Jan 252011

The new, smaller K3 next to the K2

I’ve seen many people online wondering whether or not they should upgrade their perfectly-fine Kindle 2 to the new-and-improved Kindle 3. “Should I replace my K2 with a K3” is a very common question on the Amazon forums and KindleBoards. As one who recently grappled with that question, perhaps my experiences and opinions might help.

People asking this question are often asking two different things: first, is the Kindle 3 improved enough over the Kindle 2 to make it worth the cost of upgrading? And, second, should I buy a K3 now, or wait until (a) a new model comes out, or (b) the price goes down again?

Kindle 2 vs. Kindle 3

To answer the first question, I’m very glad that I upgraded from the K2i to the K3 in late November. I am a huge fan of the new e-Ink Pearl screen, the contrast is definitely improved and makes a marked difference in my reading enjoyment. I post my experiences here, along with side-by-side pictures showing off the dramatic improvement in contrast and screen readability. I also find that the sans serif font choice and software changes to allow for more lines of text makes the reading experience noticeably better as well. The lighter weight, faster page turns, better battery, etc., etc. are almost just a bonus.

As for price, I think the Kindle 3 Wi-Fi for $139 or the Kindle 3 Wi-Fi + 3G for $189 are both incredible values for the money — and well worth it for anyone who enjoys reading. If you can find a good home for the K2 (gifting it to a friend or family member), it may also help you justify the upgrade for yourself. Alternately, you should be able to sell the Kindle 2 (still a fine e-reader with free-for-life 3G wireless service) for $100 to $150, so you could recoup most of the cost of your new K3.

Buy Now, Or Wait For New Version?

Just to be clear, no one really knows when the next Kindle will come out, or when Amazon will adjust their pricing, so the best I can do is offer you an educated guess from someone who follows news and rumors about the Kindle very closely. That being said, the K3 is new enough (August 2010) that I don’t expect a Kindle 4 for at least 6 months, probably closer to a year (maybe just before Xmas). I think the K3 is pretty close to the limit of what they can do with black & white e-Ink, and the next big jump will be color e-Ink / Mirasol, which is still AT LEAST 6 months away, probably more. Of course, if you don’t care about color, you should be very happy with the K3 for a long time. As for price, if that mythical color K4 DOES come out, odds are that it will cost more than the current K3, at least at first.

Buy Now, Or Wait For Price Drop?

Regarding the K3, when the next Kindle model comes out (or just before), I’d imagine a discount to purge remaining K3 stock … but honestly, prices are pretty darn good to begin with — $139 is a very reasonable price (compared to $399 for the first K1s!), and there’s just not that much room for them to go down. At best, in 6 months, we might see $99 K3 Wi-Fis and $149 K3 3Gs. But, to me, 6 months of use is worth the extra $40.

Final Thoughts

As I said, these are just my educated guesses, and no one knows for sure! But I would be fairly confident (as confident as you can be with electronics, anyway) that now is a pretty good time to get a new Kindle 3, since I don’t foresee a big price drop or new model coming out for several months at least. In any event, it’s probably best to ask yourself if you like the Kindle 3 enough to get $139 (Wi-Fi) or $189 (3G) worth of use out of it — and if you answer “yes,” then go ahead and buy one and enjoy it, since no future price reduction or new model can change that.

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