If you're trying to choose between a nook and a kindle, perhaps I can help. My wife and I bought a nook, a kindle 2, and a kindle DX last month, just days before the kindle 3 was announced. After using them intensively for a few weeks, we returned them and pre-ordered two kindle 3's, which we have in our hands now. We've each read a few chapters and a few newspaper articles on our kindle 3's and are very happy with them, so far.
First, reasons why we prefer the kindle over nook:
* Page refresh speed
Kindle 2 was twice as fast as nook, Kindle 3 is slightly faster yet. However, I read a whole book on the nook and didn't find page refresh to be so slow as to be annoying. You get used to it, and automatically develop the habit of pressing the page turn button a second before you need it.
* Navigation speed
Here is where the kindle has a huge advantage. Moving the cursor around the screen (e.g. to select things) is way, way, way better on kindle than nook. When you use the rocker button (on kindle 3, or the joystick on kindle 2), the cursor moves almost immediately. In contrast, when you use the "virtual rocker button" on nook's color touch screen, there's a noticeable lag before the cursor moves. Plus, just to get to the cursor control on the nook, you have to turn on its color touch screen (which is normally off when not in use, to save battery power). This adds to the lag time.
* Screen contrast
You've seen Amazon's claims that the Kindle 3 e-ink has 50% better contrast. I can tell you, it makes a difference, particularly in low light conditions, when you have to strain a little to make out the not quite as dark characters on Kindle 2 and Nook. When lighting is not ideal, it's much easier and more pleasant to read on Kindle 3 and Kindle DX than on Nook or Kindle 2.
* Battery life
The nook's color LCD touch screen drains its battery quickly - I could never get more than 5 days out of a charge. We got at least 7 days or more on the Kindle 2, and supposedly the Kindle 3's battery lasts slightly longer between charges than Kindle 2.
Nook weighs about 3 ounces more than the new Kindle, and you can really feel the difference. Without a case, Nook is still light enough to hold in one hand for long reading sessions without fatigue. But in a case, Nook is a heavy sucker and wears you out after a while. I found myself taking Nook out of its case when I was reading Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest. The new Kindle 3 is so light, even in a case, my wife and I read on our new kindles until quite last last night, each holding them in their lighted leather case with one hand (we are such an old married couple!).
Reasons some people might prefer the nook:
* In-store experience
If you need help with your nook, you can take it to any barnes and noble and get a real human to help. You can take your nook into the coffee shop section of your local B&N store and read any book for free for up to one hour per day. When you take your nook to B&N, some in-store special deals and the occasional free book pop up on your screen.
* User-replaceable battery
After a year or two of moderate use, the battery will start to lose its ability to hold a charge. Nook's battery is user-replaceable and relatively inexpensive. To replace Kindle's battery, you must ship your Kindle to Amazon. Amazon's customer service told me that they ship you back a DIFFERENT kindle (though the same model as yours) with a new battery inside. I really don't like this, at all.
* ePub and loaning e-books
Nook uses the ePub format, a widely used open format. Amazon uses a proprietary ebook format. Many libraries will "lend" ebooks in the ePub format, which works with nook but not kindle. Nook owners can "loan" ebooks they purchased to other nook owners for up to two weeks. You can't do this with kindle.
* Nook's color LCD touchscreen
This could be a pro or con, depending on your preferences. It makes nook hipper and less drab than kindle. Some people enjoy using the color LCD to view their library or navigate. I did, at first. But after two weeks of use, and comparisons with my wife's kindle, I found the dedicated buttons of the kindle easier and far quicker to use than the nook's color touchscreen. I also found the bright light from the color screen distracting when I was trying to read a book or newspaper (though when not in use, it shuts off after a minute or so to conserve battery).
A few other notes:
* MP3 player
I've used it on the Kindle 3, and it has less features than a first-generation ipod shuffle (no way to select a specific track to hear, let alone see the name of the currently playing track).
* Web browser
The browser on Kindle 3 is easier to use than Nook's browser, particularly when navigating. But neither is really very good, most people will probably use their e-reader's browser only in a pinch.
* PDF support
Viewing PDFs is better on Kindle 3 than on Kindle 2 or nook, but still not that great. You have to zoom in on part of the page and pan around to read the page, which is slightly cumbersome; this is less an issue on Kindle DX, because of the DX's much bigger display. Graphics in my PDF documents don't usually display correctly on Kindle, and sometimes Kindle can't even open the PDF file if it has certain kinds of graphics. I imagine the only worthwhile use of Kindle's PDF compatibility would be if you're trying to read an e-book that comes in PDF format, provided it was pre-formatted for reading on a device with a 6" display. Of course, you can convert many PDF documents to Kindle's native format (you do this by attaching the PDF document to an email that you send to a certain address).
