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RationalBiker

Amazon's Kindle

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Assuming that there are more than a few avid readers on this forum, and assuming that at least some of them probably ventured into the eBook reading devices, I'm a little surprised that the Amazon Kindle has not been mentioned before.

Personally, while I don't consider myself an avid reader, I do like to read and I had not previously been interested in the whole eBook thing. This changed when I happened upon the Kindle's web page one day. (And admittedly, I'm a gadget-freak) Bear with me please folks because this post reads more like an ad but I was truly fascinated by the Kindle.

Interested person's can read all of the techno-features it offers, but I'll just focus on the few that drew my interest.

1) Wireless access to content: Using Sprint's EVDO access, you can download books straight to the device without having to hook it up to a computer. Allegedly transfers take less than a minute and "most" content (including new books and bestsellers) is $9.99. The downside is that Sprint does not provide this access in Montana or Alaska, and rural areas probably won't get a connection - neither affect me much. Mind you, this access is provided at no additional cost for purposes of purchasing books though some cost may be associated to other uses (like the internet) at a later date. In my opinion, this feature singularly distinguishes it from other competing devices even though the Kindle has several other features not available on the other offerings.

2) ePaper / eInk: I learned that the Kindle was not the first product to use this technology, but it is interesting none the less. This technology apparently saves power as well as being much easier on the eye than "normal" computer displays. It's not backlit, but once a page is displayed on the screen, no power is needed to keep the image on screen. Additionally, it looks very much like printed paper rather than a computer screen. I've actually seen Sony's reader with the ePaper and it is pretty cool.

3) "Basic" internet access: While the screen is limited to a 4 grayscale color scheme, it is my understanding that many text-oriented web sites can be accessed using the kindle and it's EVDO access. The main site they advertise is Wikipedia. Amazon hints that once this feature leaves the "experimental" phase, they may charge for access (other than that access used for purchasing books).

4) Assorted other features: Built-in search function across all content on the device, built-in dictionary, highlighting and annotating.

5) Content availability: Amazon by far has the largest available eBook content at this point according to their claims, something in the order of 90,000+ titles and expanding all the time. Sony by comparison has 20,000+ titles.

This device seems to have "caught fire" with a lot of folks. Amazon is currently back-ordered by 1-2 months (by most sources I've read) and Kindles are selling on eBay for as much as twice the retail price, which is $399. Before xmas, some sold for $1000 or so. Claims have been made that this device will be to books what the iPod is to music. That's a hefty claim and I'm reserving my opinion on that until a later date.

So I'm now one of many who has now ordered this thing and am waiting to hear from Amazon as to when mine will ship.

Now, this does not come to market without its share of critics (much like the iPod). Folks are complaining about a lack of Wi-Fi vs. or in addition to the EVDO access. Folks are complaining about the DRM nature of the content and how Amazon has set it up such that the main format is it's own proprietary .azw format (although it can read and/or have imported into it a few other formats). Some complain that .pdf format should be native to the device rather than accessible by conversion (which is experimental). Some complain that it is ugly. Go figure. Interestingly enough, most of the detractors (on Amazon's reviews) are people who have never actually seen or used the device. On the other hand, most people who have used it have given it pretty good reviews. Take that for what its worth.

I can't wait to see for myself.

Edited by RationalBiker

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4) Assorted other features: Built-in search function across all content on the device, built-in dictionary, highlighting and annotating.

I was reading about the Kindle before, and I didn't see that. I like to mark up my books, and this is a less messy way to do it! and easier to find what you are looking for with the search function. Those who have the Objectivism Research CD-ROM know how valuable and time saving that can be!

5) Content availability: Amazon by far has the largest available eBook content at this point according to their claims, something in the order of 90,000+ titles and expanding all the time. Sony by comparison has 20,000+ titles.

I read before that they aim to carry every book ever written.

