The Amazon Kindle 3G Review
A few months ago I bought one of those new Amazon Kindle e-book readers everyone’s raving about… Well ok… Not everyone.
I always had my eye on these new e-ink e-book readers but they used to cost quite a few pounds so I never really ended up buying one.
Recently, maybe thanks to the whole new tablet market, the kindle price got slashed and I bought one for something like 180 dollars shipping included. If you live in Italy, like me, there’s no way to buy one from amazon.co.uk or .de or .fr or .it as it will automatically redirect you to the american amazon.com website.
Upon receiving the kindle it came in a simple but sturdy amazon box with a simple leaflet explaining how to start it up. First thing i did was try to take of the thin sheet of plastic these kind of gadgets have on the screen when they are new… you know that thin plastic layer on your new phone’s screen or on your new iPod. To my dismay it was a trap!
There was no screen protector. What looked like a FAKELY written phrase (you know the fake screen printed on a thin sheet of plastic to act as an Ikea-style product demo) saying “please attach your kindle to a pc usb port to charge it” wasn’t fake at all. This was my first ever experience with E-ink technology. I was truly amazed.
The new Kindle screen looks like paper. Absolutely no distinction. It has no backlight it has amazing contrast… Damn this thing is like…MAGIC.
I bought the 6″ screen Wi-Fi version (i don’t see why anyone in the world would buy a 3G data plan version) which is the size of a normal paperback book page. I quickly pop it on my pc (immediately recognized by Windows 7) and register it to my amazon account. I am then given a list of free un-copyrighted books that I can download. Such old classics as Treasure Island, Sherlock Holmes, The Mysterious Island and many others. I immediately downloaded Treasure Island to try it out.
The feeling the Kindle gives you is just what you would feel reading a book but better. There’s no screen glare that you can have with iPhones or iPads and the Kindle is very light so it won’t strain your hands while reading in bed like a book usually does to me. Another plus is that there’s no more of that easy page/hard page while reading on your side. Depending on what side i’m lying on there’s an easy page (where the side of the book rests on the bed) and a hard page (when you have to hold the whole book up to read the other page with your hand turning into a Dr.Zoidberg claw), making me toss and turn in bed like a maniac. Glad that’s gone…
Amazon offers an amazing variety of e-books so you’re going to find pretty much everything you want, except more obscure books. Nonetheless it has accepted any e-book format i’ve been throwing at it including .azw (obviously), .epub, .mobi and .pdf so you can buy an e-book from anywhere else on the internet and pop it on your kindle by dragging and dropping through the usb cable. If your e-book is unsupported you can send it to your kindle email and it will be converted into a usable format and sent automatically to your Kindle.
Speaking of transfering e-books to the kindle, Amazon does a great job with what they call “Whispernet”. When you buy an e- book off amazon.com it will ask you where you want it sent. You can send it to your registered kindle, your iPhone, your Android phone or even your Kindle app on your PC. By simply connecting your Kindle to your Wi-Fi network you can sync all your items with a push of a button. Not only does it sync all your books, it also syncs all your highlights, popular highlights by other people and what page you were on last time you read the book so that you can pick right up from where you left if you want to read from your iphone or from another PC.
One of the nicest perks you get on the Kindle (and on most ebook readers for that matter) is that you can move your cursor right next to a word you don’t know and it will give you a quick definition on the internal dictionary and if that’s not enough it’ll let you search it on google, wikipedia or anywhere else you want on the internet. I’ve never been the kind of guy to pick up a dictionary while reading so this is a great addition.
There are a few drawbacks to the Kindle and I believe it isn’t just a Kindle problem… With a paperback book you can buy it and read it. The best thing about paperback books is that if you like them you can tell other people about it and do something that used to be regarded as granted… LEND IT. Unfortunately Amazon and many other e-book retailers have put DRM protection on all of the e-books they sell. This is absolute bullcrap because I wanted to lend an e-book i bought to my mother recently and realised the only way was to make her buy it again for her kindle… Which to me sounds stupid. I know this DRM crap is all about stopping pirates but come on!
Apparently Amazon is working on a “Lending” option for e-books but they still haven’t enabled it for European users.
I also noticed that the price of e-books is variable. Most of the ones i’ve seen cost more than their paperback brother. Some people say other books cost more than their e-book version. Nonetheless I’ve always paid something more for my e-book than I would have paid for my paperback which does piss me off a bit.
The Kindle is a great e-book reader then… yes… but unfortunately for me, it’s quite a nightmare for manga afficionados.
Not because you can’t read them… not at all… but because of the tedious convertion you have to go through. I haven’t found any legitimate source to BUY e-manga. Not the ones I like anyway so I had to go and find illegal scans. After downloading the scans you have to convert them into something kindle-friendly with a program called Mangle (Manga+Kindle aaaaah) which isn’t really always 100% perfection. It sometimes mixes up page numbers and you end up having to delete all your converted images and start again. I have officially given up on converting manga scans for the Kindle. Too much time and not much reward. You can read this if you are interested.
The Kindle has some other minor and hidden features such as an experimental (but very good) internet browser, a minesweeper game, a text-to-speech reader and an automatic Twitter/Facebook updater (sends your highlights to your feed).
Oh I nearly forgot!! The kindle also sports a pair of speakers from which you can hear your text-to-speach voice, mp3’s and audiobooks. A nice addition even though you have to watch your space as the Kindle has 3Gygabytes of internal space which isn’t expandable.
One small tip. Don’t buy an original amazon.com leather case. Apparently they’ve been making Kindles freeze without any explanation. Not to mention they cost like £30-£50. I ended up making my own carry case for the kindle by carving an old Diary:
I can definetly reccomend a Kindle if you are an avid reader and interested in new technology/gadgets.