Even now, weeks after the initial release of the Amazon’s(NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle 3 began to arrive on peoples’ doorsteps, there is certainly no unanimous opinion on the quality of the release. It’s worth taking a closer look at what precisely is being said, in both the highly positive and highly negative reviews, to determine how much they are likely to effect you. As is my habit when shopping for new products on my own, I’ll start with the negatives. After all, it’s always nice to know the potential pitfalls in any device, no matter how unlikely!
Kindle 3 Negative Reviews
Beginning at the bottom and working our way up, there are clearly some trends. One-Star reviews on the Kindle page seem to center on just about three areas, assuming that we’re safe in skipping the complainers who write negative reviews for a product based on it taking too long to get to their house or the fact that they forgot to check to see how much international importation would cost in customs.
1. Defective Units
As with any product launch, we can expect some problems. The most vocal will always be those who were the most disappointed. In this case, it is definitely true that dozens of people received their Kindles in only semi-functional condition due to broken antennae, battery issues, and even broken screens. What seems to be universally true, however, is that reviewers who have taken the time to follow up have confirmed that Amazon gladly took the bad units back for either refunds or replacements after walking through a small number of steps to troubleshoot and confirm the problems.
2. Korean Font Issues
It seems that Amazon didn’t choose the best possible option in its default Korean font. It has been described as blocky, childish, hard on the eyes, difficult to read for any length of time, and just plain ugly. To the best of my knowledge, this complaint has gone unaddressed as of yet. It seems likely that it will take at least until the next software patch to get any work done here, so Korean users might be sadly out of luck for the moment as far as default Kindle software goes at the moment.
3. Software Shortcomings
I’ll be honest, most of this could well come under the category of defective units. There are a number of users, though by no means a majority, who have been experiencing issues with frequent locking and rebooting for no apparent reason. These are likely unit failures, given how many reviewers have been offered exchanges, but it’s a pattern to be aware of just in case. Also, many seem to feel that the PDF support remains insufficient. Long load times of image-heavy and/or large files have been reported, as well as unwieldy navigation of zoomed documents. My personal experience does not bear this out, but different people have different expectations or even perhaps still more malfunctioning units given that many of these reviewers simultaneously complain of frequent reboots being required.
Kindle 3 Positive Reviews
In spite of these issues, there is no shortage of praise to be found. Even without filtering out the many people who have marked down the product for simply not shipping fast enough, the Kindle‘s favorable(4-5 Star) reviews stand at just short of four times the number of all the rest put together as of my writing this. We’ve already touched on some of these here on the site in our earlier “Kindle 3 Positive Reviews Summary“, but there are a few things to add that really bring it home for a lot of people.
1. Advertised Features
Yeah, I know, they were right on the packaging. What did we expect? The fact is, however, that many people have been taken aback by how much better things like the new screens and WebKit experimental browser are than were originally expected. I won’t go into this, there are enough ads floating around to find out many details and we’ve certainly talked about new features here enough so far, but these reviews bear out the idea that exaggeration was not a problem on the new Kindle.
2. Setting a New Standard
For many eBook enthusiasts, especially among the early adopter crowd, the Sony PRS-505 set the standard for eReaders until this time. In terms of weight, durability, screen quality, software, etc, it was simply the best to be had. Ignore later Sony models, seriously. According to many reviews, including at least one very well written direct comparison, the only remaining point of shortcoming for the Kindle is the lack of ePub compatibility. These sorts of comparisons are amazingly valuable for both eBook fanatics and newcomers since they tend to pare down the block of seemingly new and amazing features to what is really going to end up being important over the course of years of use. If a functional Kindle is now noticeably better than the device that has long been the fallback for users “in the know”, it’s impressive.
3. The Feel
Now that it’s shrunk down, in terms of size and weight, the Kindle is even more like your average paperback in terms of size and experience. People are noticing. If you’ve been on the fence because you’d miss the feel of your favorite book too much, it might finally be time to give it a try. No more wrist strain, page turn delay that is far less than turning an actual page would be, and a screen that is no longer significantly distinguishable from a paper book in terms of contrast? Little room for complaint.
Honestly, I’ll leave that to you. It is definitely possible to say that this is the best time yet to be buying an eBook reader. Is the new Kindle sufficiently great to be worth upgrading from the previous generation or your Nook? Dunno. Is it good enough for a first eReader? I’d say it’s an obvious yes, but I’m writing a blog about eReaders so there’s an implied partiality in what I have to say anyway. Click a link, check the reviews for yourself, maybe ask a few questions if you need to. I think most people will be pleased.