I received my Kindle 2 on Wednesday, February 25. First, this was a brilliant marketing and customer satisfaction tactic on Amazon’s part. I originally ordered the Kindle late last year and knew, from the product page, that it would be weeks before my order was delivered (the original proposed delivery date was in mid-March). It was to be a late Christmas present.
First it was announced on February 9 that they would start shipping on the 24th. Since I subscribe to the Prime 2-day shipping service, that meant that I would get mine on Thursday, February 26. However, on Monday the 23rd I received a mail telling me that mine had shipped and I would receive it on the 25th. I was thrilled! Then I thought how sharp this was: to be placed on a waiting list for months, then to have a date announced followed by the arrival a day before that. The anticipation washed away the memory of waiting.
I have now been using the Kindle 2 for 10 days. I am very satisfied with the purchase. Here is a list of pros and cons to date:
I like the size, weight, relative performance and ease of use for the act of reading. The non-reflective screen is wonderful, as I tend to read in rooms where the light always reflects badly when I read glossy magazines. The portability of my reading material has allowed me to read more often and more broadly. When I exercise on the elliptical machine, I find it easy to read with and enjoy having a variety of items to choose from, instead of having to decide before I exercise and then wish I’d picked something else to read.
The navigation buttons are clear and the menu is context sensitive (provides a different set of menu options depending where you are….inside a book, on the home page, in the Kindle store, etc.). The joystick takes a little getting used to, but is unobtrusive enough that it doesn’t feel like it’s in the way. The 16 scale grey electronic ink is very easy to read and easy on the eyes, which is important to me.
I am trying out the New York Times subscription and am enjoying it. I have observed that I do not go to my usual web news sites as much during the day or in the evening, except for current updates. Since the Times is delivered in the morning, staying current is the only real issue there. I tried the Seattle Times for a few days, but was unimpressed by their formatting compared to the New York Times.
I like the sample chapter service available from the Kindle Store. There does seem to be a bit of variability in the amount of sample made available, which sometimes means that, even after reading the sample, I don’t know if the title is one I’d invest in.
The battery life seems to be good. A friend of mine who owns a Kindle 1 advised me to keep the wireless turned off when I’m not specifically using it to save on the battery, so I have followed that advice. When I turn it on in the morning is when I sync it to receive updates and the New York Times.
The device is too expensive for broad adoption. In fact the price held me off from purchasing one before now. While the selection of content is broad, it is still a very small percentage of what is out there. I have spent some time on the Amazon site going through pages of books I’d like to see on Kindle and clicking the link to send that information to publishers.
There are some books, like the Bible, that are much more easily navigated with a physical book in hand than on the Kindle. Navigating periodicals is likewise a nuisance. One can go page by page through the article, use the joystick to go the next or previous article, or click on the “View Sections List” to go to a table of contents. Still, this is a version 2 device and I will expect this capability to improve with more user testing in future versions or software upgrades.
The prices of Kindle books should be lowered. While they average about $10, I cannot sell them back to a bookshop, which I regularly do with physical books. There are several books that I have in hard bound and paperback editions that I would like to have on my Kindle, but many of them are even higher priced that the average, some as high as $25 (if they are even available). That is too expensive for bits versus atoms.
Tests to come
I am enrolled in the Master of Communications in Digital Media program and the University of Washington. One of the next big tests for the Kindle is the availability of the texts for my class for spring quarter and how easily the annotation and highlighting tools work.
I look forward to my first long trip to test out the general convenience of the device and the concept on the road. Like many, I take a number of books with me when I travel, loathe as I am to run out of the things I wish to read. I may even be able to pack less which would really be nice.
Amazon has done a great job with the Kindle 2. Keeping the device targeted at reading and away from becoming a net book helps focus on the target audience and their habits. They should keep enhancing the reading experience, expanding the content available and making the entire package more affordable.
Stay tuned for my next review after spring quarter on what studying on the Kindle 2 was like.