Yes, I’ve been sucked into the e-reader craze and bought the latest Kindle from Amazon. I can now read Twilight without carrying those really big books around (must be filled with really big words)! I can even read books on my feet, which has long been a dream!
What do I think of the device so far? Here are my quick thoughts:
This thing is so stinking cute and little! Everyone seems to be surprised by its small form. They must be expecting iPad-like dimensions, but what book comes that big? The screen is 6 inches, which is the same size as the previous model, but the rest of the device is thinner and smaller. Here it is on top of a steno pad and in my hand so you can see:
It’s remarkably light, and it really is true when they say it has the same weight as a paperback book. Once you sit down with it for a few minutes and actually start reading (after you’ve clicked around to your heart’s desire), you learn to hold it comfortably. It has a sort of rubberized back, so it doesn’t feel like it’ll slip out of your hands. The buttons on each side make it easy to switch “pages,” and the action becomes natural after a while.
The keyboard has sturdy buttons that remind me of my last cell phone which had a slide-out keypad. Why does it even have a keyboard? So you can browse for books on the Kindle store or add notes and highlights to texts (these are saved and transfer across any devices you have running the Kindle app—neat)!
Reading on the Kindle is drastically different from reading on anything else—even on devices that can run the Kindle app. I tested reading on that app on my Android smartphone and on my laptop. Since Apple bragged about the new iPhone’s screen so much, I even compared the same text on the Kindle to my roomie’s iPhone 4 and the contrast was much better on Amazon’s gadget. This is because you’re not staring at a screen, but static text. Without getting too technical, a normal screen is constantly refreshing an image, but at a rate that the human eye can’t detect. Over time, however, this can cause eye strain. I sit at a computer all day and this doesn’t bother me, but when I actually tried reading text without interruption for about an hour (which is normal for me when pleasure reading), I could feel the strain. Not so with the Kindle! Its screen is actually off while you read. It only turns on when you advance the page. The screen will flash black (less than a second), and that updates the text for the next page. Yes, it’s annoying if you sit there and press the button over and over, but you barely notice it when you’re reading like normal. I do wonder what speed readers think of this though…
Images show up in beautiful greyscale:
One feature that I’ve grown to love is the text view options. You can change the font quite a bit so that it’s easier for you to read, and the Kindle will realign everything all nice. I found that it was easier to read with greater line-spacing than I would normally find in a book (they gotta save on paper, so they squish it all together) and a font size slightly larger than most print books (make big words look even bigger)! I then switched to some poetry and found it handy to change those settings so a line in a poem was actually one line, but for people with vision problems, they would probably love being able to increase the font size so they can read it—great for everyone!
I got really excited when I used the keypad cursor thing (square-ish button on the lower right of the device) to select a word. I love T.S. Eliot because the man is crazy brilliant, and his genius loved words….words I don’t know. Normally, I understand an unknown word out of context and just move on. Going to the computer to look it up or flip through a dictionary ruins the reading experience. Kindle has two full dictionaries built in: The New Oxford American Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionary of English. When you move the cursor to a word, the definition appears on the top or bottom of the screen. You can then continue on your merry way, or you can click the return button and go to the full dictionary to get expanded definitions, usage examples, and everything else you’d find in a dictionary. When you feel like you know that strange word inside and out, just click the Back button and you go right back to where you were reading. So cool!
BUILDING AN E-LIBRARY
All good things aside, this thing is a money pit. You will spend a lot of dough on books once you get this! You never walk into a bookstore and come out with twenty books because that would be absurdly difficult to carry. You can easily buy this many e-books and not notice until you see a bank statement filled with AMAZON.COM charges. Yes, there are lots of free books, and I love classics, which is what most of them are, so I take advantage of this. If you like modern stuff like bestsellers, you will need to increase your book budget! Yes, Amazon has crazy good prices on e-books and sometimes it’s cheaper than their brand new paper cousins, but you can’t beat the price of a used or library copy.
SHOULD YOU GET ONE?
OMG! Yes! We can sit and e-read together! E-books are the wave of the future. I will always have and love paper books, but their days are numbered. I love having an insane amount of books in my bag and not even noticing the weight difference. The nice thing about it coming from a big company like Amazon is that they will likely be around for a while, and even if the device for some reason goes away, they still sell books and will probably do everything they can to make sure you still have your library.
Do yourself a favor and just get the Wi-Fi-only device. I bought the Wi-Fi + 3G version and it’s kind of silly. You will never find yourself in such a position that you absolutely have to have a new book at that very instant. You get free Wi-Fi at any Starbucks, so you could walk by one or pull into their parking lot, download a book real quick, and leave without even buying coffee (I do not endorse this pirating of Wi-Fi—just throwing the idea out there, so stay away, lawyers)!
Contrary to popular belief, the Kindle is not a cell phone, nor can you read one whilst sleeping, so don’t be disappointed.
Comment with questions if you have any!