on February 25, 2009
Update May 2013:
I have used my K2 literally every day since getting it over four years ago. It's showing it's age a bit from all that usage and I'm starting to get nervous that one day it's just going to give out on me all of a sudden. I'm so attached to this model that I have recently purchased a used K2 in good condition, instead of buying a new Kindle as a backup. I love having the keyboard and buttons for quick, no-fuss access to things, and I like that the info such as book title, location number, battery status, and wireless status are always displayed on the screen, which isn't true on the models after this one.
If you're not a touch screen fan (like me) or don't have a lot of money to spend, then getting a good condition used K2 on ebay or elsewhere might be the way to go. Kindles of this age might be having battery problems (mine was only holding a charge for a couple days until I got a new battery), but you can purchase replacement battery kits online and replace it yourself. It's relatively simple.
Original review below:
I'm a new Kindle 2 owner and I did not own a Kindle 1. I was very interested in the original Kindle, but had decided to wait for improvements based on customer feedback after it was released, especially the accidental page turning issue. Since it looked like they made the improvements I was waiting for (one of the others was a bit more free space on the case to hold it) I took the plunge and got the new one.
I thought I'd start with listing my reasons for getting the Kindle, since I think that can sometimes help others who are sitting on the fence to decide if it's for them or not.
* Storage. I'm out of shelf space and all the boxes of books do little to add to the ambience of my one bedroom apartment. On the rare occasions I want to read something again trying to find the book in all the boxes is an exercise in frustration.
* eInk technology. I love books and using an electronic gadget isn't the same experience. The new technology has eliminated that concern.
* Convenience. The Whispernet is great for when you need the next book in a series right away or want to stock up on a few before leaving on a trip. Being able to have several books stored in the Kindle to take along instead of having to pack an extra bag just for my books for a week's vacation is a huge benefit.
* Aging. I'm 47 and middle age is starting to catch up with me! Being able to select larger print to avoid having to use my reading glasses (just started needing them this last year) and having a device that's easier on my hands for holding to read is a boon.
* Less waiting for publication. I don't like reading hardbacks because of their size and weight. But it's agonizing to wait for the latest book in a series to finally come out in mass market format. Now I won't have to wait!
* Environment. The majority of books I buy and read I'll only read once. I feel guilty about the trees needed to make the paper and all the other energy used to produce and ship/distribute the books required to satisfy my reading appetite.
* Saving Money. While the cost of the Kindle up front is steep, in the long run it will pay for itself and save me money since I read on average 8 books a month. With the free classics available it's also going to encourage me to expand my reading material, for no additional cost.
My Kindle was one of the ones that shipped without being pre-registered to my account. After I plugged it in to my USB hub on my computer to charge the battery (the charging cord design is very clever!) I read through the introductory portion of the user guide which told me how to register the Kindle. I followed the instructions and a couple minutes later I was all set!
I thought it would be fitting to christen my Kindle with the Stephen King novella UR, so went to the Amazon site on my computer and clicked on the button to buy it. As soon as I'd clicked the button to confirm my order it appeared on my Kindle almost immediately! I read it while the Kindle finished charging.
When people say the Kindle is sleek they ain't kidding. Everything is very nicely laid out and it just feels and looks cool!
After reading through the introductory guide that loads up automatically at the start and following along it took me almost no time to learn which buttons are where and what each of them do. The intro guide is plenty to get started and I haven't felt a need to work my way through the more detailed guide.
The 5-way controller is teensy! I was a bit taken aback at first by this. Though after a bit of practice it's surprisingly easy to use. For people who have dexterity issues it could be a potential stumbling block. If that's you I'd recommend seeing if you can find someone with a Kindle 2 to try it out for yourself first to see how it works for you.
Being able to change the font sizes is awesome! It's done on the fly with just a couple button clicks.
When starting to read for real for the first time I was VERY aware that I was reading on an electronic gadget and was a bit disappointed that it didn't immediately "disappear" as per the advertising. However, it really didn't take too long for that feeling to lessen. I imagine once the Kindle is no longer my exciting new toy and is just what I use to read books that I'll have completely lost the gadget awareness thing.
It took very little time to get used to having to push a button to turn pages and the screen flash as they turn only really startled me the first few times. I can see how it might bother some people, but it was a non-issue for me almost right away. The page turns are very fast.
The Kindle design allows for holding it in several different comfortable positions with either hand. Normally when reading books I only like holding them in my left hand and during a long reading session it often starts to get uncomfortable, or even painful. I found myself easily switching my Kindle off between hands and into different positions in each hand without even really noticing I was doing it.
I ordered the Amazon case and am quite pleased with it. It's fairly sturdy, looks and feels well-made, and the design is perfect for how I'll likely be using the Kindle most of the time.
Unlike a lot of people in these reviews I think having the case as a separate purchase right from the start was a good move by Amazon. If a case was included, as with the Kindle 1, that would have been reflected in a higher price. But I'd imagine that probably 50% or more buyers end up buying a different case they like better, which means you end up paying for two cases. The way it's been done with Kindle 2 means you can pick which case you want right from the start and only pay once.
