Does the new Kindle have better contrast?

The latest generation of Amazon's Kindle not only features "global" wireless connectivity but what appears to be a slightly improved screen with a higher contrast that leaves blacks looking a shade deeper.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
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David Carnoy
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Contrasting contrasts: The Kindle on the right is the new global-wireless model. Sarah Tew/CNET

When the Kindle 2 was first released, we reported on the small controversy over how dark the text and images appeared on the screen compared to the original Kindle. Held side by side, the original appeared to have better contrast and the text appeared slightly darker--and slightly easier to read.

Well, when we reviewed the new AT&T-powered version of the Kindle 2, which Amazon calls "Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6" Display, Global Wireless, Latest Generation)," we noticed that the text appeared darker on this model than on the older Sprint-powered Kindle 2. It's not a huge difference but it's definitely noticeable (see photo above).

While that's a good thing, we're not sure when Amazon made the transition to the slightly improved screen. It very well could have showed up on later revs of the Sprint-powered Kindle or it may have appeared with the introduction of the international AT&T-powered version. Alas, repeated e-mails to an Amazon PR spokesperson have gone unanswered, so we haven't been able to get official word from the company on what it did--or didn't do--to the screen.

When the initial controversy flared up, some Kindle owners wondered whether a firmware upgrade would remedy the contrast issue. We still don't know the answer to that, but we're hoping Amazon will clarify the contrast question for us (if it does, we'll update this post), especially with Barnes & Noble's Nook shipping within the month.

In the meantime, you can read our full review of the AT&T-powered Kindle and if you happen to have compared this model with the Sprint-powered Kindle and noticed a difference between the black levels, please post a comment.