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Thanks for the heads up. I am new to recreational technology use in general and this looks like an outstanding product for the amount of reading that I engage in! I am placing an order as as well. Never having used anything remotley similiar to this I have no comparison so I will probably love it! :(

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I am new to recreational technology use in general

Same here. I admittedly have never even touched an iPod before, perhaps I will a Kindle first...

There are also newspapers you can have downloaded directly onto your Kindle [or as they call it by "automatic wireless delivery"], a list of the ones they currently carry are here and you can browse the books they carry here.

Edited by intellectualammo

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Same here. I admittedly have never even touched an iPod before, perhaps I will a Kindle first...

I really love my iPod. I can essentially carry my entire music collection (which is quite large) anywhere I go.

With regards to the magazine and newspaper content, it is my understanding that they are primarily articles only. That's fine with me, but some have mentioned a lack of pictures, no crosswords or comics (geez), etc. Image displays are rudimentary at this point, but I'm not buying mine to be a picture viewer.

Incidentally, it will play mp3 files (so you won't necessarily need an iPod :) ) through a built-in speaker or by earphones. Some people like to listen to music while they read so good call on Amazon's part there. However, like the wireless, and probably moreso, playing mp3s drains the battery much quicker.

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[

Incidentally, it will play mp3 files (so you won't necessarily need an iPod :) )

Nice! I didn't know it could do that, either...I may never have to touch an iPod then :) .

I wonder if it can display eBooks from Project Gutenburg and the like? Pardon my ignorance in these areas and that I really didn't look into all it's capabilities much.

I think I had read before that it's projected possibilities and potential may do what the iPod (and the like) did to music stores, to bookstores.

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Did I miss how much the memory stick would cost? I admit 200+ books is quite impressive.....my only concern is memory loss. (the machines not mine in this case)

I just got (within the last week) a 150x 2GB SD memory card from Newegg.com for 14.99. The brand is OCZ which is reasonably reputable.

Additionally, Amazon stores all of your purchases from them in a "digital locker" so that you can retrieve them again should you lose them. How sweet is that?

Edited by RationalBiker

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Additionally, Amazon stores all of your purchases from them in a "digital locker" so that you can retrieve them again should you lose them. How sweet is that?

Yeah, I was wondering how that was going to work:

In addition, a copy of every book you purchase is backed up online in Your Media Library in case you ever need to download it again. This allows you to make room for new titles on your device, knowing that Amazon is storing your personal library, which can always be re-downloaded wirelessly. If you are out of wireless coverage, such as traveling overseas, you can download books to your computer from Your Media Library and transfer via USB to your Kindle. Think of it as a bookshelf in your attic—even though you don't see it, you know your books are there.

Also, it allows you to clip passages and bookmark them. Fantastic!

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I wonder if it can display eBooks from Project Gutenburg and the like? Pardon my ignorance in these areas and that I really didn't look into all it's capabilities much.

Yes. It is my understanding that Project Gutenberg ebooks can be imported on to the Kindle. MobiPocket Reader or Creator can be used to convert non-DRM formats to a format that the Kindle can use and Project Gutenburg contains formats compatible with this conversion process though I'm not sure it is necessary to use those applications.

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I got my Kindle last night and it was everything I hoped!! That is.... until the next morning when it was "frozen" and would not wake up!! :(

Out of the box it had a full charge and I was able to immediately pull of the welcome message and Kindle User Guide on it. I bought a couple books online which were downloaded by the time I went back to my home screen. I took advantage of the 14 day free trial to The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the AP US News feed. It was cool getting near up to the minute news updates from the AP, which of the three I am most likely to keep when I have to pay (should I get a properly functioning replacement). I downloaded books from Project Gutenberg, converted them to .prc format (with MobiPocket Creator) and put them on the Kindle through USB and they opened up flawlessly.

