47,527 of 48,361 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2007
This is less a "pros and cons" review than a hopefully useful commentary about the Kindle compared with other eReaders and what it means for the eBook industry. (I believe that everything has changed with the Kindle's creation.)
For many years I have been an avid reader of eBooks using almost every eReading device on the market. So as an early-adopter of techie gadgets I had been anxiously awaiting Amazon's Kindle since its first rumors. So I immediately purchased it both out of curiosity and hoping for a better "next generation" eBook solution. In case you're wondering whether I'm "that" Steve Gibson, I probably am -- I'm the guy who gets Google's first three or four links when Googling my name.
I was driven to write this review because it is somewhat distressing and, it seems to me, a bit unfair for the Kindle's average review rating to be dragged so far down by Kindle NON-OWNERS who, judging from their comments, seem to be quite annoyed by all of the positive comments about a device that's expensive, monochrome, not a general purpose media player, unable to leap tall buildings, or in some way less than they were expecting, wanting, or hoping. In contrast to non-owners, the people who actually HAVE Kindle's appear to universally love it, though with very valid caveats. I think of this as "The TiVo Effect" since, for the right sort of user, the Kindle will be life-changing ... but it certainly won't be that for everyone. Although it took me a few days to get completely comfortable with it, I am now hooked.
So, for what it's worth, if this posting is discovered by any truly interested pre-purchasers, I hope that the following commentary might place the Kindle in "perspective" and be of some value to you. (And if it is, I hope you'll click the button at the bottom to indicate that, so that this review might be found by more potential buyers ... Thank you!)
I have read many novel-length books on my various Palm's, I owned the original Rocket eBook, and I own both generations of Sony's eInk readers, the PRS-500 and PRS-505. So my clear bias is of someone who enjoys technology for its own sake and who loves the idea of reading books on a "device."
Amazon's first-generation Kindle arguably has a few warts (see below). So depending upon your needs, budget, willingness to purchase a "first-generation" gizmo that you might regret purchasing and want to replace a year from now, and so forth, you might well decide to wait for the next generation Kindle that will doubtless be even better. But whether you choose to jump aboard now or later, Amazon's entry into the eBook market is a BIG deal -- it forever changes the game. I think there is no doubt that for the first time ever, a substantial number of people who were never captivated by ANY previous eBook system will find themselves reading and enjoying textual content on Kindle's eInk screen.
The weird initial love/hate reaction to the Kindle is being compared with Apple's iPod, which was also initially met with striking polarization. We all know how that turned out. :) Although the iPod was far from being the first portable MP3 player, and critics called it a copycat, it was the first portable music player to go mainstream, and it changed the world. I believe that, similarly, the large and tightly interacting collection of Kindle features, that go far beyond those of any other previous eBook attempt, will cause the Kindle to be the first eBook to succeed. By connecting their massive book library, as well as newspapers, magazines, blogs and the Web -- wirelessly -- to a long-battery-life chunk of consumer plastic, Amazon has kicked eBooks into the mainstream.
Is the Kindle perfect? Not yet. Is it expensive? Yep. Does it feel like a first-generation product? Absolutely. Will I purchase the next Kindle too? Please let me be first in line!
Investing in Kindle's future...
From a DRM (digital rights management, aka eBook copy-protection) perspective, my eBook content ownership is already spread around all over the place; from Mobipocket, to Palm eReader, to Sony Connect, and now to Amazon Kindle. Sure, that annoys me a bit, but it's the price one pays for being an early adopter of technology that isn't yet ready for prime time ... as, until now, no eBook system has been. Sony's efforts came the closest, but that all ended for Sony (and everyone else) with the introduction of the Kindle. Existing owners of other eBook formats will certainly continue purchasing content for their devices, but who in the U.S. would purchase a new $300 Sony eReader when for an additional $100 they could have the Kindle ... which is so much more than any of the other "disconnected" read-only devices?
In other words, given that Amazon is Amazon, and the fact that they already, right out of the gate, offer so much more than any other previous solution, I feel comfortable now building up my eBook content ownership with Amazon. Sure, I've been wrong before, but this is where I'm placing my bet. I won't be purchasing any more content for Palm's eReader or Sony's. And I like the fact that the content I am purchasing now for this first-generation Kindle will certainly always be readable on whatever future generation devices Amazon's efforts will evolve into.
Look Ma, no wires!
The huge deal with TiVo was time-shifting and commercial skipping. The huge deal with the Kindle is its wireless connectivity. Being a "traditional" eBook user -- i.e. download into PC and "dock" the eReader to upload -- I didn't 'get' that at first. Now I'm as hooked by that on the Kindle as I am by my Tivo's ability to whiz through endless commercials. The Kindle brings the same sort of freedom and power to textual content that the cell phone brought to voice communications.
