I’ve done the occasional post on ereaders in the past but I’ve never reviewed one. Since I’ve only ever owned my trusty kindle, and its coming up to its second year of operation, I thought it wise to take a look back and see how the kindle compares to books and how it’s changed my reading habits.
First off, I have used other ereaders, though not in any long-term situation. From those experiences I have since learnt that others may attempt what Amazon do in the e-book market and some of them may be half decent at it, but nobody seems to beat the kindle in looks, size, weight or simple operation.
The hardware is something you wouldn’t normally consider when looking for an ereader, after all, all you want from it is to read books on a mobile display. That can’t be hard to find can it?
The ones I’ve used alongside my kindle have rarely felt comparable. Tablets and phones simply don’t count. The reason e-ink displays exist is because normal displays often hurt the eyes after a length of time reading off them. This is exactly how I feel when I use either a phone or tablet instead of my kindle. They serve the purpose of short time reading well, news reading is often there forte, but delving into a fully immersive book is simply annoying and often painful experience for those of us worst effected by traditional back-lit displays.
The kindles hardware however excels at its duty. Light enough to avoid hand stress during long reading sessions, crisp and easy to read, excellent battery life that can often last upwards of a month. Smooth and well designed body that melts into your hand when holding it. Everything about this device screams a book readers luxury. Only this morning did I finish yet another book half way through my way to work. Did I put the device down and decide I needed to go to a wifi spot or book shop. Please… load the 3G up, connect, choose your next book from a wide selection from Amazons store, download, start reading. Imagine that within 1-2 minutes of finishing your last book.
That is exactly what an ereader should offer as the next step to reading a traditional book and that is exactly what the Kindle Keyboard offers. Pay a little extra for the 3G and your never away from that next enthralling read. Only have wifi, stock up on upto 3,500 books before leaving your house.
The page changing buttons click well and changing page while holding the device is incredibly easy with one hand, leaving the other one free to keep you standing on the Metro. The smooth back surface feels good to hold on long journey’s without it sticking to your hand. Although the keyboard may get in some people’s way, I have to say I quite like using it when searching for books. Its accurate, gives enough feedback after each press of a button to know you’ve pressed it correctly and types well compared to a touch screen version.
Every Kindle has the ability, if the author allows it, to read most books aloud either through the speakers at the back or a set of headphones. I’ve never been a fan of listening to books read aloud even with a major talent lending their voice to the book, that’s simply because I find I forget a lot of details if there read to me instead of me reading them. However, the reading aloud feature on the Kindle is surprisingly good. It gets almost all words pronounced correctly and stops and starts between sentences almost like you were reading the book yourself.
The only bad side is the voice still sounds very robotic and so often puts people of listening to it. Feels almost as if an AI robot is trying to hypnotize you into helping it take over the world.
A small complaint people have mentioned is the fact the storage aboard the Kindle is none upgradable. No SD ports or other popular cards can be used on the Kindle and your left to use the on-board space alone.
Not that in my opinion that’s a bad thing. The device does hold over a three thousand books and can easily fit in your pocket. Please tell me of a book that can do that?
The lack of external storage will only worry those that wish to side load content onto the device. Doing so is still easy using a USB cable so it will only slow your down a little compared to loading a bunch of books onto a SD card. Not that I think that would be any quicker anyway.
It seems every Kindle has an experimental menu hidden away somewhere. This is where you’ll usually find some unfinished features that aren’t meant to be selling points of the device. In most instances with Kindles this is where the browser lives. Yes, browsing on a e-ink display is possible, just a little slow. The beauty of this Kindle is once you’ve bought it, (paying slightly more for the 3G version,) you’ll never pay for the 3G connection again. This means as long as you have your Kindle charged you have unlimited and semi-reliant access to the web from anywhere.
This is a nifty feature to have when booking plane tickets last-minute or checking on emails, if you don’t have a smart phone that is.
Since owning my Kindle I’ve noticed the amount of books I read on a monthly basis continue to grow. At first I’d finish a book a month, (more than I was used to,) now I’m finding that the same dwarfing pile of books I was having difficulty getting through before, has suddenly diminished to the point that I’m having to scour Amazon for more must read novels. If you enjoy reading but the slog of carrying them around is what puts you off, an eReader is exactly what you need.
- Lighter than most books
- Long battery life
- Book store accessible anywhere you can get a 3G signal
- Crisp display
- Compact design
- Decent reading aloud ability
- Useful experimental browser
- No external storage
- Expensive compared to the average book
- Relies on being charged or unusable
- Boring robotic voice
I know by this time many book lovers are probably arguing that I’m missing the point. That ereaders can never truly replace books. They’re right. They never will replace the luxury of holding real paper in your hands, the smell of a newly purchased book or the satisfaction of having a lovingly crafted bookshelf to show off to friends and family.
What an ereader is meant to do is replace the problems reading on the go with real books presents. Weight of hardbacks cause not only your hands and arms to ache while reading it but they also hurt your shoulder and back from carrying the lumbering book around. Finish reading one book in the series, now what? Are you going to carry two or three books where ever you go? That’s unpractical in modern life when you have to rush around everywhere often covered in sweat from your daily journeys and jobs carrying yet more books to keep you sane. If your stuck in a tight place and can’t get your hand around to turn the page, using your nose might seem sensible until you get some funny glares from fellow commuters.
The ereader and more importantly, the Kindle, eliminate these problems. Sure, you have to worry about a battery life now, another battery to keep charged. Yes they are more expensive than just buying a book but surely the heavy discounts you can get on ebooks can help balance that out.
At the end of the day, reading should be for everyone, wherever they are. The Kindle does that job incredibly well and doesn’t fall down under pressure. It works brilliantly on a daily basis and does its duty on holidays and long travel trips. In my opinion, it is one of the best investments I’ve ever made.