Amazon Kindle


Overview

Amazon has been manufacturing e-readers since late 2007 making them one of the first companies to buy in to the e-reading craze with their range known as the Kindle. The Kindle range is well known for being the first reader to offer wireless connectivity to their users and the first release of the Kindle sold out in just over five hours. Very impressive. Since then Amazon have been known as the pioneers for the e-reading market and have recently started branching out into television advertising to push the range even more.

Due to their experience in producing readers with Wi-Fi the Kindle models are the leading ebook readers in terms of sales and, some may argue, features. Currently as of 2012, the Kindle devices include the Kindle 4 (also called Kindle Keyboard), the Kindle Touch (a touch screen version of the Kindle Keyboard), and the Kindle Fire (a tablet reader).

amazon kindle devices

The design on the Kindle isn’t particularly unique or good looking (compared to say the sleek Sony WiFi readers or the Ipad 2), however the Kindle’s can easily be recognized and are aesthetically pleasing and the device is also practical. The size of the Kindle may not be as small as other readers but the users see this as a benefit as it gives ‘more to hold on’ whilst keeping the device light enough for easy transportation and being hand held for a long period of time.

The General Consensus

The Kindle range by Amazon is definitely the most popular brand of readers on the market with the e-reading population adoring the products they release. Amazon and the Kindle range are well known for their good quality readers with a good quality build, their long shelf life and their ability to handle Wi-Fi and 3G connections. The origional QWERTY keypad that has always been used in the readers is a popular choice with the market, making input to the device simple and straightforward. Note that the QWERTY design ended with the Kindle 3. The 2011 + models have all ditched the keyboard.

The trend as of 2012 is to move to touch screen technology, as exhibited by the new Kindle Touch, Sony readers, the new Kobo Touch readers and the new Nook Simple Touch. It's almost certain that Amazon will follow suite with a touch screen Kindle in the near future.

The Kindle range is now available in over 170 countries, with free wireless available in 100 of these, making the reader particularly popular for those who travel a great deal, as no other brand on the market offer this support in such a large range of countries.

There are a few complaints. The first is Amazon's lack of in-device support for open formats. Kindle does NOT support EPUB, HTML, or RTF formats directly. This means that eBooks purchased from other reader manufacturers such as Barnes and Noble and Nook are not supported on the Kindle, however this is the case for a majority of e-reader brands as they do not want to support their competitors. The other major complaint is that the Kindle has not yet offered the choice of expandable memory with SD card slots, this can cause problems for some users, particularly those also storing music files on the device. Another complaint is the fact that Kindles are made from plastic, which makes them of a cheaper build.

The online support for Kindle is great with many blogs and forums completely dedicated for Kindle users and are a brilliant place to go with problems you may need solving as the response rate is always fairly rapid, more so than Amazon in some cases, not only this but it is a good way to meet other users who are using the Kindle which may be able to offer knowledge and advice to you on the Kindle.

The Kindle is the best-selling range of readers on the market and is the King of readers, if a new release does not compete with the Kindle it is not considered worth the time. Hands down, you get a good deal with the Kindle readers -- tons of features, Wi-Fi support, free 3G support (depending on model) internationally, and cheap prices.

 

News Flash

Kindle Fire ($199) -- a tablet that competes with the Nook Color and iPad. Features a color screen.

Kindle Touch ($99 - $149) -- the new touch screen Kindle with no keyboard

Kindle 4 ($79 to $139) -- the classic Kindle 3 look, with updated features

 

Kindle Fire

kindle fireThe Kindle Fire is Amazon's Tablet that functions as a computer + reader. It does not feature an e-ink screen but a color touch screen. As such, this Kindle Fire may not be the best choice when it comes to ONLY reading books (digital e-ink screens do not cause eye strain and draw only a fraction of the battery life that lcd color screens do), but for a ebook reader tablet hybrid, it will do.

Read our comprehensive Amazon Kindle Fire review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kindle Touch

kindle touch readerA kindle reader with a touch screen. This is Amazon's version of the Sony Reader Wi-Fi and the Nook Simple Touch.

 

 

 

 

Kindle 4 (Kindle Keyboard)

kindle 4This is the newest iteration of the Kindle readers and their most basic reader model. It features the newest generation of e-ink screen.

Read our Kindle 4 review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kindle 3

kindle 3 smallThis is officially known as the Kindle however is the 3rd generation of the original Kindle. There are "four" options for the Kindle 3:

The Kindle with Special Offers OPTIONS are basically a deal where your screen saver becomes sponsored ads and a portion of your home screen will show special offers. This doesn't effect your reading in any way -- but the 3rd party ads displayed bring the Kindle down $35 dollars cheaper -- a great buy for those on a super budget. As of the writing of this article, you can get the Kindle and Kindle 3G with the Special Offers option (35 dollars cheaper). You must be a US resident, however.