Overall I'm thrilled to finally be part of the Kindle community and expect to be spending many, many, many pleasant hours absorbed in books on my new best friend. Kindle me, baby!
I feel a bit guilty adding more to an already long review, but felt that since I've now had the Kindle for almost a full month it would be appropriate. I'm completely in love with my Kindle!
Like pretty much everyone else I feel that the Kindle 2 is in dire need of a user customizable folder system for organizing books. That's the biggest negative for me so far.
The dictionary function is absolutely fantastic and now that I'm accustomed to having it I found it's frustrating to be reading a paper book and not be able to use it!
I didn't think I'd be using the highlight and note features much or at all but actually have been and they're an extremely nice extra. People in book discussion groups would find these to be a huge benefit.
The search function is also surprisingly useful for a wide variety of uses.
I've definitely lost the gadget awareness thing. This is just how I read most books now.
One of the unexpected great things is not having to deal with my bookmark falling out and having to find my place again. Or being able to just set the reader down for a couple minutes without bookmarking or losing my place because I bumped the book and it closed. It's little things like this that really elevate the reading experience.
Yes I'm back to add even more! I can honestly say the Kindle is one of the best purchases I have ever made. I haven't read a paper book in over a year.
The reason for this update is because I now have the 2.5 software upgrade and wanted to comment on it.
As I mentioned previously, the Kindle was in dire need of a way to organize books and documents. We now have it in the form of Collections, which is a tagging system. I think it could have been implemented a bit better, but I don't know what sorts of constraints the designers are under. Even with its limitations it's still a HUGE improvement to the Kindle and corrected the one glaring flaw it had.
The Collections are all managed on the Kindle, no computer or software needed. It's very easy to create (or delete or rename) collections and to move books between them. You can name them whatever you like, have as few or many as you like (or none at all if you don't want them). Books can be put into more than one Collection. You can't make nested or sub-collections. Your collection info is backed up on the Amazon server just like the rest of your book info, such as last page read.
Other features added (all of them are optional):
Password. This is most useful for those who want to keep confidential documents on the Kindle. The password has to be entered to return from sleep mode or to access the Kindle from a computer. That's a bit of a hassle for reading at home, but provides excellent protection when traveling or for other uses.
Social networks. You can now send passages you have highlighted in a book you're reading to your Facebook account or Twitter. (I don't use either of those services, but some who use the feature say it's pretty neat.)
Larger fonts. Two new font sizes were added (for a total of 8). They are Humongous and Gargantuan (my terms). For anyone who has failing eyesight and is in need of text that large I'd recommend getting a DX for the larger screen. On the largest font size on my small Kindle there are only 5-8 words on the entire screen. Yeah, it's that big!
Sharper font display. My Kindle has always had a pretty good display and I never had the problems that some units did with greyish text or lack of contrast. I can discern a small difference though and it's definitely an improvement, most noticeable on the middle font sizes.
PDF Zoom & Scan. To make reading PDFs with teensy print or images easier you can now zoom in and pan around PDF pages. I don't use PDFs so can't report first hand. Others say that while the feature is helpful and a big improvement, it can still be frustrating to try and use PDFs on the Kindle natively.
International browser access. Kindle owners in many other countries report that they now have access to unlimited internet browser use. International users up til now have had no internet access, or only wikipedia access. Amazon never announced this as an added feature, but many of the country information pages have changed, so it must be an intended benefit. Great news for our international Kindle friends!
on February 25, 2009
On the one hand I love my Kindle 1... I use it everyday, I subscribe to my favorite newspaper, I mark up my books with annotations, highlights and bookmarks.
On the other hand my Kindle 1 annoys me... unintended page changes, the awkward way I sometimes have to hold it to keep from hitting buttons, the sometimes slow page refresh, and the screen freezes that now has me traveling with a paper clip lest I need to do a reset while commuting on the train.
I've had the Kindle 2 in my hands for almost a day and have carried it on one commute. What follows is my "first impressions" review of the Kindle 2 from the perspective of an owner of the original K1. What's different, what's better and what's worse?
5 big things I immediately noticed as different:
First, when taking the K2 out of the box I immediately noted that the back cover is not easily removable (if at all) and won't slip off in my hands - as was frequent with the K1. The keyboard is also much much smaller and less obtrusive.
The second thing I noticed is power management. No longer do I have to press and hold two buttons to put the device to sleep. The switches for On/Off and Wireless On/Off are gone. There's a single small switch at the top of the K2 that handles Sleep.
The third thing I noticed - where's the silver strip? In fact, the entire navigation structure has been completely revised - I'm still getting used to it but it's a huge step forward. The silver strip has been replaced by a 4-way rocker that can also be pressed for "OK" commands, creating bookmarks, and doing highlighting.
The fourth thing I noticed - while page changing doesn't seem to me to be particularly faster - almost every other interaction on the screen is vastly accelerated... scrolling the cursor, looking up words, highlighting text, and typing text.
The fifth thing I noticed - a new power cable. This unit uses USB cables that are not compatible with K1. It's a bit of a bummer since I was hoping my wife and I could share power cables (she's taking over my K1).
