Amazon has announced their new third-generation Kindle reader, but its changes, while nice, may not be enough to wrest attention away from other devices that have entered the field since the Kindle first appeared. The question is, are Kindle’s changes enough, and the right ones, to hold off challenges posed by the iPad and others?
The new Kindle is smaller (4.8″ x 7.5″ compared to the last generation’s 5.3″ x 8″) while still keeping the same 6″ screen. It’s 15% lighter and the screen gives 50% better contrast. Maybe the most notable change is that the Kindle is now available in a Wi-Fi only version for those of you who don’t roam far enough to need the 3G. In the U.S., free use of AT&T hotspots is included. The Wi-Fi version carries the lowest price ever for a Kindle, $139 (with 3G it will run you $189). This is getting closer and closer to a price point that may prove irresistible to financially motivated eBook holdouts.
The Kindle remains a single purpose device. With the exception of the still-experimental browser (a new WebKit-based version ships in this Kindle), Amazon’s reader is just that, a reader. This allows certain advantages such as adherence to an E-Ink screen that gives fantastic battery life, no glare, reduced eye-strain and the ability to read outside in sunlight. But the world around it is inarguably moving to convergence devices what can perform a wide range of activities while not requiring the user to bulk up their pockets and bags or hang an array of items from their belts. Of course, the price difference between a Kindle and an iPad will still likely be the biggest determiner for many people. If all you want is an eBook reader, a tablet device is expensive overkill.
What do you think? Do you want a Kindle that just serves as a reader? Are you willing to accept a monochrome display if it gives you the advantages mentioned above? Share your opinions in the comments.
Update: Kindles obviously still have a strong market. Amazon is reporting the device sold out until September 4.