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On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

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New Kindle 3 Reading Light Cover

One of the biggest complaints that naysayers seem to be able to come up with about the Kindle, and eReaders in general, is that you can’t read in the dark.  Sure, you could go with something like an iPad or even the superficially similar, if less useful or functional, Pandigital Novel and be able to read in any lighting besides direct sunlight, but chances are good that if you’re the type to be reading with the lights off then you do it enough that staring into a back-lit display is going to get on your nerves after a while.

Fortunately, Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) seems to have come up with a simple and effective solution in the form of a very nice looking, light cover for your eReader that draws on the battery in the device itself to power a small but powerful LED reading light. The Kindle Lighted Leather Cover currently comes in seven colors, doesn’t weigh you down with bulky batteries or annoying cords, and costs about $60.  It’s difficult to say, just yet, whether or not the power drain from the light will be a major concern, but it would seem doubtful given the greatly increased battery life of the newly updated Kindle and the notoriously low power draw of quality LED lights.  This seems like a great idea for anybody who likes to read in bed without disturbing somebody, or even just those of us who don’t do all our reading inside.

Kindle 3 Review

Kindle 3 White And Graphite

Kindle 3 White And Graphite

Update: Since Kindle 3 is released and I got some hands on experience with it, you should check out this Kindle 3 Review and this follow up post for more up to date information.

Since the original Kindle 3 release announcement I had some to carefully examine all of the news and press releases and compile this comprehensive Kindle 3 Review.

Although Kindle 3 rumors  have been circulating for some time, Fall 2010 was the widely anticipated release date. Rumors intensified when Kindle 2 became sold out on Amazon.com one day prior to the official announcement that came on July 28th, 2010.

In a nutshell Kindle 3 (although Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) never used this name) comes with following features:

Kindle 3 Screen

3rd generation Kindle comes with the same next generation eInk Pearl screen that is found in recently released Kindle DX Graphite but in 6″ form factor. The screen features the same 600×800 resolution with 16 shades of gray. Partially due to new screen technology and partially due to a software update, new Kindle will feature 20% faster page turns than the 2nd generation Kindle.

Kindle 3 Fonts

On top of some software improvements that made the default font look crisper, Amazon has introduced 2 additional font options: condensed Caecilia and Sans Serif. But what is more important, finally Kindle will natively support a broader range of characters:

  • Cyrillic used in Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Tajik and dozens of other languages
  • Japanese
  • Traditional and simplified Chinese
  • Korean
  • Greek

This means that I can finally stop updating Kindle Unicode Font Hack that with time and numerous Kindle software and hardware update has become a conundrum of patches, jailbreaks and uninstallers. It also means that I would be able to republish Kindle Russian Dictionary using native Cyrillic characters rather than transliteration. Since it will not be the only book published with non-Latin characters, the updated font will inevitable make their way to all other Kindle versions.

Kindle 3 Size and Weight

Kindle 3 comes 21% smaller and 17% lighter than Kindle 2. You can select multiple eReaders (by holding the Ctrl key and clicking) from the list below to see how they compare by size.

As you can see, Kindle 3 is smaller than Kindle 2 but slightly larger than nook or Sony PRS-600. Both of these readers however lack keyboard that allows them to be more compact. PRS-300 is smaller still but it has a smaller 5″ reading area too so it wouldn’t really be a fair comparison.

This reduction in size didn’t come free though. Paging buttons are much smaller than they used to be and numerical keyboard row is merged with the top letter row the same way as it is on Kindle DX.

Kindle 3 Storage and Connectivity

Starting from 2nd generation Kindle Amazon has eliminated external memory card storage in their eReaders. Kindle 3 is no exception. Internal flash memory size has doubled compared to Kindle 2. Now entire line-up of Kindle readers features 4GB of internal flash memory for storing books. Not that it really matters: even without global 3G connectivity 2 gigabytes of text will take a very-very long while for anyone to read even with 20% faster page turns. 3G connectivity pretty much eliminates the need for large internal storage altogether barring the scenario of solo around the world sailboat trip.

