Amazon Kindle Keyboard review
Improved hardware, tight integration with the new UK Kindle Store and an amazingly low price. A game changer
Review Date: 22 Sep 2010
Reviewed By: Kevin Partner
Price when reviewed: £127 (£149 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Much has changed since we reviewed the previous generation Kindle around a year ago. While the hardware was impressive, Amazon’s half-hearted attempt to open up the US Kindle store to international customers left us frustrated and, crucially, without much to read. The third-generation device finally puts this right and offers slick integration with the UK book store.
The biggest change since last year, however, has nothing to do with the device itself but rather its price. The more expensive model, which includes a free 3G connection to the Kindle store costs £127 exc VAT and the Wi-Fi only model is a staggeringly cheap £93 exc VAT.
The device shows no evidence of corner-cutting, though. Amazon has beefed up the specification by doubling the available storage to just over 3GB, improving the clarity of an already excellent display and increasing the refresh rate for a slicker experience. The Kindle uses the new E Ink Pearl panel, and it's just as comfortable on the eyes as words on a page, even in direct sunlight.
Physically, the device is a little slimmer than its predecessor. Amazon has achieved this by reducing the thickness of the bevel and removing the row of number keys from the keyboard. The keyboard itself is a rudimentary affair that is, thankfully, only used during setup and for book searches. The rear-mounted speakers are surprisingly effective, though. Page turn buttons are mounted on the left and right, with forward and back replicated on both sides so you can turn pages one-handed.
The bottom edge of the device sports a volume control and 3.5mm headphone jack along with a microUSB connector for both charging and data transfer. Finally, there's a slide/release power switch that incorporates an LED to indicate the charging state. Amazon continues to resist the temptation to adopt touch technology, but this isn’t a feature we desperately missed.
Battery life is quoted at up to one month with wireless turned off. In the real world, however, Amazon encourages you to keep it switched on so you can store the furthest point reached in a book. This is odd given that all other bookmarking is handled on the device itself and keeping the wireless on has the effect of reducing battery life by at least half. Still, two weeks is perfectly manageable given that the charging time is only around an hour from flat.
Amazon has clearly been working hard at improving the book-buying process. Order a Kindle and, on delivery, you’ll find it’s been automatically linked to the Amazon account used to buy it. This might present a problem if the Kindle is intended as a gift (you can de-link it), but otherwise it’s a nice touch as it means the only step required to buy your first book is to set up your Wi-Fi connection.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by the text-to-speech, expecting it to be much worse than it actually is. It's good enough for listening to newspaper or magazine articles in the car.
And I guess Amazon's suggestion that you keep the wifi on for storing reading positions is so that it can sync with the Windows or mobile versions of Kindle?
By The_Scrote on 22 Sep 2010
I can access the Amazon Kindle store on my iPad with the Kindle app, so I get all those 400,000 titles as well. I'm just saying that the Kindle store alone is not a good reason for buying the Kindle.
By jmiii on 22 Sep 2010
This is true jmiii but your iPad cost 3, 4, maybe 5 times the price, has a lousy 10 hour maximum battery life compared to 2 weeks minimum of the Kindle, it is 5 times heavier and you can't read it in sunlight.
Horses for courses. If you only want something that you can read your books on and have no desire to play games then I think the Kindle is a far superior option.
By TimoGunt on 22 Sep 2010
I like it...
I've had mine for around a week now and I've been very happy with it so far.
I was concerned that the e-ink page 'turns' (where the screen re-draws) would annoy me, but I don't actually notice them now. I think I almost blink when it 'turns' and so don't see them.
I'm now on to my 3rd book on the device - I'd recommend the free "Soul Identity" book (available on the Kindle store).
I would like to see the Kindle prices reduced, given that the marginal cost of a digital copy of a book must be very low, and yet in a lot of cases the cost is only slightly less than the physical paperback.
For anyone who likes their newspapers etc. I'd suggest downloading and using Calibre (which can 'scrape' news from the BBC, convert to Kindle accessible pages and save to the device for offline reading).
By miles_roper on 22 Sep 2010
I am sold on the technology for book reading. The only thing that gives me pause against rushing straight out and buying a Kindle is DRM.
As I understand it, ebooks bought from Amazon are a bespoke file type locked to a limited number of registered reading devices on your Kindle account.
