Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: Amazon Kindle

(I was supposed to write about things I've learned about blogging yesterday, but, you see, I haven't had the chance to learn anything.  So, I didn't have anything to write.  Already - in week 1 my January goals have flopped.  Guess I'll try anew next week.)

I was so excited in October when I received an Amazon Kindle for my birthday.

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology

There is a lot of new hype/advertising for e-readers out there so I thought I'd start out Review Thursday with my feelings about the Amazon Kindle.

As with any new technology, it has its upsides and its downsides.  I love the fact that it's so portable.  I can literally take 100's of books with me just by carrying the one devise.  The Kindle I got ($139) can connect wirelessly to any WiFi system.  So if I am in a place with WiFi (including my home), I can very easily download a new book to read.  There is a Kindle that is 3G, meaning you can connect to Amazon and download new books from anywhere (works like a smartphone does).  It is $189.

There are TONS of e-books that are free on Amazon.  All of the classics are free all the time.  Newer books tend to be free on occasion, as in they are free for one day and if you catch it, you can push one little button on Amazon and they are yours on your device forever.  I've gotten lots of books this way because free is good!  Most of the other books are reasonably priced - a little lower than the paperback version of the book.  If there is a book that is not offered in Kindle version, you can request it to be.  If Amazon gets enough requests about a book, they will then offer it in e-book format.

As I said above, the Kindle allows you to very easily buy and download new books on the spot - way TOO easily in my opinion.  When you set up your Kindle, you connect it to your Amazon account in order to buy books for it.  When you look at a book in the Kindle store (on the device), the default button that is highlighted is the "Buy" button.  When you click it, there is no doublechecking, no window that pops up to say "Are you sure you want to buy this?"  IT IS BOUGHT.  Right then and you have the book.  On the upside, you get your book immediately.  Your payment information is already on Amazon so you don't have to enter in a credit card number or anything.  On the downside, it's way too easy to accidentally buy a book.  Since the "Buy" button is automatically highlighted when you go to look at a book, if you hit that "Enter" button one too many times you've bought it.  If your child is playing with your Kindle and looks at a book and accidentally hits "Enter", that book is bought, on your device and forever yours.  It's for that reason only that I will not get my daughter a Kindle.  (And I have searched all over the Kindle and all over Amazon's site and can't find any way to change this to make it doublecheck before buying.)

The Kindle differs from other e-readers in that it is not backlit.  They did that so it would look more like a book - white background, black text - and so it would be easier on your eyes.  The reason our eyes get so tired from looking at screens - computers, TV's, video games, etc - is because of the light coming into the screens out at us.  The Kindle does not have that.  On the plus side, that makes it easier on your eyes.  On the downside, you cannot read in the dark without an additional light (which Amazon will sell to you for an additional $14.99). 

Other drawbacks:
- You can only buy books from Amazon.  They need to come out with a universal file type like they did with mp3's so you can buy books from multiple places and read them on any device.
- You can't let your sister borrow the wonderful book you've just finished reading, even if she has a Kindle.
- You can "bookmark" pages, but it's still harder to go back and find things in the book. 

I've told you the pluses and minuses that I've found, but overall, I really like my Kindle.  I bought a cute sleeve for it to protect it in my purse.  It's great for waiting rooms and piano lessons and is just plain handy to have around.  I would highly recommend it to you.

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