Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Amazon Releases Kindle for PC

I woke up this morning to several announcements in my RSS reader that Amazon just released a beta Kindle for PC program. This means you can now read your Kindle books on your Kindle, iPhone, and PC. (Mac version coming soon.) There is no doubt in response to Barnes and Noble's pending Nook, coming out later this month.

I just downloaded the Kindle PC software onto my Thinkpad and netbook. Below are some of my initial impressions:
  • I think it's great Amazon is finally expanding this to the PC platform. It gives consumers even more platforms to read their Kindle books wherever and whenever they might be.
  • Browsing through books is much faster on the PC than on either the Kindle or the iPhone.
  • There is no ability to take notes or highlight text. This is a shame because the PC is the easiest platform to do this from. Hopefully Amazon will fix this on the final release.
  • It really needs a fullscreen view. There is far too much wasted space on the screen. This is particularly critical for netbooks which have limited real estate.
  • I like the idea of using Eee Rotate to read from a netbook in portrait mode. I'm less impressed with this than the folks over at Eee PC Blog due to the lack of fullscreen mode. Right now, it makes the pages unnaturally narrow. UPDATE: I figured out that you can adjust the number of words per line to widen this view. While it's still not as nice as a fullscreen view, it is better than my initial impression. You can also use the spacebar to advance one page.
  • It needs to have the option to view two pages at a time. Most computer screens are widescreen now, making it too wide for high resolution screens if the window is expanded.
  • Synchronization between PCs did not seem to work. I added a bookmark on one PC, updated on the other, and it did not add the bookmark. This is basic functionality that really needs to work.
Overall, this is a decent first try for beta software and I applaud Amazon for expanding to the PC platform, but my overall impression is that it still needs some work.

UPDATE: While I still think this needs some work -- particularly to optimize usage on smaller screens, I am delighted to have full access to my Kindle library on all of my computers as well as my phone and Kindle itself. We seem to increasingly be moving towards being able to store and access our libraries in the "cloud". As someone who loves to read, moves fairly frequently, loves to travel, and has a large collection of books, this sounds like a dream come true.

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