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A Year with Kindle

It’s just under a year since I got my Kindle and I still love it.

According to my Amazon account, I’ve got about 220 books in my Amazon library; there are a mix of free books and there’s also a lot of purchases in that. I subscribe to Asimov’s Science Fiction, Fantasy & Science Fiction and MIT Technology Review on it; I love the way that they just pop onto the Kindle on publication automagically.

Also on my Kindle, there’s probably another 60 books; a mix of O’Reilly books, technical PDFs and some odds and ends which I already had in one format or another.

And there’s still plenty of space left on it for a lot more and I’ve not had to delete any yet to make space.

I could take on holiday nearly 300 books just by slipping a single device into my pocket without worry about space or weight.

Since buying the Kindle, I find myself browsing the Amazon e-book bargains and have picked up lots of stuff for 99p; so cheap that I can take a risk but mostly I’ve found pretty good stuff. Often it’s the first book in the series and I go on to read the rest in the series.

There’s nothing intrinsically better about reading a book on a Kindle I find but also I don’t find myself missing the tactile quality of paper. I read fast and I haven’t found it slowing me down; it’s also a lot harder to cheat and skip to the end of a book just find out who dunnit.

The quality of the screen is amazing and I find the contrast just right for me. There is something about it which reminds me of the old excellent monochrome monitor which Atari made for the ST back in the day.

I’ve got the 3G/WiFi version and have on rare occasion used it to browse the web on; normally when the battery on my phone is on the way out and there is something I absolutely must find out. The browser is functional and kind of reminiscent of the early versions of Netscape in feel.

The keyboard is lousy however and you really do not want to type anything beyond a short URL or a short note. I once tried composing an email on it and nearly tossed the Kindle in the bin; it is horrible and worse than the ZX81 Keyboard from days of yore.

The screen as I say is excellent but actually I do have a complaint; it is too small and reading technical books with diagrams is painful on it. Amazon should ditch the physical keyboard and see if they can go soft keyboard and use the space regain to display more of a page.

I find the PDF rendering less than good and yet again diagrams are horrible in my experience. To be honest, if you are going to be reading technical books and viewing PDFs; I’d go with an iPad.

I thought I might find myself using it as an occasional MP3 player; I haven’t! I use my phone for that and simply haven’t got round to putting any MP3s on my Kindle at all. I’ve also not tried the text-speech, so I really can’t comment on the Kindle’s audio qualities at all; I’m sure they’ll be fine especially if piped through something like the Fiio E7 and a decent pair of headphones.

I would really like to see a colour Kindle but I suspect that might come at some sacrifice to the existing quality of the display; if it can be done with no quality compromise, I’d welcome it. I want to be able to read comics on the Kindle as well but yet again, that’d probably need an increase in screen size.

A touch screen and some way to scribble notes in the margins of books; that’d be great as well.

Do I want it to be a fully fledged tablet? Not if it compromises battery life; the battery life is so good and I don’t want another device which needs charging daily. But I would like it to be able be more user configurable; I would like to install my own screen-saver pictures without hacking it (yes, mine is hacked) and perhaps widget support on the lock screen would be great so that it pulled a news feed for example onto it.

All in all, I think that the Kindle is probably my favourite device of the past couple of years; it’s certainly the one I use the most and it’s also the one which strangers have asked to have a look at the most.

If you love reading, I think you owe it to yourself to give it a go. And even if you love books (and I still do love physical books), you still should give it a try. I’ve discovered so many different books since getting the Kindle, I can hardly remember a year when I’ve read so much.

And the best thing about the Kindle……no-one knows that you are reading the latest Dan Brown or whatever other guilty pleasure you have.


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