Navigation is a huge improvement. Moving the cursor to a word and having the definition of the word immediately pop up on the bottom of the screen is terrific. Using the rocker to move between articles in a newspaper makes scanning the paper much faster and enjoyable. Calling up the Menu strip is much faster and interactive. Clearly, Amazon was hard at work to make navigation quicker and easier. The hard work is apparent.
Buttons: The K1 was a constant struggle with inadvertent page changes. The design was flawed from the beginning. The single best improvement in the K2 took a few minutes of concentrated reading to realize... the button hinges are on the outside - at the edge - of the K2. You need to press on the interior of the button to get it to click. This change alone has saved me from several inadvertent page changes. Combine that with the smaller button sizes and one major source of frustration has been instantly eliminated!
Size: The K2 is thinner than the iPhone. It feels denser and maybe a tad heavier - although I did buy the premium cover which snaps into the K2 and adds to the weight (btw, I love the premium cover and think it's worth the investment).
Network Speed: The K2 can use G3 cellphone connections and when it's activated it makes a considerable difference in interactivity to the Kindle Store and when downloading Archived content.
Power Management: The little power button at the top of the Kindle is really a power slide. That is, slide it to toggle Sleep mode on and off. Slide and hold to do a full power down. And the K1's wireless on-off switch has been replaced by a menu choice in software. Works for me. Also, compared to the K1 waking from sleep is super-fast.
There isn't much I liked better in the K1 than the K2. One thing: calling up clippings and notes. In the K2 these items only list the first sentence or two of my highlights. In the K1 it displays the entire highlight - which makes reading through them much easier and more like reading Cliff Notes. The new interface in K2 is annoying and makes the feature much less useful. I'll be writing to Amazon to see if we can get that changed.
The K2 is a big refinement over the K1. It feels as easy to read as the K1 but doesn't seem any crisper to my eyes (I usually read at point sizes 3 & 4). In this regard, as a book, the K1 and K2 are comparable. I wouldn't run up my credit card to buy the K2 from a belief that it's fundamentally easier to read. However, in my short time with the K2 it's a more enjoyable device to use. The change in the hinging and size of the buttons is major plus and would make it hard to go back to the K1. Amazon broke a few paradigms that K1 users are accustomed to and I found myself going to the K2 User Guide to figure out some content management issues that have been changed in this release.
Why 4 stars and not 5? The Kindle will never get 5 stars from me until Amazon implements the notion of a lending library where I can lend another Kindle user a book; which would have the book would disappear from my Kindle and appear on theirs. After x number of days the book would automatically be returned to me and taken off the other person's Kindle. Amazon says they want the device to disappear and content to stand out. I say: Until I can lend a friend a book the Kindle will never quite live up to that standard and will be, in my book, stuck at 4 stars.
on May 6, 2009
I am not a gadget girl. I am not an early adopter. I am a dinosaur. I am in love with books. I like the feel of them, the smell of them, and I am a passionate supporter of independent booksellers. I am the last person in the world who would buy a Kindle. However, Amazon likes me. They gave me a Kindle 2 as a reward for services rendered. Well, who would turn that down?
Here's the shocker... I LOVE it! I can't even believe how much I love my Kindle. A friend of mine wrote a detailed critique of the first Kindle, and I have to say that the new design is a vast improvement. Aside from being slimmer and sleeker, there are plenty of places to hold the device comfortably without activating any functions. The screen is easy to read off of, and I honestly believe that I can read faster on a Kindle than I do with a traditional book. I'm not sure why. Faster page turns? What I can tell you is that it's exceedingly comfortable and easy to read off the Kindle anywhere, but especially when you have limited space--like on public transportation. You can easily hold the Kindle and turn pages with a single hand.
The Kindle has several features that could best be described as... cool. My eyesight is fine, but I can choose the font size that suits me best. Likewise, I love the text-to-speech feature. A big frustration in my life is that I can't work on my embroidery (I'm a dinosaur, remember?) and read at the same time. Now, I can have the Kindle read to me while I stitch. Yes, it's sort of tinny and mechanical, but it's still a really nice option to use occasionally. In addition to reading published books, I read a lot of unpublished manuscripts. It's not uncommon to see me schlepping around 600 pages of loosely bound paper. The other day I had the amazing experience of forwarding an email with a manuscript attached to my dedicated Kindle address. Within seconds, the entire MS was in my Kindle, formatted and ready to go. Amazing! I can even make notes on the MS in the machine.
However, possibly the best thing about the Kindle is the fact that I can get internet access for free, almost anywhere. I use it to check my email all the time now. I wouldn't want to write a novel on the keyboard, but it's sufficient for brief communications. Now when I go away for the weekend, I can leave my laptop at home! It also works fine for basic internet surfing.
