The eReader Comes of Age,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Let's start at price, and let's compare this with an iPad. The 3G version of the Kindle is £149, compared with £529 for the cheapest comparable Apple equivalent. The devices have a huge overlap in function, both at a software and hardware level and, frankly, the iPad doesn't have anything of such value to justify such a yawning disparity in price, and its screen is actually worse for extended reading. In fact the Kindle doesn't just undercut the iPad, it undercuts other eReaders with vastly inferior specifications. What Amazon have chosen to do is the very sensible strategy of making money from content, not infrastructure, and they can do this of course because they control both. The huge benefit for the ordinary user is that up-front cost is reduced and we can choose exactly how much to spend on books or other content.
Now, none of this makes any sense if the device is no good, but as spelled out in detail in other reviews it really is very good indeed. The screen is great, much higher resolution and much less eye strain than any LCD and you can easily change text sizes for those of us who are getting on a bit. It is only black and white of course, which makes no difference whatsoever for reading most books, but which does mean that websites don't look as pretty. Oh yes, there is a web browser, listed as an 'experimental' function. What this means is that text-heavy websites like Wikipedia or news sites are fine, but that stuff that relies on complex graphics or Flash is not so good. With my on-line reading habits I find it very handy indeed.
How about integration with Amazon? Well, as you would hope this is near-perfect. The device came out of the box registered to me and finding and downloading books is very straightforward. For example, I needed something to read on the train the other morning, a few taps later the latest Robert Harris was winging its way through the ether and it arrived in the time it took for me to put my trousers on. The free (!) 3G is pretty zippy and connection to my home WiFi took seconds. Basically this baby works as advertised.
Physically, the Kindle is light and manageable, and with a leather cover feels like, well, a book. It holds a charge for several days, even with quite heavy use, and it is small enough to easily fit into a coat pocket. What we have here folks is eReader technology that is now mature and affordable enough to be more than a curiosity or a plaything for early adopters. I am not surprised that they have been flying off the shelves.