If you’ve read any of my previous columns, you know that I’ve always been a big fan of ebooks. I started out with a Kindle 2 and then proceeded to buy an iPad. I loved both of these devices for different reasons, but I finally decided to replace both of them for reading ebooks with something new: the Kindle 3.
Why I Bought A Kindle 3
I’ve had a Kindle 2 for quite a long time and I’ve enjoyed it. But there were things about it that I didn’t like and so, after doing a bit of research, I decided to buy a Kindle 3.
Here are the five reasons why I bought my Kindle 3:
5. Slightly Smaller Than the Kindle 2
The Kindle 2’s size was never a huge issue with me, but I still felt that Amazon could have chopped it down a little bit. I was quite pleased to notice that they had, in fact, done just that with the Kindle 3.
Amazon says they knocked about 17% off the weight of the Kindle 2 and you will notice the difference if you hold the Kindle 3 for any length of time. It’s so comfortable to hold it in one hand even while it’s in its case. You hardly notice you are holding it at all; it’s that small and light.
4. Longer Battery Life
The Kindle 3 has much better battery than the Kindle 2. It can now last up to an entire month if you turn off the wireless feature. Wow. Not bad at all.
I hate having to recharge my electronic devices; it’s aggravating and requires me to keep track of the charge in each of them. This is particularly noticeable with my iPhone and iPad. I wish both of them could last as long as the Kindle 3.
Even with the wireless connection turned on, the Kindle 3’s battery still seems to last significantly longer than the Kindle 2 with the wireless turned on.
3. Better Screen & Fonts
The Kindle 3 has an updated e-ink screen and the contrast is 50% better, according to Amazon. Trust me when I tell you, it’s noticeably better than the Kindle 2. Much, much better. The updated screen alone makes it worth buying a Kindle 3 even if you already own a previous Kindle.
If you combine the new screen with the better fonts in the Kindle 3, you come up with a truly winning combination. Text is sharper and looks darker (and thus easier to read). The readability factor on the Kindle 3 is just a lot better than previous Kindles.
2. Cheaper Price, Better Storage & Wi-Fi Only
Another big selling point for me with the Kindle 3 is its price. At $139 it’s a pretty sweet deal, especially since I could get it as wi-fi only and skip the 3G service (the 3G version costs $50 more). I’ve never found that I really needed the 3G service that came with my Kindle 2 since I used it mostly at home and I always had a ton of books on it.
So getting an updated version of the Kindle at a cheaper price, without the 3G service was a fantastic deal for me. As I noted above, I keep a lot of books on it and with the Kindle 3 I can now keep up to 3500 books with me even if I don’t have a wi-fi connection available to download more.
1. Faster Page Refreshes
The Kindle 2’s slow page refresh has always annoyed me. I read that the Kindle 3 had a faster page refresh and I wasn’t disappointed. Pages turn much quicker than on the Kindle 2, it’s hardly even noticeable at this point.
I can’t stress enough how much better this is than the Kindle 2. Amazon says page turns are now 20% faster than in previous Kindles. It feels a lot faster than that though and it has really improved the reading experience.
When I first got my iPad, I was very excited about using it for ebooks. I loved the idea of having a color screen and being able to see color images and even embedded video in my ebooks. But the bloom is off the rose, and I have mostly retired my iPad for reading ebooks. Instead I’ve been using the new Kindle 3 and I love it!
Here are the 5 reasons why I prefer my Kindle 3 to my iPad for reading ebooks:
5. iPad Ebook Apps Aren’t Good Enough
When I first got my iPad, I was excited to use the iBooks store. I thought initially that it would come to quickly replace Amazon’s Kindle store and that I’d never bother with the Kindle application on my iPad.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Even after 6 months or so, the iBooks store still lacks the huge range of books available for the Kindle and the ones that are there are often pricier than the Kindle version. The iBooks app itself is quite slick (still slicker than the Kindle app on the iPad), but what good is a slick app if you can’t find the books you want to read on it?
When I was using my iPad to read, I found myself almost invariably using the Kindle app instead of the iBooks app. After a while it occurred to me that I’d simply stopped bothering to even look in the iBooks app when I wanted a book. Most of the time I couldn’t find what I wanted there.
But even the Amazon Kindle app itself seemed to be lacking when I used it to read ebooks. Then it dawned on me that it wasn’t the ebook apps on the iPad, it was the iPad itself that was making me less than happy while reading.
Read on and you’ll find out why.
4. Weight, Size and Page Navigation
The Kindle 3, as I noted above, is smaller and lighter than the Kindle 2 and also the iPad. I find it very comfortable to hold for long periods of time. My iPad is a bit bulkier and heavier in that regard. It’s still quite usable, but if you are doing to read for any lengthy period of time then you will notice the difference of the size and weight of the two devices.
