Amazon Kindle–First Impressions

Yeah ok I did it.

The day after I posted about how I couldn’t decide whether a Kindle would work for me I went and got one.

First up thank you to everyone who commented on that post – it was great to get all the different points of view.

What really swung if for me though was something AMITPRO member Matt Barton tweeted.

Do you have a Kindle? Use this great tip to use Google Reader through the browser.

I use Google Reader extensively. The tip above explains that through the use of keyboard shortcuts you can place Google Reader into full screen mode and then navigate between the posts. Since you get free 3g access on the Kindle it means I can keep up with my feeds from anywhere. I do this with my mobile phone but the larger screen works much better.

As an extension of this – I also found that the mobile optimised version of google reader works quite well too.

Anyway – now I’ve had it for a few days what do I think?

Well as I said in my previous post I had no doubt from a technical perspective that I’d love the device and it’s actually even better than expected on that front.

It’s size and weight work really well. The screen and the text it displays are crisp and easy on the eye and the connectivity is good.3G access everywhere is great to have and it flies on a wireless collection. I’m even impressed with the experimental web browser and while it’s not a substitute for a device designed for web browsing it’ll be ok for quick lookups.

I’ve found some of the mobile optimised sites work quite well too.

The keyboard takes a little while to get used to and symbol entry is a little fiddly but this is a reading device so it’s not something to complain about and once you’ve used it a few times it’s easy enough to work with.

I also like how they have added the navigation buttons on both sides of the Kindle. Initially I thought it was a bit of waste but now I’ve been using it switching pages is so easy because it doesn’t matter how I hold it I can always get at a button. This may sound odd but it actually means i can read faster because pressing the button and getting the next page displayed is quicker than physically turning a page.

It’s even got games!

From the home screen press ALT + SHIFT M for minesweeper and then press G for GoMoku (five in a row).

All of this is before you even read any books!

I think the Amazon store could do with some improvements. If you know what you’re looking for or have a specific things to search for it’s fine. But if you just to browse you can only do so by category and sub-category which isn’t helpful if a category has a couple of thousand books in it. I imagine this is by design though as most browsing would be done on a PC.

That said the details on the store that are displayed on the Kindle are good. A summary page is initially displayed and drilling into more information such as reviews is really easy.

The purchase process is very good. Pick what you want and the books appears on your device seconds later!

I’m also very impressed with the ability to view sample chapters. I can see me very easily taking a look at a book and having to press the “Buy Now” button so I can carry on reading.

So am I happy with it?

Resoundingly yes.

I’ve still got a bit of weird feeling about switching from physical books. Some of the comments in the last post made some good points about the Kindle not totally replacing my physical books but I guess my problem is despite that it will replace some of them. But this is something I need to adjust to and as someone who reads a lot the benefits far outweigh the downsides.

My only wish is that I could change the standby images without jailbreaking it Smile

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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