January 26, 2010

My Kindle 2 review (before the reality distortion field)

Less than a day before Apple is supposed to reveal their new Tablet, I wanted to write my thoughts on the Kindle 2.

I’ve had my Kindle for a month, and it that time it has doubled my volume of reading. Which, by my own measurement, makes it a great device.

The Kindle design is elegant, strong and lightweight. Specially important, the screen quality is newspaper-like, and using it for an hour every night doesn’t tire my eyes at all. The software is also very polished, with almost everything being very self explanatory.

My biggest surprise has been how much I use the New Oxford American Dictionary. This was one of the meh’ features when I was deciding to purchase, but I continually find myself doing quick-checks on words. Many of these I already sort-of knew, but on a few occasions I’ve found historical and geographical references that in the past I would have just overlooked.

Only issue I have with comes from the Location, which is the Kindle’s version of a page number. I understand that with the ability to change the font size, in conjunction to being able to read content in other devices with very different screen sizes, leads to difficulties in having a static page number. Nevertheless, the current implementation which looks like 1239-48, is confusing.

The Amazon Store is pretty good. With an acceptable selection of eBooks that while it doesn’t contain every book I had on my wish-list, it has enough available to keep me busy.

One thing to note about the store, specially if you don’t live in that US, is that prices are extremely competitive. Newer books are cheaper than paperbacks here in Norway, and even if I bought the books from Amazon UK, the final price would be almost the same.

Finally, one of the best things about the Kindle has nothing to do with Amazon. It’s called Instapaper. With this Web app, you can easily save for later any article you find online. I’ve used the iPhone application since it came out and it’s brilliant. On the Kindle, you can download your most recent 20 articles or have them delivered automatically every week.

In conclusion, compared to physical books, the Kindle’s lightness and dictionary take the prize. In regards to the iPhone, where I can compare my use of Instapaper, the screen really makes a big difference for extended reading. But the biggest advantage is the Kindle’s lack of any good use other than reading. When I pick up a Kindle, I read. There is no Twitter, RSS, email, games, etc.

Tomorrow Apple is probably going to tell us why their Tablet should be the one starting point for all media consumption. From TV shows to the internet. In terms of reading, they’ll probably be right for magazines, newspapers, comics and school texts.

But if you want to sit down and quietly read a book, I think the Kindle will still be the best device tomorrow evening.

Review Geek

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