I just downloaded the free iPhone app called “Kindle for iPhone”. I can now read any of the books that I have ever bought for the Kindle, on my iPhone! Of course, to read substantial amounts of a book, the Kindle itself with its e-Ink is far better, but if I have a bit of time to kill and want to read a bit of one of my books, now it’s easy. The download speed was remarkable, compared to other iPhone apps I have used (such as the New York Times), perhaps because there are no graphics. Amazon does it again!
Archive for the ‘Kindle’ Category
The Kindle 2 has finally come out. There’s an article here about it,
by Wade Roush, one of the best tech reporters in the business.
In January, I did a blog entry about the original Kindle, which I am quite fond of. I was just reading from it last night.
Here’s what I personally think about it, although if you use your differently from the way I use mine, you could have different feelings:
The internal memory expansion doesn’t really matter that much to me. The
first Kindle has plenty of space for books, which are very small, and
you can add a big SD card. If you use audio a lot it might help; I
don’t do that.
Thinner and lighter is nice, but the original Kindle is really fine in that regard.
More shades of gray is nice; not a huge deal but nice. I wish that
in books that had maps and diagrams, they’d include more of those in
the Kindle editions.
Just 20% faster is not a major qualitative change. The original Kindle is quite fast enough for me already.
Making the keys smaller is very clearly right, and I would
appreciate that a lot; I think this is the most important improvement. It’s hard to pick up an original Kindle without
hitting one of those buttons. I use a cool leather case (TuffLuv) that
can hold the Kindle up like a picture frame. My wife has one for hers
and uses this all the time.
Text-to-speech is a good idea. It would be very useful on long car drives.
Syncing across multiple Kindles could be useful, since we’re a 2-Kindle family, although we usually read different books.
The battery lasting 25% longer is nice, but the existing battery lasts a very long time already.
I’m glad to see that Amazon is continuing to improve this excellent product.
This summer, my family went to Ecuador. On the Galapogos cruise, you have a very tight budget for luggage. Normally we bring lots of books on vacation, but this time there was no way. The Kindle was the obvious solution. I bought one, we tried it, and we got a second one. There were three of us including my son, Adam (age 17), so there was some contention; fortunately we did bring a few print books.
My wife, Cheryl, although she uses PC’s all the time, generally hates gadgets. But she loves the Kindle and uses it very heavily, even now that we’re back. I like it a lot too, and if I had time to read more books (argh!) I’d use it a lot too.
The eInk technology is amazing. It’s far easier to read a book on a Kindle than on a computer screen. You can control the font size. Those of us old enough to need reading glasses, and to forget where we put them (sigh), can read fine with the large type size. You can’t change the font, but I don’t care. You can plug in earphones, and there’s also a tiny speaker.
About half of the new or new-ish books that I go to buy are available for the Kindle. When they are, that’s what I buy. Kindle books from Amazon are also less expensive. I typically pay $10. You can get a rather extensive free sample of the book, to see if you like it.
You can get quite a few out-of-copyright books in Kindle format from various sources on the web. I have the complete works of Herman Melville. Cheryl, who is an English major specializing in 19th century fiction, has quite a lot more. It’s all entirely free.
There’s plenty of memory, and I put in an SD card so there’s now vast amounts of memory, in effect, since an eBook is pretty small. You can also download audio (Cheryl sometimes uses this), which takes a bit more space, but with the SD card, there’s no space limit in practice.
It can go for a long time without charging. We only had to recharge every five days or so; obviously this depends on how much you use it. The user interface is good, although not perfect: the buttons for moving forward and back are nice and big, but they are so big that you can’t always grasp the device the way you’d like to. But it’s not a big problem. If you’re eating at a table, the Kindle takes a lot less space than a hardcover or trade paperback book, and you don’t need to hold the pages open. After the vacation, We both got nice third-party cases (Tuff-luv) that let you stand up the Kindle like a desktop photograph frame, but that’s not necessary.
You can annotate text; the keyboard is small and there isn’t any word processing (much like the Notes application in the iPhone), but for its purpose it’s OK. You buy books from the Kindle Store over the “Whispernet”, which is actually the Sprint cell phone network, but you do not pay anything for this (no “data plan”, no subscription charges at all). It works very well. There’s a dictionary so you can look up words you don’t know. There’s a “search” function, although unfortunately is searches all your books; there’s no option to just search one of them.
There are three “experimental” feature:
- Basic web browser. It’s pretty basic, all right, but you can do some useful things in it, if you really don’t have any other way to get to the web.
- Ask Kindle NowNow. Itlets you send any question to Amazon, where someone will do their best to answer it and send you back an answer. Their operators just do web searches, and are supposed to get back to you in ten minutes. I have not tried it.
- Play music while you read. Copy MP3 files to the Kindle. I haven’t tried this either, since I don’t listen to music while I read, but I’m confident that it works.
To transfer files to the Kindle (if you’re not just using the store), you plug a cable into it. The other end is a normal USB. The Kindle appears as a device with three directories: books, audio books, and MP3′s. You just copy in the usual way. It’s very simple.
The Kindle does not support PDF directly. However, there are ways to read PDF files:
- You can send email with attachments to <yourself>*free.kindle.com to be converted and emailed back to your computer at the email address associated with your Amazon account. Then you can do a USB transfer. Or, they’ll send it straight to your Kindle for ten cents.
- MobiSoft’s “MobiPocket Creator” converts PDF, Word, HTML, and plain ASCII to Kindle format, and does all sorts of other cool things. It’s free. I haven’t gotten around to trying it yet. See . You need Windows, and Internet Explorer 7 beta 3. When you install it, click on “publisher edition (for advanced users)”. It’s not clear how well it works for very complex PostScript, or for PDF files with things like scanned pages. Google “Kindle PDF” for even more on this topic. There’s an application called “Stanza” for the Mac.
Objections I’ve Heard
Here are some objections I’ve heard raised about the Kindle, and my opinions.
- It’s not “open”; that is, you can’t program it. The Kindle is not a computer. It’s an appliance. I can’t reprogram my digital watch either. This just does not bother me.
- eInk can’t be backlit, so it’s hard to read in dim light or the dark. That’s true, although it’s also true of ordinary books. It would be nice if they could improve this somehow.
- It’s hard to share a copy of a book, other than by sharing the reader. Actually you can move a book to the SD card, and move that to another Kindle. It’s not hard.
- Pictures do not render well. That’s true. What’s more, at least one book we read was supposed to have a map that would have helped the reader understand the book, and the map was entirely missing.
- You might lose your Kindle, and it’s not cheap to replace, although you do get all your data (books, your own annotations) back from Amazon. That’s true, just as it is of my notebook computer. This complaint really has to do with the whole concept of ebooks versus print books, not the Kindle specifically.
I am not a real Kindle expert; I don’t read the blogs or anything. There’s a great deal more information available at Amazon and many web sites. One good one is “Top 25 Kindle Tips“.
I have not tried the Sony reader or any other book reader. There are rumors about a second-generation Kindle coming out, but I don’t know anything about it.
Summary: It’s excellent.