slimmer than the Kindle 2's 0.36-inch profile. The Kindle 3 also has room for up to 3500 e-books thanks to its 4GB of storage, while the Kindle 2 held just over 1500 books.
Battery life in the Kindle 3 is also supposed to be improved, but you need to read Amazon's battery claims carefully. The retailer is saying the Kindle 3 can last for up to one month on one charge, but that's with the wireless radio turned off. With wireless functionality turned on, the Kindle 3 battery lasts about ten days, according to Amazon, which is similar to the Kindle 2's battery life. Display size for the Kindle remains the same at 6 inches.
But Can it Win?
The Kindle 3 appears to be off to a promising start with better specs, improved design, and a lower price than previous generations of the device. But the bigger issue is whether the Kindle's improvements will be enough to convince you to pick up the device instead of an iPad, iPod Touch, or one of the many other tablet devices predicted to flood the market in the coming months.
I think the "killer app" for the Kindle 3 would have to be a sub-$100 price point, at least the Wi-Fi only Kindle. This would give Amazon's e-reader a very competitive advantage and would make it easier to justify the cost of purchasing a Kindle. But right now, I have to wonder how many people would rather save their pennies for a $500 iPad instead of an almost $200 Kindle.
Check out PC World's review of the Kindle 3.
Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).