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Reviews and Evaluations of Amazon's new KINDLE 2:

On February 24, Amazon is releasing a new version of the Kindle, the Kindle 2.

Priced at $359, the Kindle 2 is brighter and has a longer battery than the original Kindle.

If any of you have experience with the original — or when it comes out the newest version 2 — feel free to post your reviews in the comments below.

Avierra:
The main things I don't like about the original are lack of PDF support, and the lack of a backlight for the screen. From what I have read neither of these issues is addressed in the new version, which is a pity.

I do love my Kindle very much, though.
2.10.2009 8:42pm
areader (mail):
I like mine a lot too. I actually have neither of Avierra's complaints - when I e-mail PDFs to my kindle e-mail address, they generally convert fine (I believe I'm charged 10 cents per document, though), and the lack of backlight tends to reduce eyestrain for me, I think. My only issues are:

1) It is awfully easy to hit the next page buttons by mistake, which I think the new version addresses, and

2) You do miss something you get picking up a physical book. That slight orienting factor you get from the weight in your hands and the look of the covor.

Otherwise, however, it's great.
2.10.2009 8:53pm
FantasiaWHT:
For $360 you could get a netbook with nearly-full laptop functionality at slightly larger dimensions and only slightly heavier, although admittedly significantly less battery life (6-7 hours is nothing to sneeze at, though), which you could also use to download books.

For $360, I would also expect a very large library of free books.
2.10.2009 8:58pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
There is a way to get a pdf loaded onto the Kindle with paying a .10 fee. I came across it while reading Amazon's coverage.

I have had a Kindle on order for about a month and I should be one of the first to receive a Kindle 2. I will post my impressions as soon as I try it out.

I intend to replace my paper subscription to the WSJ with a Kindle subscription. The former hit over $320 for a yearly subscription which is simply too much. One can get nearly the same thing on Kindle for about $10 per month.

In any case, everything is returnable if I don't like it.
2.10.2009 9:13pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
FantasiaWHT:

I don't think you can download Amazon books onto a netbook, but please correct if I'm wrong about this. In any case with Kindle you are not dependent on WiFi. You also get e-paper which should be easier to read.
2.10.2009 9:16pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
I am at this moment engaged in several online forums on just these issues, and getting a lot of good suggestions:
* Amazon
* Mobileread
* Ebookgab
2.10.2009 9:23pm
areader (mail):

For $360, I would also expect a very large library of free books.


Well, sites like Project Gutenberg do, indeed, offer a huge library of free books (and a lot of other free, legal e-books are floating around out there too).

Realistically, I find the e-ink much easier to read than a computer screen. It feels no harder on my eyes than reading paper books (if you're not someone who gets eyestrain from computer screens, this probably isn't an advantage to you).
2.10.2009 9:44pm
KenB (mail):
I have a Kindle. While it's not perfect (what is?), I love it. I'm a cheapskate and read more library books than purchased books before I was given the Kindle, so I am actually spending more on books.

As a caveat, if you break it, the news is bad. Amazon does not repair them. I tripped walking up steps while carrying my Kindle. When I threw my hands out to catch myself, the Kindle went flying. Amazon sold me a new Kindle for half price ($180), which is a lot better than at full price, but I was hoping just to get the first one repaired.
2.10.2009 10:31pm
Frank H:
I only wish I could try one. It's seems like an awfully expensive risk to take if i don't end up liking it. That's probably the only thing keeping me from buying one.
2.10.2009 10:37pm
Le Messurier (mail):
A. Zarkov said:

The annual subscription fee for the WSJ "hit over $320 for a yearly subscription which is simply too much."


I pay $119.08 per year for home delivery, and I just checked and that rate is still available. Having a physical paper in my hands is MUCH more satisfying than reading an online version.
2.10.2009 11:02pm
Sbard (mail):
I for one vastly prefer newspapers in electronic form to paper form. I derive a great amount of disutility from having a large stack of paper delivered to me every day, not to mention the ink getting on my fingers and having to fold the paper to read the articles without taking up a whole table.
2.10.2009 11:32pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

$360? Meh.

