The Amazon Kindle (Review)

So i finally got my Kindle.

First off what the hell is it? The Amazon Kindle is an e-book reader. An e-book reader is a device that allows you to read books that are in an electronic format in a way that is aimed at maximizing your reading experience. If you’ve tried reading books on a computer you’ll have encountered at least some of the following problems; portability, strain on the eyes, uncomfortable reading positions, distractions etc.

An e-book reader puts your e-book in a situation as close to a real book as you can make it without sneaking 500 printouts from your office computer. Hardcore readers will find one very useful. Although there are tons of e-book readers out there, the Kindle was the first one to go mainstream. What i have is version 3.

Its pretty simple, you load your books onto it via computer. Or you can use Amazon’s whispernet service to directly download the books you buy from Amazon.com via Wi-fi. The K3 has a 3G version as well but 3G services do not extend to Sri Lanka because there is no local service provider to support it.

The Experience

First time i picked it up and started reading i wondered if it really was as great as they said it was. It only took a little bit of getting used to though, and now i’m pretty much a big fan. Its lighter than a paperback, smaller than most and can be easily held and operated with one hand.

Some 3.5GB of space means that you can carry more than 3000 books, thats pretty much your whole library along with you. I didn’t realize how cool this was until I wanted to switch books in mid-read. No getting up and hunting for the thing or cursing myself for not bringing an extra traveling bag with the ten other books I was reading simultaneously; a couple of clicks, and i’m reading what I wanted.

You can take it anywhere you want. Put it in a protective case, shove it in your bag and you’re good. The battery lasts a supposedly 3-4weeks on the Wi-fi version. That’s good even for long drawn forays into outer space (that last for 3 or 4 weeks).

The high contrast screen (much advertised) is fine to read books on. As you can see from the pic below, there isn’t much of a difference. And yes, you CAN read it in bright sunlight, but the screen is not backlit so you can’t read it in the dark. Amazon also offers a range of kindle covers that come with a LED lamp that you can use to read in the dark but it will cost you a pretty rupee or two.

hard to tell the difference

Navigation could be better, i’m currently trying to figure out an easy way of sifting through the books on the device. So far the best way seems to enter a keyword to search for it. Something i like is the search and highlight features. You can search for any word or phrase and the device pulls up every occurrence of it in your whole library in seconds. Useful if you’re trying to track down an interesting passage and can’t remember where you read it. You can also highlight sections of text and add notes, much like going at a real book with pencil, except you don’t feel guilty at its desecration.

The portability i love. When i read lying down i sometimes read on my side. And with a regular book this means that i have to turn over to my other side when i flip the page, not fun if i’m already sleepy. The Kindle eliminates that problem. Wahoo!

Where to get books

Now the biggie, you’ve got your Kindle which you spent a good chunk of your income for and now you’re looking for books to read. Well there are two ways you can go, legit or illegit. Tons of books are available for download on torrents. A bit of googling will sort you out soon.

Slimmer than your average drug addict

The Kindle supports a few common e-book formats. Lit, PDF(not so great), text, mobi and Amazon’s own e-book formats. EPUB, one of the most common formats used, is not readable. But if you get yourself a good e-book management software, i suggest Calibre, you can easily convert any file format into a Kindle compatible one (Mobi is the best). The software also allows you to organize and manage your collection and can even sync with the Kindle and act as an interface between the kindle and your device. Useful because the Kindle doesn’t have its own software system for your PC like the I-pod does.

Amazon also sells e-books at prices lower than their paperbacks. Most new releases come out in e-book format as well and you’ll only need a few seconds to buy it. Amazon offers great free previews of upcoming books and also has a large collection of free and cut price e-books. The availability of books will change depending on where you live and books bought off Amazon are DRM protected and can only be read on one device.

There are online libraries that have massive collections of free books. Manybooks and the Internet Archive are goods places to start.

