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First Kindle: Chose Touch over the Keyboard (UPDATED: 06/17/2012)
on November 23, 2011
I've had my Touch for almost a day now, and it's pretty awesome. I'm not a big reviewer, but I figured several people may be in a similar position as I was yesterday, so here we go...
I'm definitely an avid reader. Actually, as I type this, I have roughly 1000 books sitting on a wall of shelves behind me. E-readers have always intrigued me, but I've never felt like they were worth $199 or more; however, when the Kindle Fire was announced, I thought they had released the Kindle for me.
I watched video reviews, "hands-on" videos, read numerous reviews, etc. I was pretty sure that I wanted a Fire, but as I thought about it, I wasn't convinced that the Fire really provided me with access to anything that I couldn't do on my phone (HTC Inspire 4g). Other than a bigger screen, the Fire was actually pretty limited (for my purposes). I mean, I would only be able to use the browser and watch videos in areas with WiFi (i.e. at home, at work, or at retail location with WiFi). If I'm at home, I'll probably just watch videos on my tv and access the internet on my desktop or my laptop. At work I'm too busy for the Fire to get much use. And other than the occasional trip to Starbucks (and by occasional, I mean like once a month), I don't really make use of hot spots.
SOO...I decided the Fire didn't really justify the extra money for something I already have access to through my phone, laptop/desktop, or tv. This caused me to run the gambit of reviews for the Kindle Touch and the Kindle Keyboard. Best Buy was advertising the Kindle Keyboard 3G (with ads) for $89, so price wasn't really a distinguishing feature for me. My thoughts:
- Kindle Touch is full-on touchscreen, and based on video reviews, it looked a little laggy
- Kindle Touch will probably drive me nuts with fingerprints/smudges
- Kindle Touch seems like a digress in touchscreen technology (like using a late 90s ATM)
- Kindle Touch doesn't have physical buttons for page turns, which seemed like it would be a negative
- The $99 doesn't have 3G, so I'd be limited to Wifi
- Highlighting and note-taking seems like it would be difficult on a laggy screen
- Looking up words will probably be easier
- Kindle Keyboard has a decent keyboard and physical page turn buttons
- Kindle Keyboard has strong support through reviews (not many people don't love it)
- The Best Buy sale lets you have free 3G for cheap
- Fingerprints/smudges won't be an issue
After considering all of this, I went to Best Buy absolutely intending on buying a Kindle Keyboard. I got there, and of course, they had demo models of both. I figured, "What the heck...might as well make sure I like the Keyboard more."
I played with both for over an hour. I read books, made notes, made highlights, looked up words, went to the menu, back to a book, back to the menu. I went forward through a few pages. I went back through the same pages. I did everything I thought I would normally do while reading. My decision?
- The Kindle Touch touchscreen does have a slight delay, but it's definitely not a late 90s ATM. It's a delay, but just long enough for you to demonstrate a slight bit of patience (and to be honest, if you're an avid reader, patience is probably a virtue you can easily put into practice. There's a reason you're reading a book and not watching a movie.)
- Highlighting/note-taking is actually much more convenient on the Touch. Just press where you want to start, wait a second, drag to where you want to stop, and click highlight. Much easier (in my opinion) than moving the cursor down to where you want to start with the d-pad, clicking enter, dragging the cursor to where you want to stop, and then clicking enter again.
- Note-taking is slightly more convenient on the Keyboard simply because you can just start typing (if you're not overly concerned about the exact line the note is attached to). If you are concerned about the location of your notes, then using the d-pad to move the cursor was not only inconvenient but also uncomfortable (I have pretty big hands, so doing all of this one-handed required me to contort my thumb in a very odd way to use the d-pad).
- I didn't really like the keyboard on the Keyboard. The buttons are very heavy, so you have to give them a decent push to register a keystroke. Also, the qwerty layout is not a true qwerty layout, so beware of that. I had to be very conscious of the keys I was pushing otherwise I ended up with notes like: "The Kimdle keynoard is very mice." VERY ANNOYING (especially if you take a ton of notes...which I do).
- The page turn button on the Keyboard was very annoying. The page turn button on the demo model gave two very audible clicks when I pressed it. The clicks were distracting, taking me "out" of the book after every page.
- After thinking about it, the free 3G wasn't a huge benefit. I could only think of a few scenarios where it would have been useful: 1) I'm somewhere with no WiFi and I've read everything on my Kindle and I'm absolutely going to die unless I read a book right then (which I could easily do on my phone, which DOES have 3G...not free, but it'd resolve this scenario). 2) I'm reading somewhere and I get an urge to share something via Twitter/Facebook. No 3G, no sharey sharey. Yet, again, if I ABSOLUTELY felt the urge to share something, I have a phone in my pocket that is fully capable of accomplishing this task.
