Mike-Ward.Net

Kindle 2 is a winner

I’ve been using my Kindle 2 for about two months now. The verdict, it’s a winner. It’s not perfect but easily good enough for most reading tasks.

To be clear, the Kindle 2 is still what I would consider an early adopter device. It’s expensive, a bit limited in rendering and some formats like newspapers and periodicals don’t quite work yet. The lack of a touch screen is at times annoying.

Despite these quips, it really is a nifty device. Clearly, there is a paradigm shift occurring in printed media. A year or two from now, electronic readers, whatever their form, will be the preferred way of reading.

What I like about the Kindle 2:

  • I can take all my books with me. I carry a library of books with me where ever I go now.
  • Wireless shopping for books. The 3G access to books is addicting.
  • Free samples. I love this feature. If I see a book at a friend’s house that’s look interesting, out comes the Kindle and a few minutes later I have the first chapter downloaded and ready for reading for free. When I finish reading the chapter, one click buys and downloads the book (providing I like it). It’s the simplest, best way to keep your reading list active.
  • It’s easier to read than a real book. I find the screen, fonts and page turning to be better than a traditional book. And it always remembers where I left off.
  • Built in dictionary. Highlight a word and you have a definition instantly. Need more information? A few more clicks and you have a Wikipedia article up. Finished? Hit the back button and you’re back to reading.
  • Footnotes. Click on a footnote to read it. No flipping to the back of the book.
  • Reading aloud. It does a decent job of text to speech and is sometimes a nice break from reading.
  • Music. It’s not an MP3 player but having a few tracks of relaxing music available in a crowded airport makes for a more pleasant reading experience.

What I don’t like about the Kindle 2

  • The form factor is a bit big for the given screen size. The Sony reader beats Kindle here.
  • The keyboard is barely usable
  • The 5 way button sucks
  • No touch screen
  • Screen refresh is a bit sluggish but faster than the Kindle 1
  • The Web browser sucks eggs
  • 16 levels of gray is not enough. 256 would be much better and color, even limited color would be best.
  • No backlight
  • It’s not optimal for newspapers and periodicals

As I mentioned earlier, the Kindle is an early adopter device. That said, it’s a very good device. It’s proven to be very reliable and will run for weeks between charges if you turn the wireless off. The quality of the hardware and the feel is on par with Apple products.

The cover is mandatory in my opinion. It’s a bit of a turn off that the cover is an additional $30. There’s a metal attachment bar along the spine of the cover that attaches to integral mounts on the left side of the Kindle. It makes for a secure connection. The cover can flip behind to device so you can hold it with one hand.

Bottom line: I really like my Kindle. It’s the best gadget buy I’ve made in years.

Change is coming. Amazon is announcing a new, larger version of the Kindle tomorrow. Companies like Plastic Logic are producing, thinner, lighter and more capable readers that will be available shortly. Universities and Colleges are ditching bulky textbooks and turning to electronic readers to save money and provide the latest publications without having to wait for publishers to print them. Newspapers and periodicals are experimenting with delivering content on electronic readers that they supply for free with a subscription, much as the cell phone carriers do now.

If the overwhelming number of 5 star ratings on Amazon’s Kindle site is any indication, then the future of books belongs to electronic readers.

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