Product Type: Amazon Tablet PCs / eBook Readers
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The Book Reviewers Friend
Amazon Kindle 3
Member Name: Rhiana
Amazon Kindle 3
Date: 24/08/11, updated on 24/08/11 (94 review reads)
Advantages: Ease of use, really looks like print, makes reviewing easier, portable, holds many books
Disadvantages: Can't take it in the bath!
My Kindle-First Impressions
On Christmas day I gratefully received my Kindle from my parents. I'd gone for the cheaper wi-fi version (now priced £111) rather than the 3G version, as from what I could make out, the only difference was I wouldn't be able to connect to Amazon and buy books when not connected to my own (or someone else's) Wi-Fi network or abroad and receiving files and documents by Wi-Fi rather 3G was free.
The Kindle came in a small box with the e-reader, charger and very small instruction booklet, which basically tells you how to turn on your Kindle and find the full instructions. The Kindle had an image on the screen, which I wrongly presumed to be a sticker as it looked as though it had been printed rather than displayed on screen. I was soon to learn this was the appearance of the e ink pearl technology that makes text and images appear as if they are printed on paper. I was impressed with the lightness and thinness of the Kindle but thought it didn't really look much. I was yet to realise what an amazing little bit of kit this was.
Immediately I stuck my Kindle on to charge and turned it on. I looked briefly at the instructions, but usually I'm one for getting stuck in and working things out myself. Since then I've never actually gone back to them...they are there though if I ever need to. Keen to get some books loaded up onto my Kindle I used the easy to follow menu to get to the Amazon store and when prompted tried to connect to my parent's wi-fi network. This is where I first hit a problem. No matter how many times I put the key in I couldn't connect. Eventually I handed the Kindle over to my Dad, who after some investigating online worked out he needed to switch some of his own wi-fi settings. At home I was able to connect straight away though and have been able to elsewhere.
Finally ready to go I went to Amazon and registered my Kindle quickly and easily. My parents had bought this as a gift and had remembered to check the correct box to say so, meaning I was able to register it myself. This is important to note as if you don't do this the Kindle will be registered to you and the recipient won't be able to use it until you deregister it! Then I went straight to the Kindle store and started adding books, which again is very easy. Too easy in fact. Kindle books are bought with one click, which means you need to remember your bank card is still being charged (unless they're free books of course!) There's a vast amount of both new and old titles available, although often they're not much, if any, cheaper than hard copies. Most classics are free, as are many self published authors and it's possible to pick up popular books in Kindle sales for a couple of quid. I tend not to buy or download a lot from Amazon, but when I have I have found it incredibly easy and my book is ready to read on my Kindle almost immediately. I mainly use my Kindle for downloading e-arc's from a specific reviewers site for bloggers that I'm a member of, but there are other places to buy ebooks, which will suit the Kindle.
So having loaded up a couple of books I started reading and was amazed. Having had such an awful experience of reading on my laptop, this was surprising. It really is just like reading from a book. There's no backlight to give you glare (although this means you can't read the Kindle in the dark), you can easily adjust the text size to suit your needs and the lightweight makes it easy to handle. At this stage the only niggle I had was that I felt the page turning buttons could be lower down the side of the Kindle as I felt my thumb was a little stretched. I also found immediately I was managing to read much quicker on the Kindle and as your place is saved, there's no annoying loss of page if you accidentally drop/close your book.
I've found some of the functions that enhance reading the Kindle invaluable, and wonder how I lived without them. Others-less so. My favourite by far is the ability to change the text size as I do struggle with reading small text but hate wearing glasses in bed. I also like being able to rotate the screen, which is handy depending on whether you are reading while sitting or lying down.
I've found one of the most useful functions is the ability to make notes and highlight sections of text as I'm reading. This is particularly useful for reviewing purposes, as I can't always write a review as soon as I'm finished reading a book, so can look back on notes to remind me of points I wanted to make. With some books there's also the option to see which sections other people have highlighted previously which can be handy. Finally I can highlight bits of text and tweet them with a note to my twitter stream, which can be fun but not something I tend to do a lot. You can also find the meaning of words from the dictionary by highlighting text.
