16 February 2010

Early Kindle Review

I've been using my Kindle since I got it at Christmas, and decided it was time to review it...

I'll just give you my opinions of its failings and high points. I should say I was actually in the "Why bother with e-readers?" camp. Until my bookshelves started to tell me something along the lines of "Hello, hey, you! No more room, stop buying books!!!" I researched several of the readers and after much debate chose the Kindle.

What it's not = the prettiest. I don't really see this as a flaw. There is a solution. Skins and cases. You can make it look however you'd like, which you could do with the others as well. I cared more about what they did than what they looked like.

The biggest thing that it's missing = the ability to use memory cards. Solution for this one? Well there isn't really one. Of course, you can make your own backups. And Amazon does allow you to archive the books you've bought with them. Meaning? If you've read books and no longer want them stored on your Kindle? Just archive them. They'll then show in your Archive folder. Then later if you want to re-read them, you can re-download them. Given how many books it holds, this shouldn't be an issue -- unless you plan to also use a lot of music files or audio books. As I don't, it's not an issue for me. If you do plan to do the audio book thing, an MP3 player is better for that -- or if you'll be mixing a lot of e-books with audio books, then an e-reader with expandable memory would probably be the better option for you.

Text to speech -- yes Kindle has it while others don't seem to. It's okay. It's pretty much what you've probably experienced from computer text to speech. Maybe a little better. I'd not want to have full books read to me this way, personally. You'd be better off going with audio books. However given the price differences for audio books if you're on a budget and in a bind or if you're just in a position where you couldn't read the screen for a short period of time for some reason, it could be handy.

Shopping for books - Personally I prefer the Amazon store on the computer then sending them to the Kindle. Mainly because I do a lot of "Amazon Window shopping" and I find it just easier to navigate. I like the 'click on one book and find related lists, we recommend, people who bought this also bought this' aspect of Amazon -- that just works better on the computer. But if you have an idea of what you're looking for, shopping right from the Kindle is very easy.

E-ink vs. Traditional books vs. pixels. Ah the most important part, really. For some people reading books on a computer screen wouldn't be an issue. We all read computer screens -- a lot. And yes they've improved over the years. But for me? The less time at one REALLY reading the better as I'm prone to migraines, and have a lot of health problems so even holding a laptop (or the heat from one in my lap, etc) causes me problems. So reading on an e-reader is perfect. Yes, it's like reading a book -- but better. You choose the font size. You choose if there are more or less words per line. I'm sold on e-ink and hope it and the Kindle are around for quite awhile.

Overall, it's so intuitive there's no real learning curve. You take it out of the box (no real packaging to wrestle with) and you can be reading a book within minutes. I doubt you'll even need to read the manual, it's that simple to use.

If you're the type who likes to keep software up to date, I do recommend reading the forums -- the updates can take some time to get to everyone as they release them in batches (presumably to not flood the network) and someone on the forums always announces when they get an update -- if you're impatient you can then go download it yourself, if you haven't received it, to manually update (available on the Kindle help page and easy to do). 5/5 stars despite it's few flaws. I'm in love with mine.

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