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Kindle 2: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device

A mobile reading device by Amazon.

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The Ultimate Reading Machine

  • Mar 24, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+5
Dedicated electronic or e-paper readers have been around for a while. They provide all the convenience of reading electronic content with the ease of reading that is associated with reading printed material. However, the high price of these devices, the low selection of books that are available in electronic format, and the hassle of having to connect your e-reader to the computer in order to get any content onto it were all the factors that mitigated against the wider adoption of e-readers. All of this changed with the introduction of Kindle. Amazon, an online selling website, surprised everyone when it decided to make an e-reader of its own and dramatically change the book publishing industry. The new device, Kindle, was already a huge hit in its first incarnation. The second generation Kindle has improved on the first one in many respects, and a year since its debut is still considered the best e-reader on the market.

I have owned the second generation Kindle since it first became available, and in my opinion the high regard in which it is held is greatly justified. Kindle is one of my favorite gadgets of all time, and it has completely changed the way I approach reading. I have become a much more voracious and efficient reader, and it has become relatively easy for me to read two or more books a week without interfering with my professional or personal lives. These days if I have a choice between reading a physical book or a Kindle edition, I choose the latter without hesitation. There are many reasons why this is the case, and I'd like to mention a few here.

Accessibility: I can access all of the books that are offered for Kindle at Amazon's store pretty much anywhere in the world. Originally, the wireless book download was only available in the US, but the new international version of Kindle allows one to buy books in over a hundred countries. In the US the book download is free, but I've heard that there is a surcharge in some other countries. This still may not be such a bad value for your money, since book prices tend to be much higher in other countries, and the shipping costs for international delivery destination are pretty high. Not to mention the unreliability of international mail. Furthermore, now that there is a version of Kindle reader fro pretty much every significant operating system (Windows, Mac OS, iPod/iPhone and even for the upcoming iPad), it is easy to access your books on a variety of devices and under all sorts of circumstances. I travel a lot and it's always good to know that I can access an almost inexhaustible library of books almost anywhere I find myself. I don't have to guess any more how much reading material to bring on my trips, or which ones of my books to bring along. This brings us to the next point.

Portability: Thanks to Kindle (and similar devices) you can now take your entire library with me wherever I go. Unfortunately, there is still no easy way of getting my old paper books into a Kindle format, but from now on I will definitely put a high priority on getting as many of the books I buy in an electronic format. Fortunately Kindle now allows for the reading of pdf files, albeit this is not the optimal device for their viewing (it is much too small, even if you rotate the screen). On the other hand many other e-book formats are not supported, which makes things difficult for those who had obtained different electronic versions of books. These days there are various software programs that can transform documents from one format to another, and in the future it is likely that there will be many more options for doing this. The only obstacle may remain the DRM, which precludes otherwise perfectly readable books from being read on various unsupported devices.

Ease on eyes: Unlike computer screens, electronic paper does not emit any light. Just like the regular paper, it relies on the ambient light for reading. This makes Kindle and other e-ink devices extremely easy to read, even in broad daylight. I have read many books on my Kindle and have experienced none of the usual eye strain that I usually get after staring at the computer screen for many hours. However, the e-ink technology is still far from perfect. The contrast between text and paper is not as good as the one for regular paper. The background is not white - it is a very light shade of gray. Likewise, the text is not completely black, but a rather dark shade of gray. This doesn't bother me all that much, but I do wish for the contrast to be greater. It is my understanding that as technology improves, this will also be one of the features that will continuously get better. Furthermore, Kindle still doesn't handle color, so the books that have many illustrations are probably not the one you would want to read on it. This too will probably change in the future.

Ergonomics: Kindle is small and light, probably no heavier than a smallish paperback. It is very easy to hold, and since there are no physical page breaks, you don't have to worry about keeping the book open at the same time as you are holding it. This is particularly convenient if you are trying to multitask. I like to read in the gym while I am on an elliptical. In the past this has forced me to read only large-format magazines and books that stay open without me having to manually keep them in that state. Now I just put my kindle on the book stand and it stays "open" by default.

Design: I really like the way that Kindle looks. There is a certain level of elegance to it that most other electronic devices don't possess. I like to look at it in its own right, and I feel like I'll enjoy using it for many years to come. After all, its basic function (reading books) will not become obsolete any time soon.

Customer service: I only had one minor issue with my Kindle so far (which turned out to be not much of problem after all). The many ways that you can contact the customer service that are indicated on Amazon's website are all very convenient. The customer service representative was very easy to speak to and very knowledgeable. It was probably one of the best customer service experiences I've had so far.

There are a few features of Kindle that I did not make too much use of. For instance, the text-to-speech function is pretty impressive, but for the most part I prefer actual process of reading to that of listening to books, even if the audio book version is impeccable. I also don't use the mp3 player all that much. It's a decent player, but a stand-alone mp3 player gets the job done much more effectively. The web browser that is included is extremely rudimentary, and it's not very suitable for anything but last-resort web surfing. Even then it is only effective for text-intensive websites and not much else. You certainly can't check your web email for instance.

To be sure, there are many shortcomings that Kindle has. On top of the few that have already been mentioned, there is also the fact that the 6" screen is not all that large, the navigation and the physical interface are a bit clunky, and the surface of the screen scratches way too easily (you should really buy a protective sleeve for it). Also, the Kindle charger is proprietary and you can't use most other small electronics chargers. Backing up files onto your own computer is relatively straightforward, but it would be useful if you could do it over a WiFi connection for instance. However, none of these issues detract from my overall satisfaction with Kindle. I would recommend Kindle to anyone who likes to read, and even to people who may not be all that much into reading. Kindle may in fact be the device that turns them into bibliophiles.