So far WiFi has been a feature exclusive to Barnes&Noble nook until now. New Kindle will automatically take advantage of 3G WiFi hotspots if they are found nearby. This would provide faster download speeds, ability to download books in places without AT&T coverage and save Amazon money. Amazon used to pay $0.15 per megabyte downloaded to Sprint (and probably still pays similar amount to AT&T). I’m almost positive that it would be possible to configure Kindle to connect to any other wireless network – open or encrypted (provided you know the credentials).

There is a Wi-Fi only version. It is $50 cheaper and 0.2oz lighter. Personally I would prefer to pay $50 upfront for the convenience of being able to download books almost anywhere hassle free and automatically getting my periodicals without having to manually power-manage the WiFi or worrying about finding a hotspot. It should be possible to use Kindle WiFi together with Android phone (like Sprint EVO 4G) or any other device that acts as a mobile hotspot. Any way you look at it – WiFi is a welcome and long awaited addition to Kindle feature set.

Kindle 3 Battery Life

It looks like Amazon has pushed the battery life even further. Previous versions of Kindle used to work 7 days with 3G on and “several weeks” with 3G off. In my personal experience “several weeks” was 1 month. Now Amazon officially states 1 month of battery life with wireless off. So perhaps it would be even longer in reality.

Kindle 3 Browser

It was nice to be able to browser Wikipedia via 3G connection for free, but apart from that and running the Amazon Kindle Book store Kindle 2 experimental browser was hardly useful. The newest Kindle comes with new Webkit-based browser that hopefully would be more responsive and usable on websites with complex layouts. I own and actively use B&N nook and I can honestly say that nook browser is excellent. That being said I hardly ever use either Kindle or nook browser. 4″ smartphone screen offers much better browsing experience than 6″ eInk. eBook reader were built for linear reading and in this eInk excels. Web-browsing is a very random non-linear process. In all likelihood 4″ screen despite it’s small size is going to contain less text than you are going to read before navigating to next page via some link.

Another novel feature – is ‘browser article mode’. Kindle browser will use some experimental heuristics to eliminate everything but the main page text, distilling the web-page into something similar to newspaper article.

Kindle 3 File Formats

With new release the list of supported formats didn’t change. AZW, TXT, PDF, PRC, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP are natively supported. DOC, DOCX, RTF and HTML are supported via online conversion tool. This list may not be final since new formats (hopefully someday EPUB too) can be added via software update as was the case with PDF support on Kindle 2.

Kindle 3 PDF Support

The latest Kindle offers the same level of PDF support as Kindle DX Graphite. You can pan and zoom PDF files, annotate them and do dictionary lookups.

Other Kindle 3 Features

On top of all this Kindle 3 gets voice-accessible menus and microphone. Voice accessible menus (Kindle will read aloud all menu items) along with text-to-speech should take make Kindle a fully accessible device that can be used in a classroom.

As for the microphone. It is there but it is not mentioned in official specification. Therefore it’s reserved for a future use. Most likely it will enable adding voice notes or recording classroom sessions. Some reviewers have speculated on voice-activated page turns and hands-free reading but I personally find such scenarios unlikely.

Social features like Facebook and Twitter integration and sharing favorite passages have carried over from previous Kindle versions. Personally I find “favorite passages” to be the most useful feature. It really adds to the book reading experience and is not intrusive. I have to confess that I selfishly use this feature while not highlighting any passages myself.

Final verdict

Should you buy Kindle 3? If you love reading – Hell, yeah! It’s shaping up to be the best eReader as far a features to price ratio is concerned. Amazon has been developing eBook Readers for years now and each product they release is better that the ones before (which were good to begin with). Personally I already pre-ordered mine so you are sure to see a hands on review soon after I receive it.

Kindle 3 Released

Preorders are now available for both the 3G + WiFi Kindle 3 and the much anticipated WiFi-only Kindle 3.  The improvements on both models(the only difference between the two being the exclusion of 3G coverage from the WiFi model and the lower price that that entails) are quite noticeable, if a bit less drastic than many people were likely expecting.