One last thing I was unaware of is how much free or nominally-priced content there is for the Kindle. I've got plenty to read, and I haven't purchased one $9.99 book yet. My first Kindle "purchases" were all free public domain titles. Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle--how can you do better than that? I also read the Kindle Daily Post in the Kindle store religiously. You never know when you'll be offered free content like a back-listed Lee Child novel or some contemporary fantasy. Other authors such as Boyd Morrison and J.A. Konrath are offering novels at prices ranging from $1 to $2 dollars, as a way to find new readers. One more favorite is the free Amazon Daily blog, which is like a fun, timely magazine with short articles that update constantly. The perfect entertainment for brief snatches of time.
No, I never would have bought a Kindle. And "real" books will still be a big part of my life, but I will never be without a Kindle again. This dinosaur is evolving.
on March 14, 2009
I was DELIGHTED to upgrade my Kindle 1 to K2...until I got down to using it every day.
Having invested HEAVILY in Amazon Kindle content, I looked forward to the new and improved version! I really wanted to love this device just as much, if not more, than my original purchase! It was to be my "backup insurance" and "protect my investment" in Amazon content for the device. I expected and looked forward to everything Amazon said this device would be.
Out of the box, and on the surface, big cosmetic changes for the better. Once I began using it, however, my experience became more and more frustrating.
1. I have a tremendous volume of Kindle content (public domain and Amazon). I discovered that I could not directly transfer from my computer backup for Kindle 1 to the new K2 (why my backup is on the computer is addressed later in this review). All my content had to be reformatted by Amazon and re-downloaded from their site specifically for and to the Kindle 2 (I am NOT in a Whispernet area). Major pain. Major time-investment. Major inconvenience. Major turn-off. Have you guys ever heard of "bulk-download" capability, or choose many files at once for copy to a new device??? Guess not.
2. All of my previous issues of magazines and newspapers were lost (ie, I could not re-download them specifically for the K2) because Amazon does not back up subscriptions on their server for more than 6 days. SINCE I PAID FOR THE CONTENT, I SHOULD BE ABLE TO HAVE THAT CONTENT ALWAYS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD. Sorry, but I won't consider buying any more newspapaers or magazine subscriptions to the Kindle 1 or 2. Several (Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest) are less expensive online (with print edition also included) and have ALL content (not MIA content pictures, charts, quotes, etc).
3. Several books I purchased read "Kindle 2" in the title, but were Kindle 1 books with a new title page. OOPS!
4. Although Amazon says it keeps you content on their server, I found many instances where I could not download my books to my computer because the item THAT I PAID FOR was not available for download to my new Kindle2. Amazon said the book had been "pulled." Excuse me, but I paid for it, pulled or not, it should always be avaiable to me since I paid for it. When I asked for a refund for the pulled item now unavailable to me, SINCE I COULD NOT GET THE ITEM REDOWNLOADED, I was told that a refund was not possible. LESSON LEARNED: I now back up ALL my Kindle content on my computer. Since Amazon says "Don't worry, your content is safe with us." I respectfully disagree. Also, some authors issued new versions of their books for K2. However, then the original version for K1 "disappeared" from the server so I could not even download it to K2, nor K1. Same filename, so if I had been in a Whispernet area, the original would have been completely overwritten without my realizing it! Imagine, I bought a K2 Users Guide in May 2008, before it come off the engineers drafting table, instead of in February 2009!
5. The "Jump-ahead" and "Jump-back" feature (so convenient in Kindle 1, expecially in those instances where a Table of Contents does not exist and/or does not work--too often, I am afraid, in Kindle content) is not a feature in the K2 due to publisher formatting issues for the Kindle 2. Except for the User Guide that comes pre-installed on the device, it works fine in that document! After you have paged tru a 500-page book one-page-at-a-time to get from Chapter 2 to Chapter 15, see how excited you are about a low battery and all the time it took to get there!
6. The "Table of Contents" in many books is non-functional, frustrating in a 500 page book that you cannot "jump ahead" to Chapter 15 from Chapter 2. I reapeat this because of the level of angst it created in me for a device that was supposed to be "new and improved." See the above issue as well!!
7. The Text-to-Speech feature just got put in limbo by the Authors Guild, so Amazon had to agree to let the publishers decide if this feature would be "enabled," or not, for a particular book. Leads me to think they may be forced to forgo this "experimental" feature in the future...hmmm!!!
8. No way to choose left or right justification in the print of a book (like in K1). You get what you get. I, for one, find fully-justified text distracting. I prefer left-justified text. Publishers control this with their formatting. Please take note that it is not a negotiable issue in the K2.
9. Content storage: NO SD CARD, NO SD CARD, NO SD CARD!!! With all my content (re-downloaded) on the Kindle 2, I had used 3/4 of the "expansive," yet limited (in my case) storage available on K2. Couple that with the trouble I had downloading my content from Amazon.com (again, no Whispernet available), and I was more than a little angry.
10. NO USER REPLACEABLE BATTERY--Unless you buy the extended warranty for $65. After 1 year you pay $80 plus shipping to send the device to Amazon and have the Kindle REPLACED, not the battery changed out (per Amazon Kindle Customer Service). I guess you then get the added "priviledge" of re-downloading all your amazon Kindle content manually!!
