Savvy eReader fanatics noticed that the Kindle 2 was listed as unavailable on Amazon’s site earlier today, leading many to surmise that a new Kindle was on the way. Not surprising since a new DX just landed with an improved screen and new features. Amazon didn’t keep us waiting for long — today they announced not only the new Kindle with 3G but also Kindle Wi-Fi, a less expensive sibling.
This is also not a complete surprise as Barnes & Noble did the same thing just a few weeks ago. And like the Nook with Wi-Fi, the Kindle Wi-Fi is the same as the 3G version in every way except for connectivity. It’s also just $139, $10 cheaper than the Nook. It’s on.
Just as with the new DX, both updated Kindles come in graphite, though consumers can still opt for white. Amazon trimmed the already svelte Kindle even more, making the device’s width 21 percent smaller. This resulted in what seems like much smaller page turning buttons (that are supposed to be quieter) and some shifting around of the Home and Menu buttons and a redesign of the joystick. The screen remains the same size — 6 inches — and the bookseller claims that not only does it have 50 percent more contrast, but is “optimized with Amazon’s proprietary waveform and font technology to make pages turn faster and fonts sharper.”
Additionally, both Kindles now have double the internal storage (up to 3,500 books) and a whopping one month of battery life. Amazon has improved the PDF reader, which now allows notes, highlights, and dictionary lookup, plus support for password-protected files. Text-to-speech is still hanging on, but now also has the ability to read menus, the Home screen, and item descriptions. I’m wondering if this will allow customers with vision impairments to use the device — I suppose it depends on how well it works.
The Kindle 3G continues to have global wireless coverage and now also includes Wi-Fi. Again, just like the Nook. Users who opt for Kindle Wi-Fi can access any AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot across the U.S. to shop and download Kindle content without needing a password. This probably doesn’t cover surfing with the Kindle’s new webkit browser, but at least you’ll be able to get your eBook fix conveniently even without 3G.
I’m also excited about the new cover for the Kindle, which includes a light for reading in the dark.
The Kindle 3G and Kindle Wi-Fi will cost $189 and $139 respectively and will ship to customers starting August 27th. You can pre-order them now (just click the links) or wait until we get a chance to review them both. In the meantime, check the gallery below for more images.