I’ve been thinking about getting an eBook reader for a while, I read quite a lot and between DVDs, video games and books I’m running out of shelf space. I also find reading off screens gives me eye strain, so I thought an eBook reader would be ideal as it would lessen my need for shelf space while not causing eye strain. But I’m also wary of digital distribution since it’s so often you’re left with a single copy tied up with DRM and a tangle of rights issues so have been put off buying one till recently.
With the release of Kindle in the UK with it’s own dedicated Kindle store and a cheaper price point, also I discovered Amazon allow you to redownload any books you’ve purchased should you need to free up space or replace your device, which over came one of my concerns. I also noticed there are a lot of free books showing up on the Kindle store, whether public domain or given away free by the publishers/authors, which is a nice bonus because it makes it easy to load it up with free books rather than having to download, convert and copy them to the device yourself.
As for the Kindle itself, well I have to say it has impressed me. It is easy to forget you’re looking at a screen at all while reading the text. It is very much like reading text printed on paper and even when displaying pictures it does an outstanding job. The ability to change text size to suit your own requirements is a good feature and the reformatting usually does a good job of fitting things to the screen and makes comfortable reading. While the ability to change the orientation of the screen means you can make the device feel more comfortable in your hands if you prefer to hold it two handed. Though holding it in one hand is surprisingly comfortable and the placement of the ‘turn page’ buttons on both sides of the screen makes it easy to flip the pages which ever hand you’re holding it in. Though at first the placement of backwards and forwards being the same on both sides seems a little daft the fact that it makes it easy to page forward while holding it in either hand makes it a good design choice.
My own Kindle is the Wi-fi only model so I can’t comment on the 3G coverage or speeds, but it works very well over my home wi-fi. I’ve also discovered that you can email documents to yourself for free when you’re connected via wi-fi by emailing (username)@free.kindle.com which is also a nice easy way of getting documents on to it. The experimental features of web browsing and MP3 playing make nice extras too, and the web browsing works surprisingly well for a monochrome screen with a 0.5 second refresh time.
So far I’ve read one full book (Blood, Sweat & Tea by Tom Reynolds) and several free samples and shorter stories, and I’m happy to report it’s a nice reading experience with very little to gripe about. Although the free public domain books tend not to be formatted for ebook readers and as such seem to be solid blocks of text a lot of the time, which does make them harder to read, but that’s not the fault of the Kindle itself.
I have run in to 2 problems though, first the wifi stopped working, and wouldn’t detect or connect to any networks. I did a factory reset which fixed the problem. Secondly it decided to stick on the web browser, wouldn’t go to the home page or go to any other websites, powering it off and then back on did the trick and I’ve had no problems since. I suspect this may be a bug with the ‘experimental’ web browsing feature, but I have used it since and not had a problem.
Overall it’s a very good device, the £109 price point seems reasonable and the convenience and reading experience are both great. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a solid reading device but isn’t looking for a load of fancy features.