Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ruminations on one day with a Kindle

They say don't judge a book by its cover. Nor should I probably judge a new tech toy after one day. But, when your one day includes time at home and 8 hours of plane rides, you could argue you've done all the needed testing on a portable device of any type.

So... new Kindle verdict: OUT-FLIPPING-STANDING.

Firstly, can I get every electronic device I have to hold a charge like this? Probably not, bc unlike every other device I have, the Kindle isn't backlit. It uses "electronic paper," which (thank you Wikipedia:
"Unlike a conventional flat panel display, which uses a backlight to illuminate its pixels, electronic paper reflects light like ordinary paper and is capable of holding text and images indefinitely without drawing electricity, while allowing the image to be changed later."

This basically means it really reads like a book. As in it gets dark and you need to shine a light on it. But the non-glare screen makes that a non-issue.

The interface is very intuitive. You barely have to think about it it makes so much sense. And, what's more, someone put some good thought into this... it actually handles like a book. I realized on the plane, I was holding it pretty much like a folded-over paperback (without ripping the spine apart) and, even cooler, when I needed to have my hands free for a moment, I could set it down and keep reading. No pages to hold open.

The first book I downloaded was Stirg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Amazon claims the download takes 60 seconds. Mine took about 7. And I had no idea so many "popular classics" that had entered the public domain were now available as Kindle books for free. That will make bridging my two-books-per-month self-imposed budget easy (look, imagine if you just bought every book at will... how much would that run you?).

I was sitting across the aisle from a guy who had the big-screen Kindle DX and, honestly, unless you need ultra-large text capability, I see no true advantages (though I haven't played on one).

And, now, to step on my soapbox... I have no idea how anyone could prefer an iPad to this for the sake of reading. For instance, it bugs me when the the screen on my little Blackberry gets smudged. Imagine reading a book on a screen you also type on. The Kindle has no issue there. And I highly doubt I could've managed reading for 4-5 hours on planes today if I was dealing with backlit LCD screens. My optometrist would be happy about it, but maybe not me. Oh and the Kindle price tag is pretty fantastic.

Anyhow, I was trying to find a gripe about the Kindle all day. And by gripe, I mean something that was a disadvantage over a real paper book. For instance, lack of full Internet access is not a flaw... I have a laptop, kids. With a wifi card.

So far? Nothing comes to mind, short of I'm going to be upset if I drop it.

If you're on the fence on a Kindle, I say jump. If you're sold on the iPad, I say give the Kindle a fair shot. And if you think you can never use an eReader... well, talk to my wife. That's what she said a few months back...


Sarie26 said...

It's true. He made me eat my words.

Adaena said...

I like Kindles...but for other people. Call me old-fashioned, but there's nothing quite like having a book in my hand. I get excited about stupid shit like smelling the books, procuring the perfect bookmark (currently a scratch 'n sniff bookmark that smells like pepperoni), and seeing what kinds of stains, scribbles and annotations are left by previous owners. I also like the thrill of ordering a bunch of materials and then seeing what arrives for me at a library. It's like Christmas! That said, if I didn't work in a library and have the ability to push myself up on waiting lists and so forth, I might have a different mindset.

Bill Lysse said...

Kindles do not work well with footnotes at all. That is the only negative I can see. Many authors that have foot-noted books will encourage people not to read on a Kindle.