After getting a few hours of reading and experimenting in, I plugged it in to charge over night leaving it in sleep mode with the wireless on so it would retrieve my new newspapers by the time I got up. When I woke up in the morning, it was unresponsive. I tried the normal "wake up" function, nothing. I pulled the back cover off and hit the reset button, nothing. I removed the battery, put the battery back in, reset it, nothing. I plugged it back into AC power and tried several things......nothing. Nothing I can do will revive it and it's stuck with a built-in screensaver on. I called Kindle support and they told me to try the same steps that I had already taken and offered my no new solution. I'm still waiting for a higher tier of support to contact me if there are any additional trouble shooting steps to take before return and replacement. I don't expect that to garner any different results so I just wish they would send me the RMA and shipping label so that I can get the 7-10 day turnaround going and get a new Kindle in my hands.

I had read a very few posts that others had this problem, but for some it was a one time ordeal and easily reset. Only a couple seemed to be persistently frozen. Man, as much as I enjoyed this device last night, I'm seriously disappointed that I have to wait yet nearly 2 more weeks now before I can use it again. My purchased content is no good until then, and my 14 day trials will nearly be over.

What a bummer!! :(

Edited by RationalBiker

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I received my replacement Kindle several days ago and I am pleased to report that everything is working fine!

After having used it for several days now, I am still glad I got one. First and foremost, it seems almost easier to read than a book. I find the default text size pretty much perfect for me, though I have a few settings of larger or smaller should I need them. The contrast of the display and the spacing of the lines and lettering seem to work well for my eyes. When reading books with smaller type and closer line spacing I would sometimes find myself losing my place on the page and having to hunt. Not a problem for me on the Kindle. Although initially too easy to hit the next page button(s), once you settle down with a way you like to hold it, the next/prev page buttons make reading flow very smoothly.

The dictionary is very handy and on the first page of the first book I started I got to use it on 'schemata'. Worked perfectly.

The internet access works best on 'mobile' format pages but it can slowly and somewhat confusingly navigate real web pages. Internet access is really a tertiary use for me save the online book purchasing and wikipedia ability.

Battery duration seems to be different for different Kindles and/or different users. while I haven't run the battery down past half yet, I suspect I could get 3-5 hours use per day over 4 or 5 days on a complete charge IF I were to leave the wireless off. The wireless feature really drains the battery. Since I get AP news feeds on my device, I turn on the wireless for a minute or two a couple times a day and it automatically catches my Kindle up to speed with the latest new releases up to that point. This seems to be a good compromise for me as I simply don't need the wireless updates constantly throughout the day.

Interestingly enough, Amazon updates the firmware to the Kindle over the wireless access as well. This seems to be very transparent and I suspect most users would never know that their device was just updated. The good thing about this is you never have to be bothered with seeking and applying firmware updates yourself. The down side is that you don't really know if something was not working right, what might have been fixed, and/or if you might suddenly experience new patch-introduced errors. I have not read any problems with the latter.

As part of the inconvenience for having to replace my Kindle, Amazon gave me a $30 credit to be used for Kindle content. With that (and about 4 bucks more of my own money) I purchased;

In The Woods by Tana French

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Yep, four books for about $34. Not bad.

It is easy to follow new Kindle ebook releases on Amazon and their available content is right on the verge of 100,000 ebooks. It seems to expand every day with a variety of older releases with new book releases every Tuesday. However, many of the books they offer on Amazon around .99 cents are in the public domain and could be obtained on other site for free. What you get for that .99 cents is the ease of delivery in a format (and formatting) immediately compatible with the Kindle as opposed to having to use third party software to convert a, say .pdf, format to the Kindle and subsequent USB transfer to your device.

In the same vein as 'googled', I wonder if we might start seeing people say, I kindled that book.

At any rate, if I learn any thing else useful about my reader I'll share it here.

I love my Kindle. :D

Edited by RationalBiker

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Does anyone know whether Kindle, and content for it, is available outisde the US and possibly Canada?

Thanks.