Sure, I'll purchase eBooks for the Kindle. But I have subscribed to a newspaper and two magazines ... and it is truly a paradigm shift to have their content "just be there" in the morning all by itself. And the periodical content is clean, blessedly free of ads, unnecessary pictures and distractions.
An ugly duckling in need of forgiveness?
Like many people who worship the infinitely-understated elegance of Apple's iPhone (and many other Apple creations), the Kindle's appearance put me off at first. I was as vocally critical of the darned thing as any of those "one star" reviewers. When the first early photos of it leaked a few months before its release, I thought "No way, what a joke! That must be an early balsa-wood mock-up." Now that weird angular wedggie is sitting here next to me as I type this. And I have forgiven it because something odd happens after using it for a few days: You begin to realize that it really works ... and it works well. (And have you ever tried actually typing on the iPhone's all-screen keyboard?)
Did someone say "warts"?
The Kindle's screen appears to have slightly lower contrast than Sony's second generation reader, but much more than Sony's first generation offering. Also, the Kindle's fonts are *far* superior to Sony's, extremely legible, in six sizes and with real italics, not just algorithmic slanting. I'm a bit annoyed that the line-spacing is so large on the larger fonts since page changing is an "event", but, again, this is just the first shot.
And speaking of page changing, I am not a big fan of the page navigation on this first Kindle. So much of the device is devoted to making page changing easy that it's difficult to pick up and handle the device without inadvertently changing pages. But once you're settled down and reading, the fact that only a thumb-twitch is required is nice. One way or another I'm sure that Amazon will get plenty of feedback about everything ... and the next one will be even better.
You want to charge me what??!!
There's also been a great deal of confusion about Amazon charging for the conversion and delivery of our own content into our own Kindles. Amazon *only* charges for wireless delivery, the conversion is 100% free. If you eMail your content to YourKindleName@kindle.com it's converted and downloaded into your Kindle for 10 cents. But if, instead, you eMail your content to YourKindleName@free.kindle.com it's converted and a link to the converted file is eMailed to your registered eMail address at NO charge. You can then download it and use your PC's USB connection to transfer the content to the Kindle.
Moreover, the FREE MobiPocket v4.2 Creator will convert many formats -- HTML, MS Word Docs, Text, and Adobe PDF into .PRC files -- nicely compressed and encrypted if you wish -- which, when transferred into the Kindle are directly readable. I have converted two large eBooks which I already had in PDF format into native Kindle format and they work perfectly -- no cost and no Amazon involvement at all. And I'm sure that quite soon there will be all sorts of free Kindle content converters popping up all over the place.
So I'm glad that I purchased this first-generation device, and that I'm participating in the first real wave of eBook industry creation. None of my other eBook readers offer nearly what the Kindle does. Thanks to Amazon and their Kindle, eBooks have finally happened.
1,546 of 1,581 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2007
I read my first novel on the Kindle over the weekend, and having owned it now for a week, thought I would write my review.
- The format is immersive. I really did forget I was reading from an electronic device, and even pawed at imaginary pages to turn every now and then. Super easy on the eyes, and I really like the fact that it mirrors a paper reading experience - if the light is bad, the device does not compensate by way of a backlit screen.
- The Kindle store's shopping experience is very smooth, very transparent. I have bought a few books, a magazine, and currently on a couple of free trial magazine and blog subscriptions. The latest editions of the New York Times and The Onion are waiting for me first thing in the morning, once you get the hang of how the "Back" button works (versus "Previous Page"), navigating is a snap.
- The size of the device is just right - it is very easy to hold and read in bed, at a table, on the couch etc. More on this in the "Needs Work" section. But to be clear, my Kindle goes everywhere with me - the doctor's office, the park, the bus etc.
- Pricing on Books is good - I would easily pay $9.99 on a title, especially as we run out of library space at home. I read my first novel in a long time thanks to the Kindle (the book - "A Thousand Splendid Suns", Khaled Hosseini is a trifle predictable and irritating after The Kite Runner ')
- Text is very crisp and easy to read - as I said above, very immersive.
- Love the quick charging and overall battery life.
- Love the integrated web and Wikipedia search. I also checked my gmail account from time to time - horrible user experience, but had to be a true geek and say that I did it '
Needs Work (in no particular order of priority)
- The case is a disaster. The device does not sit in it firmly, and while it looks nice when closed with the elastic band etc, what is really more practical is a sack of some sort, because you really need to take the device out of the case to read effectively and ergonomically. This has to fixed, hopefully through a rich third party accessory community.
