Kindle 4 vs Kindle 3 Keyboard Comparison Review (Video)

Kindle 4 vs Kindle 3 Keyboard

This Kindle 4 vs Kindle 3 review is a comparison between the new $79 Kindle and the Kindle 3, now known as the Kindle Keyboard.

This review does not compare the third 6-inch model, the Kindle Touch, because it has not been released just yet. I’ll post some comparisons with it in a couple of weeks.

The Kindle 4 and Kindle Keyboard are more alike than they are different. Both offer the exact same reading experience. The text is the same, the fonts, adjustment options, viewing modes, syncing, dictionary, web browser, library—most of it is all the same, you just have to go about things differently without a physical keyboard on the Kindle 4 for functions like adding notes and running searches. The quickest way to contrast these two Kindles is to outline their differences…

Kindle 4 vs Kindle 3 Review: The Differences

Price: The Kindle 4 costs $79 for the Special Offers (ads and coupons) version and $109 for the non-ad model. The Wi-Fi only Kindle Keyboard costs $99 for the ad-supported model and $139 without. The Kindle Keyboard 3G is $139 with Special Offers and $189 without.

Memory: The Kindle 4 comes with 2GB internal memory. The Kindle Keyboard has 4GB.

Partial Page Refresh: The Kindle 4 turns pages faster because it uses partial page refresh, which can be turned off.

Audio Support: The Kindle 4 does not support audio. The Kindle 3 has built-in speakers and a headphone jack for listing to MP3s, audiobooks (it supports audiobooks from Audible.com), enhanced content, text-to-speech, and a feature called Voice Guide that reads menus, selectable items, and descriptions aloud.

Battery: The Kindle 4’s battery is rated to last up to 1 month and the Kindle Keyboard can get up to 2 months when reading half an hour per day (that’s Amazon’s measuring stick; many argue it’s not a very good one).

3G wireless option: Both come with Wi-Fi, but only the Kindle 3 Keyboard has an option for 3G wireless. Plus it looks like it’s going to be the last of the Kindles to offer free web browsing over 3G.

Kindle Games and Active Content: The Kindle Keyboard has the major advantage when it comes to Kindle Games and Kindle Apps. Most apps were designed to use the keyboard to interact with the game or active content, so the Kindle 4 only supports a fraction of the Kindle Apps. Here’s the Kindle 4 working apps list.

Design: Obviously the Kindle 4 is a lot smaller and lighter without the keyboard attached, making it more comfortable to hold. Both are made of plastic but the Kindle 4 has a metallic finish that makes it feel classier. The Kindle 3 is also available in white.

Ads: The Kindle 4 has the option to to remove the ads if you decide you don’t like seeing them. Just pay Amazon the $30 difference and the ads are gone. The Kindle 3 doesn’t have that option for some reason, at least not yet.

Keyboard: Yeah, this one is a no-brainier. The bottom line: if you plan on using the Kindle for any kind of note-taking, get the Keyboard version. It’s just too slow and cumbersome with the cursor on the Kindle 4 for anything longer than a couple of words. The keyboard is also nice for all the shortcuts.

Screen?: There’s been some debate about the Kindle 4’s screen being different than the Kindle 3’s. To me, side-by-side, they look identical, both indoors and outdoors. Others disagree. Some claim Amazon chose to use lower grade display panels on the Kindle 4 to cut cost.

Kindle 4 Review »

Kindle 3 Keyboard Review »

Kindle 4 vs Kindle Keyboard Video Review

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13 Responses to “Kindle 4 vs Kindle 3 Keyboard Comparison Review (Video)”

  1. Dictionaries are seriously different, including the ability to specify one as the default dictionary with the Kindle Keyboard.

    Something seriously annoying with the Kindle 4 is I will download from instapaper.com each day a book which is collection of WSJ.com articles written in Spanish each day. On the Kindle Keyboard, I would just change my default dictionary to a Baron’s spanish-english version that I had purchased from Amazon.com’s bookstore. Now, with the Kindle 4, you don’t specify a default dictionary. I guess it detects what you language your book is written in and then uses the available dictionary for that language. So, for some reason, it detects this instapaper book to be written in English and will always want to use the English dictionary with it. There apparently is nothing I can do about it.

  2. Of course you can rotate the screen to landscape in homescreen and webbrowser on the Kindle 3/Keyboard, it’s just not in the menu, because we have a KEY for it, get it? :D
    Just press the “Aa” Button and select landscape.

    • Thanks for pointing that out, Don. I can’t believe I didn’t notice. Has it always been like that? Or did it come with one of the firmware updates? Seems to me like it didn’t used to, but then again I test so many ereaders that it’s hard to keep track of all the subtle details.

  3. @purcelljf
    There is SOMEthing you can do about it, though a little complex: You could change the Metadata of the Instapaperbook in calibre and set the language to Spanish. This apparently is how the Kindle decides which dictionary to use.

  4. @Don_Julez

    Thanks for pointing that out. It would be nice if the Instapaper developer could add some option so we can specify spanish. I may send him a note.

  5. @ Nathan
    My regards back to you, I just love your site, and yes, I totally believe that it can sometimes get hard to keep track.
    As far as I know, it has always been like that, I have had my Kindle for over half a year now.
    Keep it coming!
    Regards.

  6. Hi,

    Just got my kindle 4 and compared that with my kindle 4, the contrast of the screen is noticeably different. The Kindle has better contrast.

    I thought they use the same E-Ink screen? Is my kindle 4 screen defective? Do you guys have the same problem?

    Thanks.

  7. Sorry, my last comment should read:

    Just got my kindle 4 and compared that with my kindle 3, the contrast of the screen is noticeably different. The Kindle 3 has better contrast.

  8. Just bought a kindle 4. I think the kindle 3 is better for web browsing and stuff. The kindle 3 is good buy. The kindle 4 is a great deal. I think if you what your e reader to do a lot the kindle 3 is best. The kindle 4 is definitely better for reading though.

  9. Forgot to mention you get 4 foreign language dictionaries on board with the new kindle. The KK3G only has the English and you have to purchase the other ones, even though you may have them on the K4, you can’t transfer them to the KK3G.

  10. If you take a look on that image of kindles above, the screen is totally different. the K/keyboard’s screen is lighter compare to Kindle 4th Generation’s screen, its darker and it is not good for reading. I have the two here and just bought the K4 and its very disappointing. After an hour of reading my eyes hurts. Ive never had this on my K/keyboard.

    • The only reason they look different is because the light is coming from the right. In person they look identical. The screens all come from the same manufacturer. But sometimes there can be slight variances from one screen to the next. If you complain to Amazon they will send you an exchange unit.