Amazon Kindle 2 (Book Review of the Week-ish)
What? Need more before you decide? OK. Here’s what you need to know.
- The screen. Everyone likes the Kindle 2 screen – even some skeptics who diss the device. It’s extremely easy on the eyes. No backlight. Looks almost like paper. A week ago, I read for a good 3-4 hours with no eyestrain and never needed to reach for my glasses once. It even has a font-size adjustment, which helps, too.
- The wireless delivery. Man, Amazon is going to sell tons of books – and not just to me – without the cost of shipping tons of books. Getting a new book or magazine subscription or blog, delivered to Kindle couldn’t be much simpler. That’s a Good Thing, especially since most books sell for about 10 bucks. Its free “Whispernet” service – well, free enough, since the cost is built into the price of the books – works well. I’ve bought books in my living room, in my office and on the train quickly and easily. Don’t be surprised if Amazon reports stronger than expected earnings down the road because of this thing.
- Good – though not great – book selection. Kindle has plenty of books available for it. I’ve added about 15-20 books and only found a handful that I wanted that weren’t available. (See my past book reviews for an idea on what I typically want). But… well, see below.
- Good size/weight. In a word: Nice. It’s a pleasure to hold the Kindle 2. Very comfortable in my hand, with or without the optional cover.. Oh. And it beats lugging around loads of books in your briefcase or backpack.
- Battery life Kindle 2′s screen technology doesn’t draw much power, so battery life is fantastic. I’ve only plugged it in two or three times in the last several weeks and haven’t had a problem. Plus, you can charge the Kindle 2 via USB, too. Nice.
- Cost effective. OK. Calling a limited function computer that sells for $359 “cost effective” might be a stretch. But for avid readers, the savings on the books can make it worth the price. Those 15-20 books I mentioned a couple of bullets back? Yeah, I saved about 50 bucks on those from the new book price on Amazon. And broke even relative to used book prices.
- It just works. Among its many strengths, Kindle 2 has Bill Joy’s “It works” feature. It does what it claims to do. And that’s a welcome change from many products on the market.
- Good – but not great – book selection. Looking for the latest O’ Reilly books? They’re not all here. Steve Krug’s must-read, “Don’t Make Me Think”?
Nuh-uh. What about the 1934 edition of Benjamin Graham’s classic, “Security Analysis”?
Nope (though the Sixth Edition is).
Most best sellers – fiction and non-fiction alike – make the cut. But if your tastes run down roads less traveled, you’re likely to be reading more tree books than e-books.
- The Web browser. OK. So the Kindle isn’t designed for browsing the web. And it’s nice that they added a web browser. But, given how much better mobile phone browsing is getting, a grayscale, relatively slow browser makes you wonder why Amazon included one at all.
- Speed – Except for turning pages, which happens relatively quickly, navigating the device isn’t as quick as it should be. Especially when typing, which brings me to…
- The keyboard. Maybe it’s me. I’ve used a BlackBerry for years and have grown accustomed to it’s elegant keyboard layout and intelligent assistance. Hit space twice to get a period. Auto-capitalize words at the beginning of sentences. Keys close enough together to make typing easy without being so tight you hit the wrong letter. The Kindle strikes out on all of these. I’m constantly writing notes in the margins of my books. Trying to type them using Kindle’s keyboard is much more of a chore than it should be. If you’ve never used a BlackBerry or aren’t much of a note scribbler, maybe you won’t notice. And it doesn’t get in the way of reading the books. But Amazon could really rethink this part of the device. It shouldn’t stop you from buying one. But it mars an otherwise great experience.
Overall, Amazon’s got themselves a winner here. Seth Godin has some ideas on how Amazon can make it better. But its broad book selection, speedy delivery, killer screen and the ease with which you can lug a library without breaking your back – or your bank – makes the Kindle 2 well worth picking up.
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