Nook and Kindle each offer their own advantages. We like the nook's user-replaceable battery, compatability with ePub format, and in-store experience. But we strongly prefer Kindle 3 because its performance is far zippier, it's screen is easier to read, and its smaller and lighter so it's more portable and more comfortable to hold in one hand for long reading sessions.
I woke up to a nice surprise this morning: a new kindle as a gift. I have an iPad and a Kindle DX, but I guess someone heard my complaints of them being too heavy and difficult to do extended-reading on. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my iPad and DX, but this new generation of Kindle is perfect for reading outside and for long periods of time. The iPad gets completely washed out in sunlight and often irritates my eyes staring at it for more than a couple of hours. The DX was my go-to device for those extended/outdoor reading periods, but now I have a new friend for reading novels. Instead of a replacement, this one seems more like a companion to the other devices and is a different class. The iPad works great for web browsing, shopping, productivity, games, etc while the Kindle falls short in those areas. The Kindle works great for reading novels, where the iPad falls short. For those that love to do extended-reading of magazines, newspapers, research articles, etc, I find that the DX is the go-to device.
Without a doubt, the size and weight of the new kindle is the biggest draw for me. It's smaller than the last edition by a significant margin. I've played around with the Kindle 2 and was impressed, but now looking at the size of the new Kindle, I'm blown away. It's the absolute perfect size. Smaller would be unmanageable and larger wouldn't feel nearly as good. This is a device that you can hold up, read, and just forget that it's there. Compared to other e-readers I've tried, it's much smaller and much lighter.
One of my biggest complaints about the previous generation Kindles and the DX is the speed. It sometimes takes a while after you push `next page' for it to actually change. In addition, the web browsing feature was so slow and clunky that it is really unusable in my opinion. Two additions to the new Kindle have helped attenuate these issues. First, the pages do flip quicker (albeit, still slow in my opinion), and the addition of wifi has allowed faster connection for wireless activities (much better than only relying on 3G). I still can't see myself using the Kindle as an internet browsing tool or really doing much online aside from purchasing reading material, but the faster connection at least opens up the possibility - something that would only frustrate me on previous editions.
The new Kindle also offers a better contrast than previous editions and it looks fantastic compared to every other e-reader I have seen. I have no trouble seeing the screen in dim light or in bright sunlight - it really opens up the ability to read almost anywhere you are. Of course, you'll still need a separate light for extremely dark areas.
Another big addition to the Kindle 3 is that it offers double the storage compared to Kindle 2. I've never had a problem with the amount of storage since I can't possibly see myself filling up that much space (I don't put mp3's on it), but perhaps in the future, if certain applications or media files are put on the kindle, it could have been a problem. The additional space in the new model is definitely a welcome addition, but bringing back the memory card slot that was included on Kindle 1 would have been an even more welcome addition in my opinion.
Among e-readers, I definitely recommend the Kindle 3 if not just because it has a better size/form-factor, contrast, battery life, and speed compared to every other e-reader I have tried. On top of that, you get the wonderful amazon buying experience and selection for all your literature and can keep your kindle library intact between whatever other device you want to download a Kindle application onto.
The question of whether you need a Kindle vs another type of device for reading becomes a little more tricky and really comes down to what you want to use it for.
Do you want a device to read novels on, perhaps read outside, and have something very light that you almost forget it's there? Buy the Kindle.
Do you want something to lie in bed with for short periods of time while surfing the web? I might suggest going with the iPad, a different tablet, or a netbook.
Do you already have a Kindle 1 or 2? That's a tough one.... I don't think the new edition has enough `new' to it to warrant the upgrade in my mind, but some might value the new size and wifi capabilities even more-so than I do. For me, the new Kindle was a welcome addition to my family of devices since I didn't have anything anywhere near its form factor and convenience.
Should you get 3G + Wifi or just Wifi? I think this question can be answered simply by asking yourself if you travel a lot. Being able to buy books and access wireless content on the road is an indispensable option and well worth the extra money in my mind. Keeping the device mainly at home or near wifi hotspots really negates the need for 3G though.
Overall, I have to give the Kindle a 5 star rating because it does what it was designed to do very well, and in my opinion better than any of the competition. While the new features and capabilities aren't game-changing and truly outstanding, it is smaller, more capable, and better than any other e-reader out there. If you want `one device to handle it all', this isn't the place to look, but If you want a fantastic device solely for reading books, this is what you want.