- Consumer Electronics & Personal Gadgets
Amazon's Kindle Wireless Electronic Reading Device
The Amazing Amazon Kindle Wireless Reading Device
What you might ask is the Kindle? It is certainly what my first response was, and why would I want or need one? That is what I am hoping to answer for you today. The kindle is a state of the art battery powered electronic book, and then some. It is a small device that will fit into your pocket or handbag much more easily than a paperback, and the cost per book is $9.99 for New York Times best sellers. The Kindle is 0.3 of an inch wide and 10.2 ounces which is less than an average paperback and it will hold 1,500 of them. You can order titles from Amazon and they take just 60 secs to download. The batteries last for days, it really is high tech and you can even read it in bright sunlight. More than that it will actually read for you for those times when you may be driving or otherwise pre-occupied. Wow!
All photographs courtesy of Amazon
Amazon Kindle II - Technical Details
Display: 6" diagonal E Ink® electronic paper display, 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 16-level gray scale.
Size (in inches): 8" x 5.3" x 0.36" (203.2mm x 134.6mm x 9.1mm).
Weight: 10.2 ounces (289.2 grams).
System Requirements: None, because it's wireless and doesn't require a computer. Check 3G wireless coverage.
Storage: 2GB internal (approximately 1.4GB available for user content).
Battery Life: Read on a single charge for up to 1 week with wireless on. Turn wireless off and read for up to 2 weeks. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as shopping the Kindle Store and downloading content. In low-coverage areas or in EDGE/GPRS-only coverage, wireless usage will consume battery power more quickly.
Charge Time: Fully charges in approximately 4 hours via the included U.S. power adapter. Also supports charging from your computer via the included USB 2.0 cable.
Connectivity: HSDPA modem (3G) with a fallback to EDGE/GPRS; utilizes Amazon Whispernet to provide wireless coverage via AT&T's 3G high-speed data network in the U.S. and partner networks outside of the U.S. See Wireless Terms and Conditions.
USB Port: USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) for connection to the Kindle U.S. power adapter or optionally to connect to a PC or Macintosh computer.
Audio: 3.5mm stereo audio jack, rear-mounted stereo speakers.
Content Formats Supported: Kindle (AZW), TXT, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; PDF, HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.
Included Accessories: U.S. power adapter (supports 100V-240V), USB 2.0 cable, rechargeable battery. Book cover sold separately.
Documentation: Quick Start Guide (included in box) [PDF]; Kindle User's Guide (pre-installed on device) [PDF]. Additional information in multiple languages available online.
What Users are Saying about the Kindle
Comments of Steve Gibson
46,911 of 47,707 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Why and how the Kindle changes everything, November 25, 2007
By Steve Gibson "eBook Lover"
This is less a "pros and cons" review than a hopefully useful commentary about the Kindle compared with other eReaders and what it means for the eBook industry. (I believe that everything has changed with the Kindle's creation.)
For many years I have been an avid reader of eBooks using almost every eReading device on the market. So as an early-adopter of techie gadgets I had been anxiously awaiting Amazon's Kindle since its first rumors. So I immediately purchased it both out of curiosity and hoping for a better "next generation" eBook solution. In case you're wondering whether I'm "that" Steve Gibson, I probably am -- I'm the guy who gets Google's first three or four links when Googling my name.
I was driven to write this review because it is somewhat distressing and, it seems to me, a bit unfair for the Kindle's average review rating to be dragged so far down by Kindle NON-OWNERS who, judging from their comments, seem to be quite annoyed by all of the positive comments about a device that's expensive, monochrome, not a general purpose media player, unable to leap tall buildings, or in some way less than they were expecting, wanting, or hoping. In contrast to non-owners, the people who actually HAVE Kindle's appear to universally love it, though with very valid caveats. I think of this as "The TiVo Effect" since, for the right sort of user, the Kindle will be life-changing ... but it certainly won't be that for everyone. Although it took me a few days to get completely comfortable with it, I am now hooked.
So, for what it's worth, if this posting is discovered by any truly interested pre-purchasers, I hope that the following commentary might place the Kindle in "perspective" and be of some value to you. (And if it is, I hope you'll click the button at the bottom to indicate that, so that this review might be found by more potential buyers ... Thank you!)
