Product Type: Amazon Tablet PCs / eBook Readers
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For Bookworms Everywhere.
Amazon Kindle 3
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Amazon Kindle 3
Date: 19/12/10, updated on 20/12/10 (130 review reads)
Advantages: Carry lots of books with you - it is small and light, it is comfy to read
Disadvantages: Protective covers need to be purchased seperately. The 'back' button is in an awkward place.
The Kindle came in its own box, securely packed, and inside with it was a USB cable with UK power adaptor and a small booklet which gives you the basics. There is no cover or bag for it, just a sticky protective sheet which also covered the buttons, so I pulled that off. I would recommend purchasing a cover for it so you don't worry about it getting knocked or scratched in a bag, for example. It seems a fairly robust little item, I have already dropped it, knocked it and got wasabi sauce on it (best not to ask). When I got home I plugged the Kindle into the wall and toggled the power switch at the bottom and the page changed from the first step instructions on screen to a logo screen, a bar appeared and filled across the screen which only took about a minute. The Kindle then showed the 'Welcome' section of its own User Guide on the screen. I was extremely impressed with how clear it was, the black text on a light grey ground was comfy to read and there was no glare. The User Guide was straight forward and clearly explained the features and buttons for e-reader novices such as myself. There is a pdf download available if you prefer (www.amazon.co.uk/kindledocuments), suitable for all countries, but I thought this kind of defeated the object of having an e-reader anyway! The Kindle uses 'electronic paper' technology, which displays the ink electronically, just as they would appear in conventional books and newspapers. This means you don't have a backlight or screen glare, so your eyes don't get as tired as if you were reading from a computer screen. Overall the Kindle took less than 2.5 hours to charge and in that time I was using it.
One nice touch I noticed is that the page turn, both forward and back is on both sides of the screen, which is handy as you can hold it any hand that you want. You can navigate around the screen using a five-way controller (up, down, left, right and select), this moves a cursor around the screen line by line (up/down) and word by word (left/right), much like editing a text message on a standard mobile phone. Once you have reached the piece of text you are interested in (i.e. a word you don't understand) click the controller and the definition appears at the top of the screen. In reality this is not something I use very often, but something I played with a few times after I got it. I would think this would be more useful for text books, than the novels I usually read. You can also add your own notes if you so wish (attached to the relevant text). Again, I have just played with this function as it is not something I really need. The keyboard is qwerty and quite small. The rubberised keys are responsive so there is no stabbing at them to try and get them to register, but due to their size you only can do one finger typing. There is a symbol key if you want to add digits or symbols also - you scroll around a selection using the five way control button). Again, I think this would be useful for study purposes rather than novel reading for pleasure. If you want more you can also check the New Oxford American dictionary for a detailed breakdown of that word or similar (I have not found out if this can be changed to the UK dictionary although there is one there). You can share the highlighted text on social networks, I haven't done this and can't see a situation where I would want/need to. The left/right functions can also allow you to skip to the next chapter or section, which could be useful for browsing. There is also a back button which takes you back steps to where you were (such as when you have got bored with highlighting words and playing about!). Apparently it also remembers where you were if you open the same book/article on another Kindle supporting device such as your iPhone but I have not used it other than on the Kindle itself. However the Back button is just under the five-way controller, so I find I sometimes knock that instead of the down control. In fact I knock it enough time to be annoying!
Another good feature is adjusting the text size, the screen isn't backlit, so the same problem I have normally - reading small text in a poorly lit room - is still there, but unlike with books (or food packaging labels: they need to put those on Kindle!) , I can adjust the text to a more comfortable size using the Text key (Aa) - there are eight sizes and you can also change number of words per line, line-spacing and type-face (limited choice) to however you prefer. Instructions how to do this are included in the User Guide, but after a short time playing, most people would have sussed how to navigate it, as it is fairly intuitive. You can also change screen rotation to read it landscape or even upside down. I don't see the point of the latter and, to me, the portrait is more natural. There is a text to speech function where you can pick a male or female voice to read the book to you (not available on every book). The voice is Americanised and there is no intonation to it, I doubt I would use it very often. One thing I have not done, but you can do with your Kindle, is transfer PDF files onto it using Kindle e-mail address or vis USB.
I have the wi-fi edition rather than the 3G (telephone connectivity) one, as I figured I could just as easily download books from home, rather than anywhere for the saving of £40. Connecting to my home network was simple using the Menu button and putting in my password with the keyboard as above (there is a Caps button too), although I did accidentally hit the darn back button a few times whilst trying to select the digits. I can use this to connect to browse or download books at my boyfriend's house or at any other wi-fi hotspot whenever I feel the need. When you select the User Guide again from the menu it automatically takes you back to the page I was reading before I clicked away playing with the wi-fi. If you leave it for a while the Kindle goes to sleep to save power, just toggle the power switch to wake it up again.