The wireless access is useless outside the US. However, if you have web access to Amazon.com you can buy the content and transfer it via USB to the Kindle.

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I just read this article about Kindle 2 coming out on Feb 24:

The Kindle 2 holds seven times as many books, lasts 25% longer on a battery charge and flips virtual pages more easily than its predecessor, which has been sold out since November. And the device can read aloud.

"Any book, blog, magazine, personal document could be read aloud to you," said Bezos,

Amazon won't say how many Kindles it has sold, but analysts estimate the figure at about 500,000. Its main competition comes from Sony Corp., which has sold more than 300,000 of its Reader Digital Book devices.

Their budding popularity should propel sales of digital books to about $100 million this year, McQuivey estimates.

"The fact that it's growing quickly suggests that 10 years from now, we could see digital books as the primary way books are sold, just as we talk today about digital as the primary way music is sold," he said.

Amazon is betting that its paperback-size Kindle will do for the book industry what Apple Inc.'s iPod did for music, said James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research.

I just went onto the Amazon Kindle link, and Kindle 2 is there now, not the original, and so it tells you in way more detail, what it can do, like this:

Now Kindle can read to you.[...]You can switch back and forth between reading and listening, and your spot is automatically saved. Pages automatically turn while the content is being read, so you can listen hands-free. You can speed up or slow down the reading speeds or choose a male or female voice.
Edited by intellectualammo

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I preordered one already as well. The one feature I'm most excited about is the text to speech feature.... I want me book to read itself to me. :thumbsup:

That does sound cool.

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I preordered one already as well. The one feature I'm most excited about is the text to speech feature.... I want me book to read itself to me. :)

I want to see a demonstration of what it sounds like as male/female when it reads to you.

I also have a few technical questions. If say I have PDF's or WORD Doc's I can send them to a Kindle 2 - can I highlight/search/annote those too? What happens with your regular downloads, like your highlighting and annotation - is it saved in your locker at Amazon, too? I think the annotations are, but it didn't say about the highlighting. It's important because I just got online access a few weeks ago to The Emily Dickinson Journal from Johns Hopkins University Press and my eyes are hurting from reading online, I had to take a break from it, and have been considering buying this new Kindle, in order to work my way through the Journal, with more ease. There are of course a number of other reasons to buy it too, but that's of primary importance to my literary needs right now.

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I want to see a demonstration of what it sounds like as male/female when it reads to you.

On Amazon's website there is a demo video of the features which includes a short snippet of the text to speech male voice. It sounds very computer-like but still pretty good as far as I'm concerned.

If say I have PDF's or WORD Doc's I can send them to a Kindle 2 - can I highlight/search/annote those too?

To the best of my knowledge once you send it to the Kindle it is converted to the Kindle format so you should be able to highlight/search/annote just like any other Kindle book. Now I have heard that the conversions can vary widely in formatting depending on the complexity of the .pdf source.

What happens with your regular downloads, like your highlighting and annotation - is it saved in your locker at Amazon, too?

I'm not sure but I believe the highlighting and such are saved on the device, not in your locker. All of your original purchased digital files should be in your locker though. The manual is available now online so I'll look through it and see what I can find.

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To the best of my knowledge once you send it to the Kindle it is converted to the Kindle format so you should be able to highlight/search/annote just like any other Kindle book. Now I have heard that the conversions can vary widely in formatting depending on the complexity of the .pdf source.

I don't think that they would be considered complex for the most part it's pretty simple, except some cite Dickinson's fascicles, which include facsimiles (probably Franklin's ones) of her writing, but I don't think that's complex either.

I'm not sure but I believe the highlighting and such are saved on the device, not in your locker. All of your original purchased digital files should be in your locker though. The manual is available now online so I'll look through it and see what I can find.

Thanks. In 3.5 it says that highlighting is annotation too, and that all annotations that are on your Kindle are backed by Amazon servers. :)

Edited by intellectualammo

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