1. The built in wireless is ok but frankly I wouldn't be put off if they left it out in both the Kindle *and* the price of their books and subscriptions. It is because you don't pay a monthly access fee for this built-in wireless that you end up paying the fee in higher costs for the Kindle and the books.

2. $360 is frankly way too much. They're using E-Ink and not LED screens so I find it rather difficult to accept that an E-Ink screen is costlier than an LED one. Particularly an E-Ink screen that cannot adequately render images and is offered only in black &white.

3. The only reason for the keyboard is to do searches for books and subscriptions. IMO as I prefer reading books I wouldn't miss not having the keyboard. If nothing else it would reduce costs and the form factor making it much more handy.

*shrug* all in all until and unless they reduce the price point I don't see a reason, for me at least, to buy a Kindle rather than a netbook.
2.10.2009 11:32pm
DC:
I'm happy with my first generation Kindle. I subscribe to the local paper and a couple of magazines. I've added some free books (mainly from Feedbooks) and have bought a fair number from Amazon.

I find that I'm spending much more time reading since I got it.

I have probably bought more books from Amazon than I otherwise would have. But I'm reading them. And there are dozens of books I have decided *not* to buy after reading the free sample chapter you can have sent to your Kindle.

The screen is wonderful for text and lousy for anything that depends on formatting. So, if your PDF is text-readable (i.e., not a scanned copy but generated by the computer), then it converts fine. Word files convert fine, too. (When I find long articles on the internet that I want to read later, I copy and paste them into Word then email that to my Kindle email address. It shows up on my device in a few minutes.)

I haven't really used it for anything law-related, so I don't know if it has a professional function. But it's really nice to have so much reading material available in a size that's easy to carry with you.

People who are both avid readers and frequent travelers should be lined up for this thing.

I agree that it's a shame Amazon doesn't have demo units available for people to see. The e-ink screen is hard to explain when you see it translated through a normal computer screen. The unique quality -- the flat, unobstrusive, easy-to-read text -- can't be fully grasped on a monitor.

The screen grows on you over time, too, as you realize that your eyes aren't getting tired reading it and that you can easily hold the Kindle up at a comfortable reading angle -- instead of being hunkered over a laptop that you can't hold near eye level. The netbook is a lousy alternative for that reason. A cell phone is a decent alternative that makes other tradeoffs. A Kindle client for an iPhone/iPod would sell a ton of books, but I'd still keep my Kindle.

If you're skeptical, you probably just have to wait until you happen to run into someone carrying one. (Yes, that may be awhile.)
2.10.2009 11:35pm
Salaryman (mail):
It's not perfect, but it's great. I can see how the grey screen may bother some people, but it doesn't bother me. The problem with accidental page-turning is legitimate, but again, not a biggie for me once I got used to it. A major plus is adjustable font size -- I'm at the point where I need reading glasses for small print, and the Kindle eliminates that problem. Also, you can carry a fairly large library with you wherever you go -- a big plus on long plane rides.

(Minor) negatives include: (1) Obviously, not all titles are available on the Kindle and the ones that are tend towards the NYT bestseller/Oprah's book club end of the spectrum (interested in Bolano's 2666? Sorry, not on Kindle); and (2) I re-read a lot of books -- especially nonfiction -- and it's easier to locate particular sections of a book I'd like to revisit with hard copy -- if you remember the part you're looking for is about a third of the way through, you can pretty much just open a hard copy to right about where you want to be, whereas with a Kindle, you have to guesstimate, type in a "location" and then digitally flip pages back and forth, which is cumbersome (admittedly, not a problem if a Kindle book has a table of contents, but they don't all have 'em).