11. The 2-year extended warranty really isn't for 2 years after the original 1 year warranty ends (like most places offering extended warranties in addition to the factory warranty). This one REPLACES the Amazon 1 year warranty, so you get 2 years, period.
12. NO FOLDERS OR OTHER WAY TO SORT CONTENT ACCORDING TO GENRE. I use SD cards for this on Kindle 1. No way on Kindle 2. So, if you have a large volume of content, too bad, so sad, you have to wade thru it all (if you, like me, have learned not to trust Amazon with your purchased content).
13. Display screen: the white is really GREY, and to avoid considerable eye-strain I had to refresh pages (using ALT-G) every other page. Also, in the sunlight (outside), the screen washes out, making it impossible to read. If you are over 40, have cataracts, or otherwise don't have the vision of a 20-year old, have fun squinting (even with large fonts)!
14. Home Screen: For whatever reason, Amazon decided to make the Font on the Home Screen (much) harder to read (much less bold) than on the K1. Also, if you select a book, the full title does not appear (as it does with K1). On Kindle 2, if the book has a long title, you must push the 5-way selector to the right to get the rest of the title.
15. PRICE! NO INCLUDED COVER! NO DISCOUNT FOR EARLY ADOPTERS. See SonyStyle.com for details. They allow a trade-in and $100 discount to buy their newest reader if you have the previous version. Too bad they don't have Amazon's content!
LASTLY--Amazon--I SENT MY KINDLE 2 BACK AND WILL WAIT FOR KINDLE 3. Meanwhile, I am buying a used Kindle 1 to protect my content investment with your company. Sorry, I think you laid an expensive egg that couldn't hatch and refuses to fly. My ugly duckling (K1) will wait for K3 (what I hope will be a swann).
on February 24, 2009
Update: June, 26, 2010
I've been using a the iPad 3G for a couple months now and here is my perspective on Kindle vs. iPad for prospective buyers.
- The iPad is definitely slicker and cooler looking, with a wide range of applications and customization that has infinite possibilities (like color)
- As a primary reading device, the Kindle is still better...it is light in your hands so you can hold it without getting tired (it's often hard to find a comfortable position with the iPad due to its weight and balance), Kindle's screen is gentle on the eyes for long periods of reading time (you don't have to worry about changing the brightness of an LCD screen which requires exiting an application and going to the settings menu on the iPad), and the real life buttons are simple and easy for reading (close to the edge of the device, and you know when you've clicked something)
- Since Kindle's content is loaded directly onto the device memory, you don't have to have a live internet connection for it to work. I find it very frustrating that many of the applications on the iPad require an active internet connection just to work (e.g. news, streaming music/video, magazines). That said, for the eBook applications (Kindle, iBooks) content is saved onto the iPad
- If you have both devices, you can sync between them without repurchasing content. One of my favorite features is the "sync to last page read" which takes you to the last page you read across all devices on your account. The Kindle app for iPad is pretty simple, though I would like to see some additional features (e.g., adjust screen brightness within the application, ability to better manage content like deleting books from iPad memory, ability to buy and access periodicals, being able to shop for books within the application)
- With the recent Kindle price drop, it is significantly more affordable than the iPad. You also don't need to pay for cellular service for the Kindle, though you can't do any complex internet activities on it either--just shopping for books
- On the subject of content, I will have to defer to others. I'm pretty happy with what is available via the Amazon Kindle store, but it has its limitations
- There is so much more that is possible for books to be with these new platforms (like greater interactivity and using graphics more creatively), but today neither device fully showcases them
All in all, I see the iPad as a multi-functional personalized mini-computer that can do a lot of whiz-bang things--downloading and reading books is just one those things. If you are interested primarily in reading, the Kindle is still better in terms of functionality and price.
As one of the original Kindle's biggest fans and an owner for over a year, I can speak to the Kindle from two perspectives--the benefits of owning a Kindle, and Kindle 2 improvements (as I've now had it for half a day)
The benefits of owning a Kindle (these do not change)
- Absolutely, Jeff Bezos is right that the Kindle 'disappears' as you read it...as I read other reviews (and non-user critiques) about the Kindle, this point is often lost. Once you have the Kindle in your hands, you forget everything and become immersed in the content of what you're reading. Isn't that really the whole point?
- I read more now that I have my Kindle, 10 years out of college than I did when I was in school, and I really enjoy it. Books look a lot less intimidating when they aren't sitting on your bookshelf and 3 inches thick. I recently finished Team of Rivals, and I am sure that if I had to read it in book form, I would never have gotten through it because it would have felt so intimidating.
- Heft and weight is a complete non-issue with the Kindle. I like to read in odd positions (in bed, on the couch, on a plane, poolside, shifting around in a lounge chair) and I've always had trouble with real books because unless you are in the absolute middle of the book, it always is weighted to one side or another and frankly, my arm and pinkie finger gets tired holding it up. The Kindle is balanced and portable, and entirely usable in any situation.
- I can be in the middle of a lot of different books at once...not much more to say here. You never run out of space on the Kindle, and though it may be a little bit hard to maneuver around a lot of books in your library, it's still better to have access to all your books at any time.
