Customer Reviews: Kindle: Amazon's Original Wireless Reading Device (1st generation)
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on December 7, 2007
I received my kindle 1-week ago and so far the experience has been great. Most of the positive reviews already posted have hit my likes and dislikes, but I decided to put in a review because I don't see any review regarding Amazon's support of the Kindle. When I received mine last week, and after I had turned it on, I didn't have any wireless service. After a couple hours waiting I ordered 2 books online and transferred them using the USB cable. Easy enough and to be honest I'd be happy with the kindle without the wireless. So I called Amazon Support. The 1st thing, they answered on the 1st ring right to an actual person.... its been years where I didn't have to wait for at least a while to get to a real person. The tech was extremely friendly and helpful. He didn't actually fix my problem, the wireless magically started to work while we talked. Seems the SPrint network wasn't working. After hanging up I noticed that none of my purchased books had downloaded. The next day they stilled hadn't arrived, so I called again and believe it or not... I had help on the 2nd ring! Again this different support person was just as friendly. He couldn't immediately solve my problem but "promised" someone would get on it ASAP and would call me back. For the next hour I read a book on the kindle, a VERY enjoyable experience I might add.. at least as good as reading a real "book". Suddenly my kindle re-booted right in the middle of a sentence! A few seconds later it came back on... with the wireless working and my other new books downloaded! A tech had remotely re-booted it!! Within minutes I receive an e-mail telling me it should work and about an hour later the SAME support person I originally talked to CALLED ME BACK to make sure I was a happy customer!!

I'm sure some of this quick support is due to the product being new and not that many customers calling... maybe because the kindle JUST WORKS with little problems for most users... but regardless, I don't remember when I got this good of service from ANYONE.....

The kindle itself has me hooked, the customer service was the icing on the cake. I believe the kindle experience with books is right where many of us were 8-10 years ago with music. I have a LARGE CD collection and it took a while to "let go" of buying CDs vs downloads on I-Tunes; but I haven't purchased a CD in 4+years, and I average around 2-3 song purchases a week now and have a collection of over 5,000 songs on my I-Pod. I have hundreds upon hundreds of books in my library... my guess is in a few years my "book" purchases will be limited to reference books and the rest will be stored on my 2nd or 3rd generation Kindle...
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on November 27, 2007
I just got my kindle and have spent the last hour playing with it. Herewith follows my initial impressions. I'll update my comments if time changes or adds anything.

First off, it came packaged nicely in a fancy book-like box. It seemed to be well and safely cushioned in that container.

Second, the instructions on how to get up an running were immediately visible, being printed onto a clear sheet over the Kindle display. I had no trouble getting my Kindle up and running immediately.

Third, reading through the getting started instructions as suggested on the Kindle itself got me functionally effective on my Kindle in about 10 minutes. The instruction manual is clear and the functionality is 95% intuitive for anybody with reasonable gadget/computer experience. It is not simply a page turning device; there are abilities to bookmark, annotate, search, lookup word definitions and perhaps others I've forgotten. Likewise, one can view books, blogs and newspapers (on a select basis). So there is a bit of complexity available. My impression is that a non-technological user should be able to at least read books effectively, possibly even getting to the other features as competence grows.

I'd already bought a book for my Kindle from the web version of Amazon and pre-registered the Kindle before it ever shipped to me. By the time I got past the initial homework it had assigned me, my book was already available and my Kindle knew who's it was! This is particularly gratifying since we live in an area w/o full cell carrier coverage. Either Amazon has a broad network or I got lucky.

On to the prize, how is it for reading? I have never tried an e-book reader before so I have no prior experience or existing bias. I've only read a chapter so far but I found it painless. The text is easy to read and crisp. The funky electronic ink technology (which apparently uses real ink!) seems to work great.

