Having decided upon ordering a Kindle a little later than I might have for products from another given tech company, I finally gave in to my technology-bugged psyche and placed my order for the Kindle. The most frustrating part of placing the order – even from the first day of the launch for pre-orders – was the 2-3 week wait, as demand had clearly grown rapidly for Amazon’s new e-book reader and it’s no surprise as it is now the clear leader in a number of aspects including price; screen quality; and weight.
It made sense for me to buy the Kindle as I love reading on the move and recently switched my commute from driving to taking public transport. The thought of driving to work was always far dreamier than the reality and in the end, had my blood pressure levels soaring, so now I can simply read/sleep/daydream – anyhow, I digress.
It also looks like this market is on the tipping point of going mass market and some would argue that it already has now that Amazon is officially selling more e-books than hardcovers. Admittedly, this story broke just weeks before the announcement of the new Kindle and I think this must have been a major factor in my decision to purchase. Proof that PR is still well and truly alive and kicking.
I paid for Express delivery and it arrived promptly on 9 September.
The techy inside of me was eager to see the quality of the screen after all the fuss that has been made in regards to reading the device on the beach – something that is really not all that possible on alternative devices like my iPhone 4 or even the iPad. It definitely did not disappoint – very, very sharp in 6 inches of glorious E-Ink technology. The screen is viewable at almost impossible angles (this is new to me, having never owned one of these devices previously) and really does have the overall feel like you are reading a paperback in front of you. What has been even stranger is that whilst sitting on a tube, I have found myself reading the Kindle, then looking up to see one of the thousands of advertisements Amazon has placed on the network. And then also finding that someone next to me has done the same, making me feel like some sort of walking advertisement!
When the device is switched ‘off’ it displays one of many fancy screensavers that you have probably seen from any of the marketing shots of the device and proves that it can display photos and images in very high-quality and contrast greyscale.
The device came setup with my Amazon credentials already setup, which made getting started on the device a complete breeze. I simply connected to my wireless network and had my latest Kindle books ready to read on the device in seconds.
Coming from a background of user-interface design and having used hundred (or even thousands) of different interfaces, I should be more able than most to ease into using the device fairly quickly; however, this was not necessarily the case immediately after beginning to use it and I do wonder if this is attributable to using the iPhone for too long.
One thing that I found quite interesting/difficult, for example, were the buttons to each side of the device for turning pages. My immediate thought before and even when holding device, was that a button on each side of the Kindle would turn a page in that direction; I also thought that any additional buttons to each side would allow you to skip several pages or even advance to the beginning or end of the book, but alas, this was not to be.
Instead, the buttons for moving forwards and backwards between pages are duplicated on each side, which I assume is to allow one-handed operation and does to an extent make a fair amount of sense – it just wasn’t what I had envisaged. In-use it does work very well and after giving myself some time to adapt, allowed me to read standing up whilst travelling; one hand with the Kindle and one hand holding my regular early morning americano.
The Kindle store had to be my biggest letdown so far, but hopefully things will get better with time and as user-adoption grows.
Although they do have a lot of titles available (and many more I would guess than alternatives such as iBooks et al) there are still many, many titles missing. Most surprising of all, however, is that the difference in price of the e-books from their paperback and even the hardcover alternatives (in some instances) is not as much a cost-saving as you might have expected. I suppose that in a lot of ways this isn’t really surprising, given the pricing found for digital music vs. the cost of CDs, but it almost feels like you are incurring a loftier ‘loss’ from the weight and feel of a well-bound hardcover. Also, an area I haven’t managed to yet explore in full detail is what is lost for any accompanying media with some book titles, including audio commentaries; DVD’s; and additional media provided on CD-ROM.
Pricing and Verdict
Amazon have done well here and I opted for the simpler wifi-only option at a price point of just £109 including their ubiquitous Super Saver delivery option (although as previously mentioned, I did opt for the £7 Express premium delivery).
Although the iPad is not exactly the most comparable device, many will want to extoll the virtues of a more converged platform. However, the Kindle does what it needs to do best.
The screen is more apt for reading with its infinitely higher contrast ratio; the battery lasts a month; and the cost is just a quarter that of the average iPad.
If you read a lot and the weight of all those books has become an increasing burden in your life, then it is probably time for you to get an e-reader and there is none better at this time than the Amazon Kindle.