Kind on Kindle

Kind on Kindle

Mom, My book ran out of batteries!

In my never-ending quest for cool new wirelessly enabled devices, I have been trying out the Amazon Kindle. In case you are not familiar with the device, it is basically an electronic book that accepts downloads via the Sprint network (EVDO) for books and periodicals. I read a novel on this device over the weekend and finished it on the train while commuting this morning. Here are my thoughts on the pros and cons of this new device.

The screen is spectacular for reading text. Several people I showed off the device to thought that it was a demonstration model. The reason being, they immediately thought that the text/pictures on the screen were from a decal because they were so sharp.
I also liked the ability to increase the font size of the text. I found reading for an hour not tiring on the eyes. I can hardly imagine reading for an hour on my BlackBerry without going blind!
The wireless connectivity worked flawlessly. I was able to surf the Kindle-enabled Amazon catalog and select a book from one of my favorite authors.

While reading a novel, I was easily drawn into the book, without distraction from the device.
On the train, I was able to easily read the book with one hand, clicking to new pages. My commuter train is often packed and I rarely get a seat. It is almost impossible to read a newspaper or a book because of the close quarters of the other travelers. I usually read the news on my BlackBerry or listen to an audio book on my iPod. The reading of a novel or a newspaper on the Kindle is definitely an option.

On the negative side: A book just has a soft feel — You “curl up” with a book. You operate a Kindle.
The Kindle is yet another device to carry around. I need a backpack just for my wireless device inventory.
I have not had an issue with the battery life of the Kindle. I keep the wireless connection off, except for downloading a book. I did try the experimental Web browser on the Kindle and it was a poor experience.
It was particularly fascinating to give the Kindle to various people and watch them try to operate it.
In 100% of the cases, the person tried to touch the screen to activate the menu or flip the pages. The paradigm of the iPhone touch screen seems to be expected on advanced devices. The use of the next-page buttons is not a problem and actually makes one-handed operation/reading easier.
The last issue is the price. At $400 it is an expensive electronic toy. You can buy many books for that amount!

The big feature for this device is the “free” EVDO access. This is the first device that uses wireless data as a utility without requiring a wireless subscription. Just based on this fact, this is a groundbreaking device.

As far as the predicted success of the Kindle …
If you can buy a Kindle with “OPM” (Other People’s Money), then it is a fine device. I find it hard to understand how this will be more than a niche product at its present price. Let’s reevaluate the future of the Kindle when it breaks the $100 price point.

Lastly, I feel it’s my duty to issue this warning regarding Kindle usage: While sleek devices like the iPhone can amplify your social life by making you more attractive to the ladies, let’s say, a Kindle can have the opposite effect. So leave it at home the next time you go out


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