I have read many novel-length books on my various Palm's, I owned the original Rocket eBook, and I own both generations of Sony's eInk readers, the PRS-500 and PRS-505. So my clear bias is of someone who enjoys technology for its own sake and who loves the idea of reading books on a "device."
Amazon's first-generation Kindle arguably has a few warts (see below). So depending upon your needs, budget, willingness to purchase a "first-generation" gizmo that you might regret purchasing and want to replace a year from now, and so forth, you might well decide to wait for the next generation Kindle that will doubtless be even better. But whether you choose to jump aboard now or later, Amazon's entry into the eBook market is a BIG deal -- it forever changes the game. I think there is no doubt that for the first time ever, a substantial number of people who were never captivated by ANY previous eBook system will find themselves reading and enjoying textual content on Kindle's eInk screen.
The weird initial love/hate reaction to the Kindle is being compared with Apple's iPod, which was also initially met with striking polarization. We all know how that turned out. :) Although the iPod was far from being the first portable MP3 player, and critics called it a copycat, it was the first portable music player to go mainstream, and it changed the world. I believe that, similarly, the large and tightly interacting collection of Kindle features, that go far beyond those of any other previous eBook attempt, will cause the Kindle to be the first eBook to succeed. By connecting their massive book library, as well as newspapers, magazines, blogs and the Web -- wirelessly -- to a long-battery-life chunk of consumer plastic, Amazon has kicked eBooks into the mainstream.
Is the Kindle perfect? Not yet. Is it expensive? Yep. Does it feel like a first-generation product? Absolutely. Will I purchase the next Kindle too? Please let me be first in line!
Investing in Kindle's future...
From a DRM (digital rights management, aka eBook copy-protection) perspective, my eBook content ownership is already spread around all over the place; from Mobipocket, to Palm eReader, to Sony Connect, and now to Amazon Kindle. Sure, that annoys me a bit, but it's the price one pays for being an early adopter of technology that isn't yet ready for prime time ... as, until now, no eBook system has been. Sony's efforts came the closest, but that all ended for Sony (and everyone else) with the introduction of the Kindle. Existing owners of other eBook formats will certainly continue purchasing content for their devices, but who in the U.S. would purchase a new $300 Sony eReader when for an additional $100 they could have the Kindle ... which is so much more than any of the other "disconnected" read-only devices?
In other words, given that Amazon is Amazon, and the fact that they already, right out of the gate, offer so much more than any other previous solution, I feel comfortable now building up my eBook content ownership with Amazon. Sure, I've been wrong before, but this is where I'm placing my bet. I won't be purchasing any more content for Palm's eReader or Sony's. And I like the fact that the content I am purchasing now for this first-generation Kindle will certainly always be readable on whatever future generation devices Amazon's efforts will evolve into.
Look Ma, no wires!
The huge deal with TiVo was time-shifting and commercial skipping. The huge deal with the Kindle is its wireless connectivity. Being a "traditional" eBook user -- i.e. download into PC and "dock" the eReader to upload -- I didn't 'get' that at first. Now I'm as hooked by that on the Kindle as I am by my Tivo's ability to whiz through endless commercials. The Kindle brings the same sort of freedom and power to textual content that the cell phone brought to voice communications.
Sure, I'll purchase eBooks for the Kindle. But I have subscribed to a newspaper and two magazines ... and it is truly a paradigm shift to have their content "just be there" in the morning all by itself. And the periodical content is clean, blessedly free of ads, unnecessary pictures and distractions.
An ugly duckling in need of forgiveness?
Like many people who worship the infinitely-understated elegance of Apple's iPhone (and many other Apple creations), the Kindle's appearance put me off at first. I was as vocally critical of the darned thing as any of those "one star" reviewers. When the first early photos of it leaked a few months before its release, I thought "No way, what a joke! That must be an early balsa-wood mock-up." Now that weird angular wedggie is sitting here next to me as I type this. And I have forgiven it because something odd happens after using it for a few days: You begin to realize that it really works ... and it works well. (And have you ever tried actually typing on the iPhone's all-screen keyboard?)
Did someone say "warts"?
