I’m a long-time customer and fan of Amazon.com, and I’ve been reading about the Amazon Kindle for a few months now. For those who aren’t familiar with the device, the Kindle a is a hardware device made for reading electronic books. Amazon’s been selling ebooks for some time, so this neat introduction isn’t a stretch.
Now, for nerds like Howie and me, there is no shortage of PDA’s, smartphones and other electronic devices upon which we can read ebooks; you know we’re all about the geek toys, and we make good use of them! Not everyone’s like us, though; my mom took one look at my T-Mobile Dash and said, “that’s way too complicated – I’d hate that”.
So, what about folks who have heard about ebooks and would like to enjoy them, but find technology foreign to them, if not downright scary? I think the Kindle makes good sense. I’ve been thinking about the ways in which the Kindle surpasses other devices when it comes to user-friendliness.
Can You See Me? Good.
One thing I dislike about most PDA’s and smartphones is the how dim the displays look in bright light. There are times I can hardly see my phone’s display when I’m outside or in a bright corner of the coffee shop.
The Kindle removes that limitation, using a high-resolution screen which reproduces the matte finish and easy readability of paper, even in bright sunlight. Nice! Additionally, the font can be enlarged or reduced until it is at the best size for the user.
Look, Ma – No Cables!
With a PDA or smartphone, if you want a new ebook, it requires multiple steps. First, you have to locate the book you want online and figure out how to buy it. Then you have to download it from the web to your computer. After that, you must move the file to a folder that will sync with your device, copying the file onto it. And, yes, there are lots of little steps in between those big steps. This all involves cables, synchronizing files. Computers, and at least a basic knowledge of the process.
The Kindle streamlines the whole ebook-buying process by offering free access to eBooks via Amazon’s Whispernet™, using the same type of networks cellphones do. You need only connect to Amazon with the Kindle, browse the selections, and make your purchase. That’s it. The rest is done for you, as the book downloads to the Kindle within about a minute of your order being placed.
I think this is wonderful for people reticent about technology , not to mention those who provide the tech support for them.
The Form Factor
The electronics market demands our electronic paraphernalia be smaller and smaller. It’s great how tiny such devices are when you think about all they can do, but there is a price to pay. The typical size of a display on a PDA or smartphone is 320×240 pixels. Some don’t mind this, but others have a hard time seeing on such a small display unless they enlarge the font so much only a fraction of a sentence shows up on the screen at one time. That’s a lot of scrolling.
The Kindle is may not be the size of a credit card, but it provides a more natural reading experience with a paper-like screen. It has an ergonomic design, too, with easily-accessible controls for turning pages and navigating within them. The unit is lighter than most paperbacks, weighing in at only 10.3 ounces, and can be held in one hand while you read. It comes with a leather book cover which folds back so the Kindle holds more like a book if you so prefer.
You can store over 200 books in the Kindle. That is a lot of shelf space. And it solves the problem of bathroom books. 😉
The Cost of eBooks:
If you know how to comparison shop online and don’t mind taking the time, you may be able to find good deals on electronic versions of books you want. But, remember that long process of getting the book onto your device once you buy it?
With the Kindle, titles on the New York Times Best Seller List, along with all new releases, are priced at $9.99 each unless they say otherwise, and many cost less. Considering what hardback books go for when new, this is a bargain! Best, you can preview the beginning of any book for free. I love that idea! You can also subscribe to newspapers, blogs and other periodicals.
Even if you pay a little more for some titles, you have saved the time and hassle of all the steps I mentioned earlier, and they’re all right there for you. Imagine one of your friends tells you about a great book she just read. You can access Amazon.com’s Kindle Shop immediately (before you forget, if you’re like me), and acquire it. Cha-ching…Woot! There it is!
I could say more, but I’ll stop. Let me summarize my thoughts:
- The cool factor
- It’s Amazon – you know them
- Crisp display is easy on the eyes, even in bright sunlight
- No cables, no syncing, no computers
- Readable size, lightweight, good ergonomics
- Holds over 200 books
- Has free, instant access to thousands of ebooks available for purchase
- Best sellers and new releases are more economical than hardbacks
- Connect from wherever you are – no wifi needed
- Initial price (Note: 7/6/2008 News Alert! They’ve dropped the price from its original $399!)
- It is just an ebook reader…But, then again, that’s all it needs to be.
Curious? I’ve only touched a few of its benefits, the ones that really stood out to me. I have to tell you, after reading about this product I am excited about the future of ebooks! This kind of device makes them accessible by the average person who has little technical knowledge.
It looks like they have an active support community for the Kindle, too. That’s good to see.
Happy reading, whatever form yours takes! 🙂