Overall, I was almost dumbfounded that I preferred the Touch over the Keyboard. I actually delayed my purchase and took my wife to the store and had her play with both to see if I was just crazy. She agreed: the keyboard on the Keyboard is poorly designed, the clicking is annoying, and the screen on the Touch is actually pretty incredible. (Edit: The clicking page-turn buttons on the Keyboard may be confined to the demo unit I used. I played with another Keyboard at another Best Buy and there was no clicking. Regardless, the tapping/swiping on the Touch is a much more natural movement for me.)
So far, I love my Touch. It will definitely be more convenient than carrying my normal 3-4 books around in my backpack.
For those on the fence, I hope this helped.
UPDATE: Just a few additional notes worth mentioning (notes as of 12/24...my Touch has had a little over a month of use now):
- (This may only apply to those who are thinking of purchasing their first Kindle) While the ability to make notes and highlights directly on the device is very handy, a huge time-saver, and a pretty awesome convenience, the dictionary function is by far one of the more intuitive features. It is incredibly useful to simply touch an unknown word and have the definition pop up. I first noticed the convenience of this option when I literally pushed on an unknown word in a paperback book, an action that was observed by my wife, resulting in: 1) my wife laughing hysterically, 2) me feeling a little ridiculous, and 3) I still didn't known what the word meant. I'm definitely spoiled.
- For those not willing to flip through the additional comments: the ad-supported version is actually pretty useful. I've purchased a few Amazon Local deals and used one Amazon e-book coupon during the course of this month. (As I mentioned in one of my replies, the ads may not be as useful to those who live outside of a major metropolitan area.)
- The battery life is pretty legit. On 12/21, I decided to charge my Kindle for the first time since 11/22. A complete month of fairly heavy use, and I probably had at least a few more days to go, if not a full week, before I really NEEDED to charge it. WiFi was off for the majority of that time, but I'm not too sure why you'd need WiFi on when you're not downloading new content.
- Fingerprints have not been an issue at all. The only slightly negative thing I've noticed with the screen is the occasional hair stuck in the edge of the screen. Nothing major, but it is a little annoying.
- I love my Touch. I use it daily, sometimes for a few hours at a time. I find myself almost loathing reading a hard-copy book, primarily for no other reason than having to hold the book open (Ugh...), and turn the pages (Moan...), and find a bookmark (Groan...).
Maybe I'm just lazy.
Regardless, the Touch is awesome. Probably the best $100 I've spent in a while.
I still love my Touch. I use it a little less now because the novelty of e-ink has subsided a bit, but it still gets a fair amount of use. My Touch is my go-to when I'm reading for "enjoyment." When I'm reading for work, I still prefer paper, pen, highlighters, and sticky-notes.
As far as new features/updates:
- The latest update definitely sped things up. Page turns are almost instant, flipping back to the menu is almost instant, and typing is almost instant. Amazon has included a predictive text feature that I don't find particularly useful, but others may like it (the predictive text has a slight delay, making it faster to just type your words out).
- Highlighting has been improved drastically, both in speed and functionality. Highlighting no longer has a delay; it pretty much highlights what you drag your finger over WHEN you drag your finger over it. Also, they added the ability to highlight across pages (BIG improvement).
- Not an update but...: I wasn't aware that you can email .pdfs to your Kindle email address, and Amazon will convert the .pdf to Kindle format for you. I've used this several times to convert professional journal articles to Kindle format. I haven't noticed any major formatting issues. I've had a few with page headers lumped in with the actual text, but other than that, nothing too distracting has popped out. I would imagine .pdfs with several graphs/charts wouldn't convert very well, but you never know...
- I love having the ability to read samples from books I may find interesting. Most samples are the first chapter of the book, but occasionally you'll get the first two or three chapters. I've found a few really awesome books this way and avoided several bad books.
- The last update made the "Go to..." menu function as a hover menu with an embedded table of contents. Prior to the update, "Table of Contents" was an option on the "Go to..." menu, which meant if you wanted to access the ToC you had to tap the top of the screen, tap "Go to...", tap "Table of Contents", and then you would get sent back to ToC at the beginning of the book (i.e. if you didn't know where you were in the book, you just lost your page). Now the ToC is a scrolling list that "hovers" over what you're reading. This was a minor update that I have found very useful. (However, the ToC hover menu is NOT collapsible, so if a book has a really long ToC, then you could find yourself scrolling for an exhaustively long time to get to chapters toward the end of the book. For example, the ESV Study Bible ToC lists every chapter of every book of the Bible, so if you need to access something in the NT, you get to scroll through a list that includes every chapter (Gen. 1, Gen. 2, Gen. 3, etc.) of every book (Gen., Exo., Lev., etc.). VERY annoying.)
- Landscape mode IS an option now. Not sure if it's only with certain books or not, but it's an option on all of the books I've tried it on (30 books or so).
As I said above, I still love my Touch. The battery life is still amazing, it's definitely more convenient than lugging several books around in my bag, and the screen looks and feels incredible. As more and more libraries seem to be opting toward digital lending, I think e-ink readers will only improve in convenience and versatility.
Still the best $100 I've spent in years.