- I now read newspapers. I always found physical newspapers to be clumsy and take up too much space to actually subscribe to. They are great for short content pieces, but terrible for reading in transit because the pages are so big. I also read some articles on my BlackBerry, but find myself scrolling a lot and waiting a long time for page loads. On the Kindle, you have wireless delivery, easy navigation, no ads, no need to flip to page D17 and find the place where you left off. You also have a searchable/annoted/bookmarked archive of all your newspaper articles if you ever need to find something again.
- All of these things can probably be accomplished with any eBook reader. The difference with the Kindle is that you have wireless delivery of content. This means, literally, that I can be sitting on the plane, start talking about what good books the guy sitting next to me has read recently, look it up on my Kindle, read the reviews and download it before the rest of the passengers have boarded and the plane doors close. This has happened.
- My biggest complaint, which I'm sure will be addressed in due course is that the entire wireless benefit does not exist outside of the US. I have taken my Kindle to Canada, Mexico and China, and I found that I had to (gasp), decide what I wanted to have on my Kindle before I left the US. Foreign language support would also be a plus, but again, I see why this might come later.
Now, onto improvements with the Kindle 2
- There are the obvious ones: sleeker look and feel (it feels solid in your hands), sharper screen, no longer accidentally depressing the next page button by accident and having to find your place in the book again...you can read about these from various sources)
- The 5-way button, though a bit small, allows you to select left and right, and not just up and down like the original version. This is very helpful when you want to select and highlight.
- There are now two layers of interaction...before when you were reading a paper, you could only go back to the previous screen to select the next article. Now, there is an option at the bottom of the screen to skip to the next article when you tire of the current one.
- Page loads are much faster. I can feel that the delay between pages is much less. Only issue is I need to recalibrate now--in general, I try to anticipate how much time it will take the next page to load, and when I'm two lines from the bottom, I would hit the next page button. Now I need to push the button later.
- Text to speech is cloogey, but fun. I'm not sure how useful this will end up being. I tried to have the voice read the user's manual to me and it paused at commas and periods, but skipped right over hard returns. It also scrolled the page as it was reading, so if you are trying learn English and don't mind developing a metallic accent, it could really help. :-) You can also choose, male/female and speed. I think this could be a nice feature, though probably won't be using it all the time.
- Managing your books is much easier. It's easy to see what is in your archive and re-download onto the Kindle. Also easy to delete and manage your books. That 5-way button is magical...though a bit unintuitive--you need to train yourself to think that there might be something useful if you scroll to the right.
- Dictionary is improved. Now you can highlight a word and it automatically gives you a definition at the bottom of the screen. It also lets you look up words (that are not in the text), which is an improvement since the last version.
I'm sure there are still a bunch of things that I haven't yet discovered about the Kindle 2. I don't really bookmark/annotate/highlight that much, but for those who do, I think this has also been improved upon.
Overall, the Kindle is an amazing product. It did the basics well in the original model, the Kindle 2 has improved on a lot of dimensions, and I look forward to seeing what new bells and whistles are still to come.
If you are considering buying one, and need to see before you order, find someone in your city who has one and can show you. There is now a special board for this on Amazon. Kindle owners (at least this one), are always happy to talk about it, and you will be delighted with the screen and the possibilities in such a compact package.
on March 27, 2009
For about 7 days, I owned both the Kindle 2 and Sony PRS-505 and was able to use and compare them. My intention was to buy and love the Kindle. I only purchased the PRS-505 after owning the Kindle for a few days and finding that it was not suiting my needs. Luckily I found a local store that carried the PRS 505 with a 30 day return policy (same as the Kindle).
I fell out of love with the Kindle because the gray text on gray background was actually quite distracting to me and I could not focus on reading. I found myself constantly changing the angle of the body, changing the font size up and down and the distance away from me. The resolution and reading experience with the PRS 505 was perfect and I loved it. But I was reluctant to return the Kindle because of the dictionary support, search feature, note taking capabilities, ease of turning pages, bookmarking and returning to book location. I found a huge benefit in being able to download book samples from Amazon; I was able to find many books I really would like to purchase and some...not so much. I tried out the free 14 day trial on newspaper downloads, what a great way to get your news- no advertising distractions, easy to navigate and automatically downloaded every day.
After a while though, I started to dislike the plastic body of the Kindle and the plastic creaking sound when turning pages. The WHITE color starting bothering me too. I don't want a 1" white border around my reading area. The Sony is much smaller, the reading area is dominant and the body is more solid. Once I got used to it, the navigation was easy too. The actual reading area (screen) is about the same in both readers...Sony might be slightly taller.
My choice to keep the Sony PRS-505 was based on the main purpose of a book reader, which is to read. I don't need or want regular internet access on my book reader. I am already used to downloading files to my gadgets from my computer, so moving books from the PC to the reader is not a big deal. Now that I have many books downloaded, how often am I going to get a new book?
