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.