Monday, July 12, 2010

Amazon Kindle 2 (Random Product)

I've been eying e-book readers ever since the first Sony model came out a few years ago. The display was an interesting concept while the battery life was the most impressive, much in part due to the e-ink technology. I was torn between the B&N Nook and the Amazon Kindle 2, but I eventually went with the Kindle because of the selection and price of the actual e-books. That and I don't like B&N's website UI.

Since getting it, I've read through a good number of books that I probably would've never found or even touched. It's weird how now I can clear a 400+ page book in just a few days. I could probably do it in just one if I had enough time and had no distractions. I still kinda don't like the fact that you can't resell a book that you've already read, but I'm slowly adapting. Books don't hold much value in the secondary market anyway. All this just means more revenue for publishers. No production or distribution costs after a book has been digitized.

The Whispersync thing is pretty neat (Uses the cellular network for an Internet connection. Free for life too). After you link up your Kindle to your online account, you can buy a book with a few clicks from the device. Dangerous if you're not careful and a heavy shopper though, but I'm good since I only read books one at a time. Occasionally various publishers will release free books so this has been a great convenience in delving into different genres and stories that I probably would've never known about.

The price of most e-books is reasonable I guess; $9.99 seems to be the base price for a new release even though I've never purchased one that high. Other books are priced higher and I really wonder if any of those sell. I've made it a habit of not buying books unless they are under $7 or so. Usually a $9.99 book will just sit in my Wish List and will stay there until a price drop surfaces. I wonder how long it'll be until they do?

The Kindle comes with a built-in dictionary which is badass. The second you see a word that you don't know the definition to, all you have to do is use the keypad and get to the word and the definition appears on the bottom. This could've helped a lot while growing up for there is something very wasteful in having to use up time to whip out a real dictionary. I remember numerous times as a kid where I just went ahead and skipped words I didn't know...not the best method of educating oneself.

The battery lasts for weeks on end if you turn off the wireless. You only need to use the wireless to sync up with your account or if you need to buy a book. It does charge via USB cable so that's a nice perk.

The Bad
One of the main negatives that I can think of is the fact that there are way too many buttons on the device. I have never once used the keyboard and have only used the dedicated back button a few times. I'm sure they could've put more reading real estate on the device if they woulda simplified their input UI.

Another negative is the fact that the Kindle, along with many other e-book devices, have some overkill features that are just not needed. Why have a headphone output? Is someone really going to use their Kindle as an MP3 player? Why have the ability to use Text-to-Speech? Who is really going to listen to a book instead of reading it? A blind person could not even get to the selection screen to activate the feature.

If the designers were to clean up the input buttons and remove unnecessary features, I'm sure it could be made to have a larger display,more battery life, or have a faster refresh on the screen.

The last negative has to do with timing. I got this used off of Ebay for around $200. One month later B&N and Amazon had a price war and they both dropped the price down to $140/$189 respectively. Crappy luck on my end...

Overall
After my 2-3 months of ownership I'd say that it is indeed a worthwhile purchase. Sometimes I enjoy reading more than wandering around the Internet for hours, but of course you have to find a good story first.