Either book reader can be used with Calibre software (free, but you can donate) to download daily news feeds (worldwide newspapers) and format documents for your reader. So, I can still get news on the Sony and they have RSS feeds available from the Sony site which I have not downloaded yet. One reason I was hesitant to go with the Sony was because it is not their latest model, so I thought it would be dated. That is not the case, and in fact the newer model, the PRS -700, does not have the screen clarity due to an extra layer of plastic to allow for touch-screen. Not worth the upgrade considering it still does not have dictionary support (but you can search and take notes). I'll wait until the newest Sony (or Kindle) takes care of some of these drawbacks and for now I am perfectly happy with the Sony PRS-505.
Kindle loses points for:
1) text contrast (the deal breaker)
2) creaky, plastic.
3) size. (although if I had not compared it to Sony, it would have been fine)
4) No directory organization for books - no hierarchy. This is minor, because you can save all your books at Amazon.com and load and unload them as you please. You don't have to have 300 books all downloaded, at all times.
5) charging $30 for an accessory (cover) that is really needed for the product.
6) headphone jack at top of unit? where should the cord go?
7) Amount of time you have to hold the `off' switch before powers down.
Kindle gets points for:
1. Dictionary support. Great feature.
2. book samples
3. Ease of downloading, and the integration with Amazon.com for shopping.
4. Search. Yea! Awesome feature.
5. Note taking ability.
6. easy free download of classic books.
7. E book pricing is low....most are $10 or less
Sony gets points for:
1. Compact size and sturdy - well made.
2. No frills face, easy to focus on reading only.
3. hierarchy of books, alphabetical sections (e.g. by author A-D).
4. lower overall price, with nice leather cover.
5. headphone jack at bottom of unit.
6. Easy to read, great resolution.
Sony loses points for:
1. The Sony store is cumbersome to navigate, and slow.
2. Fewer book choices. (100K vs 240K)
3. No availability of sample books
4. `100 free classic' books offer: getting these books downloaded and into e-reader was frustrating - too time consuming, and the books are already free on Amazon. (offer expires 3/31/09).
5. Books cost more - about $2 more, sometimes $3 or $4 more than Amazon.
6. Is charged by USB to PC, not a wall charger. A charger is an extra $30. I don't think I'll need one, when am I ever away from a computer...never.
on May 23, 2009
First, everything about the Kindle is quite true. Its readability and convenience is outstanding. I have read several books if the last few weeks because of its features. I was an avid reader but increasing age has made printed books more of a challenge, but the Kindle with its varying font size and very light weight has made reading fun again.
However I am currently on a road trip. The Kindle was in a leather case and inside a padded pocket of my Apple laptop case. On the third evening the Kindle was totally non responsive, just strange lines on the screen. Amazon support says the symptoms indicate screen impact damage which is not covered by warranty. The case was not dropped nor was anything stacked on it.
The dramatic video of the Kindle being dropped 30 inches is now somewhat suspicious.
Amazon will replace for $200 and return of the failed unit, but I am now very concerned about its apparent fragility and Amazon's failure of responsibility for an expensive device.
on March 13, 2009
I've had my Kindle 2 since 2/24 and I loved it at first.
Today is the first day when we have had bright sunshine, so I took the Kindle out in the sun and was dismayed to see that the text (particularly near the center of the screen) faded within seconds. Alt-G refresh of the screen restored the text temporarily but further sun exposure resulted in screen fading. This is not a problem with the Kindle 1.
Ever since I got the Kindle 2, its text has been lighter than my K1, but not so much that I couldn't tolerate it The fading in sunlight makes the text virtually unreadable.
I contacted customer support (and mind you I have the extended warranty that allegedly give you advance replacement) and was told that A REPLACEMENT WOULD NOT FIX EITHER OF THE PROBLEMS and that what I should do if I were dissatisfied is simply return the Kindle 2 and all the accessories I ordered for it.
Needless to say, I am a very unhappy camper. If replacing my current K2 will not fix the problem, then that means that
a) they have not identified the source of the problem and
b) that any K2 currently purchased will have a similarly defective screen.
My advice: STAY AWAY FROM THE KINDLE 2 at least until Amazon acknowledges there is a problem and provides a fix. For me, I plan to stay away from the Kindle 2 forever.
Thank heavens I didn't sell my Kindle 1!!
ADDENDUM: Following the events above, I sent feedback to Amazon about how dissatisfied I was with Customer Support. The next day I did get a call back from someone else in Kindle support who agreed to send a replacement Kindle 2 out ASAP. It should arrive Tuesday and I will post followup once I have a chance to check it out in bright sun. FWIW, however, I have decided to hang onto my K1 just in case.
ADDENDUM 2: After two replacements, I finally got a K2 that does reasonably well in terms of the darkness of the text and one on which the text does not fade in the sun. I say "reasonably well" because the text is still noticeably lighter than the text on my K1.
Despite the lighter text, I prefer the K2 for its thinness and its improved navigation and I use if far more than my K1.
on March 22, 2009
There were many reasons I decided to purchase a Kindle - my hands ache when holding a book open, I get headaches from reading stuff on the computer, I wanted something I could throw in a bag and take anywhere, and it holds so many items that I don't have to carry three or four novels with me in case I'm bored or finish one. Nothing could prepare me for the actuality that is Kindle. It integrated seamlessly into my life. If I'm at the desk, it's beside me; if I'm in the bedroom, it's on the nightstand; I even take the silly thing to the john. It's so much easier than a book.
