on 24 September 2012
It was only a few years ago that I stated categorically that I would NEVER own an e-reading device, as it was no substitute for the experience of reading a real book with regard to the look, feel, even the smell. To some extent, I still stand by that; however, I also feel that there is no reason why physical books and the Kindle can't co-exist on my bedside. I use my Kindle purely for fiction, but still read physical books when I want to read something of a factual nature.
The device is beautiful in it's aesthetics (something that would no doubt be raved about had Sir Jonathan Ive designed it), however the black Kindle is a bit of a fingerprint magnet around the button area - my friend has the previous graphite model which is relatively fingerprint free by comparison. The main negative design feature is the D-pad for navigating the on-screen keyboard, which is slow and cumbersome.
The Kindle Touch was considered, but having had a play with one in a shop, I found it to not be as responsive as I'd been expecting. This I think, is due to the responsiveness we have come to expect from our touch screen phones and tablets.
Ultimately though, the decision to buy the buttoned version came down to two things:
1) If any component is likely to go wrong with a touch e-reader, it will be the screen (which is fundamental to the funcionality of the device) - for me, a device with buttons will probably be more robust with greater longevity;
2) Price point - at £69 the device represents superb value for money.
The Kindle also won hands down with regard to personal documents. With other e-readers that I considered buying (Kobo and Nook), you can only sync across devices for books you have purchased from them. For example, I downloaded a free book in .mobi format from Project Gutenburg, emailed it to my Kindle, and it doesn't matter whether I'm reading on my Kindle or my android phone using the kindle app, it still syncs to the latest point I've read up to. And when I've finished reading it, I can store it in the cloud - I can't do either of those things with personal documents on the Kobo or Nook.
Also with personal documents on my Kindle, I can look words up in the dictionary, bookmark, highlight, annotate and share to social networks - something that you can't do with the Kobo or Nook unless you've actually purchased the book from them.
Don't know if Amazon developers ever read these reviews, but for me, the following improvements in future software updates would make the device complete:
1) the homescreen is very 'no frills, no thrills' and it would be nice to have the option of how your books are displayed (ie. list or grid, with or without book artwork), not just limiting the ordering to title, author, most recent, etc.
2) enable downloading of active content (games and applications) as enjoyed by Amazon customers in the US;
3) when launching the keyboard, have the option for QWERTY lay out, not just ABCDE;
4) although I can share passages from books to Facebook, to have the ability to share the actual book I am reading or have just purchased from Amazon;
5) finally, allow the importing of books in .epub format so that books can be borrowed from public libraries in the UK (note to Jeff Bezos - you will more than likely have to adopt epub one day as publishers have recently started removing DRM protection from books in epub format, in the same way as you can now buy music online without DRM protection - and music piracy has always been more rife than book piracy).
Finally, let's not lose sight of one major advantage of ebooks, their environmentally friendly nature. No trees have to be chopped down and no books have to be recycled (remember, there are economic and energy implications of having to recycle, as you have to pulp the paper which uses water, bleach it with chemicals, and actually use energy in order to process it back into useable paper).