Kindle Me, Baby!
by Donna Poff
by Donna Poff
For a PC support technician, I am remarkably slow to jump on electronic bandwagons. Digital cameras, IPods, DVD and Blu-Ray players, high-definition televisions, BlackBerries—you name it, and I was one of the last people I knew who got one.
Which poses a question. If I am so reluctant about electronic doo-dads, why was I one of the first owners of the new Kindle DX from Amazon.com?
Well, for one thing, the Kindle DX is just about the niftiest thing I have seen in a long time.
No, the Kindle DX does not receive email or keep your calendar for you. It does not play games. It cannot accept telephone calls or let you view the latest movies. Instead, the Kindle DX is dedicated to one thing and one thing only—e-books. It stores them and lets you read them.
E-books have been around for a while, of course, and e-book readers have been around just as long, so what makes the Kindle DX so great?
The Good Stuff
The Kindle DX is an excellent size. Measuring 10 x 7.2 x .38 inches and weighing only 18.9 ounces, it is not too big and not too small. It has a nice 9.7-inch viewing screen, which means you can read more than a paragraph or two on a single page.
With 3.3GB of storage space for content, the Kindle DX can hold as many as 3,500 e-books. That is a lot of reading, and with Amazon.com’s selection of over 300,000 e-books, magazines and newspapers to choose from, you won’t run out of reading material any time soon.
It is easy to buy e-books for the Kindle DX, too. You order the e-book from Amazon.com, and as long as you have the device’s wireless service turned on, you will have your book delivered right to the device within a minute or so. You can even browse for and purchase books right on the Kindle DX, which may or may not be good news for those of us with low levels of will power when it comes to buying books.
What is good news, if you are a book fiend like me, is the price. Most Kindle e-books sell for $3 to $5, which is not much less than a paperback. The deal gets better if you are looking at hardbacks. For example, Linda Howard’s Burn: A Novel, which came out in July 2009, lists at $26. Amazon.com has it available in hardback for $16.56, but the Kindle edition is only $9.95.
How easy is the Kindle DX to use, though? Well, the setup for it consists of turning it on. That is it.
Reading e-books on the Kindle DX is just about as easy. You flip the 5-way controller, which looks like a tiny joystick, until you select the e-book you want. Then you press the controller down. Presto! Your e-book loads!
Once loaded, you can change the text size and rotate the text on the screen, which is handy when you are looking at maps, charts and other illustrations. You can adjust the words per line to your reading preference. If you want to go to another e-book—and what reader worth their salt doesn’t have two or more books going at once—the Kindle DX will remember where you left off and take you back there when you return to the book.
The Kindle DX has features that let you take notes and mark passages in your books, as well as a decent search feature to find those notes and passages. It comes with the New Oxford American Dictionary pre-loaded, and if you highlight a word in an e-book, it will give you the definition automatically.
One thing I am always suspicious of when it comes to electronic devices is the battery life, and I must say the Kindle DX’s battery life is excellent. With wireless turned on, the device can go about four days without recharging. If you turn the wireless off, however, a full battery charge lasts almost two weeks.
The Weird Stuff
The Kindle DX includes three features Amazon.com calls experimental.
The text-to-speed feature lets the Kindle DX read the e-book to you. That sounds cool and all, but I didn’t care for it. You can change the text-to-speech between a male and female voice, as well as speed it up or slow it down. Both voices are pleasant to the ear, but both definitely sound mechanical, especially the female voice. Like most text-to-speech features, the voices occasionally run words together and don’t seem to recognize punctuation very well. The feature is an excellent idea for the visually disabled, though.
Using Amazon.com’s WhisperNet wireless service, which the Kindle DX connects to automatically, you can browse the Internet. Still, the browser is very basic and only in black and white.
The Kindle DX has the ability to store and play MP3 music and audio books from Audible.com. I have not tried that feature yet, but I can see how it could be very nifty. The catch is that MP3 files and audio books tend to take considerable storage space, and filling your Kindle DX with music instead of books seems to rather defeat the purpose.
The Bad Stuff
The Kindle DX is not all sunshine and roses.
The button placement is along the right side of the device, and I have occasionally pressed a button I didn’t want while reading.
My biggest peeve with the Kindle DX, however, isn’t really the device’s fault. Too many of the e-books I’ve read on it have typos. These are mostly misplaced punctuation and words. For example, in the e-book I am reading right now, at a scene break, the first letter of the first word is on a line by itself, followed by the rest of the paragraph on the next line. Irritating, no?
Another peeve is that you cannot organize your e-books on the Kindle DX. You can sort your e-books by title or author name. That is it. It would be nice to sort them by genre. I would also like to organize them into folders so I don’t end up with a list a mile long to go through. Yes, I know I can search on a title or author name, but being able to create folders would be ever so nice.
One issue that some people might have is that the Kindle DX is electronic, so getting it wet is not a good idea. That means taking it to the pool or beach could be problematic.
Wrap it Up … To Go
Even with the peeves I have about it, the Kindle DX is a nifty device. I love mine and take it with me almost everywhere I go.
At $489, it is a bit pricey, but if you love books, a Kindle DX makes an excellent investment.