- As I read my novel, I often hit the side buttons accidentally and lost my place in the book (either fell asleep with my hand on the buttons, or was walking somewhere with the device without putting it to sleep, or kids got a hold of it etc etc). Bottom line, getting back to the right spot was very hard. I had to remember to bookmark every time I anticipated a disruption. Remembering location numbers is not too practical, since they can run into 4 digits in a long book. Accidentally pressing the wrong buttons is a also a problem when holding the book out of the case (which is more intuitive for reading)
- One thing that is physically intuitive while reading a paper book is knowing exactly where you are, as measured by the pages completed/remaining. Making that same leap using location numbers and the indicator at the bottom is not (yet) that intuitive, so I was bit disoriented when people asked me questions like "how far are you into the book?"
- The silvery indicator to the right (above the wheel) is not very visible in low light conditions or when there is some reflective directly in front of the device.
- It would be nice to have an option (on the Home screen) to group all your content into Books, Magazines, Newspapers etc.
- Charging for papers and blogs does not make too much sense - this content is available for free, with rich graphics and color, on the web. Over time, I see myself reading books and documents on the Kindle, not newspapers and blogs unless the format is made more rich on the device.
- Graphics is very rudimentary. It's nice to see the device render pictures with stories in the Times etc, but the quality of the images harkens back to 1991 x486 computing.
- Keyboard latency is a bit painful, but am sure this will get fixed soon.
- Perhaps I have not had the device long enough, but it was not clear what the archival process is going to be for newspapers etc.
- In mirroring actual paper/ink, I think the screen background needs to be a bit brighter, without being backlit. Right now it is gray-ish.
- I am sure a million others have already said so, so let me be #1,000,001 - $399 for the reader does not make sense for broad penetration. And this SHOULD be broadly adopted - it is a no-brainer device in the classroom, for textbooks, course handouts, teacher communications etc. It's a brilliant device, and it needs to be $199 or less. People will pay for the books, and other content. It's all about the blades...
11,426 of 11,743 people found the following review helpful
I have been using my Kindle for about 6 weeks and I must say that it took me only a few hours to totally fall in love with it. I curl up in my lounge chair with some hot tea next to me and get lost in a world of reading. The size is very appropriate for reading and I can read with only one hand since I use a thumb to press the next page button. This leaves my other hand free to sip my tea or pet the dog.
* Wireless downloading of books - I can look up a book, read a summary and/or a few reviews and then buy it right away. This will cause some financial issues down the road because it is just so easy but is sure is a powerful feature. Entire books really do download in just a few seconds.
* Readability - I am lumping several features under this category. The one-handed reading, the overall size of the reader, the crisp text and the variable font size all work together to make the experience while reading just fabulous. Several times while reading late at night, I pushed the text font button and upped the font size because my eyes were getting a bit tired. A younger reader in our household was comfortable with the smallest font size, while the slightly older readers really appreciated one of the middle font sizes. I used the largest font size when I had the reader propped up on the treadmill. In the past, I have not found a good way to read while using the treadmill because the pages flip and the font was too small but that excuse is gone now.
* Subscription content delivered while I was sleeping. Another bad habit in the making - I stayed in bed and simply turned on the Kindle and was able to read my morning paper without setting foot outside.
* Incredible amount of content with me at all times. Since the unit is the size of a basic paperback, I slipped it into my purse and had it with me all the time. Whenever I was waiting for more than a minute, I would get the unit out. It initially started up on the page where I last left it, but with one click on the home button, I was brought to my multi-page list of available books and documents. I am the type of reader who usually has about 5 different books going at once and I could just pick the one that interested me at the time.
* Kindle NowNow - You pose a question and hit submit. Within a few minutes, you get several responses - for free sent to your Kindle. This was extremely helpful when I was away from a computer and just needed a quick answer. This was actually easier than googling because I got three very good answers for every question that I asked.
* Battery Life - The battery life indicator goes up and down at various rates depending on whether you are actively using the wireless. I didn't realize this at first, so I thought that the battery life was short, but when I just used the Kindle for reading, I went several days without needing to charge. Charge time is really quick - an hour or two at the most to get a full charge but I can still read for an entire evening on a very low indicator.
* Plays mp3 files - but this feature needs some work. Currently, the files are played randomly, so you can't select specific music to play or use it for mp3 audio books and lectures. I put some instrumental mp3s on my SD card and it was nice to have background music sometimes.
* Subscriptions Revisited - I still read a "real" newspaper. In the online versions of subscription content, I miss the extras like photos, comics, puzzles, letters to editor and such. All of the articles are included, but the complete experience of a newspaper is not quite duplicated in online content - this is not only for the Kindle but also for web based news.
Missing or Negative Features (the reason for losing one star on this review) -
* Content - I expected to be able to download ebooks from my local library (for free) and read them on my Kindle. I also expected to simply copy all types of text to my Kindle using either the SD card or the USB. I have found a work-around for my pdf files using the MobiPocket Creator. This works really well except for the Table of Contents - which didn't quite translate properly. I translated several of the free books that I downloaded from wowio. The text came over just fine, but some of the fancy text/graphic chapter headers became separated. Also, some of the books that I wanted are not available in the Kindle store yet. I have used the email conversion and that worked okay.
