I got my first chance to see a Kindle 3 in person yesterday at Target, and I have to say I was impressed. Even though I’ve talked about the K3 before, and pointed out how it’s 21% smaller and 15% lighter than the K2 that I own, seeing (and feeling) it felt like a bigger difference than the numbers indicate. The K2 is already thinner and lighter than most paperback books (at 10.2 ounces), but the K3 felt feather-light and paper-thin in comparison. Weighing in at only 8.7 ounces (8.5 ounces for the Wi-Fi-only model) and less than 1/3rd of an inch thick, the K3 really felt absurdly easy to carry around and read one-handed. Yet, it still felt solid, not flimsy at all, just the right weight to feel sturdy but not heavy. The rubberized back had a nice feel to it as well.
The other thing I was impressed with was the new page turn buttons and 5-way controller. Some people have complained about the thinner page turn buttons on each side of the K3, and how they depress toward the edge of the device. But I thought they felt great: quiet, just the right amount of resistance, and easy to press while holding it one-handed. Similarly, I was concerned about the new controller pad, which replaces the little 5-way joystick knob on the K2 — the K3’s control pad has 4 directional buttons surrounding a center button, and it looks like you could accidentally press one when you meant to hit the other. But I found that not to be the case, and I never accidentally hit the wrong button or any of the adjacent buttons. In fact, in my limited testing, it felt a little better than the K2’s joystick, which can (rarely) be accidentally pressed in when you mean to move it in one of the 4 directions.
Unfortunately, the units at Target are just demo units that aren’t fully functional, so I couldn’t play around with the functionality much or read on it or comment too much on the new e-Ink Pearl screen. Next time, I’ll bring my K2 to compare side-by-side.
The only downside: it made me want a K3 again, after I had nearly convinced myself that I’m fine with my perfectly-functioning K2. 🙂
UPDATE: I visited a different Target and, after resetting the frozen demo Kindle by holding the bottom slider to the right for several seconds, it went into a demo mode where it cycled through 10-15 different screens of info. It also invited me to “Press any button to stop demo,” after which it takes you to the home screen and lets you select and start reading some books, adjust the font size, and generally play around with it. That’s a big improvement from the un-interruptable demo cycle of the K2. Oh, the e-Ink Pearl screen looked very impressive: I still need to bring my K2 for a side-by-side comparison, but the improvement in sharpness and contrast seemed significant.