There is a quick refresh on every page change (visible in the Amazon demo for those who are interested) which adds a very brief delay (compared to say scrolling down in a web browser) but I imagine it parallels the delay of turning a page or refocussing on the top of the facing page. In any event, after a chapter read, I had no issues of eye strain, irritation w/ page turning delays or other feelings of alienation from my device.

I took a look at all the features. I'll need to read the manual to see exactly how to delete media and what repercussions it has (like does it also delete stuff from the server) but certainly the ability to click the 'x' presumably signifying deletion was cake. There is limited ability to play MP3's from an optional SD card which seemed fine to blot out background noise in emergencies; apparently 'experimental'. I haven't uploaded other media, either through Amazon or locally. I was interested to note that they'll convert compatible media for free for upload from a PC. I'd thought I'd have to pay for that service but apparently it's only using their wireless network that costs money. I tried the Kindle store and I have little doubt that, stuck in an airport or such, I could absolutely buy a book through my Kindle and be grateful for the ability. However, given the option, I'll be buying kindle books through the familiar web interface.

Ok, to sum up. I'm really excited about this device.

I see lots of ways it can help me. I like its capacity of several hundred books and the cheapness and economy of space it represents. It seems like it'd be great for all the e-book/pdf published IP that's now available on the web, but Amazon hasn't yet (apparently) worked out the kinks on that, so one big plus not yet completely realized.

On the other hand, there is something about reading a real book that is familiar in a way the kindle is not, yet. Only time will tell if Kindle replaces paper books as my ideal reading method.

I'm sure some uber geeks will find much to deride, convinced as they are that EVERYTHING would be better if only they'd designed it. And I'm sure some non-technological folks will find it obscure to the point of un-usability. In the middle, there appears to be ample ground for happiness. If you've seen the video and read what people are saying, you've got a pretty good picture of what you'll get. There are no hidden gotcha's that I've found. I have little doubt that quite a few people will fall in love with this little baby and within the next decade it and its descendants will slowly eclipse paper.
Update After A Week
I've had my Kindle for maybe 10 days now. I've pretty well mastered most things though I still haven't connected it to my PC. I am a bigger fan then I expected to be. I have had absolutely no issues getting used to reading books in this fomat. On the contrary, I now find it hard to go back to 'real' books. A few new observations:
1) The page turning buttons make it much easier to read than a 'real' book, allowing a much bigger choice of ways to hold it while reading.
2) The adjustable font is VERY hand, allowing me to find the right balance for me between readability and words per page turn. Younger folks w/ sharp eyes will be able to really crank down the size and reduce page turns. Older folks will be able to crank up the size, possibly allowing reading when reading normal print books was not possible before.
3) Amazon keeps a record of every Kindle book you've ever bought and those are perpetually available to you for download. There is no need to keep any archives at all.
4) The Kindle has something like 256 mb of onboard storage. It can be augmented though a mildly complex process by up to 4 GB. This gives you a storage capacity of ~3000-4000 books!!!
5) Combine #3 & 4 above and Kindle can spell the end of all that room books take in the house and/or attic. Now, I love my bookshelves as much as the next person, but being able to carry my library with me and freeing up all that space is pretty sexy too.
6) Kindle books are significantly cheaper than paper books, there's no shipping cost and they're yours immediately. A new hardback costs $9.99, paperbacks can be nearly half that.
7) Kindle is GREAT for 'serious' books. It allows you to easily clip text to a downloadable .txt file, highlight and annotate. I didn't expect to do this but I bought a kindle copy of The Federalist Papers (I own the book in paperback) because it's amuch better way to read it. I can read a chapter whenever I feel the need, I can highlight or even clip particularly interesting passages and I can leave myself notes or 'dogear' a good page for future returns. All this is just better than w/ paper.
A few negatives.
1) I haven't had great luck w/ battery life. Leaving the Kindle on, mostly w/ the wireless off gives me maybe 2 nights/3 days life. W/ the wireless always on, it's more like 2 days/ 1 night. This isn't a problem, the charger's small and fast (a couple of hours for a full charge) but it is a bit different than I pictured for the marketing material. I had imagined a device that functioned for days w/o charging, now I think of it as a nightly charge device that can go longer in as necessary. Of course, you can turn it off completely and squeeze a long time out of it, but it takes long enough to boot that this isn't a default solution. It'll get you all the battery life you'll need but think of it more like a PDA, in need of nightly feeding.
2) The book supply is excellent but not comprehensive. No Harry Potter, some popular new paperbacks not available. Even if I wanted to never read a paper book again, I can't, yet. My hit rate is 35-40%. I suppose the more people who buy Kindles, the better that will become.