Buying a Reader

There are a lot of other e-book readers out there and Barnes and Noble’s Nook is the closest behind the Amazon Kindle. The Sony reader is another choice with a great range of sizes. A key thing to look for is readability, some people prefer reading on LCD screens but to some LCD screens can be irritating. Size is another thing you’ll need to consider. The Nook is more open than the Kindle and provides no barriers to transfer books between devices. They have also come up with a color version that looks pretty neat. Look for country specific stuff like do they deliver it here and what the cost is too.

You can buy the Kindle after a few clicks at Amazon.com. They deliver it free to Sri Lanka if you use Super Saver shipping. I am not sure about how the customs charges will be when it gets here though. Good for you if you kow a customs guy or can tip him a couple of hundred and get it released free. The Wi-fi only version costs $139, approx LKR 16k. You can buy a case for the kindle at the same time. I suggest going for a Kindle 2 case, much cheaper and not much different. Always pick items with Super Saver shipping, some items may not ship to Sri Lanka.

In Summary the K3 is a pretty great little machine and it is very good at pretending it is not a machine at all when you read from it. The dimensions, weight, technical details etc can be found on Amazon.com and a thousand other blogs so i stuck to what struck me most about it. To me, it is no different to reading a real book. The neat freak in me loves the organization and compactness of it. People who cherish collections of physical libraries might miss the point, and Babbage has a good piece on the illusion of e-book ownership.

Tree huggers can find comfort in the vast number of paper saved and carbon absorption ensured. If you’re planing on getting an e-book reader and have questions i can help.

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21 comments
  1. I always had my doubt on this. The next version should be touch. This way reading will be much easier. Like on the ipad. Which can also read comics! This limits it to books only.

    • Whacko said:

      True, the Kindle works well only for hardcore book readers, comics are a definite no-no!

  2. I’m surprised your review isn’t too biased…
    And going by what you’ve written, I think I’ll wait till they release a backlit version. My main grouse is having to stop reading while travelling when it gets dark. And I don’t care much for attaching a booklight or similar external gadgets.

    A backlit e-book reader would be perfection!

    • Whacko said:

      Hah! they you may have to wait for a while, right now its a trade off between backlit and proper e-ink. You shall be converted soon!

  3. chathuraw said:

    Ah you finally bought it. Awesome. 😀

    The best thing about using an ebook reader is you’re able to take it wherever you go. Whether you’re on the bus or train or just waiting for someone you can pull it out and read whichever book you’re reading. My reading has gone way up since I started reading ebooks. I think yours will too. Enjoy!

    And I see you use Calibre to manage ebooks. I was going to write a rather long post about it but gave up because of my laziness. Anyway it’s the best tool to manage your ebook collection whatever device you use to read it on.

    • Whacko said:

      yeah man, Calibre is pretty neat. Easy way to manage your library in your PC as well. Stores and downloads metadata etc. Appeals to the organization freak in me

  4. Me-shak said:

    You got it, heeeee 😀 I’m sure it’s lovely. Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers!

  5. good molly Going Global , i review your blog , that a nice blog and perfect. Good for me. a lot of Obama and Amazon Kindle content. i going to plan to read and review your website.

  6. ah was waiting till you got this and wrote up a review 🙂 … awesomesauce.. thinking i might get one now.

  7. Gigi said:

    Calibre is good, no doubt, but sometimes (at work) online tool is the only option
    http://www.2epub.com works well for me.

    • Whacko said:

      hey thanks! could come in handy, that

  8. shane said:

    Any idea how much the import duties are for shipping the kindle via dhl?

    • Whacko said:

      That i do not know, sorry. You could try asking DHL. Or asking the customs office direct. I do know that u can get away with no duty using unscrupulous methods.