With my wi-fi Kindle I can connect to the Internet and shop on Amazon for Kindle books easily but there's also the ability to open a browser and visit other web pages. I've used it for checking email and tweeting but find it slow and faffy so usually use my phone instead which doesn't require me to be connected to wi-fi. If this is a function you think you'd use a lot then it mat be worth investing in 3G. At present the Kindle doesn't have touch screen, but the qwerty keyboard is simple to use. While I don't use it much it is a really useful function to have and I can see the next generation Kindle's making this more of a feature and definitely something I'd be interested in.
The text to speech function was something I was looking forward to using but in practice is one of the most disappointing. I was hoping I'd be able to listen to books as I walked, but the voice (you can choose male or female) is robotic and not great to listen to at all! I also think the Kindle is missing a clock. I keep looking for it like I do on my Ipod and think this would be a very useful feature and not difficult to incorporate at all.
Apart from the minor complaints, I'm more than happy with the functions and their ease of use. I'm not the most techno-savvy person and yet I've had no trouble using them at all. There are other functions I haven't myself used, such as subscribing to newspapers and the MP3 player, but the main ones have proved very successful.
Eight Months & Many Books Later
So after all this time has the novelty of my Kindle worn off? Not at all...I love it! I've read many books on it and find the ease and pace fantastic. I feel I can organise my reading better by filing my books into categories and it saves so much space.
I love the functions that make my hobby as a book reviewer easier and use them frequently. The portability of the Kindle means I always have plenty of reading material on hand when I need it although I would recommend a case as a necessity. I find when my Kindle is in the case it feels even more like a real book although when in my handbag I also put it into a pouch to stop debris from the bottom of my bag getting inside it. This summer I was also impressed at how I could read the kindle in bright sunlight, so it's perfect for holidays and saving your luggage allowance for more clothes and souvenirs.
I find the Kindle very easy to handle, whether sitting up or in bed. It's lighter than a book and apart from feeling I would like the page turning buttons a little lower, it doesn't cause any stress to my arms or hands. As different books come with different fonts and text sizes, I like being able to change them to my preferred text. The speed at which the pages actually turn are impressive too, with just a quick flash it's easier and quicker than turning a paper page.
The battery life on the Kindle has also surprised me. It can last me upto a month depending on how many books I read. I can easily manage 4 full books without needing to charge which in my opinion is impressive. The Kindle doesn't actually switch off, which confused me at first, but rather goes in sleep mode between uses and just requires reawakening when you pick it back up. I can leave my Kindle in sleep for a couple of weeks and come back with still enough life to read a book. Again this makes it particularly handy for holidays or other journeys. When I do charge it I usually leave it overnight, although I think four hours is enough to charge it fully. I never turn the wi-fi off (mainly because I forget) though Amazon advise that if you do the Kindle will stay charged for upto 2 months...though I can't confirm this.
I've been perfectly happy with my wi-fi choice and haven't regretted it as I now have more than enough material to last me on any journey I may make. With the capacity of holding over 3000 books, as long as you load it home then I can't really see any difficulty with it. I was concerned at first about what happens to my books should my kindle break or get lost, but all books are stored at your Kindle account on Amazon and can be downloaded again at anytime.
For me the Kindle hasn't made physical books completely obsolete, I still love them just as much. However it has greatly enhanced my reading and library by giving me access to free books, reviewing sites and holding books I'm sure I wouldn't want to keep in hard format. The only major downside to the Kindle is not being able to take it in the bath!
If you're an avid reader then I think the Kindle is definitely worth investing in and I know even the most die hard physical book fans who've been swayed by the Kindle and all it offers. With publishing houses reporting ebook sales outstripping hard copy sales recently it seems that the Kindle and other e-readers have definitely taken off and are here to stay. I would like to see the price of e-books reduced compared to paperbacks, although that is down to publishers and not the Kindle, but at usually around the same price you're not loosing anything and there are plenty of bargains out there to be had. Apart from a couple of little niggles, the Kindle is practically perfect and personally I wonder how I ever managed without it.
Summary: A Convert to eReaders!
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