* Pricing Structure - I am a cheapskate in general and frequently buy my books from thrift stores, library sales and used book stores. I have several issues with the pricing and hopefully, the market will correct some of these issues. I can't share the books that I purchase and there isn't really a "used" market for ebooks. I must admit though, that the longer I used the Kindle, the more I was able to justify the book prices in relation to the convenience of having them on my device. For things like textbooks and other books where I want a "real" copy of the book, I would like to see a purchase option that includes a Kindle version for almost nothing if I am purchasing the title in book form. I also wish the entry point was cheaper since I am spending so much on content.
I love my Kindle. I keep it nearby at all times and I am finally getting a chance to catch up on some reading since I have a whole collection with me whenever I get a few minutes to myself.
Update - 4/5/08:
I would change my rating to 5 stars based on how much I love my Kindle. I am reading on it about 2 hours or more per day. My reading includes a newspaper, some magazines, blogs, books from the Kindle store and some classics. I also have sent myself several pdf documents that I am glad to have available away from my PC. The ability to make use of short bursts of time for reading is amazing. I am very pleased with how much more reading is a part of my busy life now.
I have ordered multiple Kindles to use in our family. We easily share books using the Content Manager. I do wish that subscriptions could also be shared, but it has not been a big issue in our family because of the different reading habits of the Kindle users.
The Sample book feature is wonderful. I have tried many books and purchased a few based on these samples. There were differences in the various samples. Some samples gave me a couple of chapters and really drew me into the book while a few samples were little more than the table of contents and a few pages. The Save for Later feature that is available when browsing the Kindle store has been very useful as a wishlist. An improvement would be to have this list available on my PC when browsing the Amazon site.
One continuing annoyance is the shorter battery life I get when I am using the wireless feature. When I browse the Kindle store or use Wikipedia, the battery life seems to go down in a very short time. When I am strictly reading though the battery life is a couple of days.
Now that I have many more books and materials on my Kindle, I have noticed shortcomings in the organization methods. I am hoping for a software upgrade to take care of this problem. Currently, I sort my available materials by "Most Recent" and this keeps my current reading projects at the top of the list.
Overall, the Kindle has been life-changing for me and even some issues that originally bothered me or continue to bother me do not take away from the fact that I have a library of material with me in a wonderfully convenient format - definitely a 5 star e-book reader.
3,560 of 3,655 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2007
Well, since many of these reviews are from people who don't even appear to own a Kindle, I'll preface this by saying I have one in my hands, and have been using for a day or so now. I also have a Bookeen Cybook Gen3, so it should be fairly easy to make a nice comparison between the two.
Setup was almost non-existent. The device was set up at the factory with all my details, and was even pre-charged. When you open the package, the Kindle is wrapped in a plastic wrapper which explains that you just plug it in and turn it on. I did plug it in, to charge, but in a very short while, the charging light went out, indicating full charge. When I powered it up, after an initial boot sequence, the Kindle owners manual opened. I read thru it, casually skimming the more obvious entries, and paid attention to some of the Kindle unique features.
The most striking feature is the scroll bar and cursor wheel. The scroll bar lets you quickly scroll up and down, selecting menus or choosing a position within the book. When you have the menu item selected, you press the cursor wheel, just like a mouse. Navigation was a breeze and took only about 10 minutes to really become proficient.
The screen is as expected. E-ink devices are superior displays for these kind of applications. For the nay-sayers who mock lack of backlight or color, I suspect they haven't even tried any e-ink device. Very readable. I haven't tried fonts or anything, because I'm happy with the default fonts for now. There's no eye-strain to speak of. After reading for about an hour, my eyes were no less or more tired than if I were reading a print book. For me, that's not possible on any computer (or PDA) device. The refresh is just too stressful for long periods of reading.
The page buttons, on the side of the unit, are interestingly placed. It is easy to mistakenly press a button. While lying in bed (where I do most of my leisure reading), it can be a little awkward to hold the unit without pressing buttons. Coupled with the keyboard and all the buttons, the interface looks more busy than it really is. I hope that this is just part of the learning curve.
Ordering a book was fairly easy. If anything, this is where Amazon will win the war. Over-the-air delivery in fast time. I searched for Steven Lawhead's "Merlin" (book 2 of the Pendragon cycle), ordered it, and within a very short time (less than a minute), I was reading my new book. When I was tired of reading, I set it in sleep mode. Sleep mode puts a nice image on the screen, but I wish it would just turn the whole screen off. It never seems to go from sleep to just plain shutdown.
