Amazon has released their new Kindle, launched officially on July 7th, in their latest attempt to conquer the eBook reader market. The new Kindle DX 3G represents a marked improvement over past Kindles but the competition has not been resting on its haunches either. Once the Kindle was a big fish in a small pond, but now the waters are getting crowded with fearsome competitors like the Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, and Apples new iPad. Will the upgrades to the Kindle be enough to allow it to rise to the top?
Kindle DX 3G
The new Kindle DX 3G has a number of notable improvements over prior Kindle editions. Some of these improvements are 50% better contrast, new 9.7inch glare free screen, and free 3G wireless. The Kindle DX 3G is a great eBook reader in general with a decent battery life, huge selection of available titles that are easily added to your personal library, and even a Read-to-Me feature being tested where it will read out loud to you.
The look and feel of the Kindle DX 3G does represent a slight improvement over earlier models, which never seemed as flashy and pretty as their price points would warrant. The new Kindle DX 3G is a nice looking piece of equipment but still does not possess the “wow factor” that some of its competitors have. The new DX has a larger screen, great, but with that comes increased size and heaviness. Enough that there is a bit of a top heavy feel to it that you can feel when you hold with one hand. Some of the control layouts can cause frustrations at times and where is the touch screen?
Apple iPad: Apple’s new iPad was not introduced as a direct competitor in the eBook field but with its huge versatility and assortment of Apps it finds itself a strong player in the market anyway. Using Amazon’s own Kindle App for the iPad, the iPad becomes a fantastic eBook reader. The large screen is clear, the print is easy to read, the touch screen navigation is quick and easy, and the visual design of the iPad is fantastic. This device definitely has that “wow factor” that is missing from the Kindle.
The Apple iPad is, by no means, a perfect machine. The Apple iPad is not a focused eBook and as such its biggest drawback is the screen. While the screen is amazing for movies and pictures for text it can represent a challenge in anything but perfect lighting. Glare is a major issue. Price wise the iPad is well above any other eBook reader in the category but with that price comes functionality that cannot be found in any other eBook only device.
Sony Reader: The Sony Reader model that would be the most direct competitor for the Kindly DX 3G is the Sony Reader Daily Edition. The Sony Reader has a lot of great features like free 3G, 7 inch display, and touch screen navigation. Some of its more advanced features include a stylus for taking freehand notes, ability to highlight certain sections of text, and the ability to export notes to your computer.
The Sony Reader is a strong contender in the eBook realm but never seems to be able to come together to be a great reader. Its screen, while large and a touch screen, still has a tendency to show a good amount of glare. The contrast is just not up to par with the Kindle DX 3G, and the touch screen reaction and feel is not up to par with the Apple iPad. Overall the Sony Reader Store is just not as user friendly as it could be when accessed from the device. The Amazon Kindle store is a much simpler and easier interface. While the Sony Reader is a good eBook reader it seems to be a jack of all trades and master of none.
Barnes & Noble Nook: The Barnes & Noble Nook has garnered a lot of attention as it is the first Android-powered eBook reader and the initial buzz around it really hyped it up as an Amazon Kindle killer. However, the Nook had a troubled beginning where its software did not seem to be fully tested and a number of glitches were encountered by early adopters. The makers were quick to respond and with a few firmware upgrades the Nook has now become a true and legit contender in the market.
The Nook is a bit smaller then the Kindle DX, iPad, and Reader Daily Edition, with a 6 inch screen and smaller footprint all around. It does have a touch screen (just the bottom section) and free 3g wireless connections. The interface does take some getting used to but once accustomed to the navigation it is a comfortable user interface. The Nook does have expansion slots for additional memory and is compatible with the ePub, allowing for the ability to download free books from Google books and loaners from the library.
The Nook is a legitimate alternative eBook and has a lot to offer the eBook market. However, there are still some software glitches and frustrating interface issues that need to be addressed. The device is not as fast as the iPad or the Kindle in terms of quickly navigating the interface. The battery life is not up to the other standards in this market. Overall, the Nook is still a strong choice and its selection would probably come down to customers preference once they touch and use the device.
The Kindle DX 3G has brought the spotlight back around to the eBook market. It’s larger, clearer, easier to use, and with 3G everywhere has increased its overall usability in general. Unfortunately, the marketplace for eBook readers is getting more and more crowded and the Kindle does not seem to offer that “wow factor” that can easily differentiate it from the pack. At over $300 the investment is not inconsiderable and will draw many people to start looking into netbooks as a possible alternative. For those looking for an eBook reader, and only an eBook reader, the Kindle DX 3G is probably at the head of the pack. The problem is that now a days people want their toys to be versatile and with limited internet usability and no color screen the Kindle, and other eBook only readers, can not really be considered versatile.