There have been written a lot about Amazon Kindlebut it was first today I got around to checking it out myself. What I mean with ‘checking it out’ was not checking the hardware itself but reading about it on Amazon’s Kindle web site. So don’t consider this been a real review of the Kindle as I just don’t have access to one.
So let me give you my impression of the Kindle. I will also explain why it is impossible for me to get :-(
If any of you have had some experience with the Kindle then please leave a few comments about what you think about it and if it is worth getting.
Interesting product for readers
I have to admit that Kindle have lots of great features that I really like. Such as been able to buy and get a book delivered instant. Imaging you are stuck at a train station for hours, going on a flight, staying at a hotel or just feeling like reading a book. Then start the Kindle, access the online store, find the book, buy it, receive it and just read. Delivery is happening instantly to your reading device. At the same time this would be for a lower price than most places here in Switzerland.
Also been able to read blogs at any time is a great feature, again, reading them in the train on the way to work, in the living room, down at the lawn. No need to boot up the PC to see what is happening in the blog world.
It is possible to receive news papers to the Kindle but this feature is less important for me, as I don’t really read newspapers (Why read them when I got blogs and the internet!!!).
It is also possible to subscribe to magazines and get them delivered directly to the Kindle. Right now they only list 8 magazines; I hope this will go up over time. I would not mind getting Dr Dobbs.
Audiobooks from Amazon are also supported by the Kindle; I will not comment on this feature as I never bought any audio books so I don’t know how useful it would be. These are NOT delivered by the wireless system but have to be converted to the Kindle by USB.
Transfer a Word documents to the Kindle is pretty awesome if you ask me; I would love to be able to take work related material with me any where I go. Same with technical documents; no more printing, just tell Amazon to update the Kindle with a Word doc. Then go to bed and read it. Files can also be converted manually, see below.
Pricing for services
Amazon Kindle uses EVDO for the wireless transfer which means it operates as a cell phone (mobile phone for us here in Europe). Often people would expect that they need to sign up for some data contract and then get monthly bills, but this is not the case, Amazon handles those charges. This is a bit of a surprise to me but a good one.
Sure they will charge for some usage. Here are some examples:
- Blogs are priced from $0.99 pr month: TechCrunchat $1.99, ProBloggerat $0.99 and Slashdotat $1.99.
- News papers are priced monthly: The New York Timesis priced at $13.99, Le Mondeat $14.99
- Magazines are also priced monthly: Timeat $1.99
- Word documents are priced at $0.10 only; Seems there are no size limitation so getting 200 page document would cost the same as a 1 page document.(HTML, TXT, JPEG, GIF, BMP and a few other formats are also supported).
I have no idea how the prices for news papers and magazines compare to the normal price in the US but I find them pretty fair.
Convert your own documents for free
It took a bit time before I found out what the USB can be used for. It is actually possible to get Word documents (and the other file formats that are supported) converted for free. This is done by just emailing the document to a special email address and shortly after the converted document is received by normal email. I consider this a GREAT feature; you can convert the documents yourself if you want to avoid the $0.10 fee but at the same time you can ask people to email you a Word document directly to the Kindle, so even if you are not in the office you will still be able to receive the latest documentation.
Of course it is not all without problems.
Currently the PDF file format is not fully supported; it is in an experimental state right now. So some PDF files might work but there might be issues with some formatting. I really hope they get this sorted so they can provide full PDF support. Lot’s of documentation are in PDF files these days so not supporting PDF would be an issue (at least for me).
No support for doing notes. I would have loved a small simple application for taking notes; the device already have QWERTY keyboard so why not let people use it for making notes.
Blog support: Been able to support blogs for a very small fee of just $0.99 pr month (some at $1.99) is GREAT but not all blogs are supported; such as this blog is not supported. Amazon are currently supporting 310 blogs which should cover most areas but it would be great if this could be extended without having to wait for Amazon to include the blogs (I wonder if the blog owners receives any % of the monthly subscription).
DRM (Digital Rights Management): It is not surprised that all books/material from Amazon is using a DRM system but this might be an issue for some people; will you be able to read the books in 20 years when the Kindle is broken down and Amazon might stop the support. To be honest; I got no issue with DRM and the Kindle; just as I don’t have a problem with DRM and iTunes/iPod.
Summary and the BIG Issue
I would seriously consider getting a Kindle ASAP as I do like the idea behind the product and find it a very flexible system for reading books, blogs and documentation. Sure I mentioned some issues above but none of them are so important that they would stop me from getting one.
Costs would be an issue; the Kindle is priced at $399 at the moment. It might drop in price later but for now it is a bit expensive. I would have an issue with deciding what blogs to subscribe to; but I doubt it would set me back more than $5-$10 pr month.
THE biggest issue of them all; which are also the reason why I will not be getting a Kindle is very simple: It is only for the US market. This might come as a surprise for some but wasn’t a bit surprise for me. The network they use for the data (EDVO) is US only at the moment and just imagine that Amazon wanted to release this product world wide; how many network operators (Carries for the US people) would they have to arrange deals with!!!
What I would hope for in the near future is a Kindle WiFi which would require some local hotspot (such as Starbucks or the WiFi at work or at home), maybe even an offline only Kindle would be possible. This would require all data to be synced over the USB but it would still work for me.
So until Amazon releases a product for us here in Europe we can just sit back and dream and read all the reviews from the US.