The Kindle 3 is available in both graphite and white featuring 3G, Wi-Fi, a high contrast eInk screen, faster page turns than its predecessor (Kindle 2), 4GB internal memory and a decrease in height and depth of the reader.

This is the newest release of the Kindle and features are the most up to date with the eInk screen being the newest technology (pearl) offering the user high contrast and an easy read. The font options on the Kindle allows for a change in size and also font giving the user the options to create a completely personalized reading experience.

Read Our Kindle 3 Review

 

Kindle Graphite DX

kindle dx smallThis device was released by Amazon in July 2010 and was the first reader on the market to feature a new eInk screen with 50% higher contrast, making it much easier to view files on the reader.  The Graphite DX was designed specifically for the purpose of supporting files such as magazines, newspapers, textbooks and any other PDF files, making the Kindle Graphite DX more of a tool for students or businessmen rather than a reader for pleasure. The Kindle DX features a larger screen than the other readers in the Kindle range so that PDF files can be viewed more comfortably on the reader.

The main features of the Kindle DX are the 9.7” display, free 3G connectivity, 4GB internal memory (only 3.3GB is user accessible) and audio support to allow users to playback music whilst they are reading.

The Kindle 3 and the Kindle Graphite DX are the two current readers on the market however there are previous generations that can still be found and purchased from some places.

 

Kindle DX Graphite vs. Kindle DX

The Kindle DX Graphite was a very small upgrade over the original DX.

1. Graphite Case: The dark case helps the black text on the white screen stand out better than it does on the original DX with the white case.

2. Improved Contrast: the DX Graphite has a higher contrast of about 50% (10:1 contrast ratio). This means the Graphite DX displays sharper text than the original DX.

The older DX models are discussed later in this article.

Read Our Kindle DX Graphite Review

 

Kindle 2

kindle 2 imageThe Kindle 2 was the earlier version of the Kindle 3 released in February 2009. The Kindle 2 had a good range of features for such an early device including, text to speech, 2GB in-built memory (1.3GB user accessible), only available in the color white.

The Kindle 2 only featured a few changes from the original Kindle morning, the main being that the device is significantly thinner than its predecessor, seriously impacting the weight of the device and making it much more portable.

The Kindle 2 (international version)
Released in October 2009 the Kindle 2 offered the feature of being able to download titles in over 100 countries making the reader perfect for those who travel a lot or may more from country to country.

The international version released by Amazon had the aim of spreading the Kindle community throughout a range of countries increasing usage and support.

 

Kindle DX

First released in May 2009 the Kindle DX offered users a larger screen (9.7 inches), the support of PDF files and an accelerator to automatically change orientation of the page. The Kindle DX was deemed most suitable for documents such as newspapers and textbooks due to the larger screen and the ability to support PDF files. 3G connectivity only available in the United States of America on this device.

There have been several "versions" of the DX over the past two years:

Kindle DX Graphite

kindle dx graphite picture
Already mentioned above. The DX Graphite is one of the current models by Amazon featuring a 9.7” display using eInk high contrast technology. The main aim of the Kindle DX Graphite was to allow the Kindle range to cater to the educational population with the support of textbooks being handled well on the DX due to the larger screen and higher contrast. Not only this but also the ability to take notes on the device.

The Kindle DX is only available in graphite, this is to maximise the contrast of the screen as the white previously used on other Kindle devices was deemed effective to the appearance of the display.

Kindle DX (international version)


kindle dx international version
Released in  January 2010 the Kindle DX was released with the purpose of providing a solution for the lack of Wi-Fi support on the DX in other countries, allowing the reader to be fully functional in over 100 countries.

The international version of Kindle devices has led to a much wider range of books from different cultures being available on the readers.

 

Kindle DX

kindle dx whiteThis came out in 2009. The difference between this model and the other models was that the 3G support was only limited to the US

 

 

 

Kindle

kindle 1Interestingly enough the first edition of the Kindle is the only model that included expandable memory via an SD card slot. Featuring a 6”eInk screen with 4 shade grey scale and wireless connectivity. The Kindle first gen was only ever released in the USA with Amazon struggling to gain connection support from providers in the UK.

 

 

 

Where to Get Kindle Books?

In terms of document files the Kindle range supports an eBook format known as MobiPocket which is fairly unique to the Kindle and is not supported on many of the readers on the market. As a result the main source for books on the Kindle is the online Amazon store, which is fairly expansive and users should not have a problem with finding the titles that they are searching for. There are other bookstores online that offer MOBI-formatted books. The company BAEN also offer a large range of MobiPocket books which are supported on the Kindle devices. An old (but still somewhat popular because of the cheap prices) is fictionwise.com

Amazon has pretty closed in terms of supporting non-protected formats. Formats like EPUB, HTML, and RTF are not supported by the Kindles. EPUB, which is the gold standard for open format ebooks, is especially a sore loss for some. Other readers like the Sony Reader and Nook do support EPUB which means you can borrow ebooks from many libraries across North America.

