The New Kindle: An Excellent E-reader, Period.

Kindle Wireless Reading Device

I really like the new (third-generation) Amazon Kindle as an e-book reader. It’s by far the best reading device that I’ve tried. But because it’s focused on being such a great e-reader, its usefulness for web working may be limited.

The Kindle’s screen is sharp and clear, and text has high contrast and is very easy to read. Battery life is excellent. Ordering books from Amazon.com is a breeze with 3G wireless or Wi-Fi; new books appear on the Kindle within a couple of seconds. Users can also subscribe to periodicals and blogs, including the GigaOM Kindle edition.

And it’s possible to obtain materials from other sources, including many public libraries and websites; just download them to your computer and copy the files to the Kindle, which appears as a hard drive to your operating system when it’s connected via USB.

The Kindle now supports several formats (although not ePub, yet) and I’ve had good luck converting non-protected e-books from formats that the Kindle doesn’t support using Calibre.

The new Kindle is lighter than the old model, and is very comfortable to handle. I’ve even found it comfortable to read on my back in bed, especially with the addition of the Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, which works very well.

So can the Kindle replace, say, an iPad, an iPod touch, or an Android device in a work environment? In a word, no.

The new Kindle has a web browser (marked “Experimental”), but it’s rudimentary at best, and is difficult to navigate, since the Kindle lacks a touch screen. And the Kindle doesn’t offer apps — not even a calendar, address book or email client.

If you’re a voracious reader like me, the new Kindle is definitely a great addition to your gadget bag. The version with 3G retails for $189; the Wi-Fi only version is $139. It’s sold out as of this writing, but Amazon is accepting orders to ship around September 20.

But don’t expect to use it for anything more than reading. I think you’ll find yourself continuing to use your favorite iOS or Android device during the workday.

Do you use en e-book reader in your job?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Are You Empowering Your Mobile Workforce?

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