reading

I can haz Kindle!


Sooo, I’m always a geek when it comes to gadgets, particularly ones that are totally new to me! 2 days ago my first ebook reader arrived and it’s one of the new Kindle Generation, a Kindle 3.

Kindle 3 Initial Pics

Why did I want to get an ebook reader? Well, up until a few years ago I was a voracious reader. I read very quickly and generally just loved to read. I’m the kind of kid who read Lord of the Rings by the time she was nine and couldn’t get enough. The problem I’ve had in recent years has on one hand been time (as I’ve ended up spending more time knitting etc) and space. We’ve moved house a lot and I don’t like carting boxes and boxes full of heavy books. This led to guilt about keeping books I’d read many times – it was kinda a comfort thing and to be honest I am a bit of a hoarder – a habit I’m trying to break.

About a year ago I started to be interested in ebook readers, particularly those that were packed full of features and would help me pick up other things, such as learning German again. A reader that would let you annotate books (i.e. add translations of words I didn’t know), or highlight sections, or that could display pdfs so I could cart knitting patterns around with me was key. I did a bit of reading about different book formats – the main two being MOBI and EPUB. EPUB in most people’s mind seemed to be the way forward – with better formatting, more choice, etc, etc. A WACOM touch screen would be a nice-to-have and I’d really like for it to have WIFI. So my list of requirements looked a bit like this:

  • EPUB support
  • PDF support
  • Ability to annotate/highlight text
  • WIFI
  • WACOM touch screen (nice to have)
  • Small and light
  • Access to a book store for instant purchases
  • Be able to side-load other content using a programme like Calibre
  • Ability to group books into collections/folders (think virtual book shelves)

So after a lot of reading and research and help by the good people on the Mobileread forums (check them out if you’re thinking of getting a reader) I’d decided pretty much on the Bebook Neo. The big sticking point is that it was ยฃ279.99 for just the reader. So, the whole idea was put to one side as a “nice-to-have-when-I-have-ยฃ300-kicking-around-which-won’t-be-for-a-while-most-likely”.

Then a month ago, Amazon announced the new Kindles – the cheapest of which, the WIFI only without 3G would only be ยฃ109. Hmm. No touch screen, but don’t need that. The sticking point was the lack of EPUB – but there are a myriad of programmes that let you covert EPUB to a Kindle friendly format, even if the file initially contains DRM that would need to be removed.

Massive plus points are the UK store, with excellent pricing, decent PDF support, ability to upload your own dictionary (i.e. German) highlights, annotations – pretty much everything else on my list. Hmm. Plus it looks sexy with that graphite background. And the screen is meant to be amazing. Hmm.

Unbeknownst to me, Trev ordered me one as a surprise gift, along with a beautiful red leather case. It eventually came on Wednesday – but got left at the bakery downstairs. So I had to sit there on Wednesday night in my living room just knowing it was downstairs and I couldn’t get to it.

Needless to say, I love it. I’ve spent hours so far adding books to it and having a general play. Now for lots of pics. Any glare you see on the screen here is due to the light in my living room. The screen itself is super matt and is JUST like reading off a sheet of paper.

Kindle 3 Initial Pics

Kindle 3 Initial Pics

Kindle 3 Initial Pics

Kindle 3 Initial Pics

Kindle 3 Initial Pics

Now time for some text options. The first picture is of the Kindles default text settings. Then I’ve taken the default font down to smaller sizing. Then finally, it’s back to default size with one of the other font choices. It’s possible to get the screen looking just like an old paperbook in terms of fonts etc, which help make it easier to adjust:

Kindle 3 Initial Pics

Kindle 3 Initial Pics

Kindle 3 Initial Pics

It’s also pretty good at displaying knitting charts. You can change the rotation of the screen so you can fit more text on at once:

Kindle 3 Initial Pics

Quick pic of the Kindle in its case:

Kindle 3 Initial Pics

Finally Kooky posing with the Kindle for scale – which doesn’t really work as she’s a small cat and makes it look huge:

Kindle 3 Initial Pics

Other plus points:

  • It IS very light and easy to hold – the back is rubberised which makes it very comfortable
  • It is also EXTREMELY thin. I haven’t shown this in any of the pictures, but I wasn’t prepared for how skinny it would be when it got here
  • Page turns are VERY fast
  • Screen and picture quality is excellent
  • The text-to-speech feature is also pretty good – the quality of the speakers considering the device size is excellent
  • Downloads from the store using WIFI (my only option) are very fast
  • The background sleep images are pretty nifty
  • The case (although expensive) is of excellent quality and it feels expensive and worth the money
  • Very easy to load other content on – either through USB cable or email to my Kindle email address

There are some downsides of course:

  • No EPUB but I’m going to get over this pretty quickly
  • Occasional freezes – the browser has crashed on me once or twice, but this is nothing a restart doesn’t fix
  • I can see why people do like having the 3G and there may be a teeny part of me that wishes I’d gone with it, but not that bothered
  • There is no backlight – I hear mixed reports about the Amazon case with the built-in light, but nobody ever complains that paperbacks aren’t backlit so I’ll keep my gob shut
  • The quality of some of the free books from the Amazon store isn’t 100% – I know it’s all done by volunteers, but some basic mistakes are sometimes made

In terms of the crashes, Amazon are planning a firmware release to deal with that and the other “downsides” are all things that I can live with and that aren’t going to bother me. The convenience and sheer coolness of being able to carry all of this with me in a tiny slim portable package far outweigh the fact that it’s not a *real* book.

I know some people are attached to the tactile side of books – how the paper feels and smells, the physical heft of a book. Just like the shift from records to CDs to MP3, ebook readers won’t suit everyone. But since I’m the kind of person that could use their whole luggage allowance on enough books to keep me occupied during a two-week holiday, I’m happy ๐Ÿ™‚

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