There are also a range of magazine and newspaper subscriptions available for the Kindle range which can be found on the Amazon website. In general the support for the Kindle is excellent and the user shouldn’t have a problem with finding the title they are looking for.

Amazon also allow the feature to lend books on the Kindle which can be from a local library (if they support the lending of eBooks in the Kindle/Mobi format) or lending books from another users library that you may know (for a length of only two weeks). This is a good benefit as it allows users to lend books that they wouldn’t normally buy, replicating the experience of a real book even more. Note that MOST libraries have a system in place for borrowing EPUB format, not Kindle format. So this feature is only so so useful right now, though borrowing from friend's kindle libraries is useful.

You can still get around the "format" issue if you want to read non-mobi books on your Kindle.

How to Convert to Kindle Format

There are two main ways.

1. Use Amazon's email conversion services (free with Wi-Fi, but pay if you use 3G). You can read more information in your Kindle documentation

2. Use 3rd party software (RECOMMENDED for PAIN FREE CONVERSIONS).

The best way to convert with 3rd party software is to use Calibre which allows the user to convert regular ePUB files to MobiPocket format to be read on the device, however it is not worth the risk of buying a book if you are not confident that it can be converted and supported.

Kindle 3 Accessories

There is a range of products available for the Kindle by both Amazon and various other companies. It is important to buy a decent cover for the Kindle in order to protect the screen and the body of the Kindle getting scratched or damaged, particularly if the user plans to transport their reader a great deal.

The Kindle Lighted Cover (Official Amazon Cover)

kindle 3 cover lightkindle 3 cover

By far the most popular, "must have" accessory would be the Kindle 3 Leather Cover + Light Combo. This is Amazon's own cover option that you can buy separately. It's a leather case the perfectly fits your kindle WITH a reading light that plugs straight into the side of the Kindle. The light (which is a must if you want to read in the dark on your Kindle) is powered by the Kindle battery -- so be aware that a lot of "night reading" will drain your Kindle 3 substantially faster than it would otherwise.

Covers

m-edge coverhemp covermoleskin

The online Amazon store offers over 130 different designs of covers on the site meaning there is a great range for users to choose from and also gives the reader a personal touch with a variety of different styles available. There are plenty of 3rd party cases available, though most people do buy the Amazon.com cover+light official case. If you want a different style thought, you'll find it.

To wade through all the brands, here are a few Kindle cover recommendations

Kindle Lighted Leather Cover -- THE most popular Kindle Accessory

kindle lighted cover

CE Compass Cover

CrazyOnDigital -- leather exterior cover + screen protector that will protect your kindle and keep it looking smart

crazyondigital cover kindle

mCover -- Nice looking Kindle Covers with pockets for cash and cards

mcover kindle 3 cover

DuraGaget -- leather cover that fits well and includes a stand to hold your kindle

duragadget kindle cover

 

Skins

kindle skinskindle kinsdecalskin

Another popular accessory for the Kindle range is a skin to cover the reader, although this does not protect the reader in particular, they are used to gain a personal touch on the reader and can be plain or feature an image. These can be purchased from decalgirl.com which seems to be the most popular. They can also be found on many online marketplaces such as eBay.

We do recommend, if you want maximum reading contrast, to opt for a darker skin (especially black) as this will cause the text to stand out on the white screen more (though don't let that stop you from getting a skin that suites your aesthetic fancy -- the benefit is minor).

The most popular skins around for the Kindle are DecalGirl and GelaSkins.

DecalGirl -- Colorful Design Skins for both female and male tastes.

GelaSkins -- Artsy Skins that fit snug and look great on your Kindle

For the biggest selection, you can search for Kindle skins on Amazon

 

Reading Lights

Reading lights are a particularly useful accessory for the Kindle as the eInk screen is not backlit and therefore the display cannot be seen very well in poor lighting and not at all in the dark. The lights built for the Kindle range simply click on the device and illuminate the screen allowing the user to read. These are available from a range of sites including Amazon.

 

Charging Protectors

Lastly there are many charging adaptors available for the Kindle due to the range’s popularity, these can be purchased from sites such as Amazon and eBay ranging from simple mains power adaptors to chargers to be powered from the cigarette lighter in a car.

 

Screen Protectors

Another accessory that is worth investing in is a screen protector, however it is a better option to buy a case as although the protector will keep the display on the reader safe, it may interfere with the screen causing difficulty when reading.

More Information

Amazon Kindle

  • Kindle DX Graphite
  • Kindle 3

Buy on Amazon.com