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...a sweatshop of moxie

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kindle Spiel

I've been thinking of getting Amazon's e-Book reader, the Kindle.

Positives: Portability. Vague likeness to iPods, which I adore. Various newspaper and blog subscriptions, updated instantly. Good power reserve. Bestsellers are only $9.99, no waiting.

Negatives: $400. Often limited whispernet coverage. No colour LCD, backlight. Still 1.0 version. Did I mention it's $400 freaking dollars?

There are some dead zones for the wireless connectivity. Here is the map, to check to see if your area is included.

My question to Sundries readers is the following:

Would you, if you could or would want to, buy the Kindle?

Please note that the 2.0 version is rumoured to be far off, still, though ideally one should always wait for the update. My guess is Christmas '08, though.

Here's a CNET review of the gadget, in case you yourself might be hazy about it (as I was very recently).

I read about this product via Pajamas Media, having gotten my Gadget Queen's immediate attention with the juxtaposition of coffee, eggs, and John Stuart Mills. Yum. I read on:

This morning, I decided to drop down to my local coffee establishment for a breakfast of coffee, eggs, and some morning reading. I had a lot of new things, and pre-coffee I’m not up to making decisions, so I just brought several things to read: Peter Kramer’s Against Depression; Marianne Williamson’s The Age of Miracles; Wayne Dyer’s Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao; and for a little more rigorous reading of Buddhism I brought The Dhammapada, D.T. Suzuki’s Manual on Zen Buddhism, Steve Hagen’s Meditation Now or Never, and Buddhism Is Not What You Think — great title, that — the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe and Mark Twain; Sun Tzu’s Art of War and Musashi’s Book of Five Rings; a couple of novels; some books on Ruby and Python programming; the most recent issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine; Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Second Treatise of Government; John Stuart Mills’ On Liberty; Paradise Lost, Shakespeare’s Sonnets; and some Larry Niven.

“What, in a wheelbarrow?” you’re thinking? No, in my Kindle. Of course, it’s only about 30 percent full."

Please, you had me at Sun Tzu.

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  • I'm not sure I would recommend it for everyone, but I think it would work for you Victoria. Think of it as making condensed history and news in one object to port around. You appreciate the past and would have works that have meaning to you in it, and you like being in the now, so you could see various things in about as a real time an environment as you can get.

    Don't forget, the $400 is partially for the connections as well as the box; no "monthly fee" for connecting, just whatever the papers cost.

    By Blogger Ron, at Mon May 19, 08:27:00 am GMT-4  

  • Megan McArdle has a couple of raves about it. Lots of comments, too.

    As for me, I'll wait for version 10 or so... At that point, it may also be the light & handy portable internet tool that even the newest phone definitely is not.

    By Blogger JSU, at Mon May 19, 11:11:00 am GMT-4  

  • OT, for coffee Sundries...


    By Blogger Ron, at Mon May 19, 08:37:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Gentlemen, thank you. Bought it. :)

    Ron, I ultimately agreed with you -- with me, it works. I have been buying a lot of books recently, and my home just can't take it anymore. My parents are tired of my "towers" everywhere. A lot of people mention the DRM protection, but I am also thinking in terms of newspaper subscriptions like Le Monde, The Telegraph, etc. That I can read blogs online, and the fact it does Google and Wiki -- well, forget it.

    JSU, thanks for those links, they REALLY helped me. Megan was asked directly if she got a discount for it, since a lot of the bloggers got it around the same time.

    After I bought, I wondered if I shouldn't have called Amazon and told them I'm a blogger, etc. without actually knowing if there's a "deal" out there or not. Bluffing is part of the fun of life.

    But okay, I got it, and I'm happy. Get it in 2 days, and I'll post a review when I receive it.

    My family had one of the very first video players, first CD players, first Mac computers, first DVD players, and first mobiles I knew. We always led.

    But recently, we've been falling WAY behind. No TiVo here. No plasma either. And everyone had an iPod before me.

