Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle My Kindle arrived today. I’ve been wanting to jump in to the ebook game for a while but the lack of easy content has stopped me. Good thing I ordered it yesterday as they’ve sold out already. I’m sure others will write more in depth reviews, but here my current thoughts after half a day of use.

I’d like to start off by saying that I think they did a great job with the box it comes in. It is shaped like a book and looks quite nice. It even has little elastic string around a button to hold it closed.

Like everyone else, I thought the device was going to be pretty ugly from the pictures online. When it arrived I was pleasantly surprised. While there is certainly room for improvement in the looks department, the device is nice and solid. It has a nice rubber grip on the back and feels really nice in my hands. When holding it, my hands cover up the keyboard and my eyes don’t focus on it at all.

John claims that the silver scrolling thing to the right of the screen is alien technology. I’m not sure I can disagree. I have no idea what technology they use for it but it looks cool. The way you use the scroll wheel takes a bit of getting used to, but I find it works well. You can use it to annotate lines of text, highlight them, dictionary lookups, etc. It feels like you should be able to scroll the text with it, but you have to use the next page buttons.

The dictionary function is awesome. You can scroll to a line, click the scroll wheel, select lookup from the menu.  This function isn’t very fast, so after you wait a few seconds it will show you definitions of all the words on that line using the built-in Oxford English Dictionary.  For those of us not so good with the big words, this is huge.

When you buy something on amazon.com it is on your device almost instantaneous. The EVDO wireless is fast. Probably faster than the EDGE on my iPhone. I kind of wish there was a shopping cart for kindle content so that I could add all the things I’m interested in and then move them around like I do in more normal Amazon cart. They currently only support one-click purchasing which could lead to me racking up some big bills.

The screen is great for text. The E Ink folks deserve a lot of credit. Sadly the screen only does 4 shades of gray which results in many images look pretty bad. I’m sure future revisions will make this a lot better. Flipping pages is pretty fast. It does clear to black while flipping pages so there is a weird effect but when reading something I stopped noticing it. When searching on the device in the store, the keyboard is a little laggy. I’m not sure if this is due to the screen or the OS or what, but it isn’t the end of the world. I look forward to a color screen some day.

The web browser on the device is kind of crappy for general browsing, but works fine for things like Wikipedia which you can use for free.

Since Amazon is offering 14 day trials for all their subscription content on the Kindle, I’ve signed up for Time magazine. I will probably give one of the newspapers a shot in a week or two when I have more time to read it, but I expect with the frequency that news changes, the web might be a better source. I would like to see some additional magazines such as The Economist show up, but until then I’ll probably find myself using the device mostly use it for books.

I was concerned about how I would get new content while overseas or in an area without EVDO coverage, but I found out you can download the books from your Amazon Media Library and copy them to your device via USB. This might be enough for those outside the US who want the device and content.

So far I’m very pleased with my device. It came knowing my name which was pretty neat. Version two will no doubt be better in many ways, but this is a great version one. I’ll do a follow-up in a couple weeks after I’ve had more time to use it.

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