Category Archives: kindle

When to covet thy neighbor’s Kindle DX

By now, you all know the Kindle DX was announced. Much of the same Kindle goodness, with bigger screen. What’s surprising is all the negative comments about it that I’ve heard.

Here’s the thing. The “old” Kindle 2 works great. For me, it’s the perfect size – it fits in my laptop bag, roughly the size of a paperback. It’s got paging buttons on both sides, which is great if you’re like me and you keep shifting around and switching hands when you read. For plain old text, like a novel, it’s just the ticket.

I also read the Wall Street Journal on it; it actually works better than I expected. It takes a little getting used to how the navigation works – but once you get it, it’s pretty easy to work through the paper pretty quickly.

Where it breaks down in my experience is reading technical books which have charts and figures that you want to refer to when reading the text. If the chart fills a half page, say, then there’s not much text left on the page…and if you need to continue to refer back to that chart when reading the text, it’s pretty inconvenient. I never noticed this until the past few weeks, when I’ve been working through a book on stock trading, and there are of course lots of charts the text refers to.

This would be the same situation for textbooks, I would imagine. Lots of pictures and charts, and lots of text referring to them. Keep it all on the same screen – just like a book tries to keep it all on the same page. If the Kindle DX can do that effectively (and I have no reason to doubt that it can), it will be a great device for these use cases.

Will I buy one? Well, not right away…I like the form factor of the Kindle 2. But when I’m reading technical books, I’ll undoubtedly quietly covet a DX.

After a day with the Kindle for iPhone

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Kindle for iPhone. It’s pretty cool, actually…pretty bare bones functionality, but it tries its best to get out of the way and let you read.

Yesterday evening, I was meeting someone at Starbucks, and she was running about 15 minutes late. I was fiddling with my iPhone, and remembered that I had the new Kindle app on there, and had already downloaded the book I’m currently reading on the “big” Kindle.

I opened the app, which was already on the page I’m currently on. I read for a bit, and actually finished a whole chapter before my friend arrived. When I was done, I closed the app, and it did its magic sync back to the Amazon cloud with the page I had made it to.

When I got home later, I turned on my Kindle just to see what would happen. I clicked into the book from the home screen, and a message popped up saying something like “you’ve read up to location 2500 on gregr’s iPhone; would you like to move to that location now?” (those weren’t the exact words, but pretty close). I clicked yes, and that’s all there was to it – I was exactly at the point I left off earlier.

Pretty cool – better than I expected. I can totally imagine reading a bit of my book when waiting for an appointment, standing in a long line, or something like that.

So the good and the bad?


– Pretty much does exactly what you’d hope. You can read your book, and the rest of the GUI disappears.

– It’s free!


– While the “swipe” is intuitive to change pages, it’s not very much fun after you’ve done it 50 times in a row. They should make it so if you tap somewhere, it skips to the next page.

All in all – it’s not the same as a Kindle, or similar to a book for that matter. The screen is small, and it’s backlit and less comfortable to read, at least for me. I wouldn’t want to read a whole book on this screen myself – but for short breaks, it works quite well. And somehow, I feel like my e-books are worth more now that I can read them in multiple places. :-)

My Thoughts on the Kindle 2

Kindle 2Pretty much everyone and their uncle has written about the Kindle 2 now. Not one to be left behind, I wanted to write down my thoughts.

I never had a Kindle 1. I looked at a friend’s once, and read some reviews and such, but that was the extent of my experience. But when the Kindle 2 started shipping last week, I ordered one. I’ve now read about one and a half books on it, and wanted to write about it.

First, why did I buy one? Well, a few reasons:

1. I like to read bestseller types of books, usually paperbacks; I don’t like hardcovers as much, as they’re too big to fit in my bag, and more expensive. But, this means I’m usually a year or so behind my favorite authors. With the Kindle, the brand new books (otherwise only available in hardcover) are only about $10.

2. I travel a lot, and I like to read on planes. But don’t you hate it when you only have 40 pages left in a book when you get on, so you have to take two books? And, to add to the problem, I’m a procrastinator, which means I’m always perusing the airport newsstands looking for a new book…and if there’s nothing there that sounds good, I have to settle for something that doesn’t.

3. I’ve got hundreds of old paperbacks piled up in my house, and have no idea what to do with them. Can’t really sell them, as they’re generally not worth anything. I could give them to friends, but I’ve got more books than I have friends who read the same genres. And based on past experience, with only a couple of exceptions, the likelihood of my re-reading one of these books later is approximately zero.

So…in came the Kindle.

My first impression? It’s thinner and lighter than I thought. I also got the leather cover for it, which snaps onto the Kindle with a couple of metal clips. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about this cover, but it seems to work fine for me.

Downloading books works as advertised – and it’s truly seamless. Seems to take about 20 seconds for a new book to download, which I can’t complain about.

The menu system seems painfully slow. I think it’s just the nature of the display, in that updates take a while. This doesn’t affect the reading experience at all, though – so it’s only when you’re in there screwing around do you notice it.

So on to the reading experience. I was a little nervous about this; I actually read an e-book on an iPaq way back in the day, and it was somewhat painful…enough so I only read one. So I was a little apprehensive about the Kindle. I asked Brad about his – he said it took him about 5 Kindle books, and then he was ambivalent as to whether he read a new book on his Kindle or on paper. That didn’t sound so bad.

So I sat down on Saturday, downloaded a new book, and started reading it. At first, everything seemed weird…but then, actually very quickly, the Kindle sort of disappeared and I became engrossed in the book, just like I do with a paper book. The screen contrast was fine, the paging controls were convenient enough, everything just worked, and got out of the way. By the time I was halfway through the book, I was noticing how it was actually more comfortable than a regular book in some ways…for example, you can hold the Kindle, and page through it, with one hand.

It makes buying new books a little too easy. Similar to the Apple TV (which I will write about one of these days), the Kindle is like a cash register that’s hooked up to Genius in that way.

I do wish it had more screen and less keyboard…but I suppose you can’t have everything. It should have come with a case, and maybe a credit for a free book. But once you get past all that, get your case, order a book, it works. Really well.

So all in all, I’m liking the Kindle a lot. It’s small, light, and should be easy to travel with. I don’t notice it when I’m reading. It just works.

(Note – links in this post are affiliate links; if you use one to buy something, maybe I’ll make enough to buy a new book!)