The Amazon Kindle has changed my life. No longer will I break my back carrying several books on my business trips to occupy airport, airplane and hotel time. I can carry one small device in a beautiful black leather cover that is the same size as my Moleskine notebooks.
Some context – when it comes to software I’m an extremely early adopter. When it comes to hardware devices, I usually wait till V2 or V3 before jumping in (I still haven’t bought a tablet PC). I’ve wanted an eBook reader ever since I saw Xerox Parc’s 300 dpi displays. However, the RocketBook and the Sony eBook didn’t dislodge my credit card. So with great trepidation I bought the Kindle sight unseen and hoped that it would live up to the early hype. And that I could get beyond the early negativity.
My Amazon Kindle arrived in early December and this is the first usage report.
The out of box experience was surprisingly easy. I pulled the Kindle out, turned it on, it was already charged and immediately I was connected through the wireless to the Kindle book store.
I decided that I wanted to purchase a mixture of my mind occupying mystery novels and business books. So I ordered two novels that I’d been waiting to buy until the Kindle arrived and then two business books – one I’d already purchased (Super Crunchers) and one that I had just heard about yesterday (Innovate or Perish).
By the time I had ordered the books and gotten back to the home page, all of the books were downloaded by the wireless connection and were ready for viewing. Way too cool – no longer do I need to connect to my desktop computer with whatever funky USB connector is required.
The viewer is fairly comfortable to hold in multiple positions. But one of the really cool parts is just plain old fashioned – the leather cover that goes around the Kindle. It looks almost exactly like my little black Moleskine notebook.
Both the positive and negative reviews that are showing up on the Kindle are pretty much spot on.
- The screen is very readable and the adjustable font sizes provide a wide range of viewing options. I am comfortable with the smallest font and that helps get more on a page. I’m surprised at how legible the eInk technology is.
- Having the two NEXT PAGE buttons makes it easy to advance no matter how you are holding the device
- The linkage to the Amazon KINDLE store is just fabulous. It is just way to easy to order a book. No more hanging out in the airport bookstores. And for the most part, everything is the same cost as a paperback – $9.99.
- The device weighs and feel much like a paper book without the strain of having to hold the physical book open and is way more easy to hold than a hardback.
- It’s easy to navigate and the scroll button is very usable. Much easier than my blackberry.
- The SEARCH function is very powerful and it has gotten me right to the places I expected in the business book that I’d already read.
- I really like the download sample files so that I can get a sense of whether I want to buy the book now.
- It was very easy to download word and PDF files (though as advertized the PDF didn’t come through really well on the formatting.)
- It is easy to hook up to my computer and I immediately downloaded Queen’s Classic hits to listen to while reading my junk novels. The sound is suprisingly good. The UI for the music leaves a ton to be desired but is still in the EXPERIMENTAL category.
- The highlighting function is very easy to use.
- The annotation function is very easy to use and search.
- All in all the reader will hold an enormous part of my future library.
- Given that the longest book I’ve ordered so far only takes up 1 MB, the basic memory can hold a ton of books. However, the MP3s take up a lot of space so I have ordered a 1GB SD card.
- As all the detractors have noted, the most irritating part of the eINk technology is the “flash” that happens as you go between one page and the next. It appears that you have to set the page to all black before being able to write on it again. I’m almost to the point where it doesn’t bother me, but it is still irritating.
- Because of the above, the speed between pages is slower than I would like. In response, I caught myself jumping the gun and hitting the Next Page before I had quite finished with the page.
- Typing on the device into search boxes etc IS PAINFUL. I have no idea why it takes seconds simply to echo what is being typed on the keyboard. Probably some artifact of the eINK technology, but it is really painful having to wait for the display to catch up to what I’d typed.
- The experimental web browser is pretty pitiful. Really hard to do something as simple as go to Google and do a search.
- The back button is pretty powerful moving between the books or papers that you are reading. I still have not figured out how to reverse the effects of the back button if I hit it instead of using the Next Page button.
Preliminary Usage Conclusions:
- In spite of all the negatives, I now can’t imagine living my life without a Kindle or equivalent. To have my most heavily used website (Amazon Books) always on and available to me for immediate gratification (no waiting for 2 day prime shipping or my next visit to the airport bookstore).
- I have two big lifestyle tests for the device – will it be comfortable to read in bed and can I read for hours on a plane trip to the East Coast.
- I was able to read a James Patterson novel for over 90 minutes in bed with no discomfort (actually a lot less than with hard back books).
- I don’t think that the device will be a replacement for my laptop for word and PDF documents.
- I will have to work really hard not to engage in a flurry of buying electronic versions of books – my addiction.
- All of a sudden my lack of bookshelf space in our house looks tractable if I can shift most of my buying to the Kindle – more room for Cayuse wine. 🙂
After a month of usage of the Amazon Kindle I’m still discovering positives and negatives. On the postive side:
- The economics work great. I didn’t do an economic analysis before ordering the Kindle but have now accumulated usage data. Because I can buy first run novels for paperback prices, I will pay for my Kindle in less than two months by the $15 I am saving on each book.
- The instant gratification works great. On my recent business trip I walked into the Airport Borders bookstore and did my usual browsing to see what was new. There were a couple of new novels that were published since my last business trip. I pulled out my Kindle, connected to the Kindle store, and quickly downloaded the two new novels. This test showed me that new novels are making it into the Kindle store at the same time that the books are hitting the physical bookstores.
- I own several books that are just too big and bulky to carry around in my backback for my daily commute by ferry or when I’m travelling by airplane. I want to read them, but don’t want to carry them. One of the recent books is Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson. I realized that I could order the Kindle version and save my back.
The BIG negative:
- I am reading my Kindle as I board the Alaska Airlines flight to San Jose and as I sit down and continue to flip pages, the stewardess makes the dreaded announcement – “Turn off all electronic devices.” I completely forgot that on an airplane there would be 30 minutes on taxi and takeoff and the same amount of time landing where I can’t read my Kindle. That is way too long for me to be without reading material. So for the moment I am not completely free of the paper book to make it through this dreaded hour. But now I am really motivated to have the Amazon Kindle declared a book for the purposes of airplane takeoff and landing and not an electronic device.
All in all the Amazon Kindle is a life changing device. I can’t imagine living without it. However, I will also eagerly await the next version.