It may have taken longer than expected, but a replacement for the Kindle 2 has arrived. The addition of Wi-Fi and an aggressive $139 starting price make the new eReader a formidable upgrade.
The new Kindle is 21 percent smaller and 15 percent lighter than the Kindle 2, great for those like me who enjoy reading in bed. Even with a smaller form factor, the familiar 6-inch screen is still present with 50% better contrast (same as the Kindle DX). Improved contrast and font rendering aren't particularly noticeable for books, partly because it was never an issue with the Kindle 2, but the changes are nice for reading newspapers. The internal memory was doubled to 4GB, capable of holding roughly 3,500 books. A $189 Wi-Fi plus 3G model and $139 Wi-Fi only model will be available for pre-order today.
A notable feature of the new Kindle is an experimental WebKit browser. The experimental nature of the browser is quite glaring; pages take a while to load and don't always render correctly and the directional controls make web-browsing a clunky experience. The saving grace of the current browser is an ‘article mode' that converts web pages into an easier to read article format. While the browsing experience on Kindle isn't fully fleshed out yet, it's a good step in the right direction in terms of adding utility to the reader. The new Kindle is without a doubt improved, but the whole experience is still sluggish; page turns are 20 percent faster but still feel slow, especially compared to the Kindle iPad app. While some additional zip and ePub support would be nice, improved ergonomics and a lower entry price make the new Kindle as enticing as ever.