Archive for March, 2009

Kindle 2 First Impressions

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I’ve had my Kindle 2 for about a day now, and am really enjoying it.

First of all, I actually think the Kindle 2 looks decent. Perhaps I am shallow, but this factored into my decision to not buy an original Kindle. The device itself is smaller and thinner than I expected, but feels heavy for its size. It’s not overly heavy, but I did notice the weight during an extended reading session last night, though this was likely more of an indication that I should take a break than that the Kindle is too heavy.

Reading on the Kindle is generally a pleasure. The screen reads like a book, only the page is always clear and visible and I don’t have to worry about holding the book open or obscuring some of the words with my fingers or the shadow of the other page. The buttons feel natural, aside from the fact that there are “Next Page” buttons on both the right and left side of the device. For the first hour or two I expected the “Next Page” button on the left side to take me to the previous page and was confused when it did not. The idea, of course, is that “Next Page” buttons on both sides allows for one-handed reading, which made sense once I figured it out.

Transferring books to the Kindle was mostly easy and straightforward. Pre-formatted e-books from the Kindle store magically appeared on the device via the built-in cellular network connection, and e-books on my desktop computer were easily transferred via the included USB cable.

PDFs, however, need to be converted. Amazon has a conversion service that you can email a PDF to. (Wireless delivery costs 10 cents per document!) To me, the Kindle’s lack of native PDF support is a major failing. As a user, this seems completely ridiculous. (“Why can’t I just read these documents? Isn’t PDF supposed to be the universal document format?”)

The Kindle has a built-in dictionary, and placing the cursor next to a word on the screen automatically looks up the word and displays a definition at the bottom of the page. This is a very nice feature. It also has highlighting and annotation support, but I have not tried that out yet.

The text-to-speech feature is passable, but I’m not sure that I would want to listen to it much. (And I am likely not its intended audience) It usually spoke the words correctly, but the flow left much to be desired.

The internet browser worked better than I expected. The slow refresh rate of the screen affected browsing quite a bit, but it wasn’t such a huge deal. I opened up the mobile version of google reader and read quite a few articles. The lack of touchscreen was most evident here as I kept wanting to touch links or scroll without having to resort to painful navigation with the joystick nub.

This, too, highlighted another shortcoming: I can’t read blogs or feeds in a nice, e-book-like format. (Well, I suppose I could pay for some of the few blogs that they have in the kindle store, but the ones I read aren’t in there)

I’m sure there’s more that I wanted to say, but haven’t. (Like how the keyboard seems like it would be difficult to type on, but isn’t really or that the homescreen seems to be really cluttered and unorganized)