Thursday, June 12, 2008

Amazing Kindle

The Amazon Kindle is a convenient, portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs. I have at times advertised the Kindle on this blog, but last Sunday, when Amazon offered me free 2-day shipping, I decided I needed one for ME!

Yesterday, after two days of waiting (it seemed like forever), my Kindle arrived. UPS didn't deliver until after 7pm, so I haven't had as much time with it as I would like. However, here are my first impressions.

The viewing area is similar to a typical paperback novel. The size of the Kindle is much thinner than a paperback. The weight is less than a paperback (10.3 ounces). The price is way more than a paperback. Anyway, if it's technical specs that you're after, you can find them all here.

What I really want to talk about is the quality of the reading experience. The display is unlike any laptop, PDA, or cell phone I've ever seen. The Kindle uses a new technology called electronic-paper. The result is a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper!

And like ordinary paper, electronic paper uses no backlighting, eliminating the glare associated with other electronic gadgets. I've discovered that the Kindle is as easy to read outdoors as it is indoors.

You navigate through pages by clicking next and previous buttons located on the left and right edges of the Kindle. You can easily read a book while holding the Kindle with a single hand.

There is also a little scroll wheel on the right edge which allows you to select a line of text to highlight, annotate, or perform a dictionary lookup. I've found it very handy to have instant access to a dictionary.

You also get instant access to WikiPedia and the Amazon Kindle Store... And here are two facts that might surprise you:

  1. You don't need to setup any WiFi. Kindle utilizes the same high-speed data network (EVDO) as advanced cell phones.
  2. There are no monthly wireless bills, service plans, or commitment -- Amazon takes care of the wireless delivery so you can simply browse, buy, and enjoy.

The wireless features include some basic web browsing capabilities, but it seems best suited for simple sites that are mostly text. I recommend that one of your first stops should be which has many FREE public domain books you can download straight to your Kindle. Hint -- select the Mobipocket file format for Kindle compatibility.

There are a few things that I don't like about Kindle web browsing. First is input and navigation. Kindle has no mouse like a laptop and no touchscreen like a PDA. Instead you're stuck with the same scroll wheel you use for selecting lines of text. So you scroll to the line with a link or button, press the scroll wheel... and then the software asks you which link or button you actually meant. It's clunky and annoying, and it takes too many clicks and scrolls to get where you're going.

Also, the connectivity seems unreliable. I don't know if it's my location or I've just had bad luck in my first 24 hours of usage. I'm hoping it improves.

Sometimes while paging through a WikiPedia article I noticed the bottom line of text was half cut off. Flipping to the next page didn't help... still only displaying the bottom half of the cut-off line. I hope they will address this annoyance in a software upgrade.

But to me, the web browsing is only a secondary feature of the Kindle. The primary feature is book reading.

Obviously the Kindle isn't for everybody. Here are my main reasons for purchasing one:

  • I like to read.
  • I love electronic gadgets if they are useful.
  • I like to have resources at my fingertips.
  • I am honestly a small little weakling who has trouble holding up hardcover books while in bed. This is no joke. For me, the size and weight of the Kindle makes books much more accessible.
  • I like instantly getting the books I want without having to go to the store or waiting days for a delivery. The Kindle fits with my lifestyle.
  • I can sample many books from the Amazon Kindle Store before purchasing.

Anyway, since I have the Kindle in my hot little hands right now, feel free to post any questions you might have about features or quality.

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