Monday, October 26, 2009

The Kindle DX (review) - Part I

I have been longing for a Kindle since it made its debut a long time ago. And I have been following its many competitors (especially Plastic Logic) since then. So when I had the opportunity (in other word the money) to get one, I could not wait for the latest and greatest to come down the technology pipeline. I had to opt for what I considered the best e-reader on the market. The Kindle DX.

Ordering, Shipping, and Arrival
At the same time I ordered mine, my wife jumped on the same bandwagon and got one as well. While her funding came from a different source, she opted for the same technology toy I did. Can you tell we love to read? Between the two of us, we had very different shipping experiences. I opted for the free shipping while she opted for the 2-3 day shipping. Needless to say she got her's first even though I ordered mine first.

The package was very nice, keeping our Kindles safe and sound inside. The packing slip label on the front is very difficult to get to without ripping to shreds. But if you take your time and follow the directions, it won't make you look like you pulled a Wolverine on it. The contents of the box were very simple. The Kindle, the cord, and a quick start guide.

Battery Life
I have already noticed that the battery life is running much lower than the specs listed by Amazon. But living in the boonies and having the wireless (aka Whispernet) on all the time does take some serious power. So I turn it off until I'm ready to have a new book or newspaper or something delivered.

The screen is so sharp and crisp, it looks fake. Seriously, it looks like a sticker they printed and put on there. But in fact, it is the real thing. So that makes reading very easy on the eyes. And to some degree, I'd say almost easier than reading a printed book.

Geeky Techno-Jargon
Transferring files to and from the Kindle is easy. Plug in the USB and it becomes another hard drive on your computer (just like any USB drive, thumb drive, etc.). It has folders on the Kindle by default that are pretty easy to understand (like "music" and "documents"). If you drag and drop a PDF file to the Kindle, it'll read just like normal. You may see some limited functionality with the PDF files (like Text to Speech won't work and you can't change the font size), but it'll still remember where you left off. It also shows some odd marks that look very much like something you'd see if you printed the PDF, but they don't subtract from the reading experience.

Dropping music onto the Kindle is easy as well, but not really worth it. After all, jogging with your Kindle isn't easy. Leave the music on your iPod or Zune and leave the books on your Kindle.

Audible files work well on the Kindle though, just drag and drop them like anything else. You'll need to register your Kindle as an approved device with Audible, but you only need to enter your Audible user name and password and you're good to go. Just remember that the "ALT" key on the Kindle keypad needs to be pressed each time you want to enter a number.

Converting RTF files is a dream as well. You simple email them to the "free" Kindle email address ( I converted three novels I had in RTF and before I could email the third one, the first was already converted and emailed back to me. Awesome. Simply save the converted file that's returned to you to your computer and drop it onto the Kindle and you're ready to go. And Text to Speech and annotations should work on those files.

Like I stated before, I live in the sticks. Cell coverage at our house is weak at best. But I can easily order something online or on the Kindle and ave it delivered to the Kindle in nothing flat. And even if I have trouble connecting, I can read something else as it downloads in the background. Total time for a novel is usually less than a minute.

I opted for the USA Today trial period and so far it's okay. Not great, just okay. I'd suggest buying one copy or checking out the trial period if you're into magazines and newspapers. Either way, you'll get limited graphics, and not a lot of local news (at least that's what I hear about the Washington Post).

Kindle gives you the chance to take notes while you read. I did notice that this feature does not work with PDF files, but with regular Amazon books or newspapers or even the RTF novels I had converted, it works great. The notes can be easily copied from the Kindle to your computer via the USB cable. Like putting a PDF file on the Kindle, you just copy the TXT file to your computer.

Thus concludes Part I of the Kindle Review. Stay tuned for Part II.

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