Product Type: Amazon Tablet PCs / eBook Readers
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I Wood Recommend It and I'm Sticking with It
Amazon Kindle 4
Member Name: robinbarfield
Amazon Kindle 4
Advantages: Size, feel, look, simplicity of use
Disadvantages: General miserliness of Amazon
Logging-on - Introduction
I love books and I love reading. Having previously had one of the lesser known brands of e-reader when they first came out, I made the decision to switch to the Kindle. The main reason was that I simply wasn't buying e-books. The availability was poor and the cost was equivalent with paper books. In the end it was pointless having it. And yet every time I looked on Amazon there was a Kindle version cheaper than I could buy it in print. As much as I detested giving the Amazon behemoth my business I had to concede that there was no avoiding it. So I sold up and bought the, at the time, new budget version at £89.
Sparking Up - Opening the box
The first thing that strikes you as you open the box is the sheer size of the Kindle. It is sleek and light and tiny. They claim its 170g and I'm not inclined to disagree. It is a thing of design beauty and fits very snugly in my hand. With just 2 buttons on either side and 5 along the bottom, it is remarkably simple as well. There is a simple on/off button on the base and a micro-usb port for charging it.
The second thing that struck me on its first use was how quick it was to get it up and running. I had it online in minutes and was downloading my first book. This is where the Kindle is streets ahead of my previous machine. Previously it meant booting up the laptop and buying the book, then getting out the USB cable to attach laptop to reader and transferring it across. The Kindle just makes it so much simpler.
However the third thing that struck me on opening was that there was a Kindle and a USB cable. That's it! No charger, or protective case. Now, admittedly, all the essentials are there; the Kindle only needs to be plugged into a computer to charge it, but when one of its selling points is that a computer isn't even needed, this seems quite disappointing. And the Kindle itself is so sparse and so Spartan that it could do with some softening. It is just too bare and angular, and feels odd reading it without a cover. And to provide no protective sleeve appears miserly.
So I embarked on buying a cover. The official Amazon cover with light for this machine is £50, not far off the total price. And I had some bad experiences with some of the other covers which were being sold through Amazon. No matter, these are minor grumbles as I ended up picking up a lovely cover and a plug charger very cheaply. So cheaply I wondered why Amazon didn't bother supplying them in the first place!
Ashes to Ashes - Durability
The battery is good. I cannot say a lot more than that as I haven't measured how long it lasts; it's very hard to quantify. However it strikes me as better than the previous e-reader I owned, which was much heavier. It claims to last for a month, I think this is overdoing it but I can't complain.
Amazon also claims it holds up to 1,400 books. Another vague and untestable claim! It may do, I haven't bought 1,400 books to test it. And the point is, with the Amazon system, you don't need 1,400 books on it as they store them on-line for you. All I can say is that it stores enough books for me to read before I get back to my computer to sort it all out again.
The e-ink system is good, too. It's been an incredibly sunny day today and I was out in the sunshine reading happily. If anything, it's easier as it's less reflective than paper and won't give me a headache.
The set-up of the page is helpful, too. Along the bottom of the screen is a bar which charts your progress through the book. With most books the chapters are marked too so you can see how far is left to read.
Puffs of Smoke - Frustrations
One of my main frustrations is the protection system Amazon put on their books. I know this isn't a review of the Kindle per se, but it's an inevitable part of owning one. When you buy an Amazon e-book you are not buying the equivalent of a print book. You cannot lend it (despite what the help manual says). You cannot give it as a present (their one-click purchase system is very inflexible too).
And when I buy a new print book I expect it to be unmarked. When I buy one from Amazon it comes with underlines and highlights from other people, hundreds of them. There may be a way of switching off this feature but I'm yet to find it.
Another frustration is that publishers are lazy when it comes to Kindle versions. There are regularly typos and misaligned words. This bothers me, it may not bother you. It happens much less with printed books.
More Lukewarm than Fired-Up - Summary
This is in general a great machine and the system is well designed. It is a thing of beauty and functions very well. But the frustrations mentioned above makes it feel like Amazon are like the big bully boy of the market and I use it grudgingly rather than joyously because of this.
Simplicity of use
General miserliness of Amazon
Summary: Very straightforward and simple machine
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