That's it for now!

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on November 28, 2007
Wow. Just effing wow.
Before ordering I read every review on Amazon, dug through the forums and then searched out external review I could find for the Kindle. I was very well informed about what I was purchasing, as one would want to be when dropping $400. Its only been in-hand for four hours so this will be a cursory review. I'll come back after a week or so of use and do another, more in-depth review.
As a lifelong avid reader and ebook skeptic, I have to say I am completely blown away and in love with this thing.
The Kindle has a very nice weight and feel to it, I find I can hold it comfortably without tapping the large side buttons. The screen is amazing, I'm digging the E-Ink screen and I could care less that there is no color. I bought it to read books on, not see pretty pictures. While I'll be the first to admit the pictures online really have done it no favors, I think the device looks great in person. My girlfriend and best friend both thought it looked great. The case it comes with is nothing special, but it does hold the device in well and provides a good place to clip a backlight onto.
My main fear was the lag between screen changes. Turns out, the screen lag is not a problem, as some other reviewers have said, you learn to hit the button right before you finish the last sentence and the transition is smooth. It is actually less intrusive than turning pages on an actual book. It works great as a one-handed device unlike the oversized paperbacks that I usually prefer. I loathe reading hardbacks because I find them unwieldy and a real pain to work with when trying to eat and read at the same time. I will be investing more in new releases not only because the savings ($9.99 instead of $20+) but because reading on the Kindle is a much more enjoyable experience to me than trying to prop up a hardback in bed or at a restaurant table.
I have read about half of "The Call of Cthulhu" (which was 99c) and some of T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" to test the device on. A few pages in and I forgot I was reading an ebook, this was a huge relief.
Overall, I feel confident recommending this to anyone interested in an ebook reader. The whispernet is fast and convenient, viewing my gmail account took seconds, I think the selection is great (though I would like to see a few more of my personal favorites make their way onto the Kindle Bookstore), and most importantly, I feel as though I really am getting my money's worth.
I've compared the features to the Cybook and the Sony eReader and I've found that the Kindle, while slightly more expensive, really is the better deal.
Well done, Mr. Bezos. I think Amazon has done something really special here and I am happy to be a part of it.
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on December 2, 2007
I spent about a 5 days with Kindle. Here is the real truth about how it is.

As for the wireless it is very good at least in the New York City area. I have been using the amazon web site to select content and then have it delivered to Kindle.

As for free content, Project Gutenberg has a large number of classic titles, including Dickens a Christmas Carol. I saved the html format and had Amazon send it wirelessly to Kindle for $0.10 (less than a phone call).

Overall, the content is easy to load and from what I have seen at least for newer books they are available on Amazon.

The Wall Street Journal Kindle eddition is very good.

The big point is readability. Page turns are reasonably quick however, the screen does flicker as it turns pages. Not for a long period as some have claimed and certainly not for 2 seconds.

The text is wonderful. For those of us with older eyes (40+ years), being able to make the text larger is wonderful. I have set the screen to level 4 and it is very readable without glasses.

Overall a wonderful product akin to the 1st generation iPod which was revolutionary.


Should Buy

You should order a Kindle if you (i) read multiple books at the same time, (ii) travel a lot and want to receive WSJ or NYT every day wirelessly, or (iii) enjoy classics available on Gutenberg.

