Kindle Thoughts

So I bought a Kindle a couple of weeks ago. It’s a birthday present for my partner, so I had to keep it wrapped up for a few days (after Amazon very efficiently got it across the world in 3 days, and then the local courier couldn’t find my office for 3 more…). Anyhow, she unwrapped it to great excitement on Monday and whilst I’ve only had time for a quick play, here are some thoughts…

The Good

  • The bookstore. Finally an easy way to buy books without having to fuss with USB connections etc. And I *love* the idea of invisible international 3g connectivity. Not sure what network its roaming on here in Oz, but it’s fast enough and seems to work transparently.
  • Combined with newspaper subscriptions, I can see a terrific way of keeping up with English language news when travelling. Pity there’s no Oz newspapers, but when we spend our (planned) time with the in-laws in France, I can read the Guardian without having to track down the international print edition or paying huge data roaming fees to read on the iphone.
  • The Screen is pretty snazzy. All the attributes of e-ink, and it *seems* snappier than the Sony. The screensaver book cover images are pretty neat too…

The Bad

  • The bookstore.The browsing experience is not amazing. Not only is the Australian list less than comprehensive (it’s amazing how quickly you get to the project gutenberg type PD titles) but the slowness of the screen (and probably the connection) make the experience a bit clunky. And unbelievably, the recommended title thumbnail illustrations are impossible to decipher. I mean impossible.
  • The interface is better than the sony – it seems a more natural device to hold (even if the keyboard is a waste of space most of the time). But I’ve hated mini-joysticks since the first of the thinkpads and I haven’t changed my mind. It always feels like I’m selecting rather than navigating or vice versa, which is especially disconcerting in the store.
  • And the screen is still too slow. It’s OK for reading, but it’s still way too slow for interactions any more complex than mere page turning…

I have to admit these impressions are based on a grand total of ten minutes of fiddling and there’s lots more to consider. So why buy one? Well, the partner had been using kindle on the iphone since the app went international and she seemed to be pretty happy with the range of kindle titles in her favourite genres. And I needed to find *something* to get her for her birthday. With the price of paperbacks in this country on the wrong side of $30, the kindle hardware doesn’t cost much more than 8 or 9 books. Or a dinner for two at Rockpool !!? (warning: pdf link)

I think the kindle will come into its own when we travel – having a bookstore in the backpack is a killer app. But the jury’s still out the rest of the time…


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