Thursday, 23 September 2010

Kindle 3

Wow it's been a whole month since I last wrote, wow... well anyway... the most exciting news I have is that my Kindle 3 arrived and it is AWESOME. Yes so awesome that I must write it in capitals and believe me I was tempted to bold it as well, but I thought that'd probably look a little silly. :)

It was due to arrive on September the 10th, but it shipped early and I was really happy when it arrived on the 9th and I'm really not disappointed and as my friend Lucy described it: "It's a thing of beauty!"

About the size of a regular paperback

Look how thin it is!

If you've got this far and you don't actually know what a Kindle is (I assume you haven't visited Amazon in the past 4 months as there is a huge image on their front page) it's an e-book reader and I'm now environmentally friendly, no more treebooks for me! :) It's their 3rd generation model so they've had some time to work out the kinks and it has the latest E-ink Pearl display and that adds extra contrast to it and I have to say it's a delight to read from. E-ink screens are different to LCDs in a few ways because they use considerably less power (it only takes power to turn the page (update the screen), it only comes in greyscales not colour, it works perfectly fine in even the brightest sunlight, but the main reason is it doesn't look "computerised", it literally looks like text on a printed page. It's kind of weird to look at because it looks like paper... yet it's obviously not.

Also unlike a traditional treebook, there are multiple fonts to choose from as well as you can change the size of the text at any time you want. It can also read the books out to you using text-to-speech, although I admit it sounded a bit mechanical (it can only read the text out if the publisher has enabled it in the book). Weight wise it feels like a normal book and it's very comfortable to hold and you can certainly hold it one handed without getting any sort of discomfort.

Amazon's e-book store is really quite impressive and so far pretty much everything I've wanted to read has been available for purchase (and as you might expect, cheaper than the paperback prices) and digital versions have the added bonus of convenience. There's no having to go out to a shop to pick up the latest book by your favourite author and no waiting for it to be delivered either and there's no fear of it being sold out either. You browse the store (either from your computer or the Kindle itself) and there's a one-click checkout and... tada. They actually promote it that one of the features is that you can get a book in 60 seconds (because obviously we're all *that* impatient...), but they weren't lying either. In fact, I purchased a few books directly from the Kindle and they only took between 30 and 40 seconds each INCLUDING the download time. Wow. Yes in 30 seconds I had a new book on my Kindle all ready to read, you can't really ask for much faster than that!

It's also capable of playing MP3 files and proper Audible audiobooks (also an Amazon company!) and it has some mini games built in too! (Minesweeper and Gomoku - a sort of connect five), there's a built in web browser (which if you have the 3G versions mean free Internet everywhere!) and in fact considering it's mainly an e-book reader... it does quite a lot really! It even works in the dark... sort of:

Even works in the dark! (with the lighted cover)

Closeup of the text in the dark using lighted cover

The screen itself isn't backlit (like I said above, it's like paper and paper doesn't light up!), so Amazon also sell covers for it some of which include a built in extendable light. What I really like about this cover is that it's designed to look like a journal (it even has a stretchy band to hold it closed or to hold it open with the cover behind it) and the Kindle firmly snaps into the metal contacts inside. If you have the lighted version you can then extend a light (as demonstrated above) and it takes its power via the metal connectors and using the Kindle's own power - no need for extra batteries or something else to charge.

I know that in my pictures the light clearly isn't uniform and the top right corner is brighter, although I assure you that's just my bad photography. In reality it's perfect readable and I really like that when I can read in a pitch black room and if I move the light on the book is consistent unlike if I was using a regular lamp.

I really should mention the battery life... anyone want to guess what it is? *30 days* No really. Like I mentioned near the top, it only takes power to change the page so even with moderate use, looking at my own usage, 30 days doesn't seem unreasonable. Of course if you start using the lighted cover and turn 3G and WiFi on then it reduces the battery life to between 9 and 21 days... but still... THAT'S PRETTY GOOD! It charges via Micro USB (or included adapter and normal plug socket).

The only thing I didn't like was the "off" screens: When you suspend the device it puts a random picture on the screen (not blank!), but most of these pictures were of dead poets/writers and frankly some of them look really creepy! If you see the forums there are tons of people asking Amazon to allow user defined screens or even just to turn them off, but all Amazon says is thanks for the suggestion. Given that people have been asking for this since Kindle 1 and we're now on Kindle 3 I don't think it's likely to happen anytime soon, but thankfully someone already worked out how to Jailbreak the Kindle so less than two weeks after getting mine... it's already been jailbroken and the suspend screens have been patched and it nows displays the images that *I* want to see when I turn it off - hurrah! :)

Oh and I should actually finish by saying about what it's like to read books on it (especially since that's its main job!) - It's a delight. As previously mention I can select a font/size that I'm comfortable with and put bluntly, it just works. Turning the "page", is now so fast that my eyes have barely made it back to the top of the page and I certainly couldn't turn the pages of a real book this fast.

The first week I got it I read "PS, I Love you" (Cecelia Ahern) and yesterday I finished "Angels and Demons" (Dan Brown) and I'm going to start on "The Da Vinci Code" tomorrow and I have loads of books lined up! (The Lost Symbol, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Dear John, One Day,... the list goes on). It can hold approximately 3,500 books, more than I intend to own/read anytime soon and by the time I actually get that many (!) I'm sure there will be a newer Kindle with even better capacity!

Changing subject slightly, I've recently finished Bellwether (Connie Willis) which was really enjoyable and I intend to look into some of her other books and I finished "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (J. K. Rowling) too. As well as the "The Da Vinci Code" mentioned above, I'm also currently reading "The Host" (Stephenie Meyer) and "Harry Potter and The Half-blood Prince", but sadly that one is an actual book as J. K. Rowling seems to be literally stuck in the 14th century along with the whole witchcraft (and wizardry!) subject as she hasn't/won't release her books in electronic form... c'mon Ms Rowling... it's 2010, e-books aren't even new! But anyway...

So yeh... Kindle... probably the best thing I ever bought and I know that's one heck of a statement to make, but I could not be happier with it. It wasn't even that expensive either... £109 for the WiFi only version and £149 for the WiFi+3G version. The official cases are a bit of a rip off though, £30 for the non-lighted one and £50 for the lighted one - Ouch! Still... I consider it money very well spent, It made reading fun again!

1 comment:

  1. Cheers for the review Neil. I'm intrigued by the Kindle as I love reading and love the idea of having the added extras of internet browsing/simple games. I'm just not sure if I can get past the not having the book on my shelf thing. I don't know. I think I'd like to try this out, I need to find someone who lives round here that has one!