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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Review: Amazon Kindle 2

First Off: Merry [Post] Christmas to you all readers! Secondly, thanks to my girlfriend for this one piece of cool technology for giving it to me as a Christmas present.

Ok ok, so this really caught me in a surprise. Especially about my post "Thinking of Purchasing an E-Book Reader?" Well, for Christmas, my girlfriend got me Amazon's #1 selling product: The Kindle 2.

Quick note: Please take note Apple and any other company whose products relies on using a USB connection--include an AC adapter just how Amazon did so! We are buying your $150+ products and we have to hook it up to a computer and/or buy an adapter to charge it?! Just do us a favor and include it. Thanks.

I really didn't see this coming. But as a lover of books and technology, this is something I want especially when it's given to me. =) Low and behold sitting before me is the Amazon Kindle 2 with it's glorious 6" [more on that part later] e-ink display.

There was so much buzz on this product when it hit Amazon's shelves that almost everyone knew what an E-Reader was by the end of 2007. At least I did since I'm a big collector of books to read [and just to own it knowing it's good but haven't had the time to start it].

The big selling point to this whole new technology is its electronic ink display that mimics print in real life. It is not an LCD screen in which it squeezes the batteries dry in hours but instead a display that reflects light like normal text printed on paper that can lasts for days of continuous use. Ok, just read the Wiki entry on it if you really want to understand it.

In short though: the display is the best display for text I've seen by far. So good in fact, you'd think it's a demo model in which the manufacturer left a sticker on it to pretend it's on. Yep, it's that good.

The unit itself is easy to hold and has a good even weight--not too light and flimsy and not too heavy so that you won't tired out when you're laying down and reading it.

The built in keyboard is strange to see since no other e-book readers have them but after using it, you begin to figure out how would I live without it.

The favorite part is highlighting sentences and making annotations on different parts of the book. Then afterwards, I can look up all my notes/highlights easily.

The other cool part of having a keyboard? I can search any word and it will tell me where exactly where that word appeared throughout the entire book.

The display is actually "on" but it's really in sleeping mode. The screen changes everytime you put it to sleep and displays a random book art cover, enticing you to pick it up sooner than you think to read a few pages.

There is a 5-directional joystick on the unit in which you use to make highlights and select items in the menus. It is a bit small and bit stiff to get use to though. I'd prefer a trackpad so 1) it would be smoother to use and 2) you don't have to hear constant clicks. [I can just imagine a neighbor I'm sitting to hearing these clicks. Ugh.]

On the side of the Kindle are buttons to flip through its pages--Previous Page and Next Page (on left) and Home and Next Page (on right side). They are properly placed and I haven't had an accidental page flip so far. As mentioned earlier, the clicks of the buttons are annoying in my opinion and wish it was dampened some how.

Yes, those are blogs and you can subscribe to them view Amazon's Kindle Store. The bad part is that you have to pay for them [I know I know: blogs are free!] The good part is there's always a way around things and thanks to Stephan Windwalker's The Complete User's Guide To the Amazing Amazon Kindle 2 , there's a program called Calibre in which you can get countless blogs onto your Kindle. Downside? It's only free since you have to manually plug in your Kindle via USB to your computer. Upside? It's free, you can manage all your e-books, and you can make your own PDF files to upload onto your Kindle.

After reading a bit into Stephan Windwalker's guide, you can really use the included 3G wireless internet that allows you to buy Amazon's books to actually check your email [perfect since it references Gmail], Twitter feeds, Google Reader, and Facebook. Yes, this is really for reading books and blog/magazine subscriptions but to have an extra feature such as simple browsing is a real kick. What does this mean? No more hotspots or free WiFi to find. Downside? It's slow; it's basic internet meaning no Flash and remember: it's a 16 shade grayscale screen you'll be using to surf the web.

Just remember though that 3G wireless internet is meant to buy books and Amazon's book selection is second to none. I've bought 90% of my books on Amazon to begin with [love the free shipping and tax free purchases. Plus, the prices are the lowest for sure compared to any store].

With that being said, not all books are available on the Kindle [so this allows me to still love books, it's cover art, the feel of its pages, and the beauty of its book binding]. The majority of the books that are available are the popular good stuff--New York Times Bestsellers for one. That's not to say it's only that but there are plenty to choose from for sure.

I am not sure of the time that I can spend with the Kindle before have to recharge it but if you did need to, the micro USB port is on the bottom and yellow light gleams [the small hole to the port's left]. When it's fully charged, a green light emits and lets you know when it's fully charged.

No. This is not a huge iPhone. Amazon did take design cues from Apple though and I'm not mad at all. The first Kindle was something from the 90s although some people like it's boxy curvy design. This time around in version 2.0, Amazon shaved the sharp corners for smooth rounded edges and a nice aluminum back to finish it. The speakers are on the back [strangely enough] and this is for the Text to Speech feature in you can choose a female or male voice to read your book in that robotic smooth talk.

I've tried it and I think I'll read to myself.

On the very top is a headphone jack to listen to your Text to Speeches or listen to music that you can upload when you plug it to your computer.

Another copycat of Apple: no removable battery. That sucks if you're traveling far far from an outlet or computer. I do hope for yall that the battery does last itself and if anything, turn off the internet to preserve battery! Also, no expandable memory. You're stuck with 2GB [really around 1. 6GB] of space to store your content.

Size comparisons to an iPhone and Apple Magic Mouse.

If you haven't known already, Amazon's Kindle software is available on iPhone, PC and soon to be Mac [if it hasn't already]. Amazon is not only pushing the Kindle but also the software that is used to purchase new books as low as $10 [and of course free].

A nice feature of the stand alone software is its utilization of Whispersync, which allows you to continue where you left off on your Kindle on your iPhone and vice versa. Seamless it is!

Although some may argue that they can just use their iPhone or other mobile devices to read e-books, it definitely isn't the same as using a device with the e-ink technology.

When I read text on the iPhone, I know that I am reading text off of an iPhone.

When I read text off of the Kindle, I read the text as if I'm reading off a book. The device "disappears" as Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, describes it.

So $259 to read stuff?

Some have already chosen sides. If you want to read a book, then read a book! Flip pages and not worry about slow refresh rates!

The other side will say that it economical--keeps it green by reducing shipping costs, pages, and labor. It is convenient to download books in mere minutes and far cheaper than buying the book itself.

Whichever side you choose, whatever you do make sure to actual view it first and read one page. If you feel that the technology is worth it to read off of a e-ink display screen with a great second-to-none book marketplace then go for it. If you feel that the $259 can already pay for "real books" and don't want to deal with electronics and being afraid to drop a "book," then forget it.

I still find it an amazing piece of technology and will look forward to reading off of it.

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