What happens in 20 years time if Amazon happen to disappear, does your ebook collection you've built up disappear also? Or more simply, what if in five years time, the new Sony reader happens to be so much better than the next Kindle, but you can't read all the old books you have purchased on it? I guess I just don't like the idea of buying something (an ebook) where you don't have control and it may turn out that you have really only rented it.
Perhaps I haven't got the facts quite straight, or perhaps I just worry too far ahead.
By mathunt on 22 Sep 2010
I'm tempted by the new Kindle but I share the DRM concerns expressed by @manhunt.
I'd also like to see support for more doc file formats, e.g. epub and RTF. Epub, in particular, is very common and the ebooks are often free... I wonder whether Amazon have chosen to exclude this to boost revenue on the Kindle book store.
By blueleaf on 23 Sep 2010
Not doing epub does seem retrograde as it is one of the easiest to read. Given the huge number of books available free for epub devices I have changed my mind about diving into a kindle. I will wait the next generation from other manufacturers.
Especially since .pdf sounds as though it has been crippled.
By dieseltaylor on 23 Sep 2010
I don't want to read any fiction or many books in the charts - I only have handreds of non-fiction, technical manuals and educational texts in PDF form I want to read (software/programming,physics/maths related) - which e-reader is the best one to go for? I'm disappointed the Kindle does not handle PDF files better so won't be buying one.
By lemonstar61 on 23 Sep 2010
I'm not surprised it doesn't include epub. However the review doesn't mention that it does support mobi, which has a lot of free titles, and that you can download hundreds of free titles from Project Gutenberg in Kindle format.
By jgwilliams on 23 Sep 2010
Kindle can read AZW, TXT, TPZ, PRC, MOBI and PDF.
The latter not too well due to screen size.
But you can use the (free) calibre software to convert PDF to MOBI - it works pretty well unless PDF has lots of pictures/diagrams, and as long as it is not in columns.
Calibre can also convert HTLM, Lit, LRF, RTF, LRX and EPUB to MOBI - assuming there are no DRM, of course.
Which means that thousnds, millions, of books are available.
Your own PDF docs will be converted free and sent to your Kindle by WiFi by Amazon.
Your own word files you can save as HTML and then use Calibre to convert to MOBI.
What's not to like about the Kindle? It's a superb reader.
By Griff on 23 Sep 2010
PDF on Kindle DX
If you have technical books etc in PDF, then you need to buy the Kindle DX from amazon.com - not available in UK.
It has a large screen - whole device is almost A4 size.
I have one and am v happy with it.
By Griff on 23 Sep 2010
We all read the terms on conditions, right? Me neither:
I recently purchased a book my my kndle to help with my job. When I asked for a VAT invoice so I could claim the price on expenses I was told:
"Kindle Ebooks are only intended for private use and is not available for Corporate Accounts, legal entities or for customers who purchase items for business or institutional use or for the purpose of resale.
Accordingly, Amazon do not issue VAT invoices for Kindle Ebooks. Instead you can print a receipt for your order directly from your Amazon customer account.
Thank you for your understanding in this matter and for shopping at Amazon.co.uk."
You have been warned.
By pbhudds on 23 Sep 2010
Has anybody tried one of the new Kindle's on a corporate network. The previous version didn't support WPA2 wireless networks.
By stan_finney on 23 Sep 2010
I've found the PDF support fine, been using to read software documentation as well as magazines such as Alter Ego / Back Issue and they are fine. The quality of the black n white comic book illustrations and even the text is readable. I have at times gone to the 150% 200% sizing and found the zoom a little frustrating to work - so mainly stuck to the default - the text is small but still fine to read. Would love to see a scrolling feature to make it easier to move around a PDF (such as touchscreen) in a future Kindle though
Other than that, the worst feature has to be the directory / listing and lack of a folder structure - I have about 200 books on the Kindle and trawling through the list is a slow process (and a clunky interface) - really hope that is improved in any new Kindle OS update
Overall, I love the Kindle and have been thumbing through loads and loads of books without any issues
By Andrew713 on 23 Sep 2010
"your iPad cost 3, 4, maybe 5 times the price, has a lousy 10 hour maximum battery life compared to 2 weeks minimum of the Kindle, it is 5 times heavier and you can't read it in sunlight."
Cant argue with the price issue, its great seeing the kindle reader price drop and hopefully the market for ebooks is expanding rapidly and we'll see the copy prices for eformats drop accordingly.
