Kindle 2: 9 First Impressions

kindle

Amazon’s Kindle 2 arrived today. It’s the 3rd mobile internet device I’ve picked up this year, and a few hours in, I’m more pleased with it than the other two.

My initial impressions:

  1. The monochrome screen is gorgeous, and looks almost textured – as if there were a digital compliment to letterpress.
  2. The slim, flat, form factor and white case make me want to treat the Kindle like a piece of paper. It seems OK with that, comfortably setting where ever I put it, ready to be picked up whenever – just like book or more accurately a newspaper. Like a newspaper, it feels comfortable in one hand with a cup of coffee in the other. I now have no guilt about dropping our Sunday newspaper tradition.
  3. The navigation elements are slow and sticky. I’m never quite sure if I pressed the Next/Prev Page button hard enough – for the ‘click’ and the on-screen reaction seem to be off by a beat. The joystick is nearly flush with the face of the device and square (square?) with sharp edges, making it just uncomfortable and kind of painful to use. So far, using my thumbnail seems to be the least awkward way to manipulate it. Oh, and it doesn’t fly across the screen – it’s more stumbles from active area to active area.
  4. I’m already annoyed by the famous-author-portrait screensaver. I’d much prefer the screen to be black when not in use, especially considering sliding the power-switch toggle is an easy and explicit gesture that I want it to wake up. (If you know how to turn off the screensaver, please post it in the comments, thanks.)
  5. The reverse-text-on-page-turn is a jarring reminder that I’m reading an electronic device. Dramatically minimizing any chance you’ll get lost in the story. Remind me of a time when cars couldn’t drive faster than horses. Hopefully, this will go away (I’ll stop noticing it and the next revision will use a more subtle indicator).
  6. OS X does recognize the Kindle as a drive. Excellent – I wish the iPods were this accommodating. Then, I was disappointed to discover PDFs need to be converted before the Kindle recognizes them. I found Lexcycle’s Stanza – works fair for converting (good for documents, useless for presentations) – and loaded up my library of Pragmatic Programmers PDFs.
  7. Amazon’s ‘Recommended for You’ is built into the device and should be classified as a national economic stimulus package. Unlike every other commerce venue – including Apple’s iTunes Stores – it’s far easier to make the purchase within the Kindle thank to not.
  8. Overall, the least interesting thing to me is the Kindle as an “eBook” reader – though I finally feel like I have a comfortable device to read PDFs on. I’m far more interested that the Kindle has a free, persistent 3G wireless connection, a full QWERTY keyboard and a very basic browser (javascript is off by default). I find it both terribly amusing and annoying that, long webpages on the Kindle are navigated with next/previous page buttons – instead of scrolling.
  9. The mobile versions of Cullect and Twitter are completely usable.

Elsewhere:

” The iPhone UI, right down to its flowing scrolling on its touchscreen, is elegant and happy; the Kindle is klunky and irritating.” – Jeff Jarvis

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