John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Amazon Kindle DX 7″ review

I always find it helpful to put biases up front. I’ve been very apprehensive to purchase single function devices. This includes an iPod, car GPS etc. Kindle falls into this category. My kid is an avid reader and loves her iPod so I figured this was a good excuse to get one.

So what is the Kindle? It is a dedicated ebook reader.

It has a music player in it, but who cares. With only 4G of space and given it’s size who is going to use this as a music player except maybe when reading books.

It has a web browser built into it, but it is lame at best, lacks color and has an anemic processor so who cares.

So it is … an ebook reader. Why would you want it when you can get a Kindle program to run on Android, iPhone, PC etc? One reason. Battery life (ok and maybe clarity, well kinda). The battery life on this device is truly stunning. A month on a charge is possible. The reason for this is the unique display called e-ink. This display ONLY uses power when the screen is changing such as changing the page. The screen is quite clear to read and for books properly formatted you can change the font used by clicking the a on the keyboard. Zooming in on documents not properly formatted is virtually useless. Something I would have liked given my eye sight at present is on the verge of needing glasses.

There are a number of ways of getting books onto the Kindle. The easiest is from the Amazon Kindle page. You can search for books and if it is there you can buy it (some are even free) and then it is wirelessly downloaded to the device over what Amazon call Wispernet. Dumb name. There are two versions of Kindle a 3G version and a WIFI version. The 3G version can use any 3G connection it can get and oddly has no monthly contract associated with it. I admit it, I don’t get it. How does that work exactly? The reality is I have no idea. But it does. The unit I bought was a WIFI one simply to save the money while I determined if the device is useful. Over WIFI the book is downloaded and stored on the device so a constant connection is not necessary.

Books can also be copied directly using USB onto the device. This lets you use Open source books as well as books purchased elsewhere. This is important because as usual the industry is in the midst of battling. There are a number of providers and hardware for ebooks today. Each is carving out it’s space based on content. What this means is that a book you are looking for may or may not be available for your device. This is a fact irrelevant of which ebook reader you purchase.

Lastly you can email documents to your Kindle and they are batch converted to a Kindle format for a “small fee”. No idea what this small fee is and it does not seem to be documented anywhere. The batch convert seems to take some time so patience is in order. You also have to permit email addresses to send to the Kindle to prevent spam. Once on the device it can be read. I tried a PDF and I guess it was not formatted for this device and because there is little to no zoom on the device it was USELESS on the device.

Using the “Wispernet” you can track where you have left off in the book across multiple devices. A nice feature.

Physically the Kindle is stunning. Light, small and thin. There is little to complain about. The device is so small it’s hard to carry. It’s so thin it’s hard to hold, especially with gloves. On the positive side the device is the same size as a Galazy Tab so I found a leather carrying case for it that is quite nice, albeit expensive $39. There of course are cases on ebay if you think ahead given your going to be waiting a while for your Kindle to be delivered anyway. They were VERY backlogged when I bought mine. 6-8 weeks.

The screen is different than any other screen you’ve seen before. There is no way you will call it bright or vivid but it actually just looks like a piece of paper. There is no backlighting so while you can read it in bright sunlight there is no way to read it in darkness or even a little dark. Amazon carries a case for it that includes a book lamp that runs off the Kindle’s battery, which will of course eat into your battery life.

The device includes some clever features including the ability to move the cursor to a word and see the definition of the word. Handy. You can also highlight and clip out sections which would be handy for texts or summaries of books.

The device includes a keyboard that takes about 25% of the front of the device. It’s too bad they couldn’t find a better way to allow input when needed.

All in all the Kindle is a unique device with an interesting market. If your an avid reader you just may love this device!


January 28, 2011 - Posted by | Electronic gadget reviews, Uncategorized

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