Name: Kindle 2
Rating: Strong Recommend*
Any avid reader can list some of the things they love about sitting down with a good book. These range from the solid feel of the book, it's weight in their hand, to the way an author's turn of phrase can provide such a complete escape. Amazon has tried to capture the hearts of readers by providing them with an experience that they hope can simulate and add to many of the joys of sitting down with a great book. A long time voracious reader with a love for the printed page, I was reluctant to embrace the digital reader. It was not until I read from a friend's Kindle that I started to even consider owning one. It's now been six months with my Kindle 2.
Unboxing: The Kindle 2 shipped from Amazon in a custom box clearly labeled that it contains a Kindle 2. Inside of the box was a black cardboard tray like box covered by a paper sleeve. The black box is a bit coffin like which lent the unboxing a slightly ominous feel. Will unboxing this device spell the death of the printed book? The minimalist packaging was great from a green perspective but not super for potential future re-use.
Setup is quick, using the Kindle's built in wireless, you enter your Amazon account information and provide billing information if you do not already have a credit card on file with Amazon, this links the device to your Amazon account and enables you to make purchases from the Kindle. The initial charge took around 4 hours.
Performance: I am the sort of person who is almost always reading multiple books at a time, and within my first day of owning a Kindle, it was downloaded with over 15 titles. One of the great features of the Kindle, is the ability to download a sample of a book, this is usually the first few chapters. It's a great way to get a feel for a book and decide whether or not it is worth purchasing. Another source for content, in addition to the Amazon Kindle Store is FeedBooks, a great place to download Austen and Dickens for free, which are easily moved to the Kindle once it's plugged into a computer.
The battery on the device lasts for about a week without needing a charge. It charges through the micro USB 2.0 port either by being plugged into a computer, or a power outlet with an included adapter. When the battery is running low, the Kindle will prompt you to turn off wireless (if it is not already off) which almost doubles the battery life. I typically leave the wireless turned on, power down the unit after each use and charge my Kindle about once a week. In the 6 months that I have been using this device, I have not once run out of battery while reading a book.
The unit is thin and light making it easy to carry and travel with. Traveling with the Kindle is great, instead of taking the space that 5 or so print books would have occupied it's small footprint weighs less than a typical paperback and it is thinner than some magazines. Reading the Kindle while commuting on a crowded train, is easy with it's slim profile and the ability to turn the page with a click. The next page buttons are located on both sides of the device making one handed reading a snap.
Reading the E Ink display is easy on the eyes and it strongly resembles the printed page. Just like a print book or magazine, the Kindle is not backlit. Not having a backlit display makes for an easier reading experience and helps it to feel more like reading a traditional book. Because of the E Ink display there is also very little glare, which has made for some great reading at the park on a sunny day. The clean design of the device with it's unobtrusive white frame also helps make for a reading experience in which the device itself seems to disappear as you are absorbed into the text.
What we liked: The Kindle 2 provides a good reading experience and is a well designed device that is incredibly portable with it's light weight and thin profile. Because of it's small footprint I find that the device gets taken with me more which also means that I am reading more. It's great to encounter a long line and whip out my Kindle knowing that I have several choices of reading material to keep me occupied. The selection of titles on the Amazon Kindle Store is good and the prices are usually at least $5 less than I would pay for a print book. Having a Kindle has also solved the dilemma of "which books do I take on my trip?" that I encounter every time I travel. While I have not completely abandoned reading from the printed page, 6 months into my Kindle ownership over 80% of my reading is done using the Kindle (yes, I am that nerdy that I calculated this).
What needs improvement: The main slight against the Kindle is the inability to share books. One of the joys of reading is being able to loan a cherished title to a friend and the Kindle does not support this. Competitors of the Kindle, like the Barnes and Noble Nook, have taken note of this and are supporting the ability to loan titles to friends. We hope that Amazon will take notice what their competition is doing and will support the ability to share titles through a software upgrade.
- 6" diagonal E Ink® electronic paper display, 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 16-level gray scale
- 2GB internal storage (approximately 1.4GB available for user content)
- Read on a single charge for up to 1 week with wireless on. Turn wireless off and read for up to 2 weeks
- HSDPA modem (3G) with a fallback to EDGE/GPRS; utilizes Amazon Whispernet to provide wireless coverage via AT&T's 3G high-speed data network in the U.S. and partner networks outside of the U.S.
- No system requirements, because it's wireless and doesn't require a computer.
- 10.2 ounces
- 8" x 5.3" x 0.36"
- $259 from Amazon
[Images Justin Shockley]