So, last month I got the Kindle, the second generation one. I’ve been thinking of writing this post since sometime now, but was just too buried in researching about the Kindle and, of course, reading by it.
It is an outstanding experience, reading with no painful LCD screens, screens which do not go blind in bright light. You have to turn on the light to read, unlike most (if not all) the rest of standalone readers (oh please don’t mention the iPad, will say why at the end of the post).
I was shocked at first that Amazon didn’t ship the Kindle directly to the Middle East, so I got it from a friend of mine, who happens to be living in the States, and then hand-delivered it to me during his visit to Egypt.
So for people who are not lucky as me, maybe you can give Shop&Ship a try, I’m not sure if Amazon will accept Egyptian credit cards, but just in case, you can buy Amazon gift certificates and use it for buying the Kindle (Shop&Ship provides a US/UK address, I highly recommend the US address since the Kindle UK is a whole different website, with its own limitations).
The Kindle has two sizes, the normal has a 6" screen, while the other (called Kindle DX), has a 9" screen. The 9" one is nearly double the price, double the weight. So won’t be very portable to move with.
The 6 inch is light, 250g, with a slick design as shown below.
Kindle 2 de Amazon by Dekuwa under by-nc-sa license
I got a leather case, from Amazon too, for 34 dollars (a must buy if you are going portable and for protection).
And this is how it looks when you are reading:
So it really looks like you reading a book while commuting, only people close to you will give you the what-is-this-gadget look, which is something very convenient.
The Kindle2 support a micro-USB cable, with a small electric plug-like charger inserted in the USB end of the cable. You can’t charge using your computer/laptop, you HAVE to put it in the wall, which was my second shock, though still, the battery can go on like a week without turning Wireless on if you are a heavy reader (official duration is two weeks).
It also comes with 2 speakers in its metal cover as below for playing background music and also for reading aloud (for books with this option enabled) or for playing audio books. It also supports 3.5mm earphones on the top edge of the device)
Photo from Wikipedia under by-sa 3.0 license
When you open your Kindle for the first time (by sliding the top button instantly) you will find a guide. Read it till the end before you continue using the device.
Kindle has an amazing feature, which is the Whispernet option. This is a 3G wireless network covering most of the world for:
1. Purchasing from the Kindle Store and delivering purchased books to you device where coverage is available in less than 60 seconds.
2, Your purchased books will stay in your account archive even if your Kindle is stolen, or if you deleted your items by accident. Upon deletion the books move automatically to your online archive where you can download again by moving the book to your main space then open it (wireless must be on during opening)
3. Surfing online through the basic web browser (Wikipedia and the Kindle book store are for free, other than that it will cost you depending on where you are)
4. Writing reviews and putting them on the book Amazon reviews the moment you publish it.
After reading the guide, you should register your Kindle with your Amazon account to be able to purchase. Here comes the third shock, Amazon does NOT deliver Kindle books to Africa (apparently for books copyrights issues, since they have to sign deals with the publishers, or else the publishers will sue Amazon for every book available).
I tried to change my country for a few times, through the “Manage your Kindle” link in my Amazon account, once to France, once to UK, using random address and numbers. It was painful because actually Kindle “knew” that I’m not in those countries, not until I used proxies. Free proxies were also a pain since they were not always available.
Finally I changed my country to US, found a software called HotShield for safe surfing through free VPN in the US, all was OK until the program went crazy for a while. I uninstalled it, but all went normal. Seems like Amazon doesn’t monitor IPs theoretically coming from the US.
So currently Amazon treats me like any other American customer.
Going to the Kindle store, you have an option to either download the Kindle book format to your PC then transfer to your Kindle via USB, or download directly, for free, using the WhisperNet 3G network. I strongly recommend the second, it will save you all the fuss of connecting and disconnecting. Just turn on your Kindle wireless, Sync for new items, and then all your purchased items will be downloaded. This means a lot to me since this way I can read the book I want without spending centuries searching for it.
The Kindle2 6" can hold around 1500 books, so you can pack as much as you want during a long trip. There is an option called collections where you can group books on whatever basis you like, this is really effective when you have a large collection. You can also sort your books according to the Title, Author, and Most Recent First.
Bookmarks are unlimited, and when you continue reading the book is automatically send to the last read page.
There are a lot of free books (and word games too) in the Amazon store. You can also find a lot in other places as well. Amazon has a page for where you can get free books. But non-Amazon books do not enjoy the free wireless delivery, but still you can email it to your Amazon mail to be delivered wirelessly for a fee, usually for 99 cents per document. You will have to transfer it via USB.
While reading, you will discover the importance of the 5-way button:
- Pressing it enables highlighting.
- Scrolling to a specific word enables an instant dictionary for the word.
- The highlighted text can be shared via Facebook / Twitter (you can connect them through Settings)
Kindle has a basic browser as mentioned earlier, its main use for me till now is finding out about people I didn’t know instantly without reading.
There is ability for converting your PDFs to the Kindle using MobiPocket creator (the PUBLISHER edition) and Stanza, I used the first since Stanza for Windows is still in beta. Side effects: equations are not displayed correctly, complicated images are colour-inversed, sometimes the images are not shown at all.
You can read PDFs on the Kindle, but on the 6" version the font will be too small (Fonts can be changed in Kindle format, but not in PDFs) KindleDX has more PDF support, but still, it is too expensive.
Finally I want to talk two things.
First: The kindle will be a real reading device for you when you stop considering it as a hi-tech gadget, it should feel like a real book, a usual everyday thing.
Second: iPads are laptops without keyboards, for people who want to surf. The Kindle is for heavy readers. If you are not a heavy-reader, the Kindle is not for you.
Open for questions.