What's a Kindle?
The Kindle is an electronic book-reading device developed for/by Amazon, and being sold exclusively through Amazon.com. There have been two models of Kindle on the market, the first and second generation models. The second generation is the current model, and a third edition will soon make its entry into the market. Amazon has announced the creation of a larger Kindle, called the DX. Amazon is taking pre-orders for it and expects to sell it this summer.
I walk the fine line between educated tech guy and legally retarded. I love gizmos and buy a lot of them. I do my research and try to know what the hell I'm buying before I pull the trigger. One thing I've learned in doing my research before tech-related purchases is that some of you lot out there are obsessed, thinking of technical aspects I can't begin to grasp. Some of the technical particulars I've seen people argue about amaze me, and I don't mean that in a complimentary way. The things we choose to care about…
My point here is if you're one of those tech customers who requires algorithms, quadratic equations, and chemical compound breakdowns to make your decision, you won't find any of that here. Instead what follows is a rundown of my experience with my Kindle 2.
Overview: No one is more surprised than me that I've embraced a digital-only device. As passionate as I am for the physical media when it comes to music, I would never have dreamed I could fall in love with a digital-only consumer experience.
Better than 98 percent of the 21,826 songs on my iPod come from my own CD collection. If my iPod were to, say, fall into the toilet, I'd still have the CDs. I am still passionately in love with the physical compact disc of music sold in a nice plastic jewel box with pretty pictures. I completely understand if you're romantic about the touch, feel, and scent of a good book and can't bring yourself to give them up, but for the promiscuous, let Kindle tempt you.
What I Love About Kindle 2: The reading experience. In most aspects, it is as satisfying to me as reading an actual book. In some aspects, I actually find K2 a superior reading experience. You'll never need another bookmark. K2 remembers where you left off, even if you're in the process of reading multiple books at once.
When I read it's usually with feet propped up, head reclined, and book held with one hand some undetermined number of inches/feet out in front of me. Depending on the weight and size of the book, that can actually get uncomfortable for my hands/wrists after awhile, particularly because I've had trouble with tendinitis.
K2 is thin. The leather case I purchased for K2 opens like a book, but the front cover will bend all the way around, meaning there is no strain on my hand to keep my place in the book as I turn from page-to-page. It's light. It's thin and portable and travels very well.
I love that I can adjust the type size at will. I'm blessed to have reasonably good eyesight and can therefore read, comfortably, at the smallest type setting. That will change one day. Some of you might be at that point already. It's a simple adjustment to make and a great feature. No longer will you need special books with large print. K2 does that for you.
K2 has no backlight. You will still need proper external light sources to read, just as you would if you were reading a book. What this means is battery life is better than a laptop or smartphone that must power a bright screen. More importantly, it also means K2 is far more 'eye-friendly' than most electronic displays you encounter.
I love the selection. There are, as of this writing, over 285,000 titles available. I've run in to a few titles I'd like to have for my K2 that aren't presently available, but that 285,000 represents a vast array of authors, styles, and eras. New titles are constantly becoming available, whether they're new books being published for the first time or books from another time now being welcomed to the Kindle family. I suppose there are a few folks who won't find what they're looking for but that won't last forever. Notable holdouts right now are the Harry Potter series and John Grisham's novels. I don't expect them to remain unavailable for long.
Speaking of selection, the shopping experience and process of getting books on your K2 is about as easy as can be. If you're even remotely sophisticated in the ways of e-commerce, you'll have no problem getting books on your K2. You don't have to host the files on your computer hard drive if you don't want to, as your purchases are managed through your Amazon account. Books can be made available through a free, wireless delivery using Kindle's built-in 3G data capability (think iPhone, Blackberry, etc) or using your computer, the internet, and a USB connection.
I love that The New Oxford American Dictionary is included on the device and the way it can be integrated into the reading experience. Don't know what a word means? You can easily point a cursor to that word and the definition appears at the bottom of the screen. Should the definition be truncated, you can push forward to the dictionary to get the full definition and quickly return to your page.
What I Don't Love About Kindle 2: The cost. It's absurd. It's ridiculous. It's stupid. Not only are you in for $369. We're really talking $400 because you really must by a cover/case for your K2 and those are going to run another $20-30. This is a $400 investment and no matter how hellaciously cool and righteously bitching the device is — and it is both of those things — it's just not "worth" $400.
The buttons. The buttons are fine and functional and the device does feel well built, but the buttons don't feel quite as sturdy or responsive as I'd like. Also, the layout of the QWERTY keyboard at the bottom is a little strange. Where standard QWERTY alphabets are angled, or tapered, this keyboard is squared off and key placement takes some getting used to. I don't hate the layout, setup, or feel of the buttons but I don't love it, either. K2 is workable, but I'm confident future generations will improve.
I don't love that Amazon is selling these only through their web site, making it tough for prospective customers to put one in their hands and see for themselves how great this gadget is. I would never have bought one had my co-worker not let me test drive hers.
Josh Hathaway Presents Jerry Springer Presenting Josh Hathaway's Final Thoughts: If you're looking to me to provide scientific, logical rationale you can use to convince your spouse you really need to spend $400 for a K2, you're not going to find it here.
I bought mine impulsively and still can't believe I really spent that much money for it, but now that I have it I can't imagine not having it. I've fallen in love with Kindle. I've rediscovered my love of reading and that has translated into inspiration. I've written reviews of all four books I've polished off since purchasing it (The Teammates, Moneyball, Clemente, Delta Blues).