Should Not Buy

You should not buy a Kindle if you (i) enjoy borrowing library books, (ii) read a single book at a given point in time, (iii) find an iPod complicated and unnecessary (Kindle is a life made better through technology type product and those that dislike technology will not like Kindle).

Overall, for most people, once they get through the purchase price, I do not believe most readers will return to print books. The real market which is not available yet, but which Kindle is a natural product for is the text book market where high school and college students carry 10s of pounds of books daily. If a student (I am thinking of my children not me -- see prior comments re: the condition of my eye sight) could carry every text book on a device that weighs less than a pound and each text was searchable, it could revolutionize the manner in which text books are used and purchased.

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on December 19, 2007
I've had my Kindle for a couple of weeks now, but held off on reviewing to get a better understanding of its high points and low points. I'm sure most of my thoughts have already been covered by the 1000+ reviews posted, but wanted to add my drop of water to this growing stream of feedback.

Overall, I've enjoyed the Kindle experience, hence three stars. However, there is definitely room for improvement as one would expect w/ any 1.0 release. In particular, from my point of view, the Kindle is great if you fit the following profile: 1) Read multiple books simultaneously, 2) Read books that tend to be lengthy, 3) Travel frequently, and 4) Are comfortable being an early adopter. If you fall into one or more of these categories, then you'll probably be okay w/ the Kindle, but the device itself is not going to blow anyone away.

In particular the the physical design is a bit on the clunky side. The now infamous "turn page" buttons are the primary shortcoming I've run into. They are very easy to hit and unlike a paper book, it's often cumbersome to "flip" around to find where you were when you set the Kindle down and inadvertently move to a new page. Short of some firmware upgrade that changes the way the button clicks execute, this issue won't be addressed until a full redesign takes place. In addition, the included case is a bit chintzy. It can be a chore to get the Kindle lodged just so to avoid it falling out. Once you get it situated it's not too bad, but it should be much easier. Hopefully this will be addressed by after market accessory makers.

Another aspect of the Kindle some may find annoying is the screen refresh. Every time you turn a page, the screen flashes black momentarily, then renders the text on the new page. I personally haven't found this to be distracting, but others that I've allowed to play w/ the device have commented on it. On the upside, the display is very crisp and easy to read as one would expect from an eInk device.

Speaking of positives, there are quite a few.

Far and away is the wireless capability and online store component. It's very well put together and easy to navigate to available content. Maybe too easy...I can see how you could blow through some serious cash with no effort. Some have concerns about coverage based on their location and that's valid. If you're in a large metro area, you're probably good to go. If not, check the coverage map on the Kindle page to figure out if you'll be driving to the nearest Interstate to download a book.

Battery life w/ the wireless turned off is fantastic. I've can go about a week w/ fairly regular reading before having to charge. You really only need the wireless to shop and search Wiki / online content, so not critical to the experience most of the time.

Obviously the size when compared to most hardcovers is a bonus. It's much smaller and lighter, making it a boon to frequent travelers. Most of the books I read tend to be long and that usually means leaving them at home on road trips, which means it takes me about a year to finish a book.

On balance I'm happy w/ the Kindle. However, the Kindle is best suited to books and it's experience is built around them. The blog / newspaper content doesn't seem as well suited to the format.

So, if you want an alternative to lugging around bulky hardcovers and the ability to access new reads from most locations, the Kindle's for you. If you want an iPod like device that does a bunch of other stuff, you'll want to pass. The Kindle is a reading device first and foremost.

I give it five stars for convenience, but until the design flaws are addressed, I can't give it five overall. Three stars for now, but w/ tons of upside potential.
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on December 4, 2007
Finally a new technology that does not waste anyone's time. I sliced open the box, plugged the Kindle in, read the manual to learn about all of the features, bought a book, and began reading. Start to finish: 15 minutes.