Here’s what we’re going to be looking at:

  • Higher Contrast Display, such as has recently been seen in the Kindle DX Graphite
  • Slightly Streamlined Body: 21% smaller, 17% lighter, but with no sacrifices to screen size
  • Improved Battery and Main Memory Storage, which with the release of Collections a few months ago finally proves incredibly useful
  • Built-in WiFi Connectivity: This is huge.  Connect and download books even in areas where reception is horrible?  You’d better believe I’ll take it
  • 20% Faster Refresh Rate
  • Enhanced PDF Navigation, again much like what we’ve seen in the DX
  • New Kindle Software will support some international characters – Cyrillic (Russian), Chinese, Japanese and Korean

Now, I’ll freely admit that the only thing I was set to care much about was the improved screen.  And, to address that point, it looks like it will be as amazing as could be hoped for. That said, I love the body redesign.  It’s smaller, lighter, easier on the eyes, claims to have quieter page turn buttons, a more pleasantly textured backing, and has done away with the annoyingly protruding navigation stick in favor of a directional navigation pad.  If there were ever a reason not to Kindle, it’s flown right out the window.

So far all pre-orders are due to be shipped on a release date of August 27th.

New Kindle Unveiling Soon?

As anybody who is interested can clearly see, today finds the Kindle sold out!  For some, this may be annoying since it means that you have to wait on your new eReader.  For those who’ve been following the news these last few months, however, this is simply a reinforcement of the good news we’ve been expecting for a while now.  The new and updated Kindle, with a thinner body and better screen(probably the same eInk Pearl display seen on the new Kindle DX Graphite), was announced as an August release a while back.  In the meantime we have seen refurbished Kindles going for close to $100, a major price drop on new Kindles, and a huge push in the Kindle platform across multiple platforms.  Definitely encouraging signs.

Now, will this be the much anticipated Kindle 3?  No idea.  The timing seems right in a lot of ways, but this could just as easily be a minor cosmetic update in the interests of giving Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) a further edge in the eBook market.  Either way, August should be a good month for fans of the device as we can be fairly sure to see something new.  Personally, all I really care about is the new screen.  That Graphite DX model is very nice to read on.

B&N Nook for Android Released

Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) has taken a page out of Amazon’s(NASDAQ:AMZN) book again recently by rebranding their eReader applications under the nook.  This comes at the same time as, and is therefore well illustrated by, the much anticipated release of the nook software for the Android operating system, which is now available in the Apps store as a free download.

By all accounts, this is a solid piece of software.  It seems to have most every feature we’ve come to expect in eReader applications for cellular devices, and an intuitive functionality very similar to that of the popular Kindle for Android application.  I like having multiple font options a lot, and I can see the use for having additional font sizes even if I’m perfectly happy personally with the usual ones available on either app.

The one place that the nook app falls short, and it is kinda a big deal, is the complete lack of brightness and background controls.  While it is obviously likely to be difficult to get something like that to work across a broad range of hardware profiles and other such difficulties, it is almost essential to have these features when reading on most cell phone types of screens.  It’s a neat piece of software and I honestly believe that it is superficially better than anything else I’ve seen so far, short of buying a Kindle or nook or something, but when it comes to regular use you’ll be hurting for more control over the screen rather quickly.

Kindle Sales For Larsson Hit New Milestone

This week we have seen a new standard set for eSook sales, specifically those for Amazon’s(NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle.  Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, which we recently mentioned in a review of the Kindle Editions, has now sold over One Million copies for the Kindle alone.  This comes just weeks after James Patterson’s amazing announcement that he had hit over a million eBooks in general between all formats. All three of Larsson’s books are among the Top 10 Bestselling Kindle Editions of all time, according to Amazon, have places on the New York Times and international Bestsellers Lists, and have met with rave reviews seemingly everywhere they have been encountered.

This only serves to emphasize for us how the shifts in the way the publishing industry operates are going to effect us as time moves on.  First we have Kindle book sales overtaking hardcovers, now we have authors managing to sell in the millions of copies range.  It is becoming increasingly clear that while print is far from dead, there is little chance for the traditional model to reassert itself.  As time goes on and more authors find themselves members of this exclusive group, we can only hope that the achievement will continued to be noted, both for these authors and for the eBook industry in general.  It can’t be seen as anything but truly impressive.

Kindle eBook Sales Exceed Hardcovers

Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) has recently released some very interesting news for eBook enthusiasts.  Apparently, in recent months, Kindle eBook sales have begun to exceed those of traditional hardcovers by an average of 40% on the Amazon website with recent weeks showing the difference as high as 80%.