I won't go into the DRM issue much. But I do wonder if Amazon will reconsider their relationship with Mobi, or reconsider their decision to support their own DRM'ed format. It's been determined that the AZW format is basically DRM'ed Mobi, but at the moment, there's no way to get one to read the other.
There is a USB port, so I tried to download a free (non-DRM) Mobi books. That went fine: download Treasure Island, and just copied to the Kindle. Disconnect the USB port (you can't use the Kindle while the USB is connected), and the book showed up in my content, and I was able to start reading it.
The cover is almost useless. It seems to be made for storage, not for usage. The power switch of the Kindle is on the back, so you'd need to remove it from the cover to turn it off and on. There's also a strange plastic shim that appears to attempt to hold the Kindle in the cover. I figure that there will be after-market covers soon.
Overall I think I am happy and won't have any bouts of buyers regret. I'll just have to keep careful on which and how many books I buy! This could easily be very costly.
1,973 of 2,039 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2007
I picked it up at The UPS Store. Took it out of the box, turned it on, saw that it was charged. The wireless indicator was all bars. I scanned the instructions, pressed home, selected Time magazine and a book, and had them in the machine in less than 20 seconds each.
Then I started reading them. (While in the parking lot where I had picked it up moments before.)
1) My Kindle was preregistered and said "Welcome Randy" on an early screen, and was ready for me to buy stuff.
2) I own the Sony PRS-500 and 505, and the screen is the same quality, as well as page-turn speed. The buttons are very different and better...the turn page button is 5 inches long, the "turn page back" button is a half inch long. This makes much more sense than Sony's minimal equal-sized buttons.
3) The fonts are MUCH MORE PLEASING. Sony basically has one font and three sizes, this has much more and look better designed for this kind of screen (rounded serifs, etc)
4) It has a dictionary you can go to when you don't know a word (Sony doesn't).
5) Bestsellers are $9.95, compared to $16.95 Sony.
It's too new for me to go further, but I'm very surprised and impressed so far.
There is more white plastic (not puke-yellow like in the photos you've seen for a few months) around the screen than Sony has, and the Kindle is much thicker, but still lightweight. Yet holding it is easy, and the "next page" button being practically the whole right side of the book is ideal.
The wireless connectivity, the interaction with the internet on the screen, takes this out of Sony's reach.
I honestly didn't expect to be be buying books within minutes of opening the package, before I even got home from picking it up. WOW!
THIS DEVICE IS FOR AVID READERS ONLY...so much negative comes from non-readers that want it to play movies, tv, radio, audio books. This device is to replace text-oriented store-bought books...and not much more. So yes it sucks as an HD movie player. whatever! If you read constantly, want to aquire books from thin air on a whim, the Kindle is for you.
Add-on note: The size of the device (at its largest) is EXACTLY the size of an unopened DVD--that can't be a coincidence...all 3 dimensions.
UPDATE A MONTH LATER: I'm hooked on several blogs delivered several times a day (I wssn't a blog reader before). I'm reading MUCH more, carry this thing with me everywhere I go. I've found I'm a more adventurous reader...I try the free first chapters and am reading many more books I wouldn't have tried before.
I read a lot of criticism of this product by many that have never used it. So many of these negative 'reviews' seem to be based on such small concerns, its like hating a car for its hubcap design.
This thing has changed my life. I went from avid reader to voracious.
Adding the blog reading, and spending odd hours going to the web browser on a whim...I hope the $399 price doesn't stop someone from such an important device. Books popping into a device instantly, with FREE internet access...I haven't touched my Sony 500 and 505 readers since I got this thing.
(Yes, I still read 'normal' books, magazines, and newspapers--the Kindle is another option that has expanded my reading world)
462 of 476 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2007
I've spent a week with my new Kindle and I want to focus on the things other reviewers (the ones who've actually used this) haven't mentioned.
But first off, just to get it out of the way, I LOVE reading on this thing. I like the design, the simplicity of it, the way the words look on the page. I like the availability of books, the price of the books, how fast they download onto the Kindle itself. I like the interaction with the Amazon site because it's my preferred place to buy books anyway. I don't think it's any more overpriced than, say, the iPod Touch which retails for the same for the 16G (and is absolutely worthless in my opinion). And though the Kindle is an impressive piece of equipment in itself, the unlimited wireless capability ultimately justifies the price. Some specifics:
The cover: Reviewers have made many comments about how it falls out of the cover. I'm wondering if some haven't figured out that you have to remove the cardboard bracket that comes inside the cover before you put the Kindle into it. Because when the Kindle is placed into the cover correctly, it actually locks into place and definitely doesn't fall out (at least not for me). But I'll also say that I wanted to upgrade the cover to something a bit higher-end so I purchased a Coach Agenda Book which is exactly the same size and am using it as the Kindle cover. It fits perfectly and suits the class of the Kindle better.
