Friday, June 12, 2009

Kindle 2.0 review

My wife reads a lot of books and when she attends a talk given by an author of a book, she usually comes home with a book purchase. I know she had been eying a Kindle, so when Amazon released rev 2.0 and mothers day was coming up, I ordered one.

It really gave a good feeling when we (she) opened it. I guess Amazon has taken some hints from Apple who I think am doing a great job with their design of both the product and how it is packaged. It was a Apple feel in both cases when unpacking the Kindle. Powering it up and instantly you are up-and-running. I guess that is the case when you order it and do not select that it is a gift (I had not). It assumes you are the owner and that you want it to be setup to buy books without any password hassle and so, from the start. I think that is just great.

In addition to reading books, I know that she wanted also to maybe start getting the New York Times (in paper) for at least some days in the week. When I checked, it seemed that the Kindle version of the New York Times would be almost half price of even getting the print edition a few days a week (after the initial discount ran out). And not to speak of all the paper, or trees, that would be saved. All sounded good.

Now, did it work? It's been like 2 months or so, and both she and I have used the Kindle for reading books and the New York Times. So, this is a real end user review. We did not just test it, we kept it :).

In summary here are the highlights and maybe the not so good points.

  • Small, sleek, nice looking
  • Battery life is just outstanding, especially if the wireless is turned off when you know you are not using it.
  • Crisp and clear screen. Displays photos (gray scale) just fine from the NYT
  • Good to home one-handed and read books
  • Nice to be able to get the 1st chapter sample of books before buying
  • Buy book and read it in under a minute, almost anywhere in the US
  • "Free" wireless access in a somewhat limited browser
  • Usable text-to-speech function. Maybe not for a whole book, but for a NYT article, it works fine

  • Navigating the NYT is not ideal (Not really something that cannot be fixed by changing the layout and use of buttons)
  • When you are out of the wireless area (such as our vacation trip abroad) it is a little work to download the books and magazines, and you will not be able to get any first chapter samples
  • No back lit option. Most times this is totally ok and better, but in some cases it would have been nice. You need a light source to be able to read the screen.
  • High price
  • The joystick is a little too stiff making it hard to navigate one handed

I think the benefits clearly outweigh the drawbacks, even with the high price. Now, if you only read a book or a few a year, this might not be the case for you. In that case, the Kindle is probably not a worthwhile investment. Keep in mind that Amazon has a very generous return policy, so if you do not like it, if you initiate a return and ship it back before 30 days (I think, check to be sure) you only will pay the return shipment.

I guess we run the risk of that this device will be somewhat old, only after a few years as the technology development is not likely to stop, recession or not. We will take the chance.

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