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Kindle 3 eReader Review

Design - Weight and Dimensions

Dimensions: 7.5 in x 4.8 in x 0.335 in
Weight: 8.7 ounces
Color: Available in black/graphite

Amazon's Kindle 3 is by far the most refined of its eReaders yet (until the release of the new line in the autumn of 2011), sporting a nice rounded look to its external casing and a black (or "graphite") plastic exterior that is easy on the eyes and quite durable in practice. As noted in most Kindle reviews the Kindle 3 is a light device, clocking in at just under 9 ounces, and is small enough to be carried in a small bag. It won't add much bulk, either, as the Kindle 3 is quite thin. Overall, in terms of aesthetic success and portability, the Kindle 3 is a market leader.

Display - Resolution and Reflectiveness

Display Type: 6 inch monochrome eInk display
Resolution: 800 x 600
Color Depth: 4-bit monochrome with 16 levels of gray

The Amazon Kindle (pronounced: "kindel") has always been a monochrome eInk device, and the Kindle 3 version is no difference. It packs a 6 inch display with a typical 800x600 resolution. Its 16 gray levels are great for reading books and not straining the eyes, and the display is remarkably good for viewing images. Though they won't be in full color, they still display in a full and robust manner that isn't typical of the average monochrome display. Overall, Amazon set the standard for eInk with its first device and the Kindle 3 maintains the company's commitment to an easily readable display that makes long bouts of reading quite enjoyable.

User-friendliness and Interface - Touchscreen vs Keyboard

One of the main tenets of Amazon's Kindle line of products is that each device ships with a physical keyboard and navigational control (up until the release of the new line of Kindles which all lack physical keyboards). This is primarily done in the interest of usability, and many users do prefer to have physical buttons to press rather than dealing with a touch display. It also bodes well for longevity, as physical keyboards are likely to remain usable far longer than touch displays will retain their ability to easy read a user's swipes and finger taps. The Kindle's keyboard is easy to use, with buttons that press easily and record each touch without fail.

Memory - Internal and External Storage

Flash Memory: 4GB internal memory
Flash Cards: Not expandable with removable media

Amazon ships its Kindle 3 with 4 gigabytes of internal memory, and that's generally more than any competing device would offer its buyers. However, the biggest drawback of Amazon's Kindle 3 is perhaps in its storage: the device cannot be expanded using the typical SD removable media that many other eReaders support. That means that, once full, a Kindle's memory must be cleaned out by deleting previously-purchased books bought from Amazon's store. It's a compromise that no one should have to make, especially in an era of increasingly common and cheap expansion media.

Formats - Doc, PDF, ePub and Third-party DRMs

Supported Text Formats: AZW, PDF, TXT, MOBI, PRC, HTML, DOC
Supported Image Formats: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP

The Kindle 3 supports perhaps the widest range of textual file formats, and that's a great thing for users who want to read more than just typical eBooks on its monochrome display. Because it supports TXT and DOC files, the Kindle reader can be used for reading Microsoft Office documents on the go, which is especially convenient for business users. And its support of HTML means it can be used to read offline webpages as well -- another great boon to business eReader users. The Kindle 3 supports most major image formats and it comes with an included image viewer

Web-browsing and Applications

The Kindle 3 ships with an experimental web-browser. It feels a bit awkward surfing the web on an eInk device, but it works for checking your email or your twitter feed. Additionally, it supports MP3 files and the company's proprietary AAX audio format that it sometimes uses with DRM-protected audio purchases in its online store. With a bundled media player and a 3.5mm headphone jack, that makes it great for people who love to listen to a few songs while they finish a chapter of their favorite book.

Battery-Life

The Kindle 3 ships with a pretty impressive battery, supporting up to 7,500 page turns before a charge is required. That means several days of reading without a recharge for the average user.

Pricing

Amazon's Kindle 3 eReader with free 3G is available direct from the company's website for $189 ($139 for Wifi-only), making it a solid mid-range device.

Additional Features and Accessories

Connectivity with the Amazon marketplace is a huge boon to the Kindle 3, and it's great to have a device that is easily able to download eBooks as well as the company's music and audio book files. If you buy the model with free 3G you can connect to whispernet for free in most habitable places on earth. This is also true for the experimental web-browser, which makes the Kindle 3G a real one-of-a-kind device for anyone who can't suffer any downtime from social media and news. Combined with WiFi support, the Kindle has a robust set of additional features that will keep users plugged in longer than more basic devices.

The Bottom Line

Amazon's Kindle is the benchmark by which all other eReader devices are judged, and there's a reason for that: it's simply the top-of-the-line device on the market. It's the most robust, most appealing, and most enduring eReader available, and it's more affordable than many might initially think.

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