All in all, though, I highly recommend the Kindle.
2.10.2009 11:47pm
Salaryman (mail):
Oh, and I do agree w/ DC about the non-text formatting issues -- don't bother buying anything graph-heavy (i.e., even semi-serious books about science or economics) on the Kindle.
2.10.2009 11:50pm
Steve:
Someday they'll make one that I can put in my pocket like a Blackberry. Not practical to tote one around otherwise.
2.11.2009 12:06am
Bstanley (mail):
I love my kindle version 1 and I have no intention of upgrading. The thing is so light and small that it no longer makes sense to upgrade unless there is a substantial improvement (Native PDF reading would be very good) which I haven't seen yet. I think people have to remember that this thing is a device for reading books, not surfing the net, emailing friends or even reading your favorite blog. While it can do those things, your would be better off with a $300 netbook. It is very good at what it does and not much else.

It seems to me that if you want a version 1 I would wait a few weeks after the 2's started shipping and then check ebay for gently used version 1's for well under $359.

By the way, Amazon is really blowing it with this product. The notion of 2.0 seems to suggest some type of serious upgrade to the product which the new version isn't even close to being. Seriously, much of that stuff you could have possibly done with a firmware upgrade and sending out coupons for free memory cards. The price point for this product may be closer to $250 than $360.
2.11.2009 12:21am
Cornellian (mail):
Someday they'll make one that I can put in my pocket like a Blackberry. Not practical to tote one around otherwise.

I'm hoping someday they'll fit it all into a ring you can wear, which will project what you want to read onto any nearby flat surface, like in that not-so-classic early 1970s movie "Zardoz."
2.11.2009 2:09am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Le Messurier:

"I pay $119.08 per year for home delivery, and I just checked and that rate is still available. Having a physical paper in my hands is MUCH more satisfying than reading an online version."

My renewal fee is $323.67 for home delivery in the Bay Area. I called subscription service and they would not budge in that amount. I think your $119.08 figure is some kind of introductory rate for new subscribers.
2.11.2009 3:14am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Le Messurier:

Update. I just noticed that I received an email on Feb. 10, with a special offer to renew at $119.08, which is a change from what I was told over the telephone last week on the WSJ customer service line.


That puts the Kindle subscription and the paper subscription at about the same amount. Since either subscription has a trial period, I can try both and keep the one I like. The disadvantage of the Kindle is you don't get the full graphics. But you don't have to deal with paper and can carry the Kindle around. Choices, choices, choices.
2.11.2009 4:16am
jviss (mail):

That puts the Kindle subscription and the paper subscription at about the same amount. Since either subscription has a trial period, I can try both and keep the one I like. The disadvantage of the Kindle is you don't get the full graphics. But you don't have to deal with paper and can carry the Kindle around. Choices, choices, choices.

You can't swat a bee or start a fire with a Kindle. Well, you can, but no one will drop another one at our doorstep the next morning.
2.11.2009 7:15am
Mr. Bingley (www):
jviss, how does the kindle work if i need to house train my puppy?
2.11.2009 8:03am
anomdebus (mail):
Mr Bingley,

It works fine for the purpose, however it makes it hard for the puppy as they only get 8" x 5.3" of surface area per Kindle.
I would have to recommend getting more than one for the mental health of your puppy.
2.11.2009 9:00am
Colin (mail):
I have owned a Kindle 1 and all three versions of the Sony Reader. The Kindle's advantages over the Sony are the Whispernet connectivity and the Amazon library, both of which are fantastic. I do appreciate getting my paper delivered straight to my pocket, wherever I am in the country. The Kindle 1's physical design, though, is atrocious; the K2 has solved some of the worst problems (like bad button placement), but is still strangely misshapen.

If you don't need the Whispernet, and can get what you want to read on the Sony, I recommend it over the Kindle. The Reader is more comfortable to use, and has a better screen. (From what I've read, the Kindle 2 will have a faster refresh rate than the Kindle 1, but not better contrast. It won't be faster than, or as high contrast as, the Reader.) It also accepts non-proprietary content that the Kindle won't, although frankly it needs to in order to compete with Amazon's superior library (which now includes a wide variety of free books).

Of course the comfort factor is entirely subjective. Fortunately, unlike the Kindle, you can try a Reader before you buy it, either in a Sony store or at some Borders. I will recommend that you not bother with the latest Reader, with the touch screen. The 700 series, I think? It's atrocious. The touch screen is a novelty, but not very useful, and it comes at the expense of greatly reduced contrast and greatly increased glare. The newer non-touch screen model is the best e-reader on the market, again assuming that you don't need or want the unique Amazon features.

