Thursday, 21 June 2012

Amazon Kindle review

I've had this thing for a few months and I've been wanting to write a review of it since the day I got it, but at first I thought it was too soon to write a one and then I kept procrastinating. (Procrastinate is, by the way, my favourite word in the English language. It's a hobby of mine. Too bad you can't go pro. Imagine that... making a living by procrastinating things. But I digress...)

So here it is: my review of the Kindle. I intend to post this on Amazon as well, but I first want to give the 3 or 4 people who actually read this blog a preview of it.

The Kindle is a great product. I went pretty carefully through the pros and cons before choosing it and decided that it suits me (which, by the way, is the right thing to determine when buying a product.... not if it's the best or the most expensive thing out there, but whether it suits you. Coincidentally, this was the most expensive thing out there, but more about that later...). The thing that made me choose it was the design. Most e-readers out there have the same characteristics in terms of e-ink screens and battery life. What makes the difference is the design and the wireless capabilities.

I went for the keyboard version. Not because I have anything against touchscreens, but I am the proud owner of 10 greasy fingers. I really like to minimize the number of fingerprints on my screen. As everything else, the keyboard has its trade-offs. I ended up having a slightly heavier and larger device. I don't like it any less for it, but if this is something that might bother you, you should consider going for a lighter version.

Here are the reasons I'm glad I chose a book reader (as opposed to a tablet):

  •  The weight. Say what you will, but when it comes to holding a device in your hand for longer than ten minutes, the weight of it will certainly be an issue. I learned that the hard way when I was working as a wedding photographer. You have no idea how sore you hand can get after dragging around 2-kilo camera. A book reader is much lighter than any tablet, admittedly because of a lot of technical things it does worse than the tablet. What should be kept in mind, though, is that a book reader is not a tablet and therefore should not perform as one.
  • The screen. The e-ink screen is the best substitute for real paper I have yet stumbled upon. It's definitely much better than reading stuff on a computer screen. The backlight of any such device is a bit of a drag whenever reading anything longer than an e-mail.
  • The battery. The people at Amazon state that the battery life of the Kindle is of a month (under certain conditions). This sounds waaay too good to be true, but you know what? It kind of is. Provided you don't turn the wireless on and you don't read (on average) more than 30 minutes a day, it might just last for a month. The most I got out of it was 3 weeks, which is not bad at all. I was really impressed by this.
  • The wireless connection. The 3G version of the Kindle comes with a free 3G connection. You should know, however, that web browsing may be restricted in the country you live in. In Austria, I can only access Wikipedia and The Kindle Store using my 3G connection. If I can mange to find a hotspot I can browse away happily, but otherwise... no e-mail checking or anything. The local restrictions do not apply, for example, to Romania. I went home in March and I could surf without having to go war driving. Tablets also provide you with Internet connections, but they are not free. This feature is only available on the Kindle, as far as I know. The other readers go only as far as providing you a wifi connection for buying and downloading books.
At the end of it, the question to ask yourself when deciding whether to buy an e-book reader or a tablet is this: 'What do I want to use it for?'. You want to read books/newspapers/pdfs? Go for the reader. You want to surf the web, play Angry Birds and watch Youtube videos? You're going to need a tablet.

There also are few reasons why,out of the all the readers available out there, I chose the Kindle. Here are the most important:

  • The design. As I said before, in terms of screen and battery life, all readers are pretty much the same. The things that sets them apart most is the design. What attracted me about the design of the Kindle were the previous and next buttons. I find the fact that the reader has a pair of the buttons on either side of the screen absolutely awesome. This allows you to effortlessly turn pages, regardless of the hand you're holding your Kindle in. This may sound dumb, but, of all the features the Kindle has, I find this one the most useful. It's something I use all the time and I think that being able to switch hands while reading without it affecting my reading experience is a must for all readers, although the Kindle is the only one that seems to have found such an elegant solution to this seemingly unimportant problem. The keyboard is also something I enjoy a lot. I use my Kindle as a dictionary as well. I comes with a pre-installed copy of Oxford Dictionary of English and The New American Oxford Dictionary. If you order it from amazon.de, they will also deliver a copy of Duden Deutsches Universalw√∂rterbuch. Considering the prices of dictionaries out there (even the e-reader versions), this is nothing to turn your back at. The keyboard obviously comes in very hand when searching for the definition of a certain word.
  • Kindle store. Just like the army of tablets and smartphones out there, whenever buying a device you also buy your way into a franchisee. You're going to need a place to buy apps and music for your device and, in the case of an e-reader.... books! I mean... being lighter and more compact than a book are certainly features I enjoy, but the one thing I enjoy most about it is the fact that virtually any book I may need is most likely just a few clicks away. Most of the major book store chains have their own readers (e.g. Barnes & Noble, thalia.at, etc.), but Amazon is the medium for me. They have an extensive catalogue of books both in English and German, a large part of which are free. Many also have discounted prices.

Well.... all in all, I'm really happy I got this and strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading and goes through something like a book a month.

Until next time

R.

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