Tobold's Blog
Monday, May 14, 2012
 
Remarks on the Kindle

I've had the Kindle for several months now, time to write a bit about my practical experience with it. First of all I have to say that I do not regret having it, overall the Kindle proved to be excellent at what it is doing. The only caveat is that what it is doing is far more limited than for example an iPad or notebook computer.

As I was born in the sixties, and didn't have video games in my youth, I spent much of that youth in public libraries. I'm a fast reader, and I read a lot, so public libraries were ideal for keeping me entertained. Now I don't know how public libraries work where you live, but in my experience they were full of books that were over 10 years old, while getting the latest bestseller was next to impossible, because the library had bought at best one of them and somebody else was always reading it. The Kindle is such a public library in reverse: You can have all the latest bestseller, and all very old books without copyright, but finding a book that is over 10 years old is hard. For example I was interested in re-reading the Dalziel and Pascoe detective novels of Reginald Hill, and on the Kindle most weren't available, or only as audio books (and I prefer reading myself to listening to somebody else reading a book). But if I read a review of a new book somewhere, chances to find it available for the Kindle are good. And I could get a lot of classics for free, even directly from Amazon.

These days I mostly read books while traveling, for holiday or business. For that the Kindle proved to be very suitable. Except for starting and landing, where the flight attendant will tell you to switch off all electronic devices, the Kindle makes for good reading material during a flight. Especially during long flights with no internet connection on the plane the Kindle is better than a tablet computer, as it has a much longer battery life. If traveling to a sunny place, the Kindle shines with another feature: e-Ink with no back-light makes reading on the Kindle possible even in bright sunlight, while you need shadows for back-lit LCD devices. Packing a Kindle also means not packing a stack of books, which makes your luggage lighter. And again the long battery life provides reading all day long without worrying about where the next power socket is.

As a replacement for a tablet computer, the Kindle only has limited usefulness. I don't have the new "Kindle Touch", so using arrow keys and enter for surfing is less than ideal. I have a 3G model, and free 3G is obviously good, but it only works for Amazon and Wikipedia. For anything else I need a WiFi connection. And if I have that, I found that I preferred my iPod to the Kindle for surfing.

So my overall impression is that the Kindle is excellent as an e-book, as a replacement for regular books. The Kindle is not really a good competitor for tablet computers. But then the Kindle only costs a fraction of an iPad, so that is okay. As long as you don't expect much more than an electronic device for reading books, I can only recommend the Kindle.

Comments:
I really can't blame publishers for not wanting to pay the substantial cost of digitizing their back catalogs, but I wish they'd let Google, Project Gutenberg or someone else crowdsource the effort.
 
Yes. I concur 100% with your Kindle evaluation -- it matches my experiences completely. If what you want is an e-reader, the Kindle 3G is outstanding. If what you want is a tablet that can double as an e-reader, you are better off with something else.

I do wish I could keep it on during takeoff and landing, though. I am more than a little dubious about the technical merits of the prohibition.
 
I am more than a little dubious about the technical merits of the prohibition.

You and me both. In an age where our water bottles are confiscated for fear that they might contain liquid explosive, it appears strange that if electronic devices were able to interfere with the plane, they would allow them on board at all.

Coming up next: Due to the underpants bomber we will soon all have to strip naked and have our body cavities searched to take a flight. But we'll be allowed to keep our Kindle as long as we promise to turn it off during starting and landing.
 
I share the doubts Jonreece has about the reason you have to switch off electronics during taking off and landing.

If there was even the SLIGHTEST chance that they could cause an aerial mishap they would not be allowed on the plane.

I have a kindle and an iPad. I prefer reading e-books on the iPad, with the exception of reading outside.
 
LOL
It looks like we were typing the same thought and the same time.
 
The likelihood that your electronic device is going to interfere in any way with the communication systems of a multimillion dollar aircraft is incredibly small. The real reason for this regulation, I presume, is so that passengers are paying attention during takeoff and landing, the time when problems are likely to occur.

As far as the Kindle goes, I have a Fire, and the thing is amazing. You can side-load your own launcher without rooting the device, turning it into a pretty useful tablet at a fraction of the cost of the big boys. I got mine during one of Amazon's refurb sales for $139. Can't beat it.
 
Comparing the lower model Kindle to an iPad is the same as comparing an e-machine to Alienware. It just isn't fair. A better comparison is the Kindle Fire to an iPad. The Fire stands up incredibly well against the iPad, for 1/3rd of the price.
 
How is the pricing for Kindle books?

I'd imagine that sending me a few kilobytes of data must be cheaper than sending me a physical copy from the UK through thebookdepository?
 
You don't pay for shipping, but otherwise the price for an eBook is similar to that of a physical one in many cases. You might want to look through the price list on Amazon to confirm.
 
I see that they ship the Kindle Touch to Belgium.

The prices in dollars for their books look very reasonable. Mmm, I'll think about it, beats having an attic full of books.
 
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