Those unique Amazon features are pretty compelling, however. Especially now that they're hinting that their sync service will allow you to read your library on your Kindle, cellphone or computer, and pick up where you left off on device on any other device.

If I were going to be restricted to just one device, having used pretty much everything except an Iliad or a Kindle 2, I'd spring for the Kindle 2. The Sony's superior design fades into the background after a while, without really affecting the way you read. The Kindle's superior features are more substantial.

Incidentally, if you're in the market for a Kindle 1...
2.11.2009 9:16am
cMh:
My wife got me a Sony Reader for my birthday last week, choosing it over the original Kindle because of its lower price, bettter PDF support, and vastly superior ergonomics. She almost didn't make the purchase, afraid that the Kindle 2 might come out, and overcome the disadvantages. I'm very happy she didn't wait, as the Kindle 2 seems to still be inferior (and remains more expensive). Certainly, the Kindle does more, but as others have said, if I want a web browser or a keyboard, I'll use a laptop.
2.11.2009 9:26am
Observer:
If you buy a Kindle, would Amazon let you get access for free to the books that you bought on Amazon in the past? If you buy physical books, do you get them on Kindle too?
2.11.2009 10:15am
Observer:
If you buy a Kindle, would Amazon let you get access for free to the books that you bought on Amazon in the past? If you buy physical books, do you get them on Kindle too?
2.11.2009 10:15am
Colin (mail):
Observer,

Not at the moment. There's some speculation that something like that will happen once the market reaches critical mass, along the lines of Apple forcing the music publishers to strip the DRM from the iTunes library. That's pure speculation, though--don't hold your breath.
2.11.2009 10:27am
Kristian (mail):
I really like mine. Anybook I buy, I check first if it is availible on Kindle before looking for a paper one.

All these thoughts are about the K1, though many should apply to the K2:

Things I like:
-Can take hundreds of books with me
-Expandable library with SD Card (I have a 8 GB one in mine, works spledidly)
-Adjustible font sizes, helpful for different lighting and whether I have my glasses on.
-I think the screen is very easy to read.
-Wireless delivery works great (almost too easy to buy new books on a whim...)
-Nice size
-Can play audible.com books (totally unexpected function, but I as have a monthly subscription to audible, this is a big benefit for me)
-Good battery life if not using wireless
-Wonderful amount of books avaible, and I have really enjoyed reading them on the kindle
-Can get free books/very cheap books from both amazon and places like gutenburg.org
-Can get pdf formatted for kindle, so I can take many of my reference &journal articles with me

Things I don't like:
-Bad battery life if usiing wireless
-Anything with color / graphics is going to suffer, and sadly many of the technical books I'd like to get are image intensive
-Included cover is just bad (I got a replacement MEdge cover that is significantly better)
-Horrible placement of on/off + wireless switches (on back, buried by cover, why not near the audio ports on bottom?)
-Page Forward/Back buttons way too easy to press since they span nearly most of the upper sides. Combined with the poor placement of the on/off switch, very easy to skip from current place. (This appears to have been improved int K2)
-Keyboard is mostly useless
-Note taking / marking is too hard (limited by keyboard/cursor design)
-Pdf porting can be rough, sometimes TOC or formatting is just not that good
2.11.2009 10:48am
Dick King:
It just seems wrong that you can't start a fire with something called a Kindle. I guess that's another thing a netbook can do that the Kindle can't.

-dk
2.11.2009 11:12am
Doug Berman (www):
I really like K1 for lots of reasons mentioned by Colin and Kristian. I will also add that I have REALLY enjoyed the opportunity to get free samples of lots of books. There is no way I can every get around to reading all the books that look interesting, but I can often get a chapter for free and feel as though I have gotten an effective flavor of the themes and the style of the book (kind of like reading the abstract of an article on SSRN).

