28.10.10

Kindle Review


As you may, or may not, know I recently received a 3rd generation graphite Kindle (wi-fi only) for my birthday.  Kristina, my wife, who is wonderful, beautiful,and very thoughtful, got it for me. She gave it to me early because I accidentally found out I was getting it, and because Amazon shipped it so ridiculously fast.  


Consider E-Readers

I had been thinking about getting an e-reader for several months.  What that really means is I had been spending exorbitant amounts of time looking at them on the net, comparing them, reading reviews, drooling, and dreaming.  There are so many to choose from; how could I know which one I wanted?  To make matters worse, you can't actually get your hands on most of them to try them out (I was able to test some Sony models, some Kindles, and a Nook).  Not only that, but did I really need one? Or was this just my gadget fetish flaring up again? 

In the end, I decided that yes, I did want an e-reader.  It would allow me to read all the free stuff I had sitting on my computer that I never got around to because I hate reading on the computer.  I don't know why, but sitting in front of a computer all day for work doesn't hurt my eyes, but focusing in to read stuff does.  I think that most of the time I am jumping around; from screen to book to paper to people, or just browsing the screen, and so on.  Reading... it doesn't work for me on an LCD monitor.  Also, working on a computer all day really takes the motivation away from sitting in front of the computer some more for relaxing reading.  

Do you know that the entire collection of 37 volumes of the works of the early church fathers is available for free?  Or that you can get most of G.K. Chesterton's works, most of the famous spiritualists and mystics throughout Christian history, things like Anselm and Aquinas, and much more, also for free?  Do you know how frustrating it is to have those kinds of resources just within your reach, but so far out of your grasp? I do. And an E-Reader promised to solve all of that. 

Not to mention the fast and easy access to other books I want to read, the cool-ness factor, and the ease of use in travelling. 


Consider Kindle

That still left me with one crucial question: Which one? 

A friend had recently purchased a Sony PRS-900 (Daily Edition) and explained to me all the reasons it was the best way to go.  And it does look awesome, I have to admit.  From a hardware perspective, it beats out the Kindle DX (which is Amazon's top of the line model).  Sony has more memory available (expandable slots, more money required, but its also cheaper), comes with a case, reportedly deals with PDF's more elegantly, and it has a touch screen.  Sony also supports the EPub format, which is one of the more common public (free) e-reader formats.  

That said, I clearly didn't get a Sony PRS-900.  Here's why.  First of all, I played with the Sony's, and while I understand the draw of a touch screen, I didn't like the interface at all.  This is completely personal preference here, but I like a keyboard I can feel.  Comparing the two, I can navigate my kindle as fast as I could a Sony, with no more problems.  The software in each has its own quirks, but the interfaces are, in my mind, equal from a technical point of view.  Secondly, the high-end models are too much money for me.  I don't want to spend $300+ dollars on an e-reader (though the Sony is now down to $250 preshipping/customs; still too much).  Thirdly, the bigger models, and particularly the Sony, felt chunky (some like the metal and the size; I did not.  More personal preferences).  And the refresh rate/display settings were irritating (again, particularly on the Sony).  

So, I was down to the lower end models.  In that category, Kindle is a clear winner.  The 3rd generation is very smooth, has a good interface, and is cheaper than Sony's low end models.  They all have more than enough memory (3500 books? How much do you need?). 

There is one more area to consider, and that is product availability.  It is simply better and easier on the Kindle.  You buy straight off your reader, rather than on your computer (though you still can).  If you have a file you want, you can email it to your own personal Kindle email address and they will send it to your reader, even converting it if you need to, all for free.  So far I have converted over two-dozen PDF files and only one has not worked very well (still usable, but annoying).  This is important because an unconverted PDF file involves scanning back and forth across the page or else reading incredibly small type with a magnifying glass. 


Owning a Kindle

I have now owned this device for 1 week.  In that week I have read those two-dozen PDF files, all of which had been sitting on my computer waiting for somewhere between a month and a year. I have downloaded lots of free books and read a couple.  I even got through the first draft of a friends DMin project (100 page word documents are fun!).  

So, was it a good gift?  Amazingly so.  Do I recommend them for everyone?  That is more complicated. 

E-Readers are constant exercises in self-discipline and require continuous vigilance against hoarding.  All those books available in seconds... it's tough.  Not only that, but think about these few details: any book you buy on an E-Reader cannot be lent to a friend later (you know, after your finished that amazing book and want to share it with someone?  Bam! Too bad, soo sad).  You can't sell them later to used book stores.  You don't get the cool covers of the book (and that's big when you judge books by their covers like I do; you mean I have to read the publishers description? Whaaa!). Lastly, If you do all your reading on an e-reader, you lose the experience of browsing in a book store (and that is a very important experience!).

Those are the negatives; the positives I have already mostly mentioned.  Easy reading (it really is like reading paper), lots of free stuff, read computer documents, so convenient, not too much money, and geeky cool.  

So, if you have a modicum of self-discipline, plan to read free stuff and/or computer documents, and promise to still buy some books in paper (or at least stop by a book store every once and a while), then yes, I recommend both E-Readers and the Kindle strongly.  

Conclusion: 5 Stars, Conditionally Recommended.  So much goodness, so little time!

2 comments:

Justin E. Chan said...

Andrew, Thanks for the thoughtful process. Interesting thought, "hoarding free books".

How are you transferring pdf's to your kindle? There are a few tips I've been looking into as I consider my christmas kindle purchase.

http://ireaderreview.com/2008/09/23/top-19-amazon-kindle-tips-do-you-get-the-most-out-of-your-kindle/

Andrew said...

Those are some good tips; though lots of them only apply on the kindle 2.

I have been using the Amazon conversion function for PDF's. You don't get changeable font (just size, not spacing and type), but it works pretty good. So far only 1 PDF document gave me any troubles.