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Hands-on review of the Kindle 3

CNET has an early review of the third-generation e-reader, due to ship shortly. Most notably, Amazon has made the Kindle smaller and lighter, and has improved the screen.

The new Kindle is due to ship shortly. Amazon

Just as Apple's iPod wasn't the first MP3 player, Amazon wasn't the first company on the block to release an e-book reader--NuvoMedia's RocketBook and the early Sony Readers all beat the Kindle to market. But it's hard to argue that the online retailer's Kindle isn't the iPod of the e-book reader market. The Kindle has helped usher the e-book reader from gadget curiosity to a burgeoning mass-market device, all in less than three short years.

And now, amid a much more competitive market, Amazon is debuting the third-generation Kindle.

The first thing you should know about the "Kindle 3" is that it's more evolutionary than revolutionary. Most importantly, Amazon has made its 6-inch e-reader smaller and lighter, and it has improved the screen. The Kindle has also adopted the key Wi-Fi feature from its rival, the Barnes & Noble Nook.

In fact, this Kindle comes in a couple of versions, one with both Wi-Fi and 3G wireless for $189, and a Wi-Fi-only version that costs $139--both $10 less than corresponding versions of the Nook. Each version is available in graphite or white and--on top of the more compact design--some other key additions include more memory (4GB instead of 2GB) and double the battery life (four weeks instead of two weeks with the wireless turned off).

So, just how good is the new Kindle? Click here to read CNET's full review.

See also: Amazon's secret weapon--the Kindle Lighted Leather Case