When the kindle first came out i was mildly interested in it, but there was no way i was going to shell out $400.oo for some device i’d never gotten my hands on and knew virtually nothing about. It’s funny that the price has remained almost constant since day one. Lots of people i’ve talked to have said that if it was around $200 they would be much more likely to grab one. $400 just seems a bit pricey.
That being said, i still wanted to try one out and see if it’s really “all that”. Since i wasn’t about to buy one just to see if i liked it, that meant i’d have to find someone who either had one or could borrow one and be willing to let me borrow it for a few days. Enter my friend and neighbor Gideon. He has access to one via his work. After pestering him a few times he was nice enough to borrow it and lend it to me. Thanks Gid! I promise, not a scratch.
I won’t bother listing all the features – you can go look them up for yourself if you want. Needless to say, it does everything it says it does – the built-in wireless works, it syncs with your amazon account to download books (or redownload if you lose something), it downloads the newspapers, lets you read books, look up words, perform general queries (using A9?), add notes to the margins, set bookmarks, highlight passages, etc..etc..etc..
Well, my first thought was that i didn’t really care for the off-white color. I’d prefer something dark. However, that’s not a deal-breaker, and honestly after using it for a bit the color doesn’t bother me. What i did find rather annoying was the fact that after about 5 minutes of usage, it just completely froze up on me. I couldn’t navigate, pressing the power button did nothing. Finally i had to pop the back cover off and stick a pin in the little reset hole (soft reset for all you geeks out there). Fortunately it came back and everything seemed to work much better after that. Perhaps it just hadn’t been reset in months and months of use?
Glitch #2: The battery was really low, so i plugged it in to charge for about 5 hours. The battery showed fully charged. I decided now was a great time to sit down and spend a few hours reading a book to see how i liked the actual experience of reading on the thing. After about 10 pages i got a big pop-up saying “your battery is too low. Powering down. Please recharge before using again”. Uhm, i just did that!
. Well, it’s charging again right now. If it does it again, i’ll chalk it up to a faulty battery, because i can’t believe that it can only do 10 pages of reading before it runs out of juice. Otherwise amazon would be out of business.
One last negative – it’s very sluggish. When typing, you have to wait about 1 second between each keystroke (i kid you not!). Fortunately you probably don’t do a lot of typing, other than to search for books to buy, so i don’t see this as a huge negative, but it is something that could easily be improved in v2. Also, when turning the pages, there’s about a 1-2 second pause, then a screen flicker and the new screen appears. I think the screen flicker is a consequence of the epaper and there’s nothing that can be done about that (other than a radical improvement in epaper technology at some point). But for the 10 minutes or so that i was able to read a book, that didn’t bother me.
The good points so far:
- The font is easy to read and can be resized larger or smaller to fit your needs
- The epaper looks awesome. It’s crisp, clear, easy to read (as long as the lamp it on. there’s no backlight, so you can’t read in the dark), and doesn’t seem hard on the eyes at all
- The previous page / next page buttons along the side are easy to get to, and didn’t bother me at all (although i do think i could find myself accidently hitting them from time to time; perhaps a slight redesign for v2?)
- The little silver cursor-thing on the right side is awesome. I don’t know how else to say it. It took me a second to figure out what it was and what it was doing, but once i realized it was your cursor, it was very easy and intuitive to use … and hey, it looks really cool too!
That’s all i can say for now. I’m going to try and read for a longer period of time later tonight and see how i like it. After i do that, i’ll let you know my final thoughts.
The gremlins seem to have gone to sleep and i was able to read without a hitch last night for about two hours (at which point i went to bed). It was very comfortable just sitting there holding the kindle (i actually had it inside of the case and was holding the case), and occasionally using my thumb to click the “next page” button. I didn’t notice any oddities. Pages looked great, no eye strain, very comfortable to hold.
I still don’t think it’s worth $400, but i would probably pay $200 for it. My guess is that if Amazon were to reduce the price by half, they would move than double their sales. Of course, i have no idea what types of margins they’re making on the device now. Maybe the hardware inside of each one really is that expensive… *shrug*.