Kindle 2 Review

Kindle 2 Review

May 10
Kindle 2 Review

My Kindle 2 has arrived and I have to say, I absolutely love it!  First impressions go a long ways and the packaging that arrived from Amazon was reminiscent of the many lovely gadgets I have opened from my good friends at Apple.  Sleek black and white packaging with liberal usage of fonts to give it that literary quality.  I immediately plugged in the Kindle 2 to charge.  About 2 hours later and voila, I am ready to read!  I gingerly flipped the switch on the top of the Kindle and proceeded to immediately go for the next book in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.  Also as a bonus, I received the first two books in the series for the bargain basement price of $6.39.  That’s approximately 2000 pages of quality reading material.  Wow….  It took less than 5 minutes for both books to show up on my home page, via Amazon’s 3G Whispernet network which comes free with the Kindle.  So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the device after my first month of reading.

First off the design of the device is not exactly sleek but it’s certainly non-threatening.  The Kindle 2 fits very comfortably in my hands. Keep in mind, I have extremely small hands, so this is saying something.  I can easily hold the Kindle 2 in one of my paws without the concern of the book flipping closed, which used to be a real concern particularly with those pesky fat paperbacks.  There are two turn page buttons located on each side of the Kindle, allowing me to turn the page no matter which hand I choose to read with and much like Amazon claims, the device really seems to disappear when I’m reading.  Also, I personally have not experienced any issues reading the font provided with the Kindle, as some have reported. Now keep in mind that my vision is about 20/25 and my close up vision is basically perfect, so I am unsure if this is as perfect for the rest of the populace.  You can also adjust the font sizes to smaller and larger but the default really seems to be the place to be for my vision.  Amazon is reportedly ready to release a larger version of the Kindle based off of the large volume of older folks adopting the device.  In fact, reportedly individuals in their 50’s comprise the largest percentage of adopters.  This is probably due to three specific reasons in my eyes: 1. Vision issues – It’s a piece of cake to alter the font size on the Kindle.  It takes all of about 10 seconds to make the font larger. 2. Arthritis – I hadn’t even thought of this but I fortunately don’t suffer this malady.  It’s reported that it is much easier for arthritis sufferers to turn the pages and it takes little to no dexterity to hold onto the device. 3. Older Adults just read more – Now I know that some people will debate this but the older generation in fact reads more.  CNET has an article about all of the stats on the early Kindle adopters here.  So bottom line, the ergonomic design gets a big thumbs up from me.

Now let’s talk functionality…  First off, my very favorite feature on the Kindle 2 is the Oxford dictionary that is included with the device.  I’m one of those people who absolutely cannot move on in my book until I know what that word I don’t recognize means.  I used to keep a dictionary on my bedside table but not anymore.  To find the definition of a word, you just use the little mouse-like button at the bottom right of the device and hover over the word. WHAM! the definition pops up at the bottom of the page.  You can also choose to dig further by selecting the enter key to get a more detailed definition or word derivative, as well as search the word using Wikipedia or Google.  Brilliant!  Also, unlike the pointers and such on laptops and small devices, this one works much like an arrow key, so it’s easy to be accurate even if you aren’t very good with a mouse.  It’s not an issue for me but I thought it was worth noting.  My second favorite thing functionality wise on the Kindle 2 is it’s ability to take notes.  I am a collector of quotes from way back.  I carry these little snippets in my head, on scraps of paper on my desk, in little text files on my computer, and anywhere else I can find them.  To capture one of these little treasures, now all I have to do is focus my pointer exactly the way I did with the definition, click the button down, then highlight to the right or left, and then click again.  At that point, I can now go to my clippings on my home page and read through my collection of quotes I’ve noted.  Now my only little complaint here is when I move this clippings file over to my computer via USB, it is in the same file as my bookmarks, so a little data cleanup is required.  I really wish they would have a notes file and the bookmarks file separate.  I can definitely see this as a good idea for the future generations of the Kindle.  Maybe I’ll find away around it but I haven’t at the current time.

So the design is comfortable, the thing works, now let’s chat about the book selection.  I read just about anything I can get my hands on with the exception of romance novels and westerns.  Exceptions here would be Louis Lamour and Zane Grey but that’s another story in and of itself.  Bottom line, if you like to read classics, this piece of gadgetry will pay for itself in literary gold in a matter of months.  There are literally thousands of classic books out there, available for free through sites like Feedbooks and Project Gutenberg (I believe this one has over 28,000 titles) so read away!  I’ve already burned through Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Little Women again just for posterity’s sake.  Most NY Times bestsellers will run you the general $9.99 fee and then once it drops off, you can pick them up for around $6.95.  Also, there are quite a few newer authors out there that are offering up free versions of books to get you hooked into a series and future purchases from the author.  A good example of this is T.A. Pratt’s Blood Engines.  Which is funny, since I also picked up a free print copy of this exact same book at Comicon last year.  It’s not a bad book and particularly so for the price of free!  The only real bummer in my eyes was the blatant lack of poetry for the Kindle.  I am a big fan of poetry and my friends Nikki Giovanni, Yusef Komunyaaka and Wysalawa Szymborska were no where to be found on the Kindle.  I couldn’t even find a decent collection of Beat poetry.  Bother…. I guess this is due to the fact that poetry just isn’t the big seller that Harry Potter or Twilight is but come on folks, throw us a bone here!  I did manage to find a nice collection of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass for $.99 though. I plan on looking into converting my print books (scan to print?) over some way in the very near future, so I can carry my poetry friends in my purse with me along with Poe, Twain and Dickens.

Overall, I am really happy with the purchase, so anyone who is thinking about taking the ebook plunge, drop me a comment here or feel free to send questions to and I would be more than glad to lend my two cents.

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