Something happened this Christmas that I did not see coming. I upgraded myself to a Kindle 3. I have been a first-generation Kindle user for a long time now and have never had the feeling that my Kindle was lacking in any department. As a matter of fact, for the longest time I told myself that I do not need a new Kindle. I had been playing with the thought when first the Kindle 3 came out and news about the impressive new display made its rounds through the Internet. The temptation was there, clearly, but more from a geeky gadgeteer standpoint than from actual need.

I take quite some pride in the fact that I do have my spending habits firmly under control. I do not give in easy to little cravings or desires, and usually get to the point very quickly where I can walk away from things and tell myself that I simply do not need them. To me there is a very clear distinction between the things I want and things I need.

Yeah, well, all that changed, of course, when I first laid my eyes on the brand new Kindle 3 in person. I had bought one for my niece for Christmas. She is a real bookworm and the stacks of books she had around were always dangerously close to toppling over burying everything and everyone under them. So, my and I decided to give her a Kindle. It would cut down on her physical storage needs and would make it easier on her wallet, too, as eBooks do have a tendency to be cheaper. Many of the books she has in her library – the classics – are available for free in digital form also, making an even better proposition. But I digress.

On Christmas morning we unwrapped our presents and with gleaming eyes she took into her heart her Kindle. I could tell she immediately fell in love with it. The idea itself of having a digital book reader as well as all the benefits that come with it.

As I showed her the ropes, how to get around the Kindle, download books, open them, create bookmarks, notes and highlights, etc. I had the chance to use that latest-generation Kindle myself, of course. As I said in openings, it was the first direct contact I have had with the device, but the impression it made on me was quite profound.

The new Pearl screen is a real beauty. I always felt the original Kindle screen looked a lot like printed paper, but this new, improved display makes the old one look like it was printed on newsprint paper, while the new one is on high end matter paper without ink blotting. I do have a background in the printing industry as some of you may know, and I have a trained eye when it comes to typography, typesetting and printing, so these improvements are dramatic, and they immediately sprang to my eye.

Then I tried the text-to-speech feature, which the Kindle 1 does not offer, and thought it was a nice addition. While it still sounds like a robot trying to read with all the wrong inflections and other artifacts of text-to-speech technology, it is not all that bad and may come in handy on occasion.

Much improved is also the user interface. It took a bit getting used to for me to find certain things I had gotten very comfortable with, but I found that some thought had been put into it, making many features easier and faster to access.

And the, of course, there is the design. It is a slick little device – much slimmer and lighter than my Kindle 1 – and it feels much less bulky. So, to make a long story short, I really liked the Kindle 3 and once we had all unwrapped and explored our presents I went to my computer and ordered a Kindle 3 for myself. Needless to say that I read a lot, and it is a valid investment, but I am honest. I did not need a new Kindle – this time I wanted one.

Only this time I decided that the Wifi version would suffice. I may have bought a book from my Kindle on an occasion or two when I wasn’t within reach of a Wifi network, and the 3G connectivity came in very handy, but as I placed my order I had to ask myself if this luxury was really worth an extra outlay of $50 dollars. I mean, the end of a book doesn’t exactly sneak up on you. You see in your progress bar, how much is left, and to me that simply meant that I should be able to make sure I have the next book ready and loaded by the time I may – coincidentally – be without a Wifi connection AND the need for a new book.

So, all I have to do now is to wait for another day to find the new device on my doorstep and load all my books on it. And now I can even start categorizing them… something the original Kindle didn’t allow me to do, and I am sure there will be many more pleasant features I will come to enjoy.