Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Kindle DX (review) - Part II

So I've had my Kindle DX long enough to learn more about it and what it's like reading on it. So I'll give you a more quirky analysis as well as answer some reader questions.

Quirky Analysis of the Kindle DX:
Don't order this screen protector like I did. It added a horrible amount of glare and made reading nearly impossible. Save yourself the money and buy a book instead.

The screen will show some residual "burning" after you power it on. It cycles through a set number of images (which I'd love to modify) of famous authors and various other neat things. But when you power up the device, you can still see a bit of an after-image beneath the text you're reading. Not to worry though, it goes away fast enough and it isn't strong enough to detract form reading.

I subscribed to USA Today for about a week and found I didn't read that much of it and it was misleading when a new paper was delivered. For example, when I didn't finish Wednesday's paper and I had Thursday's paper delivered, I couldn't easily find Wednesday's copy. In fact, I thought it was deleted. But after I removed Thursday's copy, Wednesday's was there. Which leads me to believe that it shows just as one title on the "Home" screen and you need to use the menu to access the older copies. And while I do like USA Today as a whole, I prefer it from the newsstand. I can quickly scan the headlines and read the articles I want. On the Kindle I had to cycle through each article to read the headlines. You could skip articles without going through each page, but it was still slower than the physical newspaper.

The Text-to-Speech feature is useless to me. Sure, if I were blind or had issues reading, I'm sure it would be awesome. But it simply does not compare to an audio book performance. The difference is bigger than comparing the sound quality of an LP and a CD. But the feature does work (again though, not for PDF files) and is fairly easy to use once you figure out the controls.

Questions from Readers:
@mellijellybean How's that Kindle working out for you? I love gadgets, but also love physical papers & books. Still want one though. How is it?

It's great. I've had it a few weeks now and I feel like I'm reading more now than before. It's very easy to jump between books and very easy to pick up and put down. It also transports better than a book, especially hardbacks, and does fairly well with graphics (like those in Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol). The best analogy I can come up with is this. The Kindle will transform the way we read books just like Hulu and the DVR will transform the way we watch television.

@McGenealogist I think of it as e-book reader or digital book.

It is. And really the only thing that sets it apart from a laptop is the ease of portability. And if I had a netbook, I could use that, but then you get into discussions about weight and heat. And both were big drawbacks to me reading from my laptop in bed. Even if I had an ultra-thin netbook that had very little weight, I'm sure it would still get hot. Not to mention the apps I'd have to open just to read. So it certainly has it's advantages, but it really is nothing more than an e-reader.

@maplemuse I'm curious about the Kindle's annotation support. Can you export the notes to your computer somehow?

For those that don't want the gruesome technical details, skip to the next question. Okay, to annotate something in the Kindle is very easy, as long as it is something that is converted to a Kindle format. Meaning, you can't take notes on something in a PDF format. Anything else should be just fine (except Audible books, audio files, etc.).

To take notes, you simple use the 5-way controller (the Kindle's version of a mouse or joystick) and highlight the text. Move the cursor to where you want to start, click, move to the end, click again. You can then type a note or leave it alone. Either way it shows the highlighted text along with your notes on the Kindle under the "My Clippings" heading on your "Home" screen.

Now, you can take these and easily copy them to your computer by connecting the Kindle via the provided USB cable. The Kindle shows as an external drive, just like most USB hard drives. (When you connect it, I found it's easier to have the Kindle on, then plug it into the computer.) Once you plug it in, navigate to the "Kindle" drive. Mine has three folders by default; audible, documents, and music. Open the "documents" folder and find the "My Clippings.txt" file.
You can either open it to read it or copy it to the computer or open and copy whatever text you want to an email. You get the idea, the file is easy to access and open. Here's an example of what it looks like:

Kindle DX User's Guide (
- Note Loc. 69 Added on Tuesday,
October 13, 2009, 04:03 PM

test note
Simple enough. Now, if they'd let you use the Whispernet to send your notes to an email account, that would be super-awesome and make reviewing a book much easier. You can also edit the notes in the file if you want, meaning you can delete old ones, or write a note to yourself.

