Product Type: Amazon Tablet PCs / eBook Readers
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Who thought I could get even more passionate about reading?
Amazon Kindle 3
Member Name: cha97mw
Amazon Kindle 3
Advantages: holds so many books I always have something to read. easy to use, so many free books available
Disadvantages: slight niggles like not being able to skip to the end of your long list of stored books easily.
When I first saw the Kindle, I tried to ignore it a bit as since becoming an adult, reading has taken a lower priority for a few years because of having a high workload when I first started working as a teacher, and then even when I left work after having kids, I was more likely to be reading to them than reading something myself until recently. I have piles of books everywhere that I want to read, and that I have swapped with my sister or mum, so I wasn't sure if the kindle would be for me as we do like to share our experience and then talk about it.
However, I succumbed and asked my parents to buy me the kindle last Christmas, and although it took a while for me to fully get into it, I now can't leave the thing alone.
---Purchasing the Kindle---
I ordered the Kindle for myself on behalf of my parents, as when you buy it from amazon, it is automatically registered to the account of the person who bought it. You also get a kindle email where you can send PDF documents that you want to send to your kindle. I have a few knitting patterns I could send, but haven't so far, as it is the sort of thing I want to be able to annotate if I can while I use it.
I opted for the WiFi version rather than the 3G as we mostly travel in the UK and stay with family who have wireless networks, so I didn't think it was worth paying the extra for the 3G version which has internet access everywhere as it would be needed so infrequently. This is a decision I have not really regretted, as I found I am quite able to go online if I need to, if there is a Wifi network freely available to log on to, like there was on our recent trip to Center Parcs. If I regularly travelled abroad, or stayed in UK hotels where you had to pay for internet use, I would have no qualms buying the 3G one. It really is horses for courses here.
Taking the Kindle out of the box amazon had sent it in, I was initially baffled by the screen. It had a screen save picture on it which was a picture, which I assumed must be some sort of protective screen cover, and although I am embarassed to admit it, I did actually spend a couple of minutes trying to peel this off before I realised my error. This screen saver is different pretty much every time, and I take some sort of childish delight in seeing what it will be next, as some of them look really gorgeous to me. They may be just black and white, but some are really intricate.
The kindle itself was a thing of wonder for me too. The unit is so thin and lightweight, I initially pondered whether I would find it too tech like for me to enjoy a relaxing read. It is only 241g in weight, and 8.5 mm thick. I was sure it would not feel right. However, I put it in the special case I bought for it, and it immediately felt a lot better to my 30 years trained hands. I still prefer to read with it in the leather case rather than loose in my hand, but maybe that is just me.
---First Use, and Beyond---
Impressively, it was charged for me when it arrived so I could just turn it on and go. I had a quick look through the instructions Amazon sent with it, which are really only a token instruction leaflet to get you started, as it really is so simple and intuitive to use once you know where the buttons are.
The on button is a slide switch at the bottom of the unit. I personally have mine set up with a password so I am prompted to input this into my kindle every time I turn it on. This can be a little annoying if the kids have needed me for a few minutes and it has gone onto screen saver mode, but I do like the ability to customise it somehow to protect it.
I use symbols and letters, so pressing the symbol button on the qwerty keys located at the bottom of the unit, I can toggle between symbols and letters.
On first use, the screen i was taken to had a welcome message from amazon describing the kindle and the kindle store, a Kindle User's guide, the Oxford Dictionary of English, and The New Oxford American Dictionary. I've glanced at these, but really am not that fussed by them. I could use them to look up words in text that confuse me though if I want.
Now I have added my own material to my kindle, my first screen shows me a selection of categories I have made to organise the many books that I already have on there. This is brilliant, as when I first started downloading, the names of the books were shown individually, and I had about 40 pages of book names to look through to see what I fancied reading. Now I have been a bit more nerdy, I can look in Reference, or chick lit, or science or romance amongst many categories I have chosen. Now I just need to remember to put any new book I get into one of these categories. (A little annoyance if you have 42 pages of books is you have to scroll through all of them to find the one book you are desperate to read, as they are put in date order, with the most recently downloaded on the earlier pages.)
By clicking on any book name I can make the book I want open, and I am taken straight to the first page of writing. When this is not useful, I just press the previous page button, which I have on either side of the screen to see the front page, the contents, author introduction or anything else usually printed in a book before the first chapter.
If I left a book on a certain page, the first screen I will see is my last page I was reading. This is great for me, as in printed books, my kids wind me up a lot by knocking the book off the table, or pulling out the book mark and saying what it this for Mummy. I then have to waste some of my very little 'me time' to find the page.
Pressing the menu button gives me a box like you get on a computer, with the options to turn my wireles on or off, shop on the kindle store, look through my archived items (books I have read and don't want to read again, but could access again from amazon if I later wish to), search through my kindel, create a new book collection to aid my OCD organisation into libraries by type, syn and check with amazon for any books I downloaded while browsing on the computer, view the progress of downloading (when it is actually downloading something already) and the settings of the kindle.
The setting section is useful as this is where you can personalise by setting a password, change the date and time, share information on books you have read with your facebook friends, find the email address for your kindle, and alter settings like public notes.
The last section I have played with a little, though amazon make it clear that it is an area they are working on and not part of the overall design. The web browser is the main one I have used. I have tried to check emails, and even Dooyoo while out and about. While it is ok for a quick check of something internet based, the kindle is not really designed for this function. I find any website which has graphics which change is poor to look at, and you can see traces of the image after it changes due to the way the electronic ink works in the screen. It is a bit distracting. So while it is ok to have, it will never be that useful to me as it is too small and doesn't have enough processing power to work anything important. My father in law uses his a lot for checking email when out and about, but I am never away from home long enough for me to think it worth it. It also has MP3 function, and text to speech, but I have never felt the need to play with these.
---overall user experience---
For the first few months I was not overly convinced. The screen was better than I thought, as it was a delight to read on the glare free e ink screen, and if I am feeling tired I could easily make the writing bigger rather than hunt for my glasses.
It was when we have been away on long car journeys I have liked it best. It is easy to just sit it on my knee comfortably, and there is never any issue of bright sun making it hard for me to see the screen. I can also take all of the hundreds of books with me and know whatever mood I am in, I will have something to entertain me. It makes my handbag a lot lighter at least.
I have a bit of an addiction to downloading the free books to my kindle, and I have literally hundreds of books on there. This is brilliant as I am picking up stuff I wouldn't really have thought of reading if I were in a book shop or library. I know if I don't like it I can just delete it. It has also been a chance to read some stuff from the classics that I have meant to read for years and not got round to. I can also be in the middle of reading several different books at a time, without annoying my husband that they are all piled up somewhere.
Battery life had been another concern, but in a recent weekend away, it was on for hours, including over an hour browsing online with the Wifi, and it used less than a quarter of the battery power. At home, I tend to turn the Wifi off and then just turn it on to download something, and I never need to charge it more than once a month. Charging is also very quick and only takes a couple of hours.
I am delighted that I have this item, and I wouldn't be without it, which for someone who loves actual books like I do surprises me. I will never replace books with pictures with it, as it is not the same seeing smaller images in black and white only, but I have actually reduced my paper copies of some books such as classics and now have more room on the bookshelves for the paperbacks and hardbacks I want to keep, which makes my home a bit less cluttered, giving me more time for the hobby I love, reading.
Summary: If I could have only one item to take with me, I think this would be ahead of my phone
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