Speaking of this rudimentary music support (files are played solely in the date order they were added to the Kindle), it comes under a menu section tantalisingly dubbed ‘Experimental’. In it are three features Amazon deems to be in beta with the other two being text-to-speech and a web browser. The former works well simply toggling on or off to allow your reading to continue while you are doing other things (it turns pages to keep pace). The latter is a surprisingly competent Webkit-based (Chrome, Safari, Android) browser that renders pages accurately (minus Flash content) and is handy when caught short, to conduct simple surfing or for checking email.
For me it is this feature which will determine whether you chose to spend £109 on the Kindle WiFi or £149 Kindle 3G+WiFi. In a turn up for the books Amazon supplies the latter with free 3G and unlimited global data use for the lifetime of the device. If you travel a lot this basic web browser, combined with the convenience of Whispersync anywhere will more than pay for the additional £40.
All of which leads us onto the second major change which makes the Kindle 3 so important: pricing. Covers are not included (and can cost up to £50), but when the first Kindle launched in 2007 it was priced at $399 (£250). This was a revelation at the time and still compares well to rivals like the Viewsonic VEB612, iRiver Story and Sony PRS-505, but given the Kindle 3 has the best e-ink screen on the market and the best integrated store and synchronisation service the new pricing is revolutionary. Revolutionary not just for Kindle owners, but because it is forcing others to drastically slash their RRPs as well.
I have argued before that in an ideal world eBook readers should cost under £50 – the value being in their content not the device – though the Kindle 3 is a hugely significant step in the right direction. In fact I suspect it will prove a tipping point for many. It certainly was for both Andy and I as we put our money where our mouths are and bought one (WiFi and 3G+WiFi respectively).
There are significant hardware changes to the Kindle 3 on close inspection, but the real benefits are the excellent Amazon Kindle UK store, Whispersync service and game changing price tags. Existing Kindle owners need not apply, but early adopters will be wincing at the savings now available to those who waited.
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