I am disappointed to see that the K2 is not a huge improvement, but it is nice to see evidence of Amazon's continued commitment to the whole e-reader project. I likely will not buy again until the K3 comes out (or until Sony or someone else gets the whispernet technology), but I think all serious readers can/should find the money to try out one of these devices.
2.11.2009 11:14am
Thales (mail) (www):
I've never used the Kindle, but my 85 year old grandfather thinks it's the cat's pajamas for newspapers and books. (That's a metaphor, he's not senile). It's supposed to be great for the visually impaired, and obviously cuts down on shelf space for books one doesn't want in traditional processed tree carcass form. He makes mere 30sish people like myself seem embarrassingly low tech.
2.11.2009 11:37am
Elliot123 (mail):
"I intend to replace my paper subscription to the WSJ with a Kindle subscription. The former hit over $320 for a yearly subscription which is simply too much. One can get nearly the same thing on Kindle for about $10 per month."

Drop if for six months. Then the letters start at about $300. In six weeks they drop to $119. After that it gets more interesting. My last one year home delivery plus internet sub was $99 and I got three $10 gift certs for Office Depot.
2.11.2009 11:42am
Harvey Mosley (mail):
I haven't used either Kindle, so I won't say much about them other than $359 seems like way too much money.

However, I would suggest science fiction fans check out Baen's site. Nice amount of free books, and all of their books (free or for sale) are DRM free. You can download the books in several different versions (RTF, Kindle, so forth) as many times as you want. I don't know how to place a link, but the address is baen.com
2.11.2009 2:00pm
Pat C (mail):
I bought a Kindle mid-2008. I was pleased at getting the complete works of Arthur Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft for a low price. However, I already had all those in book form anyway.

I was a little disappointed when I went on vacation to West Yellowstone and brought my Kindle. Couldn't find wifi access anywhere, so I couldn't get anything.

The novelty wore off. With 4,000 books in my house, half of them unread, I simply don't pick up the Kindle when I want to read something.

If the time comes that I can't afford to live in a house, and have to move to a small apartment, then the Kindle might be something I would use then.
2.11.2009 2:02pm
Trial Kindle:
For those wishing that they could try one before buying, I've seen them on display in Borders book stores on several occasions, with the intention that you try it out. Of course, now that a new version has been released, they may not be there right now.
2.11.2009 3:15pm
BillW:
Trial Kindle: For those wishing that they could try one before buying, I've seen them on display in Borders book stores on several occasions, ...

Kindles? I've seem the Sony e-book thing.
2.11.2009 5:04pm
Colin (mail):
Yeah, Borders has a deal with Sony to sell the Readers. I don't know of anywhere that lets you preview a Kindle, unless you see someone using one and ask to try it out.
2.11.2009 6:00pm
Pauldom:
ebookwise.com has a decent reader--it doesn't get the WSJ etc. but is less expensive. Backlight instead of e-ink means that you can read in the dark (a plus for me).

I'm going to get a kindle some day. The problem for me is that I know I'd buy too many books. Also, the proprietary is a worry. I had a bad experience with MS-LIT format and prefer to buy non-DRM e-books whenever possible.
2.11.2009 10:56pm
zuch (mail) (www):
I have Kindle 1.

The page keys are annoying (lots of accidental paging).

I don't know if bookmarks can be deleted (maybe, but I haven't found it yet). It would be nice to have a more user-friendly ability to flip back and forth.

Graphics suck big time (and I'm a fan of maps, so that really hurts); there's no zoom for graphics.

Not all books are available.

And a subtle thing: Reading Robert Baer's book "See No Evil", he submitted the book to the CIA beforehand for clearance (he's ex-CIA), and printed the book with the deleted parts indicated by blackouts. These don't show in the electronic version, and so you read a sentence, and it's just gibberish, and you have to think a second and realise that the reason it's gibberish is that words are missing but without any visual marker of such.

But for stuff it's good for, it works. Think "pile of trash novels for plane trips and vacations....

Cheers,
2.13.2009 1:28pm
coffee (www):
The Kindle is actually quite classy; it's like a convergence of old school and new school technology
2.24.2009 10:33pm

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