Kindle 2 First Impressions

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)

8 Responses to “Kindle 2 First Impressions”

  1. CHFBrian says:

    Great writeup – I’d really love a Kindle, but since I no longer commute by subway (and as such have far less reading time), I really couldn’t justify it.

    …but I really want one. Stupid wanty bone.

  2. I agree about the PDF element, but must say that the Kindle has done a pretty good job of converting the ones I’ve seen. Also, I am one of many people I know who have never been charged 10 cents for a Kindle upload. One theory was that maybe they only billed your credit card $3.00 for every 30 uploads since it costs them more than a dime to process your credit card, but I have since read about people who have sent 50 and even 100 documents to their Kindle and still not seen a single charge on their statement. Here’s a thread on Amazon about it:
    http://tinyurl.com/c5m9br

  3. mrflippy says:

    My Kindle Management page on Amazon.com states that they only bill the credit card every $3.00 or something, so that at least is ostensibly true.

    Regardless, I used the username@free.kindle.com to convert some of my PDFs. They turned out fairly well usually. Some of the formatting was off, and some of the images (graphs and diagrams and such) turned out too small to read well. (haven’t looked around to see whether I can resize the images)

  4. Garrett says:

    How do you think it’s going to shape up against the plastic logic reader when that comes out? Or are we not talking apples to apples between these devices?

  5. mrflippy says:

    I’d really have to use the Plastic Logic reader to say one way or another. It seems like Plastic Logic may meet my reading needs more than the Kindle, due to (purported) support for native blogs/feeds, email, Word docs, and PDF. I also have a feeling that Amazon has much more experience dealing with users, and the Kindle is already in its second iteration, so I don’t know how it will play out.

    Ostensibly, Plastic Logic is not competing with the Kindle…

  6. Barry says:

    I’ve seen signs that Adobe doesn’t want “the e-book format” to be confused with “the pdf format.” Yes, they’re the same, but the last two versions of Adobe Reader had a plug-in/add-on for ebooks, and the next iteration will require a separate download all together called “Adobe e-editions”. I have no idea why, as I think Adobe Reader works best as a light, multi-platform pdf reader. Isn’t that part of why so many e-books use the pdf format anyway?
    Not sure why they feel the need to separate these now.

  7. mrflippy says:

    They’re not the same though. PDF is a specific format, while “e-book” is a category of formats. Furthermore, PDF seems to be more suited for publishing and printing applications rather than electronic documents and reading. (even though everybody uses it for that too)

  8. Between myself and my husband we have owned more gizmos over the years than I can count, including GPS units, iPods (classic & touch), etc. I love Kindel reader, it’s by far the coolest toy I got.  Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun it actually is and how easy it was to use . Make sure you accuire the pouch though as it will get scratched pretty easily.

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