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Amazon Kindle 3 ebook reader

Amazon KindlePaper books are dead and the future is with electronic books or ebooks. Well, maybe paper isn't quite past its sell-by-date yet, but there is no doubt that in the future we will be increasingly reading books and magazines on electronic devices. We can read books on the computer, on mobile phones, on tablet computers and, of course, the dedicated ebook reader like the Amazon Kindle. There is a new version of this popular ebook reader and this third generation device is even better than previous models. It not only has a better specification and holds more books, it is also cheaper too. If you've not thought about an ebook reader before, then Kindle 3 might change your mind (Amazon doesn't actually call it 3, but it is actually version 3).

There are two versions of the Kindle and the base model has built in Wi-Fi networking. You can access the internet from home or using public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, hotels, and other places. It costs 109 from the Amazon UK store and shipping is free. There is also a Kindle with built in 3G - the same technology that's used in mobile phones, and this enables you to access the internet anywhere you can get a mobile phone signal. It costs 149, but there's no contract, no monthly fee, and no extra charges. It's free to use the internet whenever and wherever you want.

The Wi-Fi version has a longer battery life and even with Wi-Fi turned on you should get around three weeks use on a charge. Four if you turn off Wi-Fi. The 3G model lasts 10 days with everything turned on, but if you're not accessing the internet then you can also get up to one month on a charge. There's no need to take the charger with you when you go away!

You use the internet to access the online Kindle Store where there are 400,000 books to choose from. A large number of books are free and these are mostly popular classic titles, but there are also some newer ones too. You can also purchase the latest book releases in ebook format too. A great feature is that if you are not sure whether a book is worth buying you can often download and read the first chapter for free. If you like it you can then buy it and continue reading, but if not, well, it's cost you nothing. Books are downloaded straight to the Kindle over the Wi-Fi or 3G internet connection. It can take a minute or less to download a book and copies are kept online so you can re-download a book at any time.

Amazon KindleThe screen is designed to look like ordinary ink and paper and it's not like a mobile phone or tablet computer. You can read it in direct sunlight because it reflects light like paper and uses no backlighting. A really useful feature for some people is the adjustable font size and you can easily make the text bigger - no more hunting around for large print books if your eyesight isn't as good as it used to be. The screen works in landscape and portrait modes and the latest Kindle has 50% improved contrast and turns pages 20% faster. Images and photos can be zoomed to fill the screen.

The keyboard enables you to add annotations to the text and you can post text to Facebook or Twitter to share it with your friends. The internet is also used for searching too and you can enter a search term and then search the Kindle, the store, Wikipedia, and even the web. You can also look up words in the built in The Oxford Dictionary of English. If you're tired of reading, then Kindle can read out loud to you using the text to speech facility.

The Kindle doesn't require a computer, but it's useful if you have one and you can transfer MP3 files to the Kindle to listen to music while you read, for example. PDF documents can be read on the device and it supports Microsoft Word and other file formats so you can transfer your personal files.

Internet access is also used for web browsing too. The screen is black and white (and shades of grey) and it is designed to give the best possible reading experience, so you're not going to be able to play full screen full colour online games. However, if you're after online information then the web browser is really useful. It's based on WebKit, which is also used to power the Chrome and Safari web browsers you may have used on your computer.

Technical specifications

In the box: Kindle reader, power adapter, USB 2.0 cable
Size: 190mm x 123mm x 8.5mm (6inch diagonal display)
Weight: 247g
Storage: 4Gb
Wi-Fi: 802.11b, 802.11g
3G: Optional
Battery: Up to 1 month on a single charge
Connection: USB 2.0
Audio: 3.5mm audio stereo jack socket with rear mounted speakers