Sleep Mode vs. Power Button: Some reviewers have noted that the Power and Wireless connect buttons on the back are hard to use with the cover. But if you've paid attention to the Kindle user guide, it says that the preferred way to power off the unit is to place it in sleep mode, which uses no power. So I use sleep instead of the power button when I'm done with it. I've read on the Kindle for a week now and, using this method, I still haven't had to recharge it. Recommendation: The next generation of this thing should be able to be placed in sleep mode with one button rather than using two together. I find that awkward.
Next Page Button: Yes, it is easy to hit accidentally, sending you pages ahead in your reading. Using the cover while reading almost completely negates this issue. I frankly don't like using this thing without a cover anyway. Feels more like a book in your hand when it's in the cover.
Recommendation: Next generation needs to have some sort of feature where you have a clearer sense of where you are in the book, how many chapters, how many pages. I don't need to see a picture of the cover, but I do want to know where I am in relation to the rest of the book. The progression dots on the bottom of the screen are interesting, but not satisfying.
Other thoughts: Love the built-in Dictionary and Wikipedia. The sleep-mode screens are fun. Wish it had some kind of built-in light for night reading. Do NOT enjoy reading newspapers, blogs or magazines on this thing. Just doesn't work.
Finally, I must say that I have a laptop, a PC, a couple of iPods, a Trio, and on down the line. I never expected the Kindle to replace any of them. I never expected the screen to be in color because the grown-up books I read are all black and white print. The fact that it has its own email address, that it can access the internet and has wireless capabilities are great features, but not why I bought it.
The Kindle is for reading. It's for people who read. And in that regard, it's great! I recommend it highly.
170 of 174 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2007
I received my kindle a few days ago and have to say I am impressed considering it's the first product alike from Amazon. Although there are many-many small incremental improvements to be made, I am very happy thus far.
Out of the box, the packaging is well designed and opening was a pleasant experience. I ignored the instructions and began using the book immediately. After ordering, I purchased several books online along with samples of periodical and other potential books. After ten minutes from activating the reader(on switch), my material appeared in the home page, really nice.
I believe the overall fit and finish of the unit is better in person than pictures shown on the internet. Plus I had the impression from many reviews that the finish was below standards, but also note most were comparing this to Apple's iPod. The Kindles plastic material, though white in color (not my choice), has a slight textured finish and along with the weight density of the unit overall, presents itself as a quality device. I know many video bloggers and reviewer bashed the back rubbery panel for whatever reason, but I believe it provides a sturdy back adding to the finish and keeps from slipping past my fingers. The display is EXCELLENT. I'm an electronic product designer and have not seen anything like this before. Although it only has 4 shades of gray compared to the Sony's eight (which I was about to buy beforehand,) it is very crisp and legible. However, some reading material just does not display well. I downloaded a mathematics book sample (yes, nerd) and the math symbols were fuzzy and less sharp that regular text. I believe this will be addressed in the future by the Amazon designers. Not a biggie for me now; later, maybe. This will be an excellent device for having engineering formulas handy for engineering professionals, but obviously this can be addressed in the near future.
Many have complaints about the speed of turning pages. I think it is just fine. There are times when moving about from one book to another where it has longer (1s) delays. But mostly during a typical read session, turns fast enough for my impatience. I also read about confusion over the back button located on the lower right side. For the tech savvy and younger generations, this should be clear after reading the instructions, but obviously not intuitive enough for many non-web browsers. Again, I like it, but many may not.
The rolly-polly button is nice, but make a loud "click" when pressing for a selection. Maybe not a big deal to most, but your sleeping companions may bark after a few CLICKS. Bugs me anyway. Many complained about the menu system and claimed it's a "blank" from the old days. I say big deal. It does not bother me... seems intuitive enough for my likings.
The download speed where I live is slower so I am not happy about this, but not a show stopper whatsoever. Traveling about the states, I'm sure this will improve. Browsing for books and periodicals online with Amazon takes forever. Not sure about this yet.
So....Happy I purchased this over the Sony Reader? Yes. Bigger book selection was the main reason. One would have to guess that Sony worked with Amazon and could not reach a mutual agreement. Too bad, because I liked the Sony too, but the selection is blah. Happy about DRM? No, but now I will carry less weight when traveling and have more to choose. Think there is something better and less expensive in the near future? Of course, but I am an early adopter and don't mind paying the extra $$ for something I think will improve my daily life.
Hope this helps as I know many of the reviewers provided me with great insight before pressing the buy-button. I really loath non-owners bashing the device without anything but a frail non-experience opinion. Get a life. :-)
540 of 567 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2007
There really should be some kind of requirement limiting actual reviews only to actual customers. I am not even a beta tester, just a real person who ordered this item immediately and received it today!
