Tech Review: Kindle Keyboard 3G eReader
- Category: Physical e-reader
- Test Device: Kindle 3, also known as Kindle Keyboard with 3G and wi-fi
- Developer/Maker: Amazon
- Available in Landscape & Portrait Orientation: Yes
- e-ink/screen technology: graphite e-ink, no touch screen
- Formats supported: pdf, converted epubs, mobi, AZW
- Can read DRM content: Yes, Kindle-specific ebooks purchased from Amazon.com
- Price: $139 – $159
- Available at: Amazon.com
The home screen displays a list of all your items. It’s separated into pages, with ten items listed per page. The samples and books you’ve viewed or downloaded most recently are the ones that appear at the top of the list. The Home screen is where you select which book you want to read. Once you select that book, you can return to the Home screen and the book you’ve just opened will now be in first position.
From the Home page, once you hit the Menu button a small window pops up offering a list of options. Those options include: Shop in the Kindle Store, View Archived Items, Search, Create New Collection, Sync and Check for Items, Settings, and Experimental.
Shop in Kindle Store
This option allows you to connect to the kindle store wirelessly. From the main store screen, you can select a category to browse (books, newspapers, audiobooks, etc.) A list of featured categories also appears on the screen. Those categories include best sellers, Editor’s Picks, Monthly Deals, and more. The main shop screen is where the kindle daily deals are presented. A small list of books recommended specifically for you based on your purchase history is displayed towards the bottom of the screen, along with the option to look at a larger list of recommended books.
View Archived Items
This takes you to a list of books you’ve purchased in the past but decided to remove from your Home screen. Books returned for refund do not appear here. If you select a book from your archived items, it will re-download and return to your Home screen at the top of your list.
If you select the Search option from your Home screen, you can search for items on your kindle, search the kindle store, search Google, search the dictionary, search Wikipedia, or go to the web. If you don’t feel like scrolling through pages of your downloaded items in search of a specific book, this feature helps you find it quickly.
If you hit the Menu button while you’re reading a book, a different window than the one you get on the Home screen when you hit the Menu button will appear. You have this list of options: Go to.., Sync to Furthest Page Read, Book Description, Search This Book, Add Bookmark, Add Note or Highlight, View Notes and Marks, and View Popular Highlights.
Go To, Book Description, and Search This Book
Go To lets you go to a certain point in the book you’re reading. A new box will pop up after you’ve selected the Go To button from the Menu. You can go to the book’s table of contents, the beginning of the book, the cover, the end, or a specific page. Selecting Book Description from the Menu will take you to the book’s description in the kindle store (if that’s where you purchased it.) This is where you can view the book’s synopsis, read other people’s reviews of it, or find specific details about the book.
Add Bookmarks, Notes, and Highlights or View Popular Highlights
To add a bookmark to a specific page in the book, simply hit the Menu button on the kindle and select “Add Bookmark” from the list of options. The Menu also lets you add a note to the page or highlight a specific passage. The View Popular Highlights option allows you to see what passages in the book other readers have highlighted. If you don’t wish to see what other people have highlighted, you can always go into your kindle’s settings and turn this feature off.
Customizing Your Display
If you don’t want your books to be ordered by most recent first, you can change that from the Home screen. At the very top of the Home screen you can select the option to have your books displayed by title, author, or collection. If you press the Shift key while you have a book open, a window will appear giving you the option to change the display. Here are a few things you can change:
- Font Size
- Publisher Font (you can turn it on or off)
- Typeface (regular, condensed, sans serif)
- Line Spacing (small, medium, large)
- Words per Line (fewest, fewer, default)
- Screen Rotation
The Kindle Keyboard has the text-to-speech feature that allows your books to be read aloud to you. Most books in the kindle store have the TTS option. However, there are some that don’t. It usually depends on if the publisher allows this option. If your books allows text-to-speech, you can turn it on by opening a book, and pressing the Shift button. The option to turn on TTS will then appear. The voice is pretty robotic sounding in TTS, but there’s not much you can do about that. The Kindle Keyboard also allows you to play MP3 music. To do this, go to the Home screen and then press the Menu button. From there, scroll down and select Experimental. This takes you to a new page where you can select the “play music” option. To use this feature you must copy the MP3 files from your computer to your kindle’s music folder. There’s also a Voice Guide feature on the kindle that helps you navigate your kindle with spoken menus, selectable items, and decriptions. To turn the Voice Guide on, go the the Home screen, hit the Menu Button, and choose Settings. Once there you can turn Voice Guide on.
Features that rock
- The Kindle Keyboard can hold up to 3,500 books. It has 4GB of internal storage. That’s a lot of space!
- Download book samples. From the kindle store you can download a free sample of the book you’re thinking about buying. By doing this you can get a feel for whether or not this book is something you’re interested in.
- The screen looks like the actual pages of a book! The e-ink looks similar to the ink on the pages of a real book. It adds to the reading experience.
- A bar is displayed at the bottom of your screen while you’re reading, telling you how far along into the book you are (for example, 45%) If you hit the menu button, the page number you’re on appears.
- The Kindle Keyboard’s battery life is remarkable. The battery can last longer than many devices with touch screens or LCD screens. It’s impressive how long you can go without charging it. If you read your Kindle Keyboard for an hour a day with wireless off, the battery can last up to a month!
- It can read to you! The text-to-speech feature allows you to do other things while your kindle reads aloud to you.
- It plays music! Your Kindle Keyboard can play your favorite tunes.
- Books download within 60 seconds! Bought a book in the kindle store? It’ll appear on your Home screen within a minute. Most of the time it appears faster than that.
- When you turn the kindle back on, the screen opens to exactly where you left off in the book you were reading.
- Once you finish a book, a window appears giving you the option to tweet or share that you read and finished that book or rate it. It also displays “Customers who bought this book also bought…” with a list of books that are similar to the one you just read.
- Parental Controls. You can turn on parental controls if you know a kid will be reading your kindle or if you plan on giving them one of their own. You can restrict shopping, the Web browser, and Archived items.
- This doesn’t happen often, but sometimes there’s a delay when you go to turn the page of your book. You can hit the buttons on the sides of your kindle to turn a page and you might have to wait a few seconds for the page to turn.
- Getting books onto your kindle that you didn’t purchase in the kindle store can be tricky. Sometimes you need to send a book to your kindle email address to get it onto your kindle. Other times you need to download an e-book converter program on your computer to convert books into pdf’s or mobi’s. It can certainly be inconvienient or confusing.
- This is a small thing, but the power button is located at the bottom of the kindle. Depending on the kind of case you have, it may get in the way of the button.
- The text-to-speech feature is cool, sure, but it can definitely get on your nerves. The robotic voice can ruin the experience.
- The screen doesn’t light up. Unlike other versions of the kindle, iPads, and nooks, the kindle keyboard doesn’t have an LCD screen. You can’t read it in the dark without some kind of light. You could purchase a cover that comes with a built in light that fits the kindle, but it doesn’t light up by itself.
- General Reading Experience: A
- Page-turn Experience: B+
- Readability and Customization Options: A
- Cover Display: A
- Ease of adding books to your library/Home page: A+
- Audio: B+
- Storage Space: A
- Battery Life: A+