The Kindle's screen appears to have slightly lower contrast than Sony's second generation reader, but much more than Sony's first generation offering. Also, the Kindle's fonts are *far* superior to Sony's, extremely legible, in six sizes and with real italics, not just algorithmic slanting. I'm a bit annoyed that the line-spacing is so large on the larger fonts since page changing is an "event", but, again, this is just the first shot.
And speaking of page changing, I am not a big fan of the page navigation on this first Kindle. So much of the device is devoted to making page changing easy that it's difficult to pick up and handle the device without inadvertently changing pages. But once you're settled down and reading, the fact that only a thumb-twitch is required is nice. One way or another I'm sure that Amazon will get plenty of feedback about everything ... and the next one will be even better.
You want to charge me what??!!
There's also been a great deal of confusion about Amazon charging for the conversion and delivery of our own content into our own Kindles. Amazon *only* charges for wireless delivery, the conversion is 100% free. If you eMail your content to YourKindleName@kindle.com it's converted and downloaded into your Kindle for 10 cents. But if, instead, you eMail your content to YourKindleName@free.kindle.com it's converted and a link to the converted file is eMailed to your registered eMail address at NO charge. You can then download it and use your PC's USB connection to transfer the content to the Kindle.
Moreover, the FREE MobiPocket v4.2 Creator will convert many formats -- HTML, MS Word Docs, Text, and Adobe PDF into .PRC files -- nicely compressed and encrypted if you wish -- which, when transferred into the Kindle are directly readable. I have converted two large eBooks which I already had in PDF format into native Kindle format and they work perfectly -- no cost and no Amazon involvement at all. And I'm sure that quite soon there will be all sorts of free Kindle content converters popping up all over the place.
So I'm glad that I purchased this first-generation device, and that I'm participating in the first real wave of eBook industry creation. None of my other eBook readers offer nearly what the Kindle does. Thanks to Amazon and their Kindle, eBooks have finally happened.
Another User Review
From a Home School Mom!
11,341 of 11,659 people found the following review helpful:
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous product - Content needs a little work..., November 19, 2007
By Eclectic Homeschool Mom (Seattle, WA USA)
I have been using my Kindle for about 6 weeks and I must say that it took me only a few hours to totally fall in love with it. I curl up in my lounge chair with some hot tea next to me and get lost in a world of reading. The size is very appropriate for reading and I can read with only one hand since I use a thumb to press the next page button. This leaves my other hand free to sip my tea or pet the dog.
* Wireless downloading of books - I can look up a book, read a summary and/or a few reviews and then buy it right away. This will cause some financial issues down the road because it is just so easy but is sure is a powerful feature. Entire books really do download in just a few seconds.
* Readability - I am lumping several features under this category. The one-handed reading, the overall size of the reader, the crisp text and the variable font size all work together to make the experience while reading just fabulous. Several times while reading late at night, I pushed the text font button and upped the font size because my eyes were getting a bit tired. A younger reader in our household was comfortable with the smallest font size, while the slightly older readers really appreciated one of the middle font sizes. I used the largest font size when I had the reader propped up on the treadmill. In the past, I have not found a good way to read while using the treadmill because the pages flip and the font was too small but that excuse is gone now.
* Subscription content delivered while I was sleeping. Another bad habit in the making - I stayed in bed and simply turned on the Kindle and was able to read my morning paper without setting foot outside.
* Incredible amount of content with me at all times. Since the unit is the size of a basic paperback, I slipped it into my purse and had it with me all the time. Whenever I was waiting for more than a minute, I would get the unit out. It initially started up on the page where I last left it, but with one click on the home button, I was brought to my multi-page list of available books and documents. I am the type of reader who usually has about 5 different books going at once and I could just pick the one that interested me at the time.
* Kindle NowNow - You pose a question and hit submit. Within a few minutes, you get several responses - for free sent to your Kindle. This was extremely helpful when I was away from a computer and just needed a quick answer. This was actually easier than googling because I got three very good answers for every question that I asked.
* Battery Life - The battery life indicator goes up and down at various rates depending on whether you are actively using the wireless. I didn't realize this at first, so I thought that the battery life was short, but when I just used the Kindle for reading, I went several days without needing to charge. Charge time is really quick - an hour or two at the most to get a full charge but I can still read for an entire evening on a very low indicator.
