Tuesday, March 31, 2009

product review: amazon's kindle wireless reading device

As a graduation gift last year my parents gave me a Kindle. Kindle's were still relatively at the time but a friend of mine told me about the product and after some research I knew I had to have it IMMEDIATELY. Unfortunately, I had just decided to go to graduate school and wasn't exactly in the financial position to be spending 400 bucks on an electronic device that, while I reallyreallyreally wanted it, didn't technically need. Thank goodness for milestone celebrations (college graduation) and generous parents.

The Kindle is an amazing product for any avid reader. It's so simple and easy to use, I'm pretty sure even my mom could figure it out, and she can't even figure out how to text on her cell phone. Not every book is available on the device, but they are adding new books every day and there's a ton (over 250,000 to be exact) to choose from. If you travel a lot, a Kindle is a great travel companion. It's not much larger than a paperback book and it's much thinner:

If you're in any other country other than internet-blocking China, you can wirelessly connect to Amazon's Kindle store and purchase a book instantly. They're delivered to your Kindle in under a minute. It's so crazy simple and convenient. If you can't access the internet from your device like me, then you simply download the books to your computer and sync it with a USB cord.

Can the Kindle save you money? The short answer is no. The long answer can be found here. Yes, Kindle e-books are cheaper than the paper or hardback version (they're under $10 each), but the device itself is several hundred dollars alone. Basically, you'd have to purchase and read an average of 6 books a month over the course of a year in order for you to "make back your investment."

Recently, Amazon unveiled its Kindle 2, which I wouldn't be averse to owning if I didn't already have the original, but personally I'm not that impressed with the improvements, which, as far as I can tell from Amazon.com, include:

Slim: Just over 1/3 of an inch, as thin as most magazines

Longer Battery Life: 25% longer battery life; read for days without recharging

More Storage: Take your library with you; holds over 1,500 books

Faster Page Turns: 20% faster page turns

Read-to-Me: With the new text-to-speech feature, Kindle can read every newspaper, magazine, blog, and book out loud to you, unless the book is disabled by the rights holder
I really like the size of Kindle 1, specifically I like that it feels like I'm holding a real book. The Kindle 2 is much thinner and I personally don't think I would like holding it as much. Plus, it's also longer which I think is a negative in terms of carrying it around in a purse or small bag, which I do often with my Kindle 1.

Here's a side by side comparison of Kindle 1 VS Kindle 2:

As far as the other "improvements", I've never had an issue with battery life (it lasts me weeks on end sometimes), I don't think I would ever need 1,500 books on my Kindle, the page turn speed has never bothered me, and I don't like audio books unless I'm listening to them via my iPod (EDIT: actually, Kindle 1 can read to you, too. Didn't realize it since it's not an option I've ever used before). That's not to say that the Kindle 2 isn't a great product, because it is. I just wouldn't buy it as a replacement for the Kindle 1 or anything.

So the take away message? In the words of Ferris Bueller, "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."


Alycia said...

One night at work I had a customer who was reading in/from/?? his Kindle. Then I remembered you had one and I told the guy. I don't know the point of me telling you this. Haha.

They seem really neat and convenient, but I don't think I could ever get used to reading whole books on a device. Plus I love the smell and feel of books (especially used ones!.

Andy said...

I have been thinking of asking my parents one of these as graduation gift. It's whether this or a cute camera.

Tough decision.