    Finally, I'm back to Gadget World supremacy. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    (Jesus, did I just spend $400? Somebody shoot me)


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue May 20, 12:40:00 am GMT-4  

  • I bought a Sony Reader instead (Retail $300, available at some places @ up to 15% off on a good day). It was probably not a good decision given Amazon's marketing power. Neither format has all that much in the way of current books that I really want (rather like 70+ channels on cable and nothing to watch), and there are hundreds of books no longer subject to copyright available in a wide range of formats (see the Gutenberg project). Those interested me more.

    I don't have any use for the notation capabilities of the Kindle, but I did like the idea of the limited internet access. Reception is, however, dicey in my area.

    With that in mind, I went for the Sony because it is slimmer, the next page/ previous page buttons far more discrete and infinitely less likely to annoy.

    No backlight is not a bug it is a definite feature - no eye strain. The page looks almost exactly like a genuine printed page does.

    YMMV, of course.

    By Blogger Randy (Internet Ronin), at Tue May 20, 12:43:00 am GMT-4  

  • Randy! Thanks for the input, even post-facto. ;)

    I actually did consider the Sony Reader earlier this year, and today when I was researching I saw this comparison site.

    Of all the ones which appealed to my aesthetic tastes, without looking at the names during a quick sideways scan, my eyes picked out the Kindle.

    I knew it was meant to be. :)

    Megan has a few links on her sites, where you can buy books for 0.99. Might want to check those out for yourself, as they support the Sony format too.

    (You probably already know it!)


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue May 20, 12:54:00 am GMT-4  

  • Ron, Engobi chips? ;)

    I think I prefer Jessica Rabbit.

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue May 20, 01:31:00 am GMT-4  

  • Before I was distracted by this subject, the real reason I dropped by was to give you this link to some bumperstickers I thought you might enjoy.

    Truth be known, I was quite disappointed that neither the Sony nor the Kindle had any travel guides available. My original plan was to use one of them for our trip to the UK next month. I ended up scanning the pages I wanted, then using some Russian software to convert the scanned images into the proper format. Not sure it was worth all the effort.

    My carry-on is going to look like an electronic store sample case: iPod (w/music and about 50 audiobooks); Sony Reader (w/ about 50 books, most of the Rough Guide, & selections from Time Out, Rick Steves and Lonely Planet); GPS (w/ itineraries pre-loaded or on a flash card; a MacBook Air; a digital camera; a cellphone; various cords, adapters, and cables. I think they will all take up more space than the clothes I am bringing!

    Oops! Almost forgot, noise-cancelling headphones, too! I'll need those, because I absolutely must sleep on the plane - we're arriving LGW 9:30AM, heading straight for Chartwell in time for it to open, lunching near Knole House, and then driving cross-country on the wrong side of the road to some place called Lewtrenchard Manor, near Oakehampton, a tad northwest of Dartmoor.

    By Blogger Randy (Internet Ronin), at Tue May 20, 01:35:00 am GMT-4  

  • (I'm a little late because I just noticed your comment at Althouse.)

    You've seen the e-book reader comparison chart. I've been checking that out recently, trying to figure out which is right for me.

    The Astak Mentor (http://astak.com/e-book.html) is the one I'm looking at, though its image is clearly Photoshopped. It doesn't have all the features of the Kindle, but its rumored price seems to right in my area*. I plan mostly to read through Project Gutenberg with it. Could be months before it is released, but it should spice up the e-reader market.

    Note: The Kindle does not use an LCD screen, but an e-Ink screen. The Kindle's type is limited to grayscale and no backlight as it is literally impossible to use one. Fujitsu is currently working on color e-paper, but it is expensive and they only produce a few units on bulk orders**.

    *9.7-inch screen for [rumor] $350! In my book, that blows the pants off Kindle. Perhaps too large for some people. They can buy the 6-inch for $200.

    **12-bit color screen, 8 or 12-inches diagonal. Cost: somewhere around $2300 per unit when you buy a minimum of ten units.

    By Anonymous alcibiades, at Wed May 28, 01:27:00 am GMT-4  

  • P.S. I'd like to know how well a Garfield comic strip looks on it. Yes, I like to read the occasionally comic! Or maybe The Far Side...

    (I don't expect it to look fantastic, what with only four levels of grayscale. I'm just interested in how it actually displays images.)

    By Anonymous alcibiades, at Wed May 28, 01:49:00 am GMT-4  

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