I have a Kindle 3 e-reader, it’s a bit over 18 months old, mono screen, and as an ‘electronic book’ I think it’s great – far better than I was anticipating and a real pleasure to use. I’m not really too sure how long its battery life is between needing a recharge, but we are talking into the weeks (rather than days). A device that’s just designed to do one thing, and it does that really well.
Since the first Kindle came out and showed there was a potentially large market for this sort of thing there’s been a whole range of alternatives appearing, though recently they seem to be turning themselves into full colour, multi-function, touch screen devices. Some have been based on the manufacturers own proprietary operating system, but more and more appear based around a bastardised Android set-up. However regardless of the behind the scenes system, the manufacturers have still been pushing them principally as e-readers.
This I have no problem with whatsoever, but, and this is a big ‘but’ for me, my Kindle 3 lasts for ages off a full battery charge, I can quite happily take it away with me on holiday or long week-ends without having to worry about chargers and mains sockets and all that sort of stuff.
These new devices only give me a relatively few reading-hours before it’s go hunt the charger time, and depending where you are, go hunt a very illusive mains socket.
I do appreciate that active touch colour screen multi-function device will consume a greater amount of power compared to something more basic, however there’s also this great push to make these new devices thinner and lighter than ever before. That I also have no problem with whatsoever, but it would be so nice if there could be one model in any given range that could be that little bit thicker, just a mm or so, and fill that extra space with additional battery capacity.
That small extra thickness and weight should make no real difference to the handling and portability of the device, but having that extra usage, of having a device that I could confidently take away for a long week-end and not have to even think about cables and sockets and chargers and all that sort of crap would be ever so nice.
I got my Kindle as a late Christmas present for myself (Jan 2011) so I’ve had it for a few months now and am very impressed with it. As for why did I get it – my local Borders bookshop closed and I hand’t realised how much I had got used to sitting in the Starbucks inside the book store reading, and I was missing that experience.
Having that Borders there, with the ability to browse the shelves and then sample a chapter or two of the book over a cup of coffee had resulted in me buying far more books than I ever used to. On-line stores may have cheaper headline prices, but for me the advantage of having the book in front of me where I could see it’s condition, not worry about hidden postage costs, no having to wait in for any delivery service or have the problem of wrong item sent, all that sort of stuff meant that I was a frequent Borders visitor. (Also met some amazing people while there.)
Anyway, back to the Kindle. It’s only designed to do one job and it does that job very well. It is light weight, including the fancy cover I’ve got for it it’s no bigger than a paperback, and the claimed one month battery life I’ve found realistic. As for the ‘reading experience’, it’s excellent. When reading off my iPad or computer I’m always aware I’m reading from a computer screen, but when using the Kindle then I’m just ‘reading’ and can happily get fully immersed in the book. It may not have the same feel (or smell) of a paper based book, but if something like this can encourage more people, especially children, to read more, then great.
Whether the older generation like it or not, the younger generation is a technology aware generation, so if you want them to read then accept the fact that electronic rather than paper reading will be the preferred route for many of them. Better Kindle reading than no reading!
As for available material, almost everything written before the 1930s now out of copyright which means there’s a vast amount of free material available. For the first time ever I’ve found myself reading Dickens. We all know the films such as Oliver Twist, but how many have actually read the books. I’m currently part the way through Darwin and On the Origin of Species and also Knowles and The Legends of King Arthur. I’ll shortly download some more Jules Verne.
So I’ll definitely give my Kindle a big thumbs up. I got my device from a local shop and headed straight down to my favourite Starbucks to investigate it. I was disappointed to find there was no pre-installed reading material so you couldn’t just take it out of the box and start reading, also the ‘getting started’ instructions I found feeble. However those problems were soon sorted and I am now a very happy Kindle user.
There was I, quite innocently walking past the Students’ Union last Friday (Halloween,and the Union running a 12 hour – 8pm > 8am session) when I saw a couple of people I know who were on their way in, so stopped to talk to them. Then found myself tricked (yes, tricked I tell you, tricked again) into going in!
Well, we managed to find a bit of space in an upstairs bar (the Barony was heaving), but after about an hour I found myself feeling quite out of place and uncomfortable, being one of the few not dressed up for the occasion. Luckily home is only 15 minutes walk away so I escaped out, came home and managed to generate up an all black clothing rig and zapped my face with some white makeup, and with blackened eyes. (Anyone asking as to why I happen to have white and black makeup at home will be rewarded with a swift kick in the nuts!) Back to the Union and feeling a lot more like joining in. Left a little before 2 am generally having had quite a good night. Some of the guys and girls there really had made an excellent effort. Tried to do a live BlogTV session from there, but the sound was buggering me around on my little net-book. (More on that later perhaps.)
So, once again, hoodwinked into doing things by horrible student-type creatures. Ummm….
Bought myself a new ‘toy’ an EeePC 901. Amazing little device. A 1.6 Gig processor with 1 Gig RAM for under £300. Slightly larger than A5, or similar to that of a hard back book.
Seriously excellent screen.
There’s been a lot of criticism of the keyboard, but if you want a machine to be that small, then you’re just going to have to live with small keys, and I’ve found it perfectly workable. It does take a bit of getting used to, but that’s tough and you quickly adapt. Battery life of around 6 hours, or allowing for a lunch break, a working day. If you want to carry its power supply, it’s very small and light.
O.K., so I’ve not had it for long, but it’s done everything I’ve asked of it. That includes using it to transmit live onto BlogTV (using my mobile phone’s data connection for internet access). However it is NOT a replacement for a desk-top or ‘standard’ lap-top, but if you just want something small and light to take on your travels that will do internet and office type stuff, or as a way of providing kids with relatively cheap (portable) computing power, ask no more.