Jul 292010

Following much anticipation and rumors of the next generation Kindle being named Shasta, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has at last announced two new 6-inch Kindle ebook readers, the Kindle WiFi-only model costing $139 and a new Kindle free 3G + WiFi model costing $189. It is interesting to note that compared to the Barnes and Noble Nook WiFi-only and Nook 3G + WiFi models, both of the new Kindle versions have a $10 lower price point.

Both  Kindle models are now available for pre-order at Amazon.com and will ship to over 100 countries on 27th August 2010. The Kindle WiFi-only model comes in graphite and the Kindle free 3G + WiFi model is offered in graphite or white.

The latest generation Kindle devices come with hardware and feature upgrades compared with the now out-of-stock Kindle 2. Most notably, they come with the new Pearl display from E Ink that have 50% improved contrast. The new Pearl display which has been used in the latest Kindle DX is an advancement on the Vizplex screen technology, which comes courtesy of E Ink, that has been used for all of the major ebook readers currently on the market e.g. Amazon Kindle 2, Barnes and Noble Nook and Sony. With the Pearl display, the contrast between the background and the text now resembles the appearance of a paperback book unlike the Vizplex display which resembles a typical newspaper. The adoption of Pearl should be more widespread as ebook reader manufacturers upgrade devices in the future.

The new Kindle ebook readers are smaller than the previous Kindle 2, with a 21 percent smaller body and 15 percent lighter mass. Despite the smaller size, they have managed to pack much more battery life into the device: up to 1 month with wireless off and 10 days with wireless on. They have also doubled the internal memory to 4GB thereby allowing storage of 3,500 books (just like the Kindle DX with free 3G) and have improved the page refresh rate to make it 20 percent faster.

From the press release by Amazon.com, some of the salient features of the new Kindles are as follows:

Improved PDF Reader: The new Kindle uses an improved built-in PDF reader with new dictionary lookup, notes and highlights, and support for password protected PDFs.

New WebKit-based Browser (experimental): The new Kindle uses a new web browser based on the industry-leading open source Web browser engine, WebKit. The updated browser is faster, easier to navigate, and provides a new “article mode” feature that simplifies web pages to just the main text-based content for easier reading. Web browsing with Kindle over 3G or Wi-Fi is free.

New Voice Guide: With Text-to-Speech, Kindle can read out loud to you. New Text-to-Speech enabled menus allow customers to navigate Kindle without having to read menu options. In addition to listening to books aloud, users now have the option of listening to content listings on the home screen, item descriptions, and all menu options.

New Proprietary Screen Technology–Faster Page Turns, New and Improved Fonts: Kindle’s all-new, high-contrast electronic ink display is further optimized with Amazon’s proprietary waveform and font technology to make pages turn faster and fonts sharper. Waveform is a series of electronic pulses that move black and white electronic ink particles to achieve a final gray level for an image or text. Amazon tuned the new Kindle’s waveform and controller mechanism to make page turning 20 percent faster. In addition, this waveform tuning combined with new hand-built, custom fonts and font-hinting make words and letters more crisp, clear, and natural-looking. Font hints are instructions, written as code, that control points on a font character’s line and improve legibility at small font sizes where few pixels are available. Hinting is a mix of aesthetic judgments and complicated technical strategies. Amazon designed its proprietary font-hinting to optimize specifically for the special characteristics of electronic ink.

eBook Reader Guide Recommendation

Feature the latest E Ink display, currently the closest electronic substitute for paper, and ideal for textual and long duration reading.
Can be held in one hand like a paper back book, without tiring.
Largest collection of eBooks.
Can be read outdoors in bright sunlight.
Easy keyboard interface for text entry, eg annotation.
When dark will need a Kindle reading light, or a light built into the Kindle Keyboard cover.
Not suitable for books with color or interactive content.
The Kindle 3G still offers free 3G, useful for checking your emails and browsing the web, and is equipped with the latest Pearl E Ink technology. Reflecting this the price of the Kindle 3G is now back to the level on the launch date, with the WiFi-only priced at $139 and Kindle free 3G + WiFi priced at $189. Still good value for those who can make use of the free internet access. Read Kindle Keyboard Review. Price $139. Check Latest Price.

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