Yes, believe it or not, I've waited nearly a year to purchase the Amazon Kindle ebook reader. A few things had been standing in my way...
- I already have a few devices which can serve as eBook readers, including my iPhone (with the free Bookshelf app), my no-longer-in-use Dell Axim X51v (which used the portable Adobe Acrobat reader, uBook free app, and incredibly complex Microsoft Reader), and even my Nokia N810 (with the free FBReader app). Between downloading free fan fiction and purchasing books (in a number of formats) from Fictionwise, I was pretty well set.
- Early reviews were good--but not great.
- The $400 price point seemed a little steep for something that only reads books
- The web had been alive over the summer with rumors of a second-generation Kindle due this fall--so why buy an outdated legacy device?
However, a number of factors came together that finally motivated the purchase:
- As good as my various devices were, they all suffered from the same issue--battery life
- Amazon dropped the price on the Kindle $40 a couple of months ago, then followed up with a $100 discount ($30 for getting an Amazon Visa, and $70 for buying the Kindle with the new card). Plus, getting a Visa would balance with my existing Mastercard, and the new card seems chock full of rewards.
- Amazon came out and said "Sorry, folks--no new Kindle this year."
- The 30-day return policy seemed sufficient if I wasn't deliriously happy.
- And, finally, a recent microflood in our basement (necessitating a serious rethink about cleaning up the basement and tossing out some crap) did bring to light the issue that if I continue to buy real, live books at the rate I'm going, we'll be buried in about ten years.
So, I took the plunge. And you know what? It's actually pretty darn good.
The high points:
- Clear, crisp display with easy-to-adjust text size
- Pretty quick page turns (which some reviewers had criticized)
- Quick and easy wireless access to content
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Incredible battery life
- Fairly wide variety of formats
- Affordable pricing--although not as cheap as a used book, cheaper than a hardcover and sometimes cheaper than a paperback
Opportunities to improve:
- I understand the web browser is experimental, but 'experimental' doesn't have to be a synonym for 'crappy'. Even though it's Java-enabled, it works best for text-only sites. It works great with the mobile NY Times and the mobile Amazon site (which appears identical to the iPhone-friendly Amazon site), but can't even manage Autoblog or Engadget.
- The keyboard, like the browser, is crap, although not completely unusable. I can't even figure out what they were thinking with the bizarro angled key layout.
- Desperately needs a handle on either side that doesn't turn a page. Nice big buttons--along both the left and right sides--to turn pages are great, but sometimes you just want to pick things up without turning a page.
- Needs a decent PDF reader. Shouldn't be rocket science, but I'm still waiting for Flash on my iPhone, too...
- The included cover is nice protection, but poorly designed to 'slot' the Kindle in, making it difficult to remove. In addition, I am mystified why the power and wireless switches are on the back of the unit and not along one of the sides, where there's plenty of room. And suede (or any simulation thereof)? Could they have found something worse in terms of durability? I wound up ordering a third-party leather cover.
I've got a business trip coming up and about twenty books loaded. I'm looking forward to not getting a hernia lugging my bags through the airport...