Amazon sets UK Kindle launch date


Amazon has confirmed it is bringing out the third generation of its Kindle e-reader next month.

For the first time, the reader will be available directly from Amazon UK at a price that may make literary types think again about buying an Apple iPad.

The Kindle 3 will be lighter, smaller and cheaper than its predecessor, but will maintain the screen size of six-inches.

Unlike the iPad, the Kindle has a monochrome screen that uses e-ink rather than a backlit screen. This, Amazon argues, causes less eye-strain during a long reading session.

The use of the e-ink screen technology also enables an estimated battery life of one month because the screen only draws power when a page is turned. Once the image has been refreshed, the image persists without drawing any appreciable power. The drawback is it needs a reasonable level of ambient light to be readable.

In the world of tablet devices, the Kindle is a one-trick pony. It allows books to be read but lacks the ability to browse the internet or run other apps. This is reflected in the price of 109 for a Wi-Fi only version, about a quarter of the equivalent iPad model. Similarly, a 3G version will be available at the end of August for 149. Allowing for VAT, this price is comparable with the US price of $189.

The 3G comes with free connectivity to a data network so there are no third-party agreements for e-book downloads and it can store up to 3,500 books.

Amazon will also be launching a UK e-bookstore with over 400,000 books available. Prior to the launch, the Kindle and its books were available internationally but only though the US website.