Kindle 3G w/ Special Offers Now Only $139

Looks like the Kindle 3G has just become that much more affordable. Apparently, thanks to an agreement with AT&T involving Kindle advertisements, Amazon has been able to drop the price of their 3G model noticeably. Now, for $139, just $25 more than the Kindle WiFi w/ Special Offers, you can’t really argue with the cost of convenience.

The move is well timed, given the current level of competition in the eReader world.  While the Kindle is still pretty much on top, especially internationally, the new Nook Simple Touch and Kobo eReaders are heating things up.  Since there are a few months to wait before the next iteration of the Kindle hits shelves, so to speak, it is important to emphasize the things that they have and nobody else does.  Things like the only really useful 3G connection on an eReader.  There isn’t one at all on the new Nook or Kobo releases, and the Nook 1st Edition is very limited in many ways including the 3G, by comparison.

This also does a lot to demonstrate the potential in the Kindle’s advertising support system.  A surprising number of people got upset at the Kindle w/ Special Offers being discounted rather than entirely free on release.  While I believe that to have been a bit optimistic for something being subsidized by an untried source of revenue, as advertisers catch on the prices will continue to drop.  In addition to the new deal with AT&T, the details of which have not been publicly released to the best of my knowledge, the Kindle is currently being sponsored by such companies as General Motors, Proctor & Gamble, and Chase.  If they were not seeing positive results, it would seem unlikely that even another big advertising partner would be enough to bring a price drop along with it.

For those who are in the market for a new eReader, the Kindle 3G w/ Special Offers retains all of its original functionality.  The screen, battery life, interface, and general readability are all as great as ever.  Even the ads, as much as they are conceptual abhorent to many when talking about their inclusion in a reading experience, are unobtrusive and never even hinted at while you are looking at a book.  The only major differences over the Kindle 3G are that this one is $50 cheaper and gives you something besides the slideshow of author portraits to see as screensavers.

For now this discount only applies to the 3G option, leaving the Kindle WiFi w/ Special Offers witting at $114.  Still a great price, but I would not be at all surprised to see a major sale in the near future.  While it is conceivable that the extra discount has at its core a service agreement that makes the 3G coverage on new Kindles cheaper for Amazon to maintain, which would in turn not apply to the WiFi models, a $25 difference doesn’t exactly set the two Kindles apart much and a $99 Kindle would make for some truly excellent sales numbers if analysts are to be believed.  Something to keep an eye on in weeks to come.

Kindle 3G vs Nook Color Brief Feature Review

This post is a brief side by side Kindle 3G vs Nook Color feature review. I won’t put any comments in this post about each feature so you can take a look at all technical details review them and decide for yourself which product do you like the most.

Feature Kindle 3rd generation 3G Nook Color
Price 189 249
Screen Resolution 600×800 1024 x 600 pixel
Screen Diagonal 6 Inches 7 Inches
Screen Type e-Ink LCD
Colors 16 grayscale colors 16 million colors
Input Embedded Keyboard Color Touchscreen
Connectivity 3G Amazon Whispernet using CDMA/CDMA WiFi
Weight 8.7 oz (247 g) 15.8 oz (450 g)
Dimensions 7.5 × 4.8 × 0.34 in (190 × 123 × 8.51 mm) 8.1 in (210 mm) (h) x 5.0 in (130 mm) (w) x 0.48 in (12 mm) (d)
CPU Freescale 532 MHz, ARM-11 800 Mhz ARM Cortex A8 based TI OMAP3621
Storage 4GB Total / 3GB User 8GB internal, 32GB expandable
Power 3.7 V, 1530 mAh lithium polymer, BA1001 Installed battery
Battery Lifetime up to a month with wifi off 8 hours with wifi off
Operating System Linux 2.6.10 Android 2.1
Manufacturer Amazon Barnes & Nobles
Applications Several games approved by Amazon Several apps and games approved by Barnes & Nobles

Below is the same Kindle 3G vs Nook Color side-by-side feature review but in format which is easier to copy and paste.

Kindle 3G: $189
Nook Color: $249

Screen Resolution:
Kindle 3G: 600×800
Nook Color: 1024 x 600 pixel

Screen Diagonal:
Kindle 3G: 6 inches
Nook Color: 7 inches

Screen Type:
Kindle 3G: e-Ink
Nook Color: LCD

Kindle 3G: 16 grayscale colors
Nook Color: 16 million colors

Kindle 3G: Embedded Keyboard
Nook Color: Color Touchscreen

Kindle 3G: 3G Amazon Whispernet using CDMA/CDMA
Nook Color: WiFi

Kindle 3G: 8.7 oz (247 g)
Nook Color: 15.8 oz (450 g)

Kindle 3G: 7.5 × 4.8 × 0.34 in (190 × 123 × 8.51 mm)
Nook Color: 8.1 in (210 mm) (h) x 5.0 in (130 mm) (w) x 0.48 in (12 mm) (d)

