Review – Amazon Kindle

Rating - 10.0/10.0 - 10

Time for another review… this time, the Kindle from Amazon. The management summary for this review would probably read something like this… “If you’ve not got one, get one and enjoy.”. Nice and compact… just like the Kindle.

So where to begin… well, since their initial release, I’ve wanted one but always coughed at the price, but with the release of the 3d generation and the updated pricing… well, I could resist no longer and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve purchased in a long time.

I have a bunch of books which I’ve been trying to read for an age… a lot of them are PDFs (most of my Pragmatic Programmers titles) or big chunky paperbacks (most of my Microsoft best practices titles). So, reading them is not always convenient… the PDFs you have to have your laptop running and the paperbacks don’t travel well because of their bulkiness and weight. Now, they are all in my Kindle and I can take them anywhere.

As a consequence of this enhanced portability and ease of access I’ve read about 8 books since January… now I’m sure for a lot of people this is quite a low number, but if I tell you I didn’t manage to read a single book last year, that should put things in perspective. It’s not that I’ve found more time for reading, it’s just a lot more accessible. I’ve been travelling quite a bit for work again so sat in the airport… break out the Kindle… sat in the hotel restaurant waiting for my breakfast or evening meal… break out the Kindle. There is one obvious glitch to this though… that part of a flight where the Captain switches on the seatbelt sign and all electronic equipment has to be turned off. With a paper book you can carry on reading but with a Kindle… it has to be turned off. Still, most airlines have their in-flight magazines and of course there are the windows to look out of.

To 3G or not to 3G that was the question…

Well, I elected to go for the 3G version because I’m travelling a lot. Having the ability to sit in the airport and buy a book and get it delivered to my Kindle in seconds is very appealing. Couple that with the ability (albeit limited) to surf the web using the same connection and well… it’s really a no brainer… an extra 40 quid or so for that freedom.

The battery life is pretty good too. Generally I only turn wireless on when I need it, but I can’t give an accurate assessment of how the life compares with the specified life because I have on of the covers which includes the LED lamp… very handy when I crash out in my hotel room for the night… snuggle up in bed and read… but overall, I’m not disappointed by the performance of the battery… I think I’ve only charged it up three times which given I’ve had it since January isn’t bad.

Reading the Kindle is very easy on the eyes. I’ve not really experienced any glare from the screen and the overall legibility of the text is great. PDFs are a bit of a pain as they generally require you to zoom in and then navigating the page requires the use of the cursor pad, but I don’t read a lot of PDFs on there so no problem there. The tools you get are also pretty good, likes attaching notes and bookmarks. My only complaint, I was able to somehow reset the ‘last read’ position of a book I was reading. I couldn’t remember positions/page numbers so had to page through to where I was which was a bit of a pain, but apart from that, I’ve had no real problems operating the unit.

My biggest gripe is the cost of the books. Firstly VAT… buy a paper book and it’s exempt from VAT… buy a digital book and it’s not exempt from VAT (which, given the rate at the moment is 20% can be a significant amount). That said, there sometimes doesn’t seem to be a big enough difference between the paper and Kindle versions of a title.

Overall, the Kindle is fantastic and for the simple fact that I’ve read more since I had mine than I have for a long time, I’d recommend them to anyone. Couple that with the sheer numbers of books you can stick in your bag and well, you’re onto a winner.

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