Thursday, 7 October 2010

Review: The Amazon Kindle

We read to know we are not alone -C.S. Lewis
After just under two weeks of waiting anxiously for the arrival of my Wi-Fi Amazon Kindle, it finally arrived and I'm absolutely in love with it. I have always said "Ohhh I hate e-readers. I love real books, I will never buy one of those things", but here I am. I'm a huge fan of collecting books and hope to have a mini library at some point in my life when I don't have to move around so much, but for now I like the idea of saving physical space and storing my virtual books on a nice little gadget like this. I did initially think to myself "What if I can't get used to reading this? What if it feels too weird for me to read for too long? What if it's nothing like reading a book?" and you know? I was worrying about nothing. After an hour of reading it felt completely comfortable, and I forget that I'm not reading a real book.
As you can see, I went ahead and bought the official leather case for mine, despite telling myself not to. The price is absolutely ridiculous at £29.99 but I try to soothe my empty pockets by reminding myself how well-made it is, how well the Kindle fits inside, and how much I enjoy the colour. 
Above: The Kindle has a screensaver up whenever it's turned off and it changes every time you do this, which is quite a nice touch. You can't customize or add your own screensavers which may be a bit annoying for some people, but I personally like the ones that are here already!
Home Page: When you upload a new book to your Kindle you'll find it in the list here. Thankfully, there is the option to create new 'Collections', which means you can organise different books or files into seperate folders to make things look a bit neater. As you can see from the picture I've sorted my books into a 'Modern Fiction' section for books that I read in my spare time and then I have two folders dedicated to University modules, containing relevant books and PDFs.
E-ink Technology: Above I've compared the Kindle's E-ink Pearl screen to a real book. As you can see the quality and contrast of the screen is absolutely amazing which makes for a great reading experience. There is also NO BACKLIGHTING on the Kindle which means that you are not going to get the screen-glare related headaches that more often than not accompany reading from a computer or mobile phone, for example. I'm so bored of people trying to compare the Kindle to the iPad. The Kindle has been made as a device almost solely for reading, hence the lack of  backlighting; hence the lack of colour; hence the absence of an app store carrying your favourite games. You are considering the wrong gadget if you're looking for those things-- that is not what it's for, and it's a fraction of the price for that reason! 

Experimental Features: The Kindle does offer an 'Experimental' section which includes an MP3 Player, A Web Browser and Text-to-Speech. None of these features are particularly great, and I don't intend on ever using any of them, but this isn't an issue for me as I would have purchased my Kindle had they not been there. 
Above: On the Kindle you have the option of changing all of these elements in order to make your reading experience the best it can be. The screen rotation option is brilliant for PDF use (something I haven't really touched on in this review). 
A Kindle at University?: Something that drew me even further into  Kindlemania was the fact that I would be able to get a lot of classic literature for free-- whether this be from the Amazon Kindle store, or Project Gutenberg, and that would be great for me as an English student. There are also pros such as space saving, and not having to lug a tonnes worth of books back and forth with me every time I visit my boyfriend or my family. There is also the brilliant dictionary and highlighting functions available, however, one thing that I do worry about would be referencing in an academic essay. I don't know that it would be acceptable to reference 'locations' instead of 'pages'. The Kindle does not work with page numbers as it allows you to change the font size, the orientation, etc. So this is a major issue to think about if you're considering the Kindle for academic reading.

EDIT March 2011: I do believe that Amazon have released an update which will, amongst other things, include the ability to look up page numbers on the Kindle. I think they will incorporate it into the menu, that way it will somehow be worked out regardless of font size/orientation, etc. 

Dictionary/Highlighting/Note-making: I absolutely love the Dictionary and Highlighting/Note-taking features that the Kindle offers. I hate having to disturb comfortable reading positions to go look up a word in the dictionary, so it's great to be able to click my way over to a word while reading on the Kindle, and have the definition pop up right there for me. Initially only a small snippet of the definition will appear but if you need a more in-depth explanation you can click for more and then press 'Back' to continue reading. 

The Highlighting and Note-taking is equally as nice in that to create a note all you do it tap over to the point you want the footnote to be, and then proceed to type your note out. You highlight in a similar way by tapping over to the point you wish to start at, and then clicking over on until the point where you wish to stop! The Kindle also stores all notes, highlights and bookmarks in order in a separate section for you to check out whenever you wish-- brilliant for revision or just copying out the notes onto paper. 
Above: The grey line indicates a highlight I've already made, and the dark highlight is what you'll see while you're creating a highlight! Below: You can see a list of some of my Notes and Marks that I've made in the book I'm reading. Incredibly useful to have them all in one place like this. 
Footnotes: The Kindle handles Footnotes brilliantly. I purchased a copy of Bleak House on my Kindle as I decided to use the real paperback as a door stop. It is a large book, and I figured it would be so much easier to handle if I tried reading it on my Kindle instead. I don't know if, like me, you HATE looking up footnotes at the back of a giant book, and having to awkwardly save your previous page while doing so. The Kindle makes looking up footnotes an absolute breeze. You click on the footnote and it will take you to the explanation at the back of the book, and then back again with a click of the Back button. It's lovely.
So, all in all I really enjoy my Kindle and will be using it for a long time to come hopefully. I haven't had a chance to actually bring it to University yet, to bring it into a Seminar or to the library; I'll be going back tomorrow, but I'm honestly very nervous about pulling this out in 'public'--I don't want to draw any attention to myself, particularly if it's negative! I'll let you know how it goes, though ^_^

Hope this was helpful! If there's anything else you want to know, drop me a comment. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...