Tuesday, 28 September 2010
I'm writing this post in Amsterdam, towards the end of my weekend away. This has been my first 'holiday test' of my new toy, and seemed like an opportune time to write about it.
I can hardly stress too strongly the benefits, to a girl of my limited eyesight, of being able to adjust the font sizes of a book. I've known for a while that an e-book reader would allow me to read much more easily, and I love it for that.
Having a whole library that fits in my pocket is another huge plus: I downloaded a number of free classics before setting out and have yet to make a significant dent in them.
These, though, are surely advantages shared by any modern ereader.
The Kindle itself (version 3, now called the Kindle Keyboard) is surprisingly small and light. It fits in my pocket and takes up rather less space than the average paperback. Navigation isn't entirely intuitive, but it comes with its own user guide pre-loaded, which explains everything.
I was wary about choosing a Kindle because I didn't want to be locked in to Amazon's formats; however it sounded like the best option considering my eyesight. The fonts go up to a very large size indeed and there's also a text-to-speech option (the same voice as Adobe Reader, so far as I can tell) which also works on the menus. (It doesn't work on 100% of books, though; some publishers have switched off the text-to-speech feature.)
The screen is much closer to the experience of reading on paper, compared to a laptop screen. And although the screen flashes when you change page (this seems to be a feature of all ebook readers), I stopped noticing the flashes after a couple of hours.
British and American English dictionaries are built in, and navigating to any word will bring up a definition on screen. You can add highlights and bookmarks for future reference, which I think will be invaluable if I use this for academic work, and you can also choose to see commonly-highlighted passages.
You can also make margin notes - a feature I know I'll love when I come to editing my next novel.
It's terrifyingly easy to spend money via the Kindle store, a section of Amazon which allows you to buy books with a single click, and then delivers them wirelessly. You can go from browsing to reading in seconds flat. And there are regular sales with some significant discounts.
My Kindle also has the internet via 3G. I'm typing these words on the minute keyboard, which is hardly ideal, but that must be weighed against the convenience of free internet access overseas (in some subset of countries, the limits of which I've yet to investigate; England and Holland I can vouch for). Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that one slip of the keys caused this post to publish, incomplete, as I was writing it - a sign of how awkward the browser is to use. Navigating within websites without a mouse is hard work - but it's handy for consulting wikipedia or updating Twitter. Considering it only cost me a few extra pounds to have the 3G version, it's definitely worth it for me and the amount of travelling I do.
Amazon claim that the battery can last for "up to" a month with the wifi connectivity switched off. Based on my experience so far, I can say that it's survived five days of heavy reading-and-internet use on trains and ferries, and still shows around 20% charge. That puts it head and shoulders above my phone, which is flat after a couple of hours of browsing.
I'm sure I'll have more to say as I use it more, but for now, I'm a very happy geek with a new toy.
This review was not compensated, and I bought my own Kindle. However, if you buy your own Kindle via this link, I'll get a small percentage via the Amazon Affiliate scheme.