Saturday, December 1, 2007

Kindle Review

I couldn't resist. My wife was threatening to buy another book, so I broke down and let her open up the Amazon Kindle I'd bought her for Christmas.

Nice box! Very bookish. The packaging looks very well thought out. Inside we found the Kindle on one side and the cables (USB and Power adapter). The leatherish cover was wrapped in paper and also included.

There have been several reviews stating that the cover is poorly designed and that the Kindle falls out/off of it easily. I think those reviewers failed to look closely. There is a stretchy strap attached to the back of the cover, and many have shown it being used to hold the Kindle to the cover. If the user manual is examined, you see a picture showing the strap is there to hold the cover closed around the Kindle, and not hold the Kindle itself. The cover has a stiff plastic tab that engages the slight recess in the Kindle back plate. With the Kindle inserted thoroughly this tab prevents it from sliding back out easily. The cover is not really ideal as a way to hold the Kindle while reading it, but is perfect for protecting the Kindle when you're carrying it. I'll give the cover an A.

The Kindle itself was smaller and thinner than I had expected. It fits nicely into the cover and together they make a very easy-to-carry package. Form factor? A.

Setting it up proved very frustrating. As it turns out the wireless service used by the Kindle does not reach into my house very well. The Kindle has to be registered at Amazon, which you can do on the device itself using it's wireless connection. That of course assumes the Kindle can connect. Since my Kindle could not connect well, my initial impression was soured with unexplained freezes and "Cannot connect, try again later" messages. I'd like to point out that I had tried to determine if my house would be within the network service coverage area Kindle uses, and could not. Obviously the network does not reach everywhere. I sent off an angry email to Kindle technical support and went to bed.

It is amazing what a night's sleep can do for technology. This morning I woke up with the suspicion that the computer and cabling nightmare in my office may not have created the best environment for cell phone service reception. I took the Kindle into the living room where very little technology lives, and found that the Kindle would connect.

Within a few minutes I was checking out the "experimental" web browser. There is a basic and an advanced version, and JAVA is supported with the advanced version. Web pages would not load as they would on your computer's browser. The Kindle browser does something with the text on any page it goes to to try and optimize it for it's screen. There are several default bookmarks already listed, and most of them look fairly decent. I'm guessing they were included as defaults primarily because of how well they looked using e-ink.

The Kindle Store is well executed. I'm not much of a book reader or buyer, but it appears that anyone who would be should be happy here.

My wife is the book reader, and she was primarily interested in getting books on the Kindle. Within a few minutes she had found, ordered, and was reading one of two books she had bought. Ecstatic would be an understatement for the joy she was experiencing. The great price of the books impressed here. Although they have been advertising top-selling books for $9.99, there are hundreds of books available for less than that. My wife found a book printed in 2000 for $6.99, that was still $17.99 for the hardcover.

I love the concept, the technology, the product design, the networking. My wife sees immediately how great it is to have several books with her, with the near-instant ability to order and read any new one whenever she feels like it. She bought a new purse solely to have a way to carry her Kindle with her all the time. That purse, of course, has a pocket perfectly sized for a Kindle.

Conclusion? If you have a decent connection, the Kindle is an amazing product. With no or little connection it will become very tedious very quickly. The Kindle concept makes perfect sense to me, and I'm not a book reader. The Kindle itself makes perfect sense to my non-technical wife who IS a book reader. Wife Acceptance Factor (WAF)= 10/10.

I say the Kindle, this version AND the next one, will be/is a success. Get one if you can. If you really love a book reader, you have to.


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