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September 26, 2010 / teknolog

The 2010 Kindle

Since the arrival of the first Kindle a few years back, I’ve been ever so slightly interested in the device. Because of my incessant moving around the world, I have come to dislike physical property and over the last few years I have tried to rid myself of most of my worldly possessions. Even though I am quite a prolific reader, this absolutely includes books, so I figured the Kindle would be perfect for me in this regard.

Up until recently, two things prevented me from getting one. Firstly, up until a year ago I was living back in the old country, where the Kindle was (and still is not) not offered for sale. Also, because I am somewhat of a cheapwad, I found the retail price of over 300 USD to be too high.

Now both of these limiting factors have been mitigated, and I’m happy to say that I’m the proud owner of a 2010 Kindle! The Kindle is now a much more bearable £109 here in the UK, and the latest version is smaller and prettier than before.

The device

About a week ago I received my Kindle after a few weeks waiting for delivery. Eagerly unboxing it, I was surprised at how little the device is Turning it on, it somewhat spookily greeted me with the title bar saying “Sebastian’s Kindle.” Apparently, since Amazon knows who it was that ordered the Kindle, they set it up for my account in the factory! Pretty neat!

The first impression is, as I said, that the Kindle is very slim and slender. It is the size of a standard paperback book, and about one centimeter thick. It actually slips into the back pocket of my favorite pair of jeans. The weight is also about the same as a paperback. In other words, it is not at all uncomfortable to hold in any way. Build quality is excellent, with a nice soft rubbery plastic that is very pleasant to touch.

The bulk of the surface is, of course, covered by the five six inch e-ink display, which is gorgeous. The pixels are tiny and contrast is great, much improved since previous models.

The user interface is primitive but well though out. The large page flipping buttons on the sides are convenient, and it is clever that you have forward and back buttons on both sides, so you can hold the Kindle in either hand. There is also a d-pad for navigating around the screen and clicking on hyperlinks.

Since the device is quite new on the market, it draws a lot of attention. In the first few days I showed it to at least a handful of strangers on the street who asked to see it. Funnily, every single person I showed it to assumed it has a touch screen, which it doesn’t.

Personally, I think not allowing touch input is a good design choice, because it gives you the freedom to hold it whichever way you want, including holding the screen itself without operating the device.

Connectivity

The Kindle comes in two editions, 3G+WiFi and WiFi only. I opted for the WiFi only model, because it is a bit cheaper, and because I don’t really see myself needing to buy books when I’m outside of WiFi range.

At the bottom of the device there is a standard micro-USB port for charging and data transfer. When you plug it into your computer the Kindle appears as a memory card, and you can copy books and music to it (or any file you want, I guess).

The Kindle store

Saturday morning I woke up in London greeted by sunshine. Seeing this as an excellent opportunity to try out the Kindle I went down to my favorite breakfast place and ordered a full English breakfast (yum). To go with it, I bought downloaded the latest edition of The Economist. I found the price of £4 to be a bit steep, because it is about as expensive as the print edition.

Buying books and magazines in the Kindle store is a predictably smooth experience, what with Amazon being the world’s largest retailer and holding that silly one-click-shopping patent. Patent or not, the shopping was indeed single click.

Text-to-speech and audio books

I found the text-to-speech feature to be surprisingly good. I can easily imagine myself listening to magazine articles and possibly books. It is, however,  absolutely ridiculous that many publishers choose to disable this feature, because it can by no means compare to the recorded performance of an audio book.

Speaking of audio books, the Kindle supports them in the Audible format, which makes sense since Amazon owns Audible. I haven’t tried listening to audio books yet, but I did try music playback (see below). The Kindle has a pair of surprisingly loud and good speakers on the back.

Web browser and music player

For good measure, Amazon has thrown in a rough web browser and what must be the world’s most primitive mp3 player. It will simply play all the mp3 files you place on device using the USB cable, in an order I couldn’t quite figure out.

Because of the e-ink screen, the web browser simply can’t do most page any justice. I can imagine myself using the browser to look up things in Wikipedia, but that’s about as far as it goes. I guess this is a scenario where the 3G model would be nice.

Final thoughts

I am very happy with the Kindle. It is a wonderful experience to read material on it, and the e-ink screen is a nice change from spending most of my days looking at LCD monitors.

Amazon has done a fantastic job with the device. We are still in the infancy of electronic book readers, and there are certainly many improvements that can be made, I strongly recommend buying the 2010 Amazon Kindle.

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3 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Mdc / Sep 27 2010 12:58 pm

    5″ screen you’ve obviously got a faulty one ad mine arrived with a 6″ screen 🙂

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