Reviewed: Amazon Kindle
As an unabashed bookworm I have to admit I was initially dismissive of e-book readers, from the Amazon Kindle to the Sony Reader. A library full of books says something about the man, or so I thought. Well, (a) I hardly ever read the same book twice and (b) books can create a lot of clutter. And since most of us search for the information we want these days, surely reading off a screen is not a big deal?
A neat little package
The Amazon Kindle six-inch screen device, kindly loaned by blogger Pat Phelan, is lighter than your traditional paperback book. It comes in a compact white casing, with a brushed steel back.
This device allows you to easily store and read books. A book by a favourite author can be downloaded from a library of 370,000 books in under 60 seconds via a built-in 3G modem. There is no charge for downloading via the mobile networks, it's all taken care of by Amazon.
The Kindle allows you to store hundreds of books, newspapers and magazines and also hooks directly into Wikipedia. Reading books on this device is a pleasure. I browsed through copies of Gary Vaynerchuk's Crush It and Seth Godin's Linchpin.
The monochrome screen with Amazon's e-ink technology provides an accurate simulation of the light quality you'd expect reading normal print, only in this case you can raise the size of the text up and down. A drawback for people who are travelling is the absence of a backlit screen.
But let's forget about the gadgetry for a moment, this is really a commerce engine for Amazon. It is also potentially a commerce engine for publishers who realise that people with an Amazon subscription could be regular subscribers too for newspapers and magazines.
If you have a favourite author and the book hasn't made it to the store yet, simply download a copy onto the device in under 60 seconds.
Clear and crisp
The screen of the Amazon Kindle shows both text and images in a very legible fashion, clear and crisp, and doesn't seem to wear the battery down much. The device comes with a USB 2.0 port, so pretty much any standard USB lead or smartphone charger can charge it.
The device I reviewed was the 3G version of the Kindle with the six-inch screen, which costs $259 to buy, while a bigger device with a 9.7-inch screen, the Kindle DX, can be bought for $489.
What I liked a lot about the Kindle was some of the neat little features that, in fairness, elude any paperback readers - such as the ability to synch to the furthest read page, search a book, add a bookmark, add notes and highlight text.
The shopping feature is particularly clever - you can buy books, newspapers and magazines and see what's recommended for you based on previous purchases.
You can see how newspapers can breathe again with a more gadget-laden, broadband-capable audience - this device had over 110 newspapers globally ready to download as part of a subscription.
Lovers of audio books will find the Kindle useful - it plays sounds through speakers at the back and comes with a headphone jack.
All in all, I have put my original prejudices against e-book readers aside. The Amazon Kindle is a sturdy little device with enough power to keep my love of reading alive and enriched ... indefinitely.
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