I expected it to be a little awkward at first, but it really *does* get lost in your hands. Suddenly, you look down after a couple of hours of reading, and realize you've been holding it all along and forgotten all about it. I expected to read novels and blogs on it. I never expected to be able to download all the .pdf technical manuals that I constantly have to weed through on the computer. I work effortlessly now, looking at the computer, working through a segment, picking up the Kindle, searching for what I need in the manual, even highlighting it, or putting a note in the manual about how well it works.
Note taking is my big thing. When I'm looking at a book, I always find note-taking to be an instinct I have to avoid. I see it as a destructive process. I don't want to ruin my books. Further, who can really concentrate on what they're reading with a pen in their hand? It's two different mindsets. Yet, with Kindle, I do just that. I read a segment, I find a passage, I underline it. I have an opinion, I drop in a note. A question equals another note. When I don't understand something, the dictionary is right at the bottom of the screen to define the word or teach me how to pronounce it; or I can surf to the web and find exactly what I need.
It's so much better than surfing the web on my phone - and far more practical. For one thing, there's no charge except battery power (no pun intended!). For another, all of my research is in one place. The book, notes, websites and highlights are all together - as they should be.
I know a lot of people complain that it should have a bright screen so that you can read it at night, or that it should have color. I say - nay! The main *strength* of Kindle is that it reads *exactly* like a book. No eye strain. No having to turn away every few minutes to relax your eyes; or ending a session of reading with a headache. No "hot lap" or mousing around to find the right page. It's just like a book. You hold it, you turn the page, it's effortless, you forget it's there. Only what you're reading matters, and that's exactly how it should be.
on February 26, 2009
As I type this message there are 263 Kindle 2 reviews on Amazon's web site. Why bother with another? I'm not one inclined to writing reviews but I do examine them carefully before I make a significant purchase, here on Amazon.com and on other seller web sites. So on the chance that I might say something that helps a potential buyer make up their mind, particularly someone who has not owned the first Kindle, this is my small effort to give back to the process.
First of all, I loved Kindle 1 although I noted several shortcomings due primarily to the design of the hardware. I'm glad to learn that every shortcoming(except one) has been fixed beyond my expectations. When I received my Kindle 2 yesterday, I eagerly removed it from the shipping container, plugged it in and began to download my library. As I did I marveled at the new Kindle's fresh, sleek design. It is a beauty!
The main issue I had with Kindle 1 was the navigation button design and placement. My original thought was that I wanted to use my Kindle 1 without a cover but I quickly learned that doing so wasn't practical. I like to read holding the Kindle with one hand and it just didn't work well because I kept bumping the next, previous and back buttons. So I began to use the cover it came with so I could hold the Kindle by the cover, only to learn that this cover did not keep the device securely in place very well. So I bought an m-edge cover, which is bulkier and the front does not fold back easily. I was stuck reading using two hands and I didn't like that at all.
Kindle 2 solves all these problems. I'm not going to bother with a cover at all now. I love the way it feels in my hand without a cover. It is easy to navigate without any risk of accidentally changing the page I'm on. I will probably buy a Belkin sleeve to protect it when I take it out but that's all. Now my reading experience is complete! [Note added 3/5/09: instead of buying a Belkin sleeve, I did made my own protector. See the discussin thread and photos here: [...]
The Kindle 2's redesigned features are fantastic. The display is better and the 5-way button is a major improvement. I do a lot of highlighting and this design fix is huge. Looking up words is much easier and many times faster. One improved feature I haven't notice any comment on is the progress bar at the bottom of each book page. Now it shows the total number of locations and the percent already read. This is so much better than the old way of determining how far I'm into a book. Thank you, design team!
The fact that Kindle 2 has no SD card capability and the battery is not user-serviceable is not an issue with me. Even with a few hundred books in my library, it will be a long time before the 2 gig memory starts to be a limiting factor and when it does (if it does) I'll just archive what I've already read. Amazon's design team has made it simple to pull archived books back to the Kindle 2 without having to go to a computer.
The only item on my wish list that was not addressed in Kindle 2 is the lack of an improved file storage system. It would have been nice to have that but it doesn't take away from my enjoyment. [Note added 3/5/09: Bufo Calvo came up with an inovative method of catagorizing books on Kindle that works great so this item is no longer on my wish list. [...]
Page turns are significantly faster and the page reloads are less intrusive to the reading experience. On/off buttons are repositioned to be easily accessible. The home page is easier to navigate. There are other improvements that many others have already noted so I'm going to stop here without repeating everything that's been said already. But the biggest thing about Kindle (both 1 and 2) is the Amazon store and how simple it is to browse and buy books from. I'm so impressed with the way they have seamlessly brought the store together with the reading device via Whispernet to make the digital reading experience such a wonderful thing to enjoy.