The device already knew who I was and charged $9.99 to my credit card for the book (I got an email confirmation of the charge a minute or so later). So I guess I will be getting $9.99 poorer every week or two, but at least this new device won't be making me miserable with system administration, customer support, typing in my credit card number, buying extra software, etc.

Kudos to the engineers who developed this. It is rare to find a product that does exactly what it promises to do.

Thoughtful touch: Folks with older eyes can adjust the print size to something comfortable.

Nits: I'm not convinced that the next page, previous page, and back buttons are ideally placed. The back button actually takes you out of the book that you're reading. Fortunately when you go back in, the Kindle remembers your place.

Update December 2008: I've found the Kindle very good for travel, terrible for illustrations (rendered unreadable; no pan or zoom), and rather fragile. The screen on mine failed. It would have been $180 plus shipping to repair, so I decided to abandon the Kindle and start using the local public library.
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on December 18, 2007
I have been using my Kindle for over a week now. I am extremely pleased with it.

Lately though, I have been annoyed by some of the reasons people here give it a negative review.
By both owners and non-owners.
I would like to offer my views on some of the most common negative points
you will see on the reviews.

1.The lack of back lighting:

The Kindle is designed to be a replacement/alternative to paper books.
My paper books don't have back lights. Why should the Kindle?
I read in bed just like I do with normal books....with a book light or a lamp.
Also back lighting would drain the battery faster and most importantly.....Strain My Eyes!
I don't want to read anything that will make me physically uncomfortable after 10-15 minuets.

2.The battery only lasts a day or two.

Turn off the wireless. It's easy. It's next to the On/Off switch.
Use it only when you need to.
You will get about a week on a charge.

3.It's expensive. You may as well just purchase a cheap laptop.
Then you can read ebooks and do thousands of other things:

Even though a laptop is portable and a nice to have machine, it doesn't come close to the portability of the Kindle.
The battery doesn't last half a day. Plus back lighting. (See #1).
I don't want a Kindle to help me with my taxes, edit video, or play games.
I want a Kindle to display books, lots of them.
It accomplishes this VERY well.

4.MP3's only playback in shuffle mode.

Go buy an iPod,Zune,Creative Zen or any of the other hundreds of mobile players.
Once again, I want an eBook device to show me books.

5.Just go buy a PDA. You can read books on those.
Yes one could but you have to put up with tiny screens, eye strain, and poorer battery performance.

6.Sony's Reader is cheaper.

And Sony's online book store is as expensive as the hardcover edition and way less selection than the Kindle bookstore.
20,000 vs. 90,000 hmmmm...
Plus the Sony Reader doesn't have anything like Whispernet.

7.No PDF support is a deal breaker!

The Kindle does have experimental PDF support.
Amazon is working on full support.
Just Relax.

8.Kindle books are locked down with DRM.

No Kidding. Do you honestly think right now It wouldn't be?
With the MPAA and RIAA suing companies and private citizens left and right, causing the defendants costly legal fees, Amazon must take steps to protect themselves.Do you think the publishers and authors would allow Amazon to sell their electronic versions of works without copy restriction? I don't like it either but I understand it.
I'll deal with DRM in some capacity until somebody comes up with a solution that's good for both sides.

In conclusion I love this thing. It does what I expect an ebook reader to do and it does it well.

Kindle books are more affordable than hardcovers and most paperbacks. I can buy books without a computer. It's possible to read a few chapters before buying books is great. The portability of it is fantastic and the store has an amazing selection.
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on November 28, 2007
I've owned a Kindle for a week now. I've read two full novels on it, and numerous book samples. I like the Kindle. It's not perfect, but it's good enough that I will continue to use it and purchase books for it.

- Instant gratification. I can shop the Kindle Store from just about anywhere, purchase a book and start reading in a minute or two.
- Sample chapters.
- The screen is great. Once you get used to it (took me about 2 chapters), you totally forget it's an ebook. NOTHING like a laptop or cell phone. Don't compare this screen to your computer, it's very, very different and much better for reading.
- Space saver. I read a lot of paperbacks which I really have no interest in saving. Kindle version is much easier to deal with.
- Environmentally friendly. No need to print book (energy & wood pulp), shipped to Amazon (energy), then shipped to me (energy & shipping box). Yes, the paper and box is recyclable, but even recycling uses resources.