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More Kindle 2 reviews
review by . July 09, 2009
This is a great invention with some major shortcomings and a few disappointments but overall I think the kindle is a great tool and I will use it for many years to come. I have even heard many say that it encourages them to read more, and that may be true simply out of the convenience that this device delivers. Cons (Minor annoyances) 1. I would like to get all my books in my house converted to digital books. 2. Amazon needs a Netflix subscription model that gives me access to read any book I want. …
review by . August 09, 2011
   ‎"Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet   Reading a brand new book,   Along came a civet   Who said, 'You're not with it,   Why not get a Kindle or Nook' "           - Gail Cooke
review by . September 23, 2009
I have been using the Kindle 2 for a couple of months now. I didn't plan on buying it; it was a birthday present. If asked prior to receiving it, I would have said that I didn't want one. Not because I don't read, but because I look at a screen all day long and there is something special and unique about holding a book while reading. Nevertheless, I resisted the urge to return it and decided to give it a shot. Now I love it for a number of reasons.      Convenience. …
review by . July 01, 2010
Books at Your Fingertips
The Amazon Kindle is a great electronic reading device. If you like to bring books with you when you travel, but you have a hard time deciding what to bring, the Kindle can help you with this problem. You can take 100's of books with you and can even purchase new books where ever you are. Connecting to the Kindle Store is free and the cost of most books is $9.99 or less.      Some of the other nice features about the Amazon Kindle include the ability to change the text …
review by . February 19, 2009
Kindle 2
Well, you know...Amazon wants to change the world. Owners of Kindle 1 you can rejoice...Kindle 1 was the revolution - Kindle 2 is the evolution. I was a first generation Kindle owner and upon hearing the news that Amazon was releasing a second generation a little after a year of the first release seemed disheartening...but after several discussions I began to come around to the idea - we do live in a technological rich society, after all. Shortly after I got to test the kindle 2 I was convinced …
review by . June 10, 2010
SO addicted to my Kindle!
Purchasing a Kindle was by far the best decicion I have ever made when it comes to my reading! I love how portable and lightweight it is! I am able to store thousands of books on it and it will always keep my place. If I keep the wireless off, the battery will last me a week or more. I read for hours at a time and this helps me with my carpel tunnel pain as it is easier to hold. I don't have to pry open pages in order to read my current book. I also have hundreds of free books on it, many of …
review by . July 06, 2010
It's been a long time coming for me, but I now has it!      I've been reading books on my phone for some time now.  It's just easier than carrying around hardcovers or making sure I don't spill too much on the paperbacks, which seem to have a magnetic pull towards paper.       Kindle is a great substitute for any other on the go reading medium.  It's easy to load and open books on the device, as well …
review by . June 08, 2010
The Kindle has been the king of the ebook reader market for a couple of years now. Amazon's sheer market force is what helped the kindle succeed as much as it has. Aggressive pricing on ebooks has also helped the adoption of electronic media over physical media.     How did I like using the Kindle? I felt that the screen refreshed slowly and that the device was a bit clumsy for reading books. I must admit that I do not own a kindle, however, I have played with the devices extensively. …
review by . December 27, 2009
Hey, after months of research and deliberation, I have chosen NOT to buy a Kindle. Why? In southwestern Montana (from Missoula to Butte), it is nearly impossible to get a wireless connection! We thought we had the Kindle 2 (U.S. version) figured out. It uses Sprint and I knew people who had a Kindle who had no trouble downloading their books. Lo and behold, when Amazon launched the Global wireless version, only in the fine print did we find it uses AT&T's network, which might as well be NON-EXISTENT …
review by . May 11, 2010
I received a Kindle last Christmas and It's been one  enjoyable book after another.  I started off with the :    1) "Count of Monte Christo" (amazing even the3rd time around),    2) "Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815" (long but still interesting),    3) "Wolf Hall: A Novel", Hilary Mantel (very enjoyable, remarkable story of Henry VIII and the one man         who wins …
About the reviewer
Bojan Tunguz ()
Ranked #56
I am a benevolent rascal. I love lounging in bed on a Sunday morning. Rainy days make me melancholy, but in a good kind of way. I am an incorrigible chocoholic. I hate Mondays, but I get over it by Wednesday. … more
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Wiki

The Amazon Kindle is mobile device designed for reading electronic books (e-books). The reader was developed by the Amazon.com subsidiary Lab126, and its first incarnation was launched in the United States on November 19, 2007.

The Kindle features an electronic paper display and will download content over Amazon Whispernet using the Sprint EVDO network. Kindle hardware devices can be used without a computer, and Whispernet is accessible without any fee. These devices also provide free internet access to Wikipedia.

On Monday, February 9, 2009, Amazon announced the Kindle 2, which became available for purchase on February 23, 2009 for the price of $359. The new Kindle features improved battery life, 20 percent faster page-refreshing, a text-to-speech option to read the text aloud, and overall thickness reduced from 0.8 to 0.36 inches (9.1 millimetres). The Kindle 2 has 2 GB of internal memory of which 1.4 GB is user-accessible. Amazon estimates that the Kindle 2 will hold about 1500 books. Unlike the original Kindle, Kindle 2 does not have a slot for SD memory cards. To promote the new Kindle, author Stephen King has written a novella called UR, which is available exclusively as a Kindle download.
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