Kindle review part 2

Yesterday was my first day to actually really make use of the Kindle since I had a book that I wanted to finish up.  Here are further impressions:

The screen is wonderfully legible.  No strain on the eyes, and can be read under various lighting conditions.  However…with the iPhone being as ubiquitous as it is, this kind of device just begs to have a touchscreen incorporated into its design.  Everyone (really, EVERYONE) I’ve shown this to has tried to swipe their finger across it, to the point that before I hand it over, I tell them, “no, it’s not a touchscreen device, use the little controller down there”.

I am pleased to say that web browsing (admittedly limited to text friendly/”mobile” sites) is free in Japan.  No fees that I can see!  True, it’s not the speediest of surfing but definitely good enough for a quick wikipedia lookup, or browsing to look up the ingredients for hummus. 😉

That being said though, the Kindle is not the most ergonomic of devices.  I understand, a book is not “ergonomic” but this is a device that also supports web browsing as well as note taking.  Perhaps I’m too used to the Blackberry, but I find that the alphanumeric keys on the Kindle 2 are too widely spaced apart and too small.  Aesthetically pleasing perhaps, but the slightly curved keyboard of the Blackberry Bold is still hands down better.  At least there is not too much call for typing on this device yet.

Kindle 2 also supports text-to-speech.  However, it is under their “experimental” section, and it should probably stay there for the time being.  The voices (one can choose either male or female) are not horrible, but nothing to write home about either.  It’s the typical, somewhat monotone/robotic voice that most text-to-speech engines seem to feature.

I have not had the chance to purchase/test reading magazines or newspapers on the Kindle 2 just yet, and don’t see myself doing so anytime too soon for two reasons:

  • 1) It’s not in color!  The magazines I would subscribe to would primarily be technology-oriented, and I like to see my gadgets and gizmos they way they actually look instead of being rendered in grayscale.
  • 2) I am cheap/stingy. 😛 Let me elaborate on that though.  I could easily subscribe to, say, PC Magazine for the Kindle (which, at a $1.99 per issue is pretty cheap).  However, I have my country set to “United States” so that I can get the books for $2 cheaper than if I registered myself as anywhere else.  This however, means that wireless costs are now $1.99 per download…and I am currently not that desperate to spend $4 per month ($1.99 per magazine + $1.99 for wireless costs) for a monthly subscription.

I guess I must sound excessively grinch-like given that I am registering myself as a US user to shave $2 off books costs but hey – I buy books fairly frequently and even if I only bought 3 books a month, that’s 36 books a year (whereas I probably bought more like 50-60 books last year).  If I were charged an additional $2 dollars for 36 books, that would tack on $72, or $100 if I bought 50 books a year, etc.  That’s money that could better be spent on more books!  :p

Thus, what I currently do is have myself registered as a US user, buy books and choose to download to computer (rather than download wirelessly), and then copy it over to the Kindle.  It’s working for me so far 🙂

Right now I have to say that despite the cons, I am pretty happy with the Kindle.  I think I still need to spend more time with it to make sure I’m not still under the haze of “new gadget glee” (^^; but I can easily see myself making heavy use of this.  I do think though, that Amazon is going to have to keep on its toes – for example, there is little to no need for color when downloading/reading books, but I still think that this is one area that B&N got right with their “Nook” device – for websurfing, for magazine reading, for picture viewing… one needs color and I can only anticipate more users clamoring for this in the future.

Same goes for the touchscreen option.  Joysticks/thumb controllers are passé – touchscreen devices are definitely going to come more and more into play in the future and I’m sure that many upcoming e-readers will feature this.  For the time being though, I’m happy enough with my Kindle 2.  🙂

(I probably won’t write more about the Kindle 2 unless something new/cool is discovered or if anyone has particular questions they’d like to see answered)

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