Amazon Updates the Kindle

Just in time for the beginning of the Back to School shopping season (something we’ll have covered down to the smallest details over the next couple of weeks to make sure you head back to school with all the right tech), Amazon has announced an updated version of their very popular Kindle.

This 3rd generation Kindle comes with a whole bunch of updates and improvements to help it put up a better fight with some competing eReaders on the market (*cough* iPad *cough*), and while I’m still not sure it is better than a Barnes and Noble Nook or iPad, Amazon has made the choice between the three a lot tougher.

So what’s new in this latest Kindle? A lot actually.

  • Better screen– While the screen size remains at 6 inches, pages now turn faster (something that has always been a big problem with the Kindle since the very beginning), but this new Kindle offers a much better screen with 50% sharper contrast as well as improved fonts for better appearance of text. Sadly though, there still is no color screen, but the E-Ink screen on the Kindle means that it displays content as a book would– making it perfect for anyone doing a lot of reading outside (a place where devices like the iPad suffer because of their glossy screens).

  • Sleeker Design– At 15% lighter and 21% lighter this makes the iPad seem chunky. Heck, Amazon has now made it even thinner than a pencil and lighter than a paperback! All while also improving the design of the keyboard and controls to make things seem more streamlined and simple (see top pic), a change I really think looks much nicer.
  • Books download in 60 seconds— As has been with all the prior Kindles.
  • Double the Storage— The new Kindle has 4 GB of built-in memory and holds up to 3,500 books– basically, don’t worry about EVER running out of room for that new Dan Brown novel.
  • One month of battery life with wireless off, 1o days with wireless on— Not only do you not have to worry about size or running out of room, but you also don’t need to worry about charging this thing every night.
  • Built in WebKit browser and the ability to share passages on Twitter and Facebook— Basically, you can also view the real web right off the Kindle, and while it should be great for getting the latest scores off ESPN, looking something up on Wikipedia, or going on Facebook, without color or video don’t expect this to replace your iPod/phone/laptop for your browsing needs (WebKit by the way is the name of the type of web browser used on devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Android, as well as on the Google Chrome and Apple Safari browsers on regular PCs). Amazon also added the ability to share passages online via Twitter and Facebook, something which should come in handy if your working on a report with a friend or are group studying for a test.

The Kindle also come in a couple of different variations– either WiFi only or WiFi+3G connectivity options and a color choice of gray or white (with gray being the new default color and I gotta say, looks pretty nice. The white variant is only available on the WiFi+3G models for now). Yes the WiFi is new here and without question great to have and as with all prior Kindles, there is no contract or monthly fees to use 3G (which runs on the AT&T network)– which is now even more useful with that built-in browser. And with the no-contract WiFi+3G version being only $50 more than the WiFi only model, we really think it is the much stronger choice here (unlike the iPad where the difference between the WiFi and WiFi+3G is $130).

The new Kindle starts at $139 for the WiFi only model and $189 for the WiFi+3G version when it comes out on August 27th, and you can pre-order both now on Amazon.

Here’s our big question: Kindle, Nook or iPad if you’re looking to get an eReader for school this year? Each has their pluses and minuses– and we’ll have a post covering all of this and other back-to-school tech soon– but in the meantime with this new Kindle announcement, which one would you use? Sound off in the comments.

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Posted on July 29, 2010, in Back to School, eBooks and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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