The Kindle 3 is so easy to hold and read with, even when I’m reclining in my comfy chair. I can navigate pages with one hand while holding it. The buttons on the Kindle 3 make page turning easier and more comfortable than the iPad’s touch screen. That probably sounds like heresy to some of you who might think that a touch screen is “cooler” or better than buttons, but it’s true.
I can hold the Kindle 3 with on hand and still easily turn a page with that same hand. I cannot do that well with the iPad. The iPad’s screen tends to get smudgy after a while and sometimes you flick to turn a page and the page doesn’t turn. It can be irritating after a while.
The Kindle 3’s size and weight really do make a difference for extended periods of reading.
One of the best things about the iPad is that it can do so many different things. You can watch videos, play games, browse the web, read & write email, read ebooks and do a whole bunch of stuff. The iPad has an enormous amount of functionality right at your fingertips, and that’s really a huge problem in some ways.
When I was trying to read an ebook on my iPad, I often found myself hopping into Safari to see something on the web; or I’d check my email, run an application, update my apps, etc. The iPad makes it very easy for anybody’s innate ADD tendencies to manifest.
Thankfully, the Kindle 3 does not do all of those things (yes you can browse the web but it’s not what the Kindle 3 was designed to do). So when you open an ebook, you tend to stay focused on it for much longer than you would if you had all of that other stuff available. I’m sure that some of you might think that I’m blaming my own inadequate attention span on the iPad, and perhaps I am.
But I noticed that I stay immersed in an ebook much easier while reading on the Kindle 3 than I ever did on the iPad. I don’t hop around doing other things; I simply focus on my ebook and that helps relax my mind and makes me feel refreshed after a session of reading.
2. The Kindle 3’s Quiet Interface & Hardware
The issue of distractions is not just about iPad apps or other functionality. It’s also in the interface. Many people think that Kindle’s interface looks primitive compared to the iPad’s since it is not in color.
I completely disagree; the Kindle 3 has what I call a “quiet interface” that doesn’t contain a lot of flashy eye-candy. It helps you focus on the content of your books not on how neat or cool the software is that is letting you read the book.
This also extends to the hardware itself. The graphite coloring of the Kindle 3 is much better than the Kindle 2’s white color or the iPad’s flashy silver color. The Kindle 3 itself simply fades away into the background while you are reading a book.
1. LCD Screens Suck for Relaxed Reading
I stare at a computer screen frequently during the day and, frankly, my eyes get tired by the end of the day. Since I like to read in bed before I go to sleep, I found myself becoming irritated by the iPad’s LCD screen. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine for short periods of reading (especially if you haven’t already been using a computer all day), but it sucks when you want to relax and let your eyes rest.
I found that reading on my iPad before bed didn’t relax me; I still had that annoying LCD refresh thing happening while I was reading. Before I had my iPad, I had a Kindle 2. The Kindle 2 did not irritate my eyes the way that the iPad’s screen did at the end of the day.
Turning down the brightness of the iPad’s screen didn’t help much. It took away some of the annoyance of a backlit screen but it also made it harder to read the text. I never could arrive at the precise comfort balance between easily seeing the text and keeping the backlit screen’s brightness down to a more comfortable level.
So I was quite happy to plop down in bed at the end of the day and read on my Kindle 3. I don’t feel any eyestrain and I’m very relaxed when I’m done reading. The annoying LCD refresh is gone and I’m not staring into a backlit screen right before I go to sleep.
I can also read easily in the dark, thanks to the Kindle 3′s cover. It comes with a built-in lamp that I can use whenever I read at night with the lights off.
Another thing I don’t like about the iPad’s LCD screen is trying to read on it during the day in a room with the shades up and the sun coming in the windows. You can turn up the brightness of the iPad, but you still have a bit of an annoying screen glare and it’s still less comfortable than reading on the Kindle 3.
Forget about taking the iPad outside to read on a bright day, it’s just not going to work well regardless of how you tilt the device to try and avoid the sun on it. The Kindle 3 works great for that though.
I don’t want people to walk away from this column thinking that I hate my iPad or that my Kindle 3 has replaced it in all respects. I regard them as apples and oranges; they offer different things and I enjoy using both of them.
The iPad is still a great multi-purpose device and I still use it for videos, browsing the web (the Kindle 3’s web browser is better than the Kindle 2 but still sucks compared to the iPad’s), reading comics and running applications.
But when it comes to actually sitting down and reading an ebook, I’ll take the Kindle 3 any day.
What’s your take on the Kindle 3? Is the iPad something you’d use to read ebooks? Tell me in the comments.