Kindle 3G: 800 Mhz ARM Cortex A8 based TI OMAP3621
Nook Color: Freescale 532 MHz, ARM-11

Kindle 3G: 4GB Total / 3GB User
Nook Color: 8GB internal, 32GB expandable

Kindle 3G: 3.7 V, 1530 mAh lithium polymer, BA1001
Nook Color: Installed battery

Battery Lifetime:
Kindle 3G: up to a month with wifi off
Nook Color: 8 hours with wifi off

Operating System:
Kindle 3G: Linux 2.6.10
Nook Color: Android 2.1

Kindle 3G: Amazon
Nook Color: Barnes & Nobles

Kindle 3G: Several games approved by Amazon
Nook Color: Several apps and games approved by Barnes & Nobles

File Formats:

Kindle Screen Size Review – is there a market for Kindle 3/DX with Medium Sized Screen

In this post I’d like to elaborate on a question: Is there a market for a Kindle with larger screen size (I think next logical Kindle screen size would be somewhere in between 7 and 8 inches)?

At the moment of this review there are two available screen sizes for Kindle. Small version has 6 inch screen and DX version has 9.7 inch screen. Kindle DX screen is quite large and great for reading text books, magazines, newspapers and books with illustrations. But for other books it could be way too large.

Kindle 3G and Kindle WiFi have screen sizes very similar to small paperback books. Kindle 3G/WiFi screen measures to 3.6 in (91 mm) × 4.8 in (122 mm) which is similar to “sixteenmo” page size (the page size of a book made up of printer’s sheets folded into sixteen leaves, each leaf being approximately 4 by 6 inches). It is great format since it is very compact but at the same time it is limited to how much information will fit to one page. Especially this starts to affect your reading experience when you use font scaling.

Even though page turn times significantly improved from first generation of e-Ink – this operation is still time consuming and besides pressing next page button also requires moving your sight from right bottom corner of the screen back to left top corner on each page turn. And flash of the screen doesn’t add to comfort either. Thus by using e-reader with slightly bigger screen may lead to less tired eyes.

E-readers with small screens may be quite useful for people who read very fast since they can scan through entire lines without moving their sight left and right – since on a small screen you can see entire line in focus. But I think number of folks who can read page diagonally in several seconds is quite limited so I won’t consider this as a significant part of this analysis.

Then there is weight and size issue. I highly doubt that increasing screen size by one inch would significantly impact weight. But many people take Kindle with them while travelling and since current Kindle is very compact it could fit in most of the bags – even small ones (on my travels I usually have 17 inch laptop with me so Kindle weight and size is not an issue in my case). So for those who like to carry Kindle in their handbags increasing size of the kindle even by an inch could cause issues. That’s why having two different models may be helpful.

I personally prefer to read books in slightly larger format than what Kindle currently provides. So if Amazon would offer version of Kindle with 7 or 8 inch screen then I would definitely purchase it. What about you – do you think that Kindle with larger screen would make any difference for you?

Kindle on Cyber Monday: Why Kindle Wi-Fi is a good deal

This morning I spent some time thinking about recent deal that Amazon was running for 2nd generation Kindle 3G during Black Friday sale. I personally already have several Kindles in my house so I don’t need another one but I know couple of folks who were trying to get it on Black Friday and they asked my opinion about it.
My advice to them was to consider 3rd generation Kindle WiFi in their Cyber Monday shopping list (they lost in the Black Friday deal lottery). Here is the breakdown of why I think this may be reasonable even in comparison with $89 Kindle 2nd generation.

Of course $139-$89=$50 is considerable sum of money (more than 10 Starbucks caffeine shots). But in 3rd generation you will get 50% better contrast – and yes it is important since we want to keep our sight bright and healthy, aren’t we. You’ll also get more comfortable controls (this point is somewhat arguable since removal of numeric buttons wasn’t the best idea in my opinion – but not everyone uses direct page jumps feature instead of bookmarks as I do). New generation is also lighter and smaller which makes reading more comfortable.

Next I advice my friends to think about their internet access patterns. I personally access internet from free wi-fi enabled locations in 99% of cases. The remaining 1% is when my wife is shopping (could take hours) and I’m relaxing in the nearest chair browsing internet through my Kindle 3G. But even in that case 3G is not very important to have since I can read books instead of internet which is better for brain anyway :). So if my kindle suddenly lost 3G I wouldn’t be to disappointed. So if you think you will never use 3G why pay additional $189-$139=$50=10 Starbucks coffee shots for it?

Besides that I always forget to turn 3G off when I’m done and it drains battery very quickly and I have to go searching for a power cable when I’m reading the most interesting moment in the book.

Of course it is just my own opinion and I’m sure there are folks who need 3G in 30% of even 40% of time they use Kindle. But I know that there is a considerable market of those who don’t need 3G at all and that’s why Amazon actually split Kindle into two versions: Kindle WiFi and Kindle WiFi+3G.
So if you’re shopping for e-reader on Cyber Monday think twice whether you need 3G version or not…