Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My First Impressions of the Kindle 2

I haven't had time to write many thoughts on my new Kindle 2 that I got yesterday afternoon, nor have I had a chance to play with it quite as much as I had hoped.

Below are a few quick initial thoughts. I hope to have a more detailed write up of impressions soon. (These are thoughts from someone who has never owned and hardly seen an original Kindle.)
  • When it is in it's case, it is exactly the same height as a large Moleskine notebook, about a half-inch wider, and an eighth of an inch thicker. I'm very impressed.
  • The browser works decently for something that is free. I can check blogs and e-mail with it. Writing e-mail and trying to check Facebook didn't fare so well. I haven't had time to investigate much more.
  • Buying books is a breeze. I've downloaded free sample chapters for about 20 books so far. They download in the background while I'm reading or shopping for other books.
  • It's incredible to be able to shop for books wirelessly. This is truly the killer-app of the Kindle. Sony can't touch this by a mile. This is a good contrast to iTunes which requires synchronization to a computer and which has given me headaches in the past. I love how the Kindle is a totally self-contained device which doesn't require a computer to use.
  • The new layout of the keys is far superior to the original Kindle. If anything, they are a little too hard to push rather than too easy like on the old model. I'd only seen the original Kindle two or three times and I never touched one without accidentally turning about 5 pages or more. That's not going to be a problem with this unit.
  • I'm highly impressed with the engineering of the hinge that holds the Kindle inside the leather cover. Very secure and very slick.
  • Reading on this is much better than reading on a computer screen.
  • Sadly, PDF conversion does not work well. I tried sending myself an article I'm reading for my dissertation and while all of the text came through well, none of the equations did which kills it for me as device to read academic articles.
  • Text-to-speech works surprisingly well. While not as good as an audiobook, it's not as expensive either.
  • I have to get used to the navigation on this thing. I keep expecting the big button on the right side to be next page and the one on the left to be previous page. (Both are next page buttons.)
  • I love the feel of it in my hand with the case closed. Also with the case open. I had considered getting a case from M-Edge, but for now am glad I didn't. The Amazon case may not be as high a quality (arguable), but it is no slouch and is more compact and doesn't have a closure tab (both a good thing and a bad thing).
  • When the Kindle goes to "sleep", it puts an image of a famous author on the screen. Once an image is on the screen, it draws no power to keep it there. I knew about this, but it's still cool to see.
  • I am trying a 14-day trial to the New York Times to see how newspapers work on this. It should automatically deliver itself while I'm sleeping tonight and be waiting for me in the morning.
  • I read a chapter of a book, several newspaper articles, and samples of several more books. I agree with what others have said -- after you start reading, the Kindle seems to disappear and you only focus on the text. I look forward to reading a novel on this and expect it will help me do more of that.
  • The power cord is a nice touch. It's a mini-USB connector that has a small plug that attaches to the USB port. This allows you to charge it in a wall socket or through a computer. Very compact, a standard connector, and giving you several options.
  • I was able to get in almost a full chapter of a book on my walk to school today. Reading this while walking is far easier to do than with a book.
  • The packaging of the Kindle had several nice touches, including a tab that said "Once Upon a Time" that you had to pull to open the box.
  • I was elated to receive it a day earlier than Amazon had been promising customers. That was brilliant on the part of Amazon and I am sure will help lend itself to positive feelings and many positive reviews. A great way to develop what accountants call goodwill with their customers.
Overall, I am very impressed with what I've seen so far. I haven't had it long enough to test the battery life, read a full-length book, or try to visit many websites. I do expect this to be a constant traveling companion and help me to start reading more. If it does, it will be worth every penny.

For further thoughts, Gizmodo has a comparison of reviews from The New York Times, Wired, and USA Today. The Boy Genius has photos of a Kindle 2 unboxing.


Juris Naturalist said...

"Sadly, PDF conversion does not work well. I tried sending myself an article I'm reading for my dissertation and while all of the text came through well, none of the equations did which kills it for me as device to read academic articles."

No pdf's, no kindle for me.
I'm going with e-slick.

Shawn said...

yep; still holding out for plastic logic, myself.