Kindle Review

The Kindle 2

So, my incredibly insightful girlfriend bought me a birthday present this year that was a bit of a gamble.  It was tough timing too:  we’d been in Italy for a week together following my 2 weeks of reserve time in Naples (<a href=http://s4.photobucket.com/albums/y137/msbuckner97/Italy%2019%20Sep%2009/>pictures</a>, and returned on the 12th of October.  My birthday was less than a week later.  She’d seen me take 4 books and 3 magazines with me halfway ’round the world and finish all but one of the books.  She thought that was kind of ridiculous, so she ordered a Kindle.  It got in a day late, which she was sad about.  So sad, in fact, she threw me a freakin’ surprise birthday party, which was fantastic, but that’s another post.  So yeah, I got a Kindle (her parents sprung for the fancy faux-leather binder to carry it, which is excellent (and a great idea), even though it has Amazon on the front of it.  Seriously guys?  That’s worse than car dealerships putting their names on the trunk of the cars they sell.  You should pay ME to advertise for you; if you’d have just put “Kindle” on the front, everyone would have known, and I wouldn’t look like a corporate goon.  Nevertheless, the binder is fantastic, and a MUST have for this device.  Thank you, K’s Rents.

My initial thoughts of the Kindle were mixed; the How-To guide was a little hokey, and the menus were a little difficult to get used to.  It was an incredibly thoughtful gift (and probably too expensive), so I had to at least give it a shot.  (And no, I don’t think she reads this, so I’m not fishing for brownie points.)

I’ve read three books on it already.

It turns out the menus aren’t all that important.  You use them in between books; otherwise, it just turns on right to where you left off.  The interface for actual reading is completely transparent:  in either hand, your thumb drops right on top of the “next page” button.  For the rare times you need to go back to a previous page, it’s only on the left side.  The two next pages are huge, always within thumb-war reach, and the actuating pressure is sufficient that you can’t bump them on accident.  The screen is pretty strong, and it’s already survived me dropping it like 4 times without the leather case on it.  It charges quickly from an AC outlet or USB (same cable), and if you turn off the wireless (don’t need it while reading a book, right?) the battery lasts well over 14 days.  I’m not even sure there’s any power consumption except when the device is rearranging the e-ink.  (It’s like an etch-a-sketch:  the ink is somehow (magnetically?) plopped up on the screen, and then it just stays there until you tell it to change…brilliant!)

The wireless runs on the 3G network, and it only takes about 60 seconds to download a book.  Supposedly it can hold 1500 books, and any that you can’t fit are stored on your Amazon account for free re-downloading later.  You can have PDFs converted to Kindle format and downloaded for a small fee (<$1), or you can do it yourself and download them via USB.  You can change your WSJ and some magazine subscription to Kindle and reduce the cost of it.  You can use it as a USB drive.  You can use it as a web browser (experimental).

My favorite feature is the text-to-speech.  Yes, it reads to you.  I can put it in my backpack and walk around with it, shop with it, anything all while I’m reading my latest book.  Some of you know that my car stereo was stolen a couple months ago; I now listen to my kindle in one ear while driving to work.  It has a built in speaker, or I use some standard ear buds.  This sucks the battery down in about 4 or 5 days’ trips to work (22 miles each way).

All in all, this is a fantastic product.  There is now even a US & International wireless version.  I never saw the first generation, and I haven’t seen any of the other e-reader options (B&N, for one), but I love this Kindle.  Great product. The only downside is you don’t get that satisfaction of putting a finished book on your bookshelf and adding to the clutter…

Upd 11/9:  Someone found out I had one, and started in on me:  “Do you think it really makes up for the carbon footprint of bookprinting?  You STILL pay full price.  Why do you…”

 

No.  I don’t like it because of the carbon offset.  I didn’t buy it, so I don’t have a purpose for buying it.  I do truly enjoy it, and am a proud owner.  I’ve put my reasons here; nothing more.  It’s a good, fun, useful product, regardless of the possible “greenness.”  I”m building a 350 S-10 for crying out loud; I think that speaks for my green.

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