Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Kindle

Sometimes, you just need to buy a gadget of some sort.

Recently, I slaked my gadget-lust by buying a new Kindle.

Then, before it came, I decided I didn’t want it, but I was too late to cancel it. No worries, the helpful Amazonian said, just refuse delivery when it shows up. I steadfastly determined to return the Kindle unopened.
Then it came and I was bored and wanted to check it out. “I’ll just open it,” I thought, “I can still send it back. I’ll just have to pay the shipping.” 
Then, after a few hours of playing with it, my wife helped me decide we were keeping it.

So now I have a Kindle.


Here's why it is cool...
1. Battery life. It has been a long time since I’ve had an electronic anything that could go weeks without recharging. That is very cool indeed.
2. Connectivity. Mine is the 3G+WiFi Kindle. Honestly, if I were advising someone, I’d probably say the WiFi alone is enough. On the one hand, it is only a $50 difference, but on the other that is 1/4 of the price of the thing. The idea of sitting in some place that doesn’t have WiFi somewhere and buying a book instantly is very cool. But seriously, how far is anyone from a WiFi hotspot these days?  
3. Size. This thing is super thin and light. The screen is clearly the limiting factor it making it any smaller now.
4. Screen. About that screen…it is GORGEOUS. Monochrome, but incredibly sharp and readable. More clear than actual ink on paper in the same lighting. After looking at LCD screens for so many years, this is truly a delight for the eyes.
5. Overall gadget factor. The “experimental” web browser is actually pretty good these days. There are some amusing games. Being able to browse books anywhere and read samples of them is very very cool.

Here's why it is lame...
1. Book price. Some books are actually more expensive on Kindle than on paper. Even the ones that aren’t are often quite expensive. For example, Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics is about $26 in hardback – and about $21 on Kindle. When you consider that the eBook doesn’t need costly transportation, warehousing, or actual printing. And that when you buy an eBook, you can never sell it to someone else or give it away or donate it to a library, that is just not cheap enough. And reading on a device, even one as great as a Kindle, is still a second-rate experience compared to the actual book. Amazon blames the publishers, and clearly Amazon can’t set the prices themselves, but I believe they could pressure the publishers to see the light on this in the same way that Apple did with music. Amazon is really the main player in consumer eBooks and I don’t see that changing much – even with Apple coming into it. (n.b. there are lots of free books available – classics and such, but you can only read so much of that.)
2. Screen. Yeah, about that screen…e-ink takes a moment to refresh so you get a brief flash when you turn the page. I think that is super annoying even though it is much improved from previous Kindle generations. It is also very slow and that makes any kind of reasonable gaming or truly good web browsing out of the question.
3. I keep trying to touch the screen. I’m not an idiot, it is just every device for the last decade has taught me to touch the screen. I am forever reaching up to touch the screen.
4. Community of Jerks. I went on to the Amazon discussion boards to talk about the Kindle with some owners. Turns out they are pretty much jerks. Very defensive about any questioning of the product’s superiority and of “Mr. Jeff Bezos” (who, I’m told, knows more about business than I possibly could so I shouldn’t be asking questions).

I considered an iPad, but they are a serious purchase, not a boredom purchase. Plus after seeing one in action, I'm not impressed. Big, slow, clunky would be my description. Like a phone that is too big and you can't talk on anyway.
I considered a netbook, but they are good small laptops, not good things to read on.

So a Kindle it is for now. It doesn’t suck. Just be prepared for the book prices … and that annoying screen refresh flash.


    I was so sure you cancelled it! Can you get the newspaper on it? That would be what I would want if for. Newspapers themselves are so cumbersome!

  2. You can get newspapers and magazines on it. I haven't done it but you can subscribe and they just show up on there automagically each day or whatever.
    No more inky fingers.

  3. I talked him into keeping it. I love it....though I haven't used it.

  4. But if you get newspapers on it, I suppose the real queation would be...can you stick silly putty to the screen and warp the pictures? No. And that would be another down side.

  5. Lynnae- you will LOVE having all your classics at a glance. I love my Kindle, for sure, but I guarantee, if you played with an iPad (not just watched your uncoordinated sister in law try to manage it, you would keep it too. I promise!

    I guess I'm lucky... I have both! :-)