Top critical review
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Surprisingly effective - and useful
on 1 September 2010
I took up the two-week free subscription offer on 27th August 2010. Delivery started the next day. The Kindle automatically selects from Wifi (first choice) and GSM delivery methods and even when overseas on GPRS networks, delivery is smooth and takes only a minute or two maximum from switch on.
No advertisements are included. Thus you might miss an important product or conference announcement. Cartoons, the weather, the crossword, TV programming, some small news items, all the data (including frustratingly the currency tables) are all missing. Only a small number of pictures and graphs are included, and whilst pictures are just of use, they are very small and in the case of graphics the legends are mostly unreadable. There is a facility to enlarge and zoom but I could never master the very slow and awkward process.
On Saturdays, you miss the entire magazine, which is surprising, since it is predominantly a text document.
The formating is good in the main, but the designers seem to have forgotten that the Kindle is page orientated rather than a scrolling reader. This means that page breaks often happen in silly places, for example in the middle of a headline, or in the middle of a long sentence. Ideally they would format paragraphs or at least sentences to be contained on a single page. There are occasional hyphens which end up in the middle of a line,
for example: "head-lines". Sometimes there are text mixups with wrong words or letters appearing for no apparent reason. Although the Kindle is also a browser, hyperlinks in columns like Martin Lukes' do not work.
In summary the design of the FT on the Kindle doesn't yet appear to have been tailored to fulfill the Kindle's potential. For example they have not implemented the hyperlinks, nor is there any easy permanent keyword facility. The page forward mechanism is fine, but a "double click" would better take you to the next article. Etc.
So far, not all good news.
But the surprise is how effective the reading is on the Kindle. Perhaps because of the font size, or even the smallish screen: the absorption of the story seems much higher; I found I could remember much more about the articles afterwards. This might seem a small point but it is really noticable.
A real benefit is that you get free delivery when overseas via the GSM wireless network (3G or GPRS). I went for a short trip in remote rural Andelucia, and found each morning my FT was delivered before dawn with no charge at all! I was miles from anywhere but within GSM coverage. Normally I find it difficult to find the FT outside main cities and to recieve the UK edition first thing for no charge is a real bonus.
All in all, I am staying with my paper copy, (£500 a year; ouch). But for trips away from the UK, I can see a real cost-saving use. For short trips, it would be good if the daily subscription could be turned on and off like a paper subscription can, or if there was say a weekly subscription. As you can guess, I pay for my subscription; if your company's shareholders pay, you may be more relaxed about this!
In summary, I still like my physical copy best. But I would go for the FT on the Kindle when overseas, when on the plane, the train or bus, for reading in bed, or on the beach; perhaps even in a boring meeting!
The subscription comes with a free 14-day trial, so you can try it without cost. The subscription process is simple and works well.
One other niggle; the Kindle seems to have stability problems, freezing-up and either automatically re-booting or needing a tedious manual reset. They need to fix that and I presume Amazon will in due course. (No data/books were lost.)