Amazon took it's time with its latest Kindle-and that time has paid off in spades. Fully a year-and-half after the Kindle 2, Amazon today introduced its latest iteration Kindle, and the improvements are dramatic. An enhanced display, faster navigation, and an entirely redesigned chassis aren't all that set this Kindle apart from its competition. Amazon is continuing to be aggressive with its pricing: the Wi-Fi and 3G version will cost US$189, while the Wi-Fi-only model will cost $139 (that's $10 less than Barnes & Noble's Wi-Fi-only Nook).
Don't call it a Kindle 3, though: Amazon says its name remains simply Kindle. There is no mistaking this new Kindle for any of its predecessors, though. This Kindle is 15 percent lighter and 21 percent smaller than the second-generation model. And that weight makes a difference.
The new Kindle uses the same E-Ink Pearl screen found on the Kindle DX (Graphite). The screen offers a 20 percent faster refresh rate over its predecessor, a tangible difference that, together with software enhancements, makes the Kindle fly through menus.
Other boosts: Internal storage can now handle up to 3500 books, 2000 more than the previous version.
The physical design of the Kindle has been vastly improved. At just 8.7 ounces, it's lighter than the competition (Spring Design's Alex eReader weighs 11 ounces, while Barnes & Noble's Nook weights 11.6 ounces for the Wi-Fi-only version, 12.1 ounces for the 3G unit; the Bookeen Cybook Opus, with only a 5-inch screen, weighs in at 5.3 ounces).
While Amazon remains cagey about actual Kindle e-reader sales numbers, the company did drop this tidbit when asked about how it achieved some of the design enhancements. Apparently, according to Ian Freed, vice president for Amazon Kindle, Amazon's sales volumes are high enough now to be driving component costs down-and to encourage component suppliers to come to Amazon with innovations. This could be interpreted as a sign of Amazon's strength in this market.
The new Kindle is available for pre-order tonight, and will ship on August 27.