On balance, I'd say it is pretty amazing. Small form factor, fantastic readability -- even outside in very bright light. But I am not entirely sold on it yet.
1. I'm trying it now at my second home in Vermont, and "Whispernet" does not work here. Sadly, this means I have to download titles to my computer and then transfer them to the device. No biggie, but an annoyance. So much for eNewspaper delivery in remote areas! I do think Amazon is being misleading in implying that Whispernet will work everywhere.
2. The screen, while readable, is actually quite small. In practical use this means you are clicking away on the next page button with a kind of videogame intensity, as each "page" holds not nearly the amount of text that an average paperback does. I might get used to this over time, but right now it feels distracting.
3. Because of the constant next page clicking one does get more oriented towards speed reading than "curling up with an eBook in front of the fire kind of reading". Great for the business person who needs to read all the latest pablum about how to succeed in business etc. while in airplanes. Not great for the former English majors (like myself) who like to savor. You can savor pages in books -- it is hard to savor and take one's time when you are reading only a paragraph or so on each screen and wanting to click click click to get on with it!
4. I'm already feeling guilty about not adding to my physical book collection, not being able to pass a book onto someone else, etc. (Then again, I feel this way about music I order via iTunes -- I still prefer the physical CD, if only to look at it!) But it appears great for ephemera -- books you probably won't want to pass onto others, books you should read once and throw away. The trouble is that I'm a book lover -- and if you are a book lover you know it's not just about the content, but also about the physicality of cradling a book in your hands. Fortunately I'm a tech lover too, I love my computers, so maybe I'll get over this wistfulness, but as I'm reading on this device I am definitely missing turning some physical pages. And I couldn't IMAGINE giving up the pleasure of a physical newspaper. Indeed, the very idea of clicking away from page to page to page to page to page to read the New York Times would drive me quietly insane.
5. When you spend serious time looking at the Kindle store you'll be amazed really at how limited it is right now. But because it is Amazon this will surely change, as Amazon is to books as iTunes is to Music. But in the meantime, it's definitely a meager selection. And for me, many of the titles I buy I would never want in e form -- photography books just don't cut it in this format, for example!
So with all this, why did I buy it? And why am I considering keeping it? Well, It has that fantastic instant gratification thing going for it -- at least it does in those areas where Whispernet will work. I just love thinking about a title and having it the next minute, just as I can with music for my iPhone and iTunes. Once I'm back home in Boston -- where I expect Whispernet will actually work -- I know I'll love that aspect.
I also like the idea of traveling with one small device rather than my usual six books (although the six I'd want to bring probably aren't available on Kindle yet!).
But mostly I bought it and may keep it simply because it is a glimpse of the future. In my book, that makes it worth every penny! And I'm giving it four stars if only to encourage more pioneers to try it, because the more of us buy it, the more titles we will (eventually) be able to download.
And THAT is a good thing! ;-)
UPDATE: Well, I've spent two days with it now and I am about to return it. The screen size is just TOO small to get any content continuity without incessant page clicking. The clicking feels mechanical (dare I say cheezy?) and is quite annoyingly loud. I miss being able to absorb a page of information at a time -- this reveals, I'd say, maybe half a page of a normal book per screen (based on my word counting -- YMMV). The fit and finish of the device is beginning to wear on me -- I took the back off to double check the serial number and the back piece will no longer fit flush. There's just precious little elegance to the design -- none, really. For the price, I'd expect whisper-quiet page clicks, fine fit and finish everywhere, and a better feeling item. The cover for the device is ill fitting and bulky -- clearly an afterthought. I DID actually get wireless to work once I left Vermont and went into New Hampshire -- and the instant gratification was really very cool -- but I just don't think I can stand that tiny tiny screen. If you're a fast and voracious reader, you'll go mad with the page clicking!
I'm giving it one more day.
UPDATE 2: Well, it's growing on me again. I got several Gutenberg books dowloaded to my computer free, and then to Kindle. Very cool. Sat in a coffee shop and ordered and received the New York Times, plus sample chapters of two other books. Did some contextual searching for definitions, etc. I tell you, the wireless aspect of this thing is totally killer! Maybe I can get over the cheesy design aspects? And today, when switching to a "real" book, I got all annoyed by having to hold it with two hands, hold the pages down, and so on. I tell you, functionally the thing is awesome -- apart from the small size of the screen, the infernal clicking noise, and so on. But the fit and finish of the thing is a bit shocking, really. Ir's a poorly designed machine that works really well but looks well kind of embarrassing! But I'm learning to love it -- like an ugly duckling!