@fairywhispers How does the Kindle compare to reading a physical book?

This is the ultimate question and the hardest one to answer. You see, I have bad luck. In fact, I often say if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all. What does this have to do with comparing a Kindle to a book? Simple, I've been following this little company called Plastic Logic for months now. They're in the process of building what I would consider a Kindle Killer (my phrase, not theirs). And sure enough, days after I get my Kindle, they announce the name of it. And the next day Barnes & Noble introduces their product. So the two main Kindle competitors I have been waiting on show up to my party too late. I have a Kindle and now I'm committed.

Still you ask what does this have to do with a physical book vs. a Kindle? Well, it's more than just the Kindle. It's comparing a physical book to a physical e-reader (in my mind software on your PC or PDF books don't quite compare to the physical e-reader). We have seen the discussions before about e-books taking over print books, is it better, is it cheaper, what about piracy, etc.

And I think it's okay to be in the middle right now. Think about the VCR. You could record television shows and watch them on your schedule. DVRs have taken that a step further by making them digital. The same goes with email. You can send a letter to family in seconds free when years before it took days and cost you twenty-two cents (plus you had to write neat enough for them to read it).

With e-readers, it's just the next step in the reading life cycle. I'm sure in twenty years we'll be reading off a piece of flimsi-plast that we'll put into our Mr. Fusion to power or hovering DeLorean. But for now, it's the Kindle (and other e-readers). And the Kindle can (and does) compete with printed books. You have a bookstore at your fingertips all the time. You can order a book on the Kindle and have it delivered in seconds or order it online and have it delivered whenever you turn your wireless on. You the consumer have the power to choose when you take delivery.

Is it worth it? That depends. Are you ready to read more books? Are you ready to spend more on books? Yes, there's a large up-front cost to the Kindle. But the back-end prices are cheaper for the most part. I mean, a new hardback book, on sale, with a discount, with cash back on your credit card, with rebates from the bookstore will cost you more than ten dollars. But on the Kindle, that's usually the maximum. And if you watch various sites online, you can pick up some free or cheaply discounted books easily. I've been saving those free PDF books for years now and have amassed nearly eighty titles, all for no cost.

So how does it compare to a physical books? Physically speaking, it's lighter, about the weight of two mass-market paperback books. It's as thin as a magazine and about the same size. The screen has very little glare, so even reading under a bright light doesn't hurt the eyes. In fact, the contrast looks so good, it looks fake. Navigating the menus is very easy with only one or two places that are not "logical" to get to (but once you find them, it's simple to remember). The fonts are adjustable (except on PDFs) and you can rotate the screen if you'd like. These are all features that a normal book does not have.

So, in the end, I would say the Kindle is worth the money. But you need to treat it like an investment. Like I said earlier, it is very much like a DVR. When we got our DVR, we began watching more television, but we could skip the commercials. With the Kindle, we can skip the store, but we're reading more. The only other side-affects you'll need to deal with are withdrawal from shopping in a book store and the lack of that musty smell from an old book.


Anonymous said...

so if you decide one of those other brands is better, after all, you can buy it, then send this one to your mama. thinking of that... would i then be able to open a new acct with amazon to use with your (now mine) kindle? would that transfer be ok with amazon? know what i am asking?

thanks for the interesting review. you wrote it so that even i can understand it.


TK42ONE said...

Mom - I'm sure a newer, better model will be out soon enough. When the graphics improve and color is introduced, I'll be keeping my eyes peeled.

As to selling or giving a Kindle to another person (family or otherwise), it is possible. You essentially "register" or "sync" your Kindle to your Amazon account. So when you buy a Kindle book, you do it through your Amazon account and it knows to send it to your Kindle. When you get rid of a Kindle, you "un-register" or "de-register" the Kindle from your Amazon account. Once the ties are cut between the Kindle and the Amazon account, anybody can use the Kindle as if it were new to them without interfering with your Amazon account.

Make sense?