Amazon Kindle 3

PROS: Correctly priced at last; superior screen; smaller, lighter; amazing battery life

CONS: Still no color support

RATING: Five out of five stars

RECOMMENDATION: Amazon's Kindle 3 is the superior e-book reader solution, with the best screen on the market, offering a 50 percent improvement in contrast that’s both immediately noticeable and desirable. And since it uses e-ink technology, the Kindle can be used outside in direct sunlight, unlike Apple's lackluster iPad, whose screen is ultra-reflective in any lighting condition. Performance is up, the device is smaller, lighter, and better looking than its predecessor, and the onscreen display is further improved with better fonts and a nicer layout for periodicals.  Yes, the same tired complaints can still be leveled at the Kindle—it has no color output, for example, and no backlighting. No matter: If you really care about reading, the Kindle is the obvious choice. The Kindle is now available in two versions, a Wi-Fi-only model that costs $140, and a 3G-equipped model—with lifetime wireless access to Amazon's online store—for $190. These are significantly cheaper than the cost of the Kindle 2 a year ago, which retailed for $260.

CONTACT: Amazon

DISCUSSION: SuperSite for Windows: Kindle 3

 

Apple iTunes 10

PROS: Slightly faster than previous versions; faster device sync

CONS: Still a performance dog; lackluster feature set; unsophisticated media management

RATING: One out of five stars

RECOMMENDATION: Apple makes tremendous hardware, but its software efforts, especially on Windows, have moved beyond suspect into ludicrous territory. Yes, iTunes 10 is a bit faster than its predecessor, and yes, it does offer slightly better device sync with iPods, iPhones, and iPads. But the software is a miserable performer overall and is in drastic need of a complete overhaul. And unlike the past few revisions, iTunes 10 doesn't include any major new features. There's a terrible social networking service called Ping that's bundled into the application, and Apple has added a new default view for music content that is still far too text based. Worse, Apple has wiped all color from the application, with new grayscale icons and onscreen elements, creating a washed-out look that's hard to enjoy. For an application that's all about digital media content, iTunes 10 is curiously lacking in emotion or excitement. It's just a terrible mess.

CONTACT: Apple

DISCUSSION: SuperSite for Windows: Digital Media