UPDATE 3: I'm hooked! As I've spent more time with it I discovered that I can minimize the clicking sound by clicking at the very edge of the buttons rather than towards the center. That makes it much quieter. Also, the cover is not ill fitting once you figure out how to secure the device inside it. Using the cover makes me less likely to inadvertently advance the pages. The Kindle is also one of those things that looks better covered up! ;-) I'm also loving the instant gratification! And I'm loving being able to re-read classics (free!) from gutenberg that I might not want to buy again but really want to re-experience.
Bottom line? It's killer! I'm loving it!
It's a keeper!
118 of 120 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2008
I love my Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device and that is the reason I am writing this review, mainly to cover some territory not mentioned in other reviews. While I do realize that it is first generation device, I do find that it some very serious problems or omissions which I hope will be rectified in its future incarnations.
For me, and I suspect for many other people, its main attraction is that here is a small device the size of a paperback that can hold 200 books. Not only that, but it displays them in a very clear screen. It is perfect for an avid reader who travels. Unfortunately so far it has a very parochial, US only, design. Its most impressive Internet interface does not work in Europe and Asia (not sure for S. America). This means that not only you cannot upload material from Amazon, but you cannot use the fantastic Wikipaedia lookup feature, and that all of your periodical and newspaper subscriptions are undeliverable when you travel which is the time you will need them the most. Further unlike the iPod, it displays non-English unicode characters as gibberish so books written in a language other than English are out. These two shortcomings, to my way of thinking and intended use, are very serious and they are the only reason I did not give it a 5 star rating.
There are a few other problems/wishes:
1. It would be nice to have a "copy-paste" function for note taking
2. Its search capability is too basic for searching books it should include logic and/or operators, wild cards ("grep" features), etc.
3. User assigned names to bookmarks would be very nice
4. Ability to rename documents
5. Ability to delete clippings
6. Easier to hold without accidental key-presses
7. Finally a better user manual
What I do very much like:
1. Its book capacity
2. Its light weight
3. Its battery, both its life and its replaceability
4. Its lovely crisp screen
5. The ease of buying books by connecting to Amazon (US only)
6. The availability of book samples
7. The automatic download of documents sent to Amazon for formating (US only)
8. The archiving/backup provided by Amazon (US only)
9. Encyclopedia lookup (US only)
Unlike many reviewers what I do not mind:
1. Its white color
2. Its looks
3. Its key layout
4. Its price
It is clear to me that a lot of thought has gone in the design of the Kindle. The concept is terrific and I hope it becomes the iPod for books. So, please, please, Amazon do make it what it can be and do not forget the international user/traveller.
106 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2007
I bought this the day after it came out, and I've been using it for the last few days. I have to say, I'm generally not an early adopter of technology, but this really hit a chord with me. I had looked at the Sony reader several times, and liked the product, but didn't think there was enough content available. I travel frequently and read a lot, so this product really appealed to me.
Here's what I like:
- Very easy to read books. The screen is well designed, and the eInk looks great. I could read easily in low light with no eye strain.
- Downloading new content is simple. It works exactly as advertised - the Kindle came pre-linked to my Amazon account, I went to the "Shop" page on my Kindle, found the content, and it downloaded in less than a minute. I had pre-ordered a few books from the Amazon website, and they were available as soon as I turned the device on.
- It's small enough and light enough to throw in a laptop bag and not notice.
- Good selection of content at reasonable prices. You can certainly do better on some items in hard-copy if you're willing to shop around, but the prices on new content are generally a bit lower than I'd pay at a new bookstore, and the convenience makes it worth it for me.
- The reading software is well designed. It automatically remembers your spot in the book, you can change the font size, and bookmark pages. It works particularly well if you're like me and read multiple books at the same time. It was very easy to switch back and forth without losing my place.
Here's what I'm not crazy about:
- The hardware design still seems a little rough around the edges. For example, it comes with a case, but once you put the Kindle in the case, it's difficult to use the left button to move to the next page (there are two next page buttons - one for each hand).
- The interface is not completely intuitive. It's fine once you get used to it, but plan to spend a little bit of time learning how to use the wheel.
- I personally found the magazine/newspaper content difficult to read in this format. I think I'll stick with my online subscriptions for now.
- The black flash when you turn the page is annoying, although I quickly got used to it. Apparently it's inherent to the eInk technology.
- The music management software is very rudimentary. This is not a big deal to me, since I bought the Kindle for reading, but I won't be giving up my iPod for this.
- I'm hoping/assuming that additional content will become available over time. I have a lot of books I'll re-read periodically (the oldies but goodies) and several of them weren't available.
Overall, this is a device that works well for reading books. If you're looking to replace a laptop, iPod, etc., this is probably not the device for you. If you're a heavy reader, want access to lots of content, and are comfortable with the price and trade-offs, this is a solid device. I'm happy with my purchase, and will get a lot of use out of the Kindle.