Kindle update

5 Apr

So, I’ve now lived with my Kindle a few more months and, gotta say, I still absolutely love the thing. The ability to sample books before buying, the lack of stress involved with picking a book before going on a trip, the fact that you can always find exactly the thing you feel like reading at any given moment — just amazing.

I loved my Kindle 1 so much, I preordered a Kindle 2 the day Amazon started accepting them and I couldn’t wait — cooler looking device, longer battery life, better screen, quicker “page” turns, a little nubbin thing to move the cursor around instead of the goofy scroll wheel and no more accidental button presses. What could possibly go wrong?

Strangely enough, just about everything went wrong.

I know, I know… everyone’s all gaga over the Kindle 2. It solves all of the problems Amazon should have solved before shipping the first one, everyone says.

Well, I have to ask, are all these reviewers actually comparing the two devices or are they just making this stuff up? I’ve spent a lot of time with both now and I’ve come to the conclusion that the Kindle 1 is a better device in most of the ways that matter to me.

In fact, I gave my Kindle 2 to my wife, the lovely Caroline. (She loves it, btw…)

Here’s the scoop:

The Kindle 1 has a zany, asymmetrical look, rather than the sleek Apple-ish look all designers seem to strive for these days. But in making the 2 taller, they’ve thrown off the balance just enough to be annoying — it wants to tip backward in a way the Kindle 1 doesn’t, putting a small, but annoying, strain on the wrists. And in making it thinner, they’ve made it almost impossible for me (small-handed as I am) to hold it in one hand.

In making the buttons smaller, the designers of the Kindle 2 have forced the user to hold it just below the center point of the device, with hands in the 9 and 3 position — great for driving, perhaps, but not the greatest position to be in if you want to read a book for an hour or two. Sadly, you simply can’t reach the next and previous buttons unless your hands are positioned the way the designers intended. On the 1, I move my hands around all the time and can always reach the gigantic buttons I need to reach.

The inward hinged buttons do solve the problem of inadvertent page turns, but, in combination with the new form factor, my left-hand-hold with finger-flick page-turns is now impossible. Good gosh, people, it isn’t THAT hard to avoid accidentally pressing buttons!

Surely, though, there’s a huge win in having real cursor control instead of being limited to selecting a line and then using a menu to choose what you really wanted to select, right? Not so much. The cursor doesn’t move smoothly on the screen — it jumps one line at a time, vertically, and not very smoothly horizontally once you reach the line you wanted. I actually prefer the scroll wheel of the Kindle 1.

So there it is — the Kindle 1 is a better device than the Kindle 2. I’m used to the page-turn speed, I’ve never come close to running down my battery and, man, do I LOVE the fact that I have an SD card for infinite storage space.

There are, for sure, things that need to be fixed on the Kindle, but the 2 isn’t the answer — at least not for me. Bring on the Kindle 3, Amazon. I still love you and I’ll be ordering a 3, day one, too.

2 Responses to “Kindle update”

  1. mtureck April 6, 2009 at 3:58 pm #

    What’s amazing to me is that the publishing industry hasn’t started working together to subsidize the sale of Kindles, to make them more affordable and get them into more hands. The Kindle is still a bit pricy for me at this point, but I did download the Kindle app on my iPhone. It’s certainly not as nice as the real Kindle, but it’s surprisingly usable. In the month that I’ve had the program, I’ve bought more books than I did in the previous year…it’s revived my book buying just as the iTunes store did with my music buying when it came out. I would imagine that the publishing industry must be salivating at the thought of simple, casual, instant book buying available to so many. We’ll see.

    Now that the Kindle talk is out of the way, what’s up with Junction Point’s new game?

    Had to try.🙂

  2. berendengelbrecht July 14, 2009 at 7:29 am #

    Hello Warren,

    I also found the lack of left-hand operation annoying, but actually there is a simple solution: turn the text upside down with the [Aa] button and there you have full left-hand operation.

    I think the balance thing is just the heavy battery and aluminum shield that it has. I like it though, my previous eBook reader (irex iliad) was too flimsy and too easily damaged.

    My biggest annoyance: if you organize books in a sub-directory per author, you still get one long list in the main menu. Please, Amazon, give us one menu line per directory and sub menus!

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