Monday, March 21, 2011

The Amazon Kindle 3 Review - The Best e-Reader

Almost two weeks ago, as I've shared in this blog, I've had arthroscopic surgery on my left shoulder. And surgery, of any kind, will render you helpless for at least a couple of days. In the couple of days after my surgery, the wife (@pinayobserver) surprised me. The UPS guy delivered a package in front of our door and, even though I was still very weak and my shoulder is still sore, she made me open the package. Inside was the Amazon Kindle and a leather cover.

I was greatly surprised because I didn't read any email about its purchase and shipping. Granted I was either asleep or nauseous most of the time.

The reader is great! If there is really a post-pc device this would be it. Once you switch it on you can go ahead and read from it. Amazon was gracious enough to activate it so the Kindle is already tied to our Amazon account when it arrived. I can't quite remember if the books we already purchased were already loaded or they're collected in the Archived Items but the point is, they are there. (I'm sure you can forgive me for not remembering.) I don't need a computer to use the Kindle.

Don't get me wrong with I am about to say for I love my MacBook Pro, iPod Touch, iPod Classic and iPod Shuffle, but I think Apple's conception of "post-PC-devise" is wrong. Why? Because the first thing required of you when you turn on your iPod Touch, and I believe for the iPad too, is to connect it to your iTunes on your Mac or PC. I can understand it for the Shuffle, Classic or iPod Nano, for you need to put music into those device first before they can be useable, but I should be able to surf the web, watch YouTube or input my email details without being required to use a computer first. I should be able to buy stuff from the iTunes and app store right away for all they require is an iTunes account, right?

Being able to use the Kindle right out of the box is something Amazon got right.

The device itself is light and you can use it for extended time without straining your arms. I can even read with it using my left arm! The leather case adds weight to the device but I'm willing to have that added weight just so I can have protection for my Kindle. I just remove it when I'm gonna do extended reading, but only when I need to.

Reading is a great delight! I've read some stuff from the Kindle app in my iPod Touch but the glare-free screen of the Kindle cannot be compared to the Touch's. Now that spring is here and we're having high sixties temperature this side of the NorthEast, I can read stuff even when I am outdoors! The e-ink display is very, very comfortable to look at even for hours of reading and even underneath a glaring sun.

The set back that comes with this kind of a display is that it isn't backlit. Amazon solved this problem by building a lamp right into the sleeve. This is nice because it means that you won't have to carry a separate device. Two things to consider though: the built-in lamp gets its power from the Kindle's battery itself so that means your reading time will be greatly reduced. Secondly, the arm of the lamp is so stiff that you really can't bend it. This means that the screen gets uneven lighting and there's nothing you can do about it.

Another thing I don't like about the leather case is the strap that prevents the cover from accidentally opening. I think, with constant use, this strap will be loose in no time. Why didn't Amazon just use a magnetic clasp or, if that will gravely affect the electronics, a belt-like strap? I don't like the elastic band at all.

The wife bought the wifi-and-3G version so I've a choice of connecting with either. 3G is nice to have because I was able to get samples of books right away without having to set it up with the wifi at home. But when I got better, I set up it up because wifi is still faster than 3G. A caveat: when I stepped out of the house, the Kindle got a wifi signal that is so weak that it couldn't connect to the Kindle store; I was wondering why it wouldn't switch to the 3G already instead of telling me that it can't connect using the wifi. There is also no way to turn off the wifi antenna nor the 3G separately. You can only switch all the wireless antennas off or forget the wifi network. Forget the wifi network? I don't like that. Amazon should put settings where we can turn off either antennas individually, or both, at the same time.

With the Kindle, I noticed that I am reading the news more. I subscribed to the free trials off New York Times, Chicago Tribune and the ArsTechnica blog and it is nice to have them ready to be read when I wake up. I read the news on my Mac but the Kindle enables me not to be tethered to my computer anymore if I want to be updated with what's happening around me and around the world.

And books of course. With my current issues, the wife and I decided that we would buy heavy books, like Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, from the Kindle Store. And with the bigger capacity that goes to every Kindle 3, you would be able to put a lot more books. And there are a lot more books in the Kindle store than anywhere else.

There are still no page numbers for most books that I've read. If I understood the situation correctly, it's up to the publishers to put page numbers on their ebooks. Don't hold your breath for that... The OS that came with this Kindle makes it a social gadget: you can highlight passages from books and newspapers and share your highlights via Twitter or Facebook. Annotation for blog posts are not available.

I wish that Amazon would provide a way to email my clippings. For example, I can clip an article and the clipping, together with all the bookmarks and highlights, would be in one continuous file called "My Clippings" in the Kindle. However, I would have to attach the Kindle to my computer in order for me to access the text file that contains the clippings. I wish that I can export the clippings straight from the Kindle, or at least save it to a different file instead of just one very long file.

One thing I'm greatly enjoying? I connected my Instapaper account so that when I add five online articles to Instapaper, it will email those five articles to my Kindle. And since I set it up so that I will only get the articles when I am in a wifi hotspot, I won't be charged by Amazon for enjoying this privilege. You will only be charged if you use whisper sync for your downloads.

I am greatly enjoying the Kindle and I'd like to thank the wife for giving me this tool while I recover. I am still on the fence regarding the iPad 2 but I am completely sold on the Kindle 3.

Highly Recommended!


All photos made with the Canon Powershot G12. My review of the G12 can be found here. My review of the best bag for the G12 can be found here. Post-processing made with Adobe Lightroom 3.

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