- I wish I could share Kindle books with others. Should be able to transfer ownership of books to other Kindle users. I'll only buy Kindle books which I doubt I'll want to share. This is my biggest gripe with the Kindle.
- Hardware design is lacking. The back/prev buttons are a bit too easy to hit by accident. There should be a preference to turn them off individually.
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on November 26, 2007
I used the Kindle for the first time over Thanksgiving. And I have to say that I'm really impressed with it. I was expecting it to be really ugly and unusable, but to my surprise, the device was small, sleek and continued to surprise me with each feature. I spent a good hour playing with it. The small device came with a leather bound cover to emulate the feel of a book and it's small enough to carry around.

One of the biggest wins I found with the device is that it comes life time internet access. This is not the same as catching the local wifi from where you are standing, rather, it's a separate wireless network that comes with the device, like a cell phone. The wireless service is free of charge and works through out the US. That's pretty amazing. It's like a little laptop.

It comes with a web browser. I was able to view my blog directly from the device. I was also able to click on links to sites like flickr. And google worked as well. The screen quality is just like the Sony book reader. I don't think you can view videos, but definitely pictures.

One small complaint is that I didn't like the diagonal tilt in the design. It's fine when you are holding the device in your hands, but when I wanted to put it down on the table, it doesn't lie flat, which is a little annoying.

Overall, I was really impressed with the way it looked, the screen quality, how easy it was to download a new book, the web browser and free internet connection.
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on April 8, 2008
I've had my Kindle for about 4 months now. I wanted to thoroughly evaluate its positives and negatives before lending my voice to the discussion.

I'm not a natural writer - so I ask that you forgive any grammatical errors or syntactical faux pas. (OK... so I do have a thesaurus)

Let me start by saying I'm NOT one of the target demographic for this device. While I do enjoy recreational reading, I've never collected books, and I had never even heard of "Amazon Prime" before my Kindle purchase. Quite frankly, I bought the Kindle on a lark, having read a short news article that raved about the "free" (albeit limited) cellular internet access. This was just before the Newsweek cover story came out.

First Week - I proudly took my Kindle to my weekly poker game to show my friends. While on a break, the subject of absinthe came up - and I was able to look it up on Wikipedia. Did you know absinthe is made from "wormwood" - and that wormwood pretty much has nothing to do with worms? I didn't - and neither did my friends. Score one for Kindle.

Shortly thereafter I needed to transfer files from one PC to another at work, and my thumb-drive wouldn't read properly. I plugged my Kindle into the PC using a USB cable and transferred the files via the Kindle.

I've kept abreast of developing news stories, checked the weather forecast, and even looked up movie schedules without going near my PC.

If you're so inclined, you can even read on the thing. Last week, I was reading in the bathtub with my Kindle safely ensconced in a Ziploc bag. After I finished reading the first chapter (free download from Amazon) I decided to buy the book. Less than a minute later I had completed the purchase and download, and happily continued my reading without leaving the tub. Try that with ANY other book reader.

There is defiantly room for improvement - The cover is sub-par, the buttons and especially their placement are less than ideal, a color screen would be nice, and a light build into the cover would be welcome - but ALL of that is minor compared to the sheer brilliance of the overall concept of an always available bookstore/dictionary/encyclopedia/library that fits in your hand.

When I ordered the Kindle there were about 88,000 "books" listed as available for purchase. Today that number is over 116,000. Amazon is clearly working hard to provide additional content.

I could say more, but it's all been said before, and certainly more eloquently than I could ever hope to. Suffice it to say - I'm very pleased with my Kindle and eagerly await the next version.
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