* Plays mp3 files - but this feature needs some work. Currently, the files are played randomly, so you can't select specific music to play or use it for mp3 audio books and lectures. I put some instrumental mp3s on my SD card and it was nice to have background music sometimes.
* Subscriptions Revisited - I still read a "real" newspaper. In the online versions of subscription content, I miss the extras like photos, comics, puzzles, letters to editor and such. All of the articles are included, but the complete experience of a newspaper is not quite duplicated in online content - this is not only for the Kindle but also for web based news.
Missing or Negative Features (the reason for losing one star on this review) -
* Content - I expected to be able to download ebooks from my local library (for free) and read them on my Kindle. I also expected to simply copy all types of text to my Kindle using either the SD card or the USB. I have found a work-around for my pdf files using the MobiPocket Creator. This works really well except for the Table of Contents - which didn't quite translate properly. I translated several of the free books that I downloaded from wowio. The text came over just fine, but some of the fancy text/graphic chapter headers became separated. Also, some of the books that I wanted are not available in the Kindle store yet. I have used the email conversion and that worked okay.
* Pricing Structure - I am a cheapskate in general and frequently buy my books from thrift stores, library sales and used book stores. I have several issues with the pricing and hopefully, the market will correct some of these issues. I can't share the books that I purchase and there isn't really a "used" market for ebooks. I must admit though, that the longer I used the Kindle, the more I was able to justify the book prices in relation to the convenience of having them on my device. For things like textbooks and other books where I want a "real" copy of the book, I would like to see a purchase option that includes a Kindle version for almost nothing if I am purchasing the title in book form. I also wish the entry point was cheaper since I am spending so much on content.
I love my Kindle. I keep it nearby at all times and I am finally getting a chance to catch up on some reading since I have a whole collection with me whenever I get a few minutes to myself.
Update - 4/5/08:
I would change my rating to 5 stars based on how much I love my Kindle. I am reading on it about 2 hours or more per day. My reading includes a newspaper, some magazines, blogs, books from the Kindle store and some classics. I also have sent myself several pdf documents that I am glad to have available away from my PC. The ability to make use of short bursts of time for reading is amazing. I am very pleased with how much more reading is a part of my busy life now.
I have ordered multiple Kindles to use in our family. We easily share books using the Content Manager. I do wish that subscriptions could also be shared, but it has not been a big issue in our family because of the different reading habits of the Kindle users.
The Sample book feature is wonderful. I have tried many books and purchased a few based on these samples. There were differences in the various samples. Some samples gave me a couple of chapters and really drew me into the book while a few samples were little more than the table of contents and a few pages. The Save for Later feature that is available when browsing the Kindle store has been very useful as a wishlist. An improvement would be to have this list available on my PC when browsing the Amazon site.
One continuing annoyance is the shorter battery life I get when I am using the wireless feature. When I browse the Kindle store or use Wikipedia, the battery life seems to go down in a very short time. When I am strictly reading though the battery life is a couple of days.
Now that I have many more books and materials on my Kindle, I have noticed shortcomings in the organization methods. I am hoping for a software upgrade to take care of this problem. Currently, I sort my available materials by "Most Recent" and this keeps my current reading projects at the top of the list.
Overall, the Kindle has been life-changing for me and even some issues that originally bothered me or continue to bother me do not take away from the fact that I have a library of material with me in a wonderfully convenient format - definitely a 5 star e-book reader.
Kindle Readers from Amazon
Get Your Kindle Reader now!
Still one of the best sellers at Amazon because of the amazing properties of the paper white screen that can easily be read even in bright sunlight.
With the right accessories this reader may be all that you really require, note that it does not display any colors. It is like a newspaper before color arrived.
Many readers want to be able to see all of the pictures, drawings and photographs (now even videos) that are contained in e books.
Consequently Amazon have come up with a new generation of the reader. The Kindle Fire that addresses these problems. These readers are back lit to aid reading in bright light and of course in the dark.
Bargains on Kindle products from eBay
eBay is a fun place to bid and try to get yourself that great bargain on your new Kindle reader.
Kindle Accessories on Amazon
Accessorize your Kindle with some of these great add on's.