Did just want to say however that personally I use ipad a lot for reading using the kindle App and have happily used it in bright sunlight. (You do have to turn the screen brightness up but then, for me at least, its quite legible.)
But I agree if all you want is a greyscale book reader then the kindle seems quite adequate and has some advantages, kindle text to speech comes to mind as that doesn't appear to be available on any other platform.
(Funny to see 10 hours considered lousy though, as a book reader it falls far short of the kindle but as a general computing/web device that's cracking.)
By inframan2010 on 23 Sep 2010
Comparing the Kindle with the iPad is only valid in the sense that both can be used to read ebooks. Only one is an ebook reader, however. Aside from price, weight and size the overwhelming advantage FOR READING BOOKS the Kindle has is its display - reading on the Kindle is no harder on the eyes than reading a paper book. This cannot be said of any tablet display.
As a big reader of books, the Kindle is a godsend for me and I wouldn't swap it for an iPad if you gave me one simply because the extra functions of an iPad don't interest me. The Kindle's the perfect example of a device optimised for a single purpose at a very low price but its web browser is absolute rubbish - I know which one I'd prefer to browse the internet on (assuming the site I was visiting didn't need Flash).
By KevPartner on 23 Sep 2010
@stan_finney The Kindle 3 works ok with my home WPA2 network, but I don't think it supports enterprise ones.
By ChrisJoeWood on 23 Sep 2010
I wasn't saying that 10 hours for the iPad isn't staggering. I was making a comparison with someone that just wants a book reader and 10 hours would look lousy compared with 2-4 weeks.
Quite frankly I want an iPad myself and have no urge to buy a Kindle but I'm sticking up for those that just want a reader :)
By TimoGunt on 23 Sep 2010
Kndle Roaming Charges
My son's new Kindle arrived last week and is working fine. Unfortunately it only allows instant purchase on Amazon with no password validation so if it falls into the wrong hands it could be expensive.
He will be travelling for about six months so I contacted Amazon.co.uk 8 days ago to clarify roaming charges. Will he be charged if he is out of the UK with 3G activated? Will he be charged when he dowloads books other than the Kindle standing charge? If there is no response prior to his leaving I will be telling him to disable the 3G wireless unless he is in a free wi-fi zone.
By jnaar on 23 Sep 2010
From what I've read jnaar it is free in about 100 countries to download books because the charge is included in the book price. It's very cagey about using the browser however
By TimoGunt on 23 Sep 2010
I searched for clarification on roaming charges (when using the web browser) before I put my order in, but all I could find was a small sentence saying they reserved the right to charge you if the service was misused.
Book purchases definitely isn't a mis-use of the service, but I would imagine using the web browser over 3G might be considered so.
Also - jnaar...you can set up a password on it which has to be entered whenever powering on. That at least would stop someone buying lots of books if they had stolen the device for example.
By miles_roper on 23 Sep 2010
I almost bought one ...
I've liked the concept of an ebook reader for a while but have not yet taken the plunge.
I was just about to purchase my next batch of IT books and saw the Kindle had been updated
Hmmm another set of 600-900 page draft excluders that are not overly portable .... or an ebook reader that will probably pay for itself in 15 or so titles
Doing a bit more digging not all of the books I wanted were available for the Kindle .... I'm sure this will improve
However what this review does not seem to mention is that the Kindle is very poor when it come to reading technical books as reference material.
Comments on Amazons own reviews say many title lack contents or indexes. Yes there is a search factility but imagine looking up CreateWindow in a Windows API programming book ....
Does anyone on here use it to read IT books and found it better than others on Amazon have suggested/commented ?
I think it's getting there ... Maybe a Kindle 3.1 will address this problem ? :-)
By MiniEggs on 24 Sep 2010
A question regarding the future...
Is colour eInk in development?
By alvin on 24 Sep 2010
This all sounds good, but I do not have a WiFi connection at home, so how would I get the books downloaded?
By onslow11 on 24 Sep 2010
Still frustrations for non-UK but Europe-based users
If you live in "Mainland Europe" you have two choices - you can buy a Kindle for delivery to a UK address (and get the 3-pin plug you don't want) or you can order it as before from Amazon US and pay about the same amount for postage alone that you would be paying if buying from Amazon UK.
1. It should be possible to buy from Amazon UK to a European address at the UK price plus the usual (=small!!) postage charge and this Kindle should then include the European 2 pin plug.
