20 December 2007

Amazon Kindle: First Use Thoughts

I received my Kindle the other day, and have had a chance to read with it for several hours now. So far, so great! I like it quite a bit. I'm going to keep this short, because the Kindle has been covered a lot elsewhere.

Things I like:

  • Trivial setup. The unit comes completely setup, tied to your account, and included all the books I'd already bought. All I had to do was turn the thing on and start using it. I did follow directions and plug it in to charge, which reached full within maybe 15 minutes. Also, the unit starts right into a quicky getting started, that I found to be just the right length and usefulness.

  • The "electronic ink" display is awesome. You can read this thing in any kind of light, no problems like you'd have with a laptop screen or many other devices. Very pleasant to read to as well, did not tire my eyes at all after several hours!

  • Easy to use UI. Basically, learn a couple buttons and the scroller and you're done.

  • Neato features like clippings, search, and bookmarks.

  • When the unit is in sleep mode, the display actually has an image on it, and it tells you how to wake it up (in case you forgot ;-)

What I don't like... I can really only think of two things to start off:

  • No PDF support. This is a pretty big deal. I knew this going in, but had read you could convert documents. You can, but have to use a Windows app, and it's unclear how well it works. I haven't tried it yet, but plan to. I was hoping to place some of the existing ebooks I have onto the Kindle this way. This is hands down my #1 complaint and the thing I truly hope Amazon can remedy. I understand the reasons, but I'd like to see them solve it, even if it's not ideal.

  • The price of subscribing to blogs. Usually it's cheap, such as $1/month, but really, blogs are free, and yes, obviously this is partially to cover Whispernet fees (which Amazon always says they cover in their docs, but obviously it's built into the price you're paying), and to cover management on your account, but seriously, it's a blog. How about you give us at least 10 for free, and then make them dirt cheap thereafter. Or at least don't tell us that you're covering the Whispernet fees.

All in all, I love this thing so far, and am really excited to see how I use it going forward. I very much like the idea that I can take this one thing when I travel, instead of having to either figure out what I might want to read ahead of time (I'm usually in the middle of a few books), or take multiple books with me. Also, nice to have even around the house, for just the ability to grab it and know I've got various reading material on it.

I will be most curious to see if I try blogs, newspapers, or magazines on it. Cost wise I probably won't, and I don't get a newspaper as it is (blogs, newspapers/news, I get all online). Magazines maybe, although most of the ones I read have a good visual component (various cycling mags, National Geographic Adventure and Outside, techy mags which typically don't translate to something like this very well, Wired, or whatever). Time will tell, but it's pretty cool so far.


multiple addresses for one contact. said...

This is a different kind of hack — hacking the Kindle book-like cover to allow it to prevent unwanted page button clicks along the outside edge of the Kindle every time you touch it.

It was obvious to me that the book cover would do a much better job if the Kindle was all the way inside the cover, instead of having the two worthless holders which don’t hold the Kindle at all, and which prevent the Kindle from going fully inside the Book cover blocking it from going all the way inside.

Using a sharp razor blade, I cut both of them off flush with the inside of the cover. Then using industrial strength Velcro, I applied small strips along the back of the Kindle where it wouldn’t cover anything important, like the switches or on the back cover over the battery. Then I put Velcro pieces on the inside of the back side of the Book cover matching the places on the Kindle when it was inserted fully into the book cover.

The Velcro held the Kindle much better than the unaltered Book cover, and for the first time it is really safe. It also allowed the Kindle to go further into the Book cover, such that the right hand edge of the Next Page and Back switches were inside the Book cover, and not exposed as before along the very edge. This makes picking up the Kindle easy, and doesn’t expose the switches to accidental depressing.

What a relief! This is what Kindle should have done in the first place.

Charles Wilkes, San Jose, Calif.

Chris said...

Charles, that's a great idea! Ya, I'm less than impressed with the cover. I actually only just put it on, and hadn't used it yet. It doesn't seem to be held in securely at all by default. I'll have to try out this simple, but effective sounding hack.

Anonymous said...

You have misinformed the reader. Amazon offers PDF conversion via email (which they label "experimental"), which costs 10 cents if they deliver the converted doc to your Kindle, and free if they send a link back to your personal email account and you transfer via USB.

Chris said...

The anonymous comment about PDF's is absolutely right! I had though you could only use PDF's by using the MOBI converter, which is Windows only, and still doesn't do a great job, but as it turns out, if you email a PDF to your Kindle address, it'll get converted and sent along.

I just tried this with the Rails 2.0 Peep Code PDF, and it worked. It is not a stellar conversion, but it's readable. This is a somewhat technical document, so the problems relate mostly to formatting, and loss of some styling for headlines, but it's certainly readable. Yea! I will update the main blog entry to note this. Thanks.