March 15, 2009
WEEKEND BOOK REPORT – The Kindle 2
Right around the time I was trying to decide whether or not to get a Kindle or wait for its expected successor, Oprah Winfrey endorsed it.
It quickly sold out and went on backorder for months.
Oprah having made my decision for me (which is kind of how we ended up with Barack Obama, come to think of it), I waited for the Kindle 2, pre-ordering it the day it was announced.
Those of you who are accustomed to smart phones, particularly Apple’s iPhone, and other full-color, touch-screen-enabled devices, might have the same first impression I did.
“What a clunky old-fashioned piece of junk.”
With its black-and-white display, clicky plastic buttons, and drab exterior, it has all the glamour and pizzazz of an Al Gore presentation (only without the cool motorized elevating cantilever platform).
But then the Kindle is not trying to be like a smart phone. It’s trying to be like a printed book. And in the attempt, addresses my #1 complaint with printed books.
They’re printed books.
Don’t get me wrong. Planet Moron has an extensive assortment of printed books, including a leather-bound 50-plus-volume collection of “Stuff You Should Know” and it's unlikely I'll live long enough to get through them all. In fact, if experience is any guide, it's unlikely I'll live long enough to get through "Beyond Good and Evil." As much as I enjoy printed books, I just don’t have room for any more of them in physical form, having foolishly purchased a house I could afford rather than something larger, perhaps with a formal library instead of a converted garage with two bookshelves shoved in the corner.
The Kindle incorporates other paper-and-pen-saving features including the ability to create electronic bookmarks, highlight and save selected passages, and make the virtual equivalent of notes in the margins.
It has two major drawbacks, however:
Price: I would not have spent $359 for it were I not also a bit of a gadget hound. It should cost $199. At the most. And its ability to download newspapers, magazines and blogs is nice, but also comparatively expensive (particularly when the comparison is often “free.”) However, many books are priced at about ten bucks, which isn’t bad, and that includes the wireless download over the Sprint 3G network.
Clock: You have to hit the Menu button to get the time. Every electronic device should display the time as a default, always. Ovens, radios, pacemakers, I don’t care. In fact, clocks should have extra clocks. Just in case. (But that might just be me.)
A bonus, for you Apple iPhone owners out there, Amazon has released a free Kindle app that allows you to read your downloaded books right on the iPhone. Not the best format in the world, but nice for those unexpected down times. Plus, the app syncs to Amazon’s servers so it knows exactly where you left off the last time you were on your Kindle. Creepy? You bet! But conveniently creepy.
For more information, a good review of the Kindle 2 and all its features can be found here.
The Kindle 2 earns four planet morons because it does exactly what I expected of it. It is an excellent choice for those of you who have more money than space, and that includes frequent travelers for whom space is always at a premium.
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I've had the first one for about a year and a half and bought it for a couple of the same reasons - lack of space for print books and love of gadgets. I was afraid I wouldn't like it because I like the feel and smell of new books but I love, love, loved it so much I ordered the second one and got it on the release date.
They are expensive but I consider access to the Sprint network for the foreseeable future to be part of the price. It's true that the web access you get through it isn't computer-quality, but I did appreciate having it when we lost power for a week (twice, once after hurricane Ike and again after an ice storm).
It's also nice for checking blogs and other mainly text sites when I'm traveling. Lighter than a laptop and cheaper than the monthly charges for an aircard.
Posted by: marybeth | Mar 16, 2009 12:12:31 AM
I've been hearing good things. Particularly that free web access. People have been considering the implication of Wikipedia from anywhere as a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy made real.
Posted by: Amarsir | Mar 18, 2009 3:22:30 AM
When are you going to review other useless gadgets, like night vision goggles?
Posted by: robsachs | Mar 20, 2009 9:36:26 AM
I'd have to start another blog to review my inventory of useless gadgets. The day I got a metal detector was the day I knew I had a "problem..."
A Kindle update: I'm not sure if it isn't just some latent gadget fascination, but I started reading a printed book this week that I had purchased pre-Kindle and I find I might actually prefer the Kindle, based purely on the reading experience, over a printed book.
I think I know how this play ends. When I purchased a digital camera I thought I'd go back and forth between that and film. I haven't picked up a film camera in ten years. When I started downloading music I thought it would be something I do in addition to purchasing CDs. I don't remember the last time I purchased a CD.
Posted by: Planet Moron | Mar 20, 2009 3:10:00 PM
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