on November 22, 2010 in Hardware
Whilst moving house I realised how much space all my books actually take up. I’d seen the Kindle advertised on Amazon and decided to take the plunge. I started out using the free application for the PC and was happy with the ease of use, so eventually stumped up the cash for the reader.

I’m glad I did, my first worry was eye strain through reading off a screen, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem since the e-ink isn’t backlit (If you want to read under the bedclothes then you’ll need a torch – although you can get a case with one built in). The screen is nice and clear and you can adjust the font size to suit.

The menus are easy to navigate, and if you want to add books that you’ve got from another source it shows up as a flash drive when you connect it to your PC and happily adds these books to your list.

If you keep using the reader on your PC it will also synch across both platforms so that it will pick up where you left the book on the other device.

There are a few negatives, none of which are a deal-breaker.

To start with, the reader itself has all the personality and charm of a pocket calculator, this is easily (though expensively) fixed with the addition of a leather cover  – available in a variety of colours – which give it the look and feel of a proper book.

I’ve also found that the power switch is in a place where it gets caught when I put it in my coat pocket, if it gets snagged for over 15 seconds the unit reboots. It then goes back to the last bookmark which is where you last came out of the book rather than where you are up to.

The other thing is that by default the Kindle places all your books in the main menu. You can group the books into collections (by author for instance) but this is a manual process and rather time consuming especially if you get a fraction of the way towards the 3,500 books the device can hold.

The books also remain in the same directory on the device, far better, IMO, would be to have the device recognise folders as collections and automatically create them. On the flip side, I’d like it to create folders to match the collections I create and move the books there.

Since the books are DRM protected, you can’t actually lend them out or sell them on like you would a paperback copy (although there are ways round this) which makes me believe that the prices Amazon charges (often the same as a physical book) aren’t entirely fair.

Amazon sells two versions of the Kindle, but for most users the cheaper Wi-Fi version will be enough, the only reason I can see to pay the extra £40 for the 3G connectivity is if you don’t have an internet connection at home.

The Kindle has a battery life of 3 to 4 weeks and charges happily from any USB socket, so it is very travel friendly and is certainly going to take up a lot less of your weight allowance on the plane, although I’m not sure I’d be happy leaving it on the sun lounger whilst I took a quick dip in the pool.

Not all books have been converted over to the Kindle yet, but there is a good selection and especially if you’re into classic literature there are a wealth of books available for free, and it’s always worth checking the site for limited time freebies that are used to advertise various authors.

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