I had asked via twitter a while ago for opinions on the Kindle as I had been thinking off and on about getting one for a while. Responses were very positive with really one exception: the DRM aspect. And it’s something that bothered me, but I decided that the convenience benefit was enough to outweigh that for me at this point. Especially when I considered that I often buy books, read them, put them on a bookshelf for six months to a year and then drop them off at a book drop. Re-reading isn’t my usual, instead buying new books is 🙂 Especially as the primary purpose for the Kindle is more for pleasure reading as opposed to more technical stuff
Since I knew I’d end up reading a lot while I was on vacation, I figured I’d take advantage of Amazon’s good return policies and try it out. If I liked it, great. If I didn’t, I could certainly hit a bookstore to get “regular” books and return the Kindle when I got back home.
As lots of people have said, the packaging of the device is very good — Apple-like is really the best way I have to describe it. They really want you to buy into a full experience. I turned it on and had already set up a few “free sample” books to be on the device. And reading on it has turned out to be a great experience. The page turning was a little bit distracting at first with a little bit of a flicker, but after half an hour or so of reading on it, I don’t notice it any more than I notice turning the page of a regular book. One thing that I didn’t find at first (because I didn’t read the documentation) is that you can change the font size — this was pretty handy as I can definitely handle smaller than the default — I’m currently using the smallest and am pretty happy with it.
One of the obvious questions with the Kindle is battery life. With the wireless off, it was incredible (I didn’t apparently need to charge during most of my 10 day trip with it sporadically on). Leaving the wireless on I need to remember to charge it every three or four days. But the charge is pretty quick. Unfortunately, it uses microUSB instead of miniUSB, so it’s another cable to have to be carried bringing me to three (miniUSB, microUSB, iPhone).
The selection of books seems to be pretty good. Not everything that I’ve looked for, but the vast majority. Pricing is okay, usually a little cheaper than the price for the dead-tree version and the over-the-air delivery is wonderful. Especially when sitting in an airport between flights.
In terms of reading on it, the screen is incredibly nice. I had my doubts, but they’re entirely gone. Reading in bed? Check (just be sure there’s a light). Reading outside beside the pool? Check. On a plane? On the couch? … And so on. The screen is incredibly readable and I don’t end up with any of the eye strain problems that I sometimes get after staring at a laptop screen or a monitor for long periods of time. How well it worked in sunlight is one thing that really surprised me. Obviously it’s supposed to be one of the strengths of the screen, but I’m wary of marketing-speak 🙂 But I really had no problem sitting and reading it even in direct sunlight.
Downsides? There are a couple. The biggest is the DRM stuff. It’d be nice to be able to share books (eg, if Kara decided she wanted to get a Kindle also so that we could both read the same books). It’d also be nice to have some sort of library functionality, although the samples are a big help in deciding whether it’s worth paying for a book.
The other real downside is the case that I got — the Patagonia neoprene case. It’s okay in that it protects it pretty well; it’s kind of crappy to use while reading, though and I’ve taken to taking the Kindle out of the case when I’m reading from it. Other case suggestions would be appreciated since I’m certainly going to keep the Kindle at this point.