Despite Farley‘s well-reasoned arguments on why buying the Kindle is a bad idea, the Inspector Gadget within me succumbed to the temptation and ordered the #1 bestselling, most-wished-for, and most gifted item from Amazon. My brain simply stops working and reverts to its basic geek mode when it comes to new electronic toys.
“New”, of course, is relative. Following the well-walked path set by the Chumby, the iPhone, Hulu, Pandora and Google Voice, the Kindle was also off-limits for Canadians until very recently, despite being available in 100 other countries, including Zimbabwe, Myanmar and Albania. I don’t mean any disrespect to those 3 countries, the point here is that we are next door neighbours to Amazon’s headquarters, so it puzzles me why it’s easier to get legal wrinkles solved in other continents than here.
Even when the Kindle finally arrived in Canada, on November 17, it was not fully featured: web browsing and blogs are not available North of the US. Not even the iPhone Kindle app is up for Canuck’s grabs yet, unless one’s willing to be a bit, err, adventurous. But we Canadians can always get the KindleCandle app for 0.99:
Ok, end of rant.
A few months from now, when the elusive Apple tablet is finally revealed, I’ll regret this purchase, but for now, I’m actually very pleased with it.
- The screen is very readable, much better than I expected. I read about the e-ink a million times, played with the Sony e-reader for a few minutes, but only when you go through several pages on an e-reader you start noticing why it’s better than your laptop screen.
- Battery life is really good. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the iPhone.
- It’s much easier to carry and handle than a regular hard-cover. If you are a subway warrior, you know the importance of being able to hold a book and move to the next page using the same hand.
- The dictionary feature is handy for folks like me, whose English vocabulary came mostly from reading Wolverine and Spider-Man.
- I could spend days browsing Wikipedia in the Kindle.
- Amazon finally gave in to a no-hassle PDF support. Competition, we love you.
- Being able to clip excerpts and annotate your favourite paragraphs change the reading experience. No more dog ears or chicken scratch.
- Ability to download sample chapters of books for free.
- Text to speech is a nice touch, but I don’t see myself using it much.
- The contrast of “e-printed” text and the gray background is not as good as the old black text on white paper.
- The screen is smaller than it needs to be. That physical keyboard is a waste of real estate.
- PDF reading is still poor: you can’t zoom in or annotate.
- Colours, or lack there of. It has that first generation iPod feel.
- The first 2 books I tried to buy were not available in the Kindle store: “The Wisdom of Crowds” and “The Cult of the Amateur”.
THE DREAM (or: is that what they call the iTablet?)
- Touch screen, no buttons, gestures
- Comic book viewing
- Web 2.0 features: sharing reading lists, recommendations, annotations with my network
- Bookshelf-like interface
- Voice recording for commentary/annotations
In summary, I give the Kindle thumbs up for now, at least until the next Apple event, when Farley will I-told-you-so me.