Amazon claims its new Kindle is the easiest to read e-book reader, with 50 percent more contrast than any other reader on the market.  (Source: Amazon)

Retailing for $139 (Wi-Fi only) and $189 (3G, Wi-Fi) the new, third-generation Kindle is the cheapest Amazon reader yet.  (Source: Amazon)

It weighs 15 percent less than the second generation model and is 21 percent smaller, while keeping the screen size the same.  (Source: Amazon)
Device launches August 27th, preserves well-liked E Ink technology

The new Wi-Fi only Kindle from has hit quite the sweet price point -- $139 USD -- roughly a third of the e-book reader's original 2007 launch cost.

However, Amazon's third generation Kindle e-book reader, announced on Wednesday, is perhaps more notable for what changes it didn't make than what changes were made.  The reader features numerous small improvements, but overall remains remarkably similar to past designs.  Notably, it retains the well-liked E-Ink display, despite rumors of considering a color LCD display.

The new device lands amid a more packed market.  There's Sony's e-book readers and the Kobo e-book reader, both supported by a variety of parties, including Border's new launched e-book site.  There's Barnes & Noble's hot Nook reader.  And there's device like the Apple iPhone and iPad that are trying to lure customers away from dedicated devices with e-book reader apps.

Still, Amazon holds about 60 percent of the market (followed by Sony with 35 percent).

The new graphite-colored device, which is dubbed just plain "Kindle" like Amazon's original reader, will air August 27th in the U.S. and UK replacing the second generation Kindle international version.

The price of the new reader will be $139 for a Wi-Fi version and $189 for a model with both 3G and Wi-Fi.  That's in line with the current generation's month-old price (for the 3G model).  In June Barnes & Noble slashed its Nook price from $259 to $199, so Amazon responded by slashing the Kindle 2 Wi-Fi and 3G prices to $139 and $189, respectively.  Before that the Kindle 2 was cut from its launch price of $359 to $299 in July 2009 and in October 2009 further cut to $259.  The original Kindle was launched in November 2007 priced at $399.

UK versions will retail for £109 and £149.  The UK version will reportedly be supported by Vodafone.

In the U.S. the 3G service on the device will still be provided exclusively by AT&T, which recent independent tests have shown to be the fastest and have the best signal in terms of data network in most regions.

Internal Memory gets a big bump from 1.4 GB (Kindle 2) to 4 GB, matching its big brother the Kindle DX.  The screen size remains unchanged -- 6-inches diagonal -- but the refresh times are faster and it has better contrast (Amazon claims it has "50% better contrast than any other e-reader").  The battery life has also been improved to 1 month without wireless, and 10 days with the wireless turned on.

There's slight tweaks to the button and keyboard layout.  And the overall body size has been reduced 21 percent and the weight was reduced 15 percent to 8.7 ounces  And software-wise there's a new experimental browser.

But has adamantly refused to ditch its E-Ink display for a more colorful, faster LCD display.  While refresh times on E-Ink may be slower, they offer much less eyestrain, meaning that most customers consider them better at long campaigns of what the Kindle is all about -- reading.  In that department Amazon is well ahead of LCD based competitors like the iPad.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, "For the vast majority of books, adding video and animation is not going to be helpful. It is distracting rather than enhancing. You are not going to improve Hemingway by adding video snippets," adding later, "there are going to be 100 companies making LCD [screen] tablets... why would we want to be 101? I like building a purpose-built reading device. I think that is where we can make a real contribution."

The device is available here [Wi-Fi] [3G]  for preorder.

For customers looking for a bigger screen, the Kindle DX is available.  With similar specs to the third generation Kindle, the third generation Kindle DX sells for $379 and comes with a 9.7-inch screen (an older model Kindle DX is currently available for $359).

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