Kindle 3G Keyboard E-reader Review: E-books, Free 3G and much more.

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Written by: Oliver Hong

If you’re a bibliophile like me, you buy a lot of books. However, there are two major drawbacks of the traditional book in today’s world: it’s weight, and how much space it takes up. In a world where smaller and lighter devices are quickly becoming the norm, the book is one thing that is severely lagging behind.

I’m a reader on the run, and I like large, hardcover books like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. While these books provide hours of entertainment, these large tomes take up a lot of space in my bag, and add a lot of weight to carry around. This is something that I can’t afford to have when I’m traveling through the city.

 

Enter the Kindle Keyboard 3G, the third iteration of Amazon’s popular E-reader. With a weight of 8.7 ounces and a 0.34 inch profile, it’s the ideal solution for the bookworm on the run.

 

The Kindle Keyboard 3G is a portable E-reader that will take a huge weight from your bag.

The Hardware:

The first thing I like about the Kindle keyboard 3G is it’s simple color and matte finish. It’s a welcome change from the shiny tablets and smart phones that are everywhere nowadays, and it’s nice not having to cover up the Kindle’s sleek design with protective sleeves.

I felt that the 6 inch screen of the Kindle was perfect for reading. It can be read at pretty much every angle because of it’s anti-glare screen. The screen has no signs of glare in any kind of light, and especially in direct sunlight, which is a major plus for readers who like reading outside. The only problem the Kindle’s screen is that it does not have a backlight, so reading in the dark will require a little extra effort. However, Amazon offers a Kindle case with a built-in book light if you find yourself in the dark on more than one occasion.

The four page turn buttons on both sides of the screen help accommodate both left handed and right handed readers. Another nice touch is that the “forward” page button is bigger than the “Back” page button, which prevents pages from being turned back accidentally.

The keys of the kindle Keyboard

The keys of the Kindle Keyboard are smaller than most devices it’s size.

The keyboard at the bottom of the screen is your basic QWERTY keyboard, with a few extra buttons for text size and symbols. The keyboard is mainly there for making notes in e-books, searching for things inside of a book, searching through the massive Kindle store, or using the kindle’s experimental browser. The circular keys are small, and make it a little uncomfortable to type . I found myself mistyping a lot with this keyboard, so don’t expect to write novels or massive essays with them.

Other buttons include a large “Back” button, which is essential when you want to switch from one Kindle application to the other, the “Home” button, which will take you back to the Kindle’s front page and a small, 8 way directional pad to navigate through the Kindle. The directional pad is tiny, but functional, I’ve had no problems with it personally, but I could see larger handed people running into a little difficulty using it.

As someone who often forgets to charge my devices, I can honestly say that the battery life is fantastic. Even if I leave the wireless on, the Kindle will have enough battery power for two weeks, and will run for two months if I ever decide to turn off the wireless off. I was worried that low battery life would disrupt my reading, but I’ve been able to read for hours even when the Kindle was on it’s last legs.

There’s 4 gigabytes of space in this Kindle, even though it’s technically three, seeing that 1 gig is dedicated to holding the OS and basic software. However, 3 gigabytes can hold up to 3,500 ebooks, which is plenty of space for all the e-books I’ll ever own. I’m not quite sure if I’d be able to manage a collection of 3,500 books in my lifetime, but I’m glad I have the space if I do!

The software:

The Kindle, first, and foremost, is an ebook reader, and it’s minimalist interface makes reading E-books just as good as the real thing. Toolbars and menus only appear on the screen if you press the Menu button, other than that, it’s just you, the text, and a small meter at the bottom of the screen to track your progress through the book.

There’s some neat little features to play around with too. You can highlight and take notes in the book with the keyboard and trackpad. There’s also a built in Webster’s dictionary, just in case an unfamiliar word pops up. The dictionary is especially useful, and very easy to use. You can just move a cursor with your track pad on the word, and the definition will appear on the screen.

The Kindle reader can read all sorts of e-reader files, they can read AZW, TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, and PRC files right off the bat, and read TML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP files once they have gone through Amazon’s conversion service, available right on the device.

I’d like to note that the Kindle reads PDF files differently than the other ebook files. One of the things that annoy me about the Kindle is that it has to resize PDFs to fit on the screen. This is annoying because I have to constantly zoom in on the PDF if I want to read the text on it, which can make reading slow and clunky.

The Kindle Store is probably going to be where you’re going to get most of your books, it has a large selection of over one million books, from bestsellers, to classics, and everything in-between. It also offers a large amount of audiobooks and apps. Apps range from practical note taking programs to little distractions like chess and checkers. They’re cheap apps that will eat up a lot of time on a long trip, just don’t expect to play Angry Birds on this thing.

The last big part of the Kindle is the experimental browser. It’s a standard web browser, that you can use to check your E-mails and Facebook, as well as look at other sites. Sure, you can’t play Youtube videos on the Kindle, but Kindle’s 3G is completely free, and free web access is a rarity in this day and age. It’s a useful add-on when you need information in a pinch. The web browser tends to slow down on image heavy websites, and sometimes the Kindle will freeze up, needing a reset. However, this is an experimental feature, and I’m confident that they will fix this problem in the future.

Conclusion:

I’ve had my Kindle 3G Keyboard for about two years now, and I have not encountered any real problems with it. It’s a portable, durable solution to reading on the road, without being weighed down. The free 3G combined with the experimental web browser also has it’s uses for those times when your smartphone is out of batteries, and you need to look up information. If you want to save some extra money, Amazon also comes with Wi-Fi only version of the Kindle 3G. Overall, I would say that this Kindle is a great investment for anyone who wants to take a load off their backs, without sacrificing their precious reading material.

 

Pros:

  • Anti-Glare screen perfect for reading
  • Can hold a large amount of E-books
  • Experimental browser takes advantage of the Kindle’s free 3G.

Cons:

  • Cramped keyboard makes typing difficult
  • Clunky PDF reader
  • No backlight

 

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