So you buy it to a UK address and discover once you have it and back in your own country (with a 3-to-2 pin conversion plug) that you aren't allowed to buy anything from the UK Kindle Store (you can see the books etc. available but not the prices) but only from the US Kindle store (where you find that you are paying about double the US price because of where you live - supposedly for extra tax but a) tax isn't that high and b) when things that cost zero dollars in the US how come tax is then 3.50 ?)
In other words the new Kindle is great and the price is right but Amazon are doing themselves no favours by making their mainland European customers extremely p***ed off.
By MikeW2 on 26 Sep 2010
1. Buy the 3G version (£50 more) and all you need is a 3G signal anywhere in the world (traffic is free)
2. (cheap option) Just use to USB cable provided to move books to the Kindle.
By Nodule on 26 Sep 2010
.pdf's again - Tearing hair out here!
I've read the review on both the Kindle and Sony PRS-650.
I was so close to ordering a Kindle I had it in my basket.
However my main reason for purchase is that I'm starting an OU course soon and they supply course materials in .pdf format.
I need, if possible to be able to use the device one-handed (I am a dialysis patient and need to keep one hand still during my session).
From what I can see the Sony is just far better with .pdf files.
Is that now the general concensus - would I regret a Kindle purchase if I want to do a lot of work with .pdf's?
By Stoofa on 14 Oct 2010
Can I download UK newspapers to my Kindle when I am abroad?
By Rick8 on 23 Nov 2010
i have just finished reading all the comments on this website and i have a few questions:
Can you read modern books on the kindle and not just classics?
How much - on average - do you have to pay for the ebooks? Are any of them free?
Out of ten how much would you rate it?
If you could help me with my queries that would be great as i am really torn between buying one and not buying one
By CC712 on 16 Jan 2011
CC712 - help answered?
Good day CC712
Hopefully I may be able to answer your questions - I have had my Kindle since Oct 2010.
The Amazon store has the latest bestsellers back through to the classics. Not everything is available, but the list grows all the time.
You can also investigate other eBooks available online and if necessary convert them to a format Kindle is happy with via programs such as Calibre.
Cost - I reckon I've averaged less than £5 a book - obviously the most recent tend to be dearer through to the many classics that are free.
How would I rate it - for my purposes - about 11
Due to the fact I travel a lot, and books are heavy, I can download dozens of books with no weight penalty.
I'd definitely buy the 3G version - I have used it in France and Canada to download my daily subscription to The Telegraph and weekly subscription to The Spectator.
The Web-kit browser, which has been much derided, is fine within its limitations - I can access my Gmail account and see if there is an important email, and in the recent snow in the UK I was able to get access the BBS and Met Office weather sites when had no access to computer/smartphone.
My wife - who is a technophobe - bought her Kindle on the strength of seeing mine in action (so to speak).
Should you buy? - if you expect it to be an iPad/netbook replacement - no. If you want a portable means of having access to 100,000's of books, with a screen that is as easy on the eye as print (unlike a computer screen) - yes.
If you do, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
By Capt2836 on 16 Jan 2011
I've now had the Kindle for 3 months - it has completely changed the way I consume books.
For example, I got "The God Delusion" as a present at Christmas but ended up also downloading it on the Kindle (£4) because of the built in dictionary - this hugely increased my enjoyment of the book as I could understand the more obscure religious and scientific terms.
There are only two downsides so far.
Firstly, a book that has lots of pictures/diagrams simply doesn't work on the Kindle.
Secondly, you can't read in the bath!
By KevPartner on 17 Jan 2011
Reading Kindle in the bath
Ok it's not ideal but I bought an Ortleib A5waterproof document case for my kindle (used Ortleib map cases for years and maps survived immersion in streams etc without any water getting in). Can read no problem without glare and still work all the buttons. Now keep my kindle it in most of the time so if I'm reading at lunchtime, or in the pub and I knock a drink over I won't risk soaking it. Map case cost me £8.50 with free p&p and I can once again spend hours in the bath!
By anglerism on 13 Feb 2011
kindle book charges
Bought kindle for hols. Paid big excess charge last year because of books. However, book prices seem to be based on hardback and are dearer than paperbacks. Disappointing!
Also, exchange lots of books with friends. Is this now not possible?
By alarn on 5 Apr 2011
Throw it away?
Nice spec, but I throw the book at you, can I still read it?
By stevehh1 on 6 Jul 2011
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