  9. charles said:

    i prefer the iPad… It just seems like the “copies” is good when they arrive, but with the next release of iPads they are behind again… lots of competions this days to win one as well, if you dont have one… Have you noticed the new campaign from the it security company sophos… easy to win if you like to share things… 🙂 mostinvincible.com

  10. Chamisso said:

    I have a problem with the overall premise of your article but I still think its really informative. I really like your other posts. Keep up the great work. If you can add more video and pictures can be much better. Because they help much clear understanding. 🙂 thanks Chamisso.

  11. PravNJ said:

    Hey nice. Covered the basics. I myself use this http://goo.gl/nxtId 🙂 whats great about the kindle is the e-ink display (translates into longer battery life and less eye strain) whats not so great is the format tethering, lack of epub support (hooray for calibre) low bang/buck ratio, woeful PDF experience etc AND its not very good when it comes to reading non fiction, things like textbooks with latex or math formatting look really bad even after converting to .azw

    Ultimately its a question of what you want to do with your ereader. If you read a LOT of fiction and don’t use it for academic purposes then yes the kindle is the way to go.

    If you are like me and want a reader that can be used for academic purposes, can be hacked tweaked, view colour AND if you don’t get eyestrain much go with an android based device. I’m telling you its one of the best purchases I have made. Reading while commuting isn’t that much of a problem with an LCD touch display. If I’m reading using the kindle app (yes it runs apps) I just switch to night mode and its really clear in regular sunlit environments (who exactly reads in harsh sunlight eh?) Plus reading in the dark is not an issue since the screen is backlit.

    So yes I run the kindle for android app on my reader and also use akido for epub and then I use comic viewer for my cbr and cbz comic files. Basically if theres an app out there to handle a specific format then yes this thing will run it. The only thing this puppy doesn’t have is 3G and a camera. Not so bad since its marketed as a tablet (as opposed to a phone).

    Don’t go with the ipad. Overrated and expensive. If you want a REALLY good tablet cum reader (as opposed to something like my android) wait for the Blackberry Playbook. If you can afford an ipad you can afford this thing. Will blow your socks off. Right now the specs look insane 🙂

  12. devil said:

    The Free ePub Convert is a professional converting software for you to convert PDF files. Additionally, the PDF to EPUB converter

    ePub to kindle converter has provided a great chance to watch/view books, magazine and other things we like. But a coin has two side. Formats supported by Kindle are limited. Exactly speaking, it only supports Mobi, txt and AZW.

    CHM to ePub Converter is a royal road for you to solve how to change CHM to ePub. Under the help of CHM to ePub converter, you can view your CHM files on any mobile device.

    PDF to Kindle Converter is a versatile converter, which can convert PDF to Kindle format without effort. In other words, PDF to kindle conversion will be finished easily.

    Mobi is the most important and popular format that can be compatible with mobile device. Using the format of Mobi, you can easily view your needed files at your disposal.With the PDF to Mobi Converter , the conversion from PDF to Mobi will become a piece of cake. Download to have a try please.

    PDF to Mobile Converter is a powerful converter to convert PDF to Mobi, HTML and TXT formats that are compatible with mobile phone. So that you can view your PDF files on Mobile phone as long as you need.

    ePub Drm Removal is a wonderful and advanced ePub DRM remover to remove DRM protection from ePub file

    HTML to ePub converter can give you a hand. HTML to ePub converter is an advanced and easy-to-use conversion tool, which can turn HTML file into stable eBooks as for making HTML readable on any mobile devices that are compatible with ePub. During the process of conversion, all of the original elements of the converted files will be kept totally. Furthermore, the HTML to ePub converter can be regarded as a ePub reader, which makes you browse an image as the cover of ePub eBook.

  13. Andrea said:

    Hi,
    I’m Canadian and thinking about buying an e-reader for my cousin in SL and bring it to him when I come and visit. Would the Kindle international be best? Is it easier to get books while in SL now? Any other recommendations?
    Thank you!
    Andrea

    • AHAzeez said:

      Hi, actually any kindle will work, and no its still hard to get physical books in SL 🙂 Ebooks are very easy to acquire here.

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