As a test I browsed the Kindle store using the 5 way control and search function, and also browsed the best-sellers list (the latter was quite time consuming as you only see five books per page, perhaps this should be better done via a PC) and easily downloaded a book. If you bought your Kindle using your own Amazon account then it will automatically been linked to it, if bought using someone else's then you will need to register it either on the website or using the Kindle to your own account as this is the account to which purchases will be charged. I selected the Complete Works of Jane Austen for 71p. It is worth noting that E-books are subject to VAT unlike paper books. I also chose some contemporary novels and they all arrived via wi-fi instantly. With the text size at the right size for me, it was comfortable and easy to read. I found I could also read in unusual positions that I would not have been comfy holding a conventional book in. This is because of the size and weight of the Kindle. It weighs just 241 grammes, and is 12cm by 19cm, with a depth of 8.5mm. This means it is easy to hold in one hand, being thinner and smaller than a normal paperback book, plus you are not trying to hold the pages apart, I found I could also turn the pages with one thumb movement. It can rest it on your legs if you have your knees up in bed or on the sofa, without you needing to hold it open. This leaves you a hand free for drinking wine, eating chocolate or whatever else you prefer! The page turn keys are set on the side, so not easily knocked (though I have done it when picking it up before), but do need a definite movement to turn, rather than a light touch. But as I say I can turn it one handed, so it is not really a problem, there is a fraction of a second delay as the new page appears, but this is a lot quicker than I expected, and also quicker than manually turning the pages. In addition I have ordered free (and purchased) books whilst on my PC, and these download immediately from turning on my Kindle when wi-fi enabled. You can also download free samples of a book and decide from there if you wish to purchase the book.
Instead of pages, you know where you are via a progress bar with a percentage indicator on the left showing how much you have read. There are also marks along the bar which relate to chapters or your own bookmarks. There are also Location numbers which baffle me, apparently they are the 'digital answer to page numbers',but I am not sure how they work. Obviously this depends on your text size as you have more/less text per 'page' depending on size and spacing. Whilst I don't really understand the locations (they don't seem to match to the number of passages for example), I quite like seeing how much of a book I have read in percentage form. I would like to know how many pages/screens I have to go to reach the end of a chapter however. Whilst the Kindle will remember wherever you last left each book (and you can make additional bookmarks if there is a particular chapter you are likely to wish to refer to. However, if reading in bed, I don't always want to read for long, so it would be nice to know if the chapter size was small enough for me to continue with or whether to finish at the next passage break.
The Kindle is feature packed, and to be honest, I don't use a lot of them! I have 'filed' my books into Collections. I have done this by genre, but some people may prefer other categories. You name and create the collections yourself so it is completely up to you. Whilst the Kindle remembers the last page you read automatically you can assign bookmarks using the menu function, if you think you are likely to return to a certain spot rather than the last page read. The Kindle allegedly holds 3500 books but I don't have quite that number yet! This is more than I will ever need I suspect - by the time I've read that many books the Kindle will be obsolete and we will be absorbing books through a microchip inserted in our brains... The Kindle does hold its charge - I only have needed to charge it once a month and that is after reading it most days.
I love my Kindle! Whilst I have mentioned a few niggles above, the benefits far outweigh them. I feel I have read more using it, as it is so much easier to pick up. If I leave a book mid chapter or am interrupted I often find I end up reading the same paragraphs again until I get up to where I left off - as the 'page' size is smaller on the Kindle this time is not wasted as I can find the last spot much quicker. If I am not in the mood for a heavy classic (which, as they are out of copyright, are free to download from Amazon) I can switch to a more contemporary read and back again as I see fit, without having to carry a choice of books . You can be reading as many books as you like, although I find two enough! Whilst I still love the smell of new books and still have some physical ones to read, the Kindle is the easiest thing to keep in my handbag to read in my breaks or on train journeys. It is compact enough that I don't need to worry about weighing my bag down if I am out for the day. Whilst the concept is not perfect just yet (as far as graphics and images are concerned) I feel that this device is as near as you will get for a while with its usability and more than meets my novel reading needs. I do recommend this product and also suggest buying a protective sleeve or one of the leather wallets for it. It is a shame that it doesn't come with a basic one.
Summary: A must for avid readers
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