As more and more people weigh in on the topic of eBooks and the eventual state of the market, it’s not unusual to find that most fall into one of two camps.  First, we have those who believe that paper books are a thing of the past and that the publishing industry as it stands is going to collapse under its own weight in the near future.  Then, also, you have those for whom nothing short of a paper book will do and who are convinced that no matter how great the experience with a Kindle or other similar device can get, it will simply not measure up favorably by virtue of being made of plastic and having buttons.  The truth, as usual, is fairly certain to fall well in between these extremes.  That said, this is certainly a sign that more and more people are willing to draw away somewhat from the traditional model and experience a new way of doing things.  The numbers can’t be anything but encouraging.

Amazon’s Kindle Gets Even More Popular

Recent releases from Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) have indicated that the Kindle, proving it deserves its place as Amazon’s #1 Best Selling item, has tripled in sales this year compared to last, in part due to last month’s price slashing.  While many deride that move as the end of the Kindle as a profitable endeavor, there can be no doubt that the greater the availability of the eReader and the platform in general, the healthier the product-line it supports will become.

Being spread, as it is, between the Kindle device, iOS applications, Android applications, various smart phones, and PC applications, there are surprisingly few people left who cannot, should the choose to do so, access the eBook of their choice in a convenient and comfortable setting.  As some reports indicate that the eBook market has grown by more than 160% in the past year, this increasingly pervasive presence gives Amazon an impressive advantage and even further encouragement to keep the momentum up.  We already know that Kindle Editions are outselling hardcovers by a significant percentage these days, even if you exclude free eBooks from consideration and don’t exclude hardcover sales for books not available on the Kindle.  It’s starting to feel like this is only the beginning of a much larger trend, however, that could truly change the way we enjoy books.

Any thoughts?

Sharp Takes On Kindle

It’s hardly new to anybody that the eReader market is a place where everybody is scrambling to make their mark and stake a claim.  Some successfully nudge their way into the public eye via good marketing and good feature sets, like the nook, and some simply fail in the face of so much pressure.  It remains to be seen how Sharp will do, but they’re clearly interested in finding out!

We know little about their announced eReader besides that it is going to be LCD-based, has presented with a touch-screen in prototypes, and will feature an entirely new format and distribution system, if all goes according to Sharp’s plans.  The basic idea of the design seems to be going along the lines of Amazon’s(NASDAQ:AMZN) recent addition of A/V integration to the Kindle software, but with a format based on an accepted Japanese standard for eBooks and eComics.  This file system, a next-gen XMDF, is said to allow audio and video integration that will be accessible across multiple devices including user PCs and, obviously, their eReader tablets.

Where does this leave the existing market?  Even assuming that this takes off, and the interest garnered by Amazon’s A/V efforts demonstrate that there’s a market for somebody willing to cater to such things, I think that the Kindle has little to worry about.  The traditional LCD, the new format and distribution system starting from scratch, and the fact that they’re facing off against established competition all work against Sharp’s design.  I, however, am intrigued and wish them luck.  I’d like to see where this takes things.

B&N Nook Takes Aim At Students

Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) has announced an August release for their new NOOKstudy software package.  Following in their recent tradition of following up Amazon’s original moves with some further refinement, it appears we’re looking at a few old favorites with a couple new twists.  The Kindle DX has proven to be slightly less than ready for big-time school exposure so far, which leaves the field open to the nook and its related software for the time being.

As anybody might expect, looking at software for students, there will be highlighting, annotation, and in-text note-taking for follow-ups.  In addition, annotations and notes in general will be tagged for easy searching and full-text searching will be, obviously, much faster than the existing search feature native to the nook device. There also appears to be some browser integration to allow for fast look-up of formulas and definitions as you read.  Users will be able to open two texts at once for simultaneous reading/reference on the same screen, a tabbed browser will allow multiple documents to be open for use at any given time, and students will likely find the ability to organize documents based on class and topic quite helpful.

This all comes at the same time as an announcement of integration of the Barnes & Noble eBook Store with the ever-popular Blackboard educational software, which will allow students to download any available texts directly from a list of what is required for their classes.  Basically, B&N is hoping to take the college scene by storm and they seem to have a good idea of how to go about it.