The Amazon Kindle 3G: A Review


  • The screen is easy on the eyes.
  • Very easy to use and buy books.
  • A nice amount of extra features.
  • Man is it easy to get and read books.
  • There's promising experiments and software that hint at future improvements.


  •  . . . I'll get back to you

SUMMARY: If you're a heavy reader the Kindle is a space, money, and time-saving device you should consider – even if you have a device that supports Kindle software.

The week before Christmas I broke down and got a Kindle.  The reasons were simple:

  1. I read a lot.
  2. Because I read a lot, that costs money, takes up space, and sometimes requires me to order books or go out to search for them.
  3. Not all books I read do I want to keep, making #2 more of a loss.
  4. I figure Amazon had the best selection.

In fact I worked out the numbers, and for someone like me the Kindle pays for itself in money saved within a year.  So I took some early Christmas money, and bought one.

I'm glad I did.

Now I could go on and say the Kindle is fantastic, but really that doesn't tell you why it is or what makes it good.  So let's dive in to the source of the fantasticness.

First of all the Kindle is meant to pretty much do one thing – display books.  The entire premise of the Kindle is getting your books to you, readable, and fast.  It succeeds at this very well because of that focus.

First, since you're reading, let's discuss the screen.  It's all about the screen, and the e-ink display does an amazing job of displaying things.  It doesn't have the entire backlit issue of irritating your eyes, and it renders very well – better than I'd expected.  The Kindle alone gets massive pluses for this fact alone considering if you're like me, you're going to be looking at that thing 30-60 minutes a day more.

The case and keyboard are light and straightforward.  Probably the one slight disadvantage to the design is that the keyboard buttons are extremely small.  They're solid and responsive "bump buttons" but they're not exactly large enough for comfortable, thought-free typing.  The navigation tool is a four-way button that's OK, but could be a bit bigger.  The page-turning buttons are nice and large.  Overall I can't complain much – I assume these are different on the larger footprint Kindle.

The Kindle provides all sorts of utilities for readers.  Scaling text and spacing, bookmarking, adding notes, etc.  This is a device meant to be used by people of different ages and inclinations, wether you're an older person that wants something easy on the eyes, to an academic taking copious notes.  Nothing fancy or spectacular, just good, solid functionality.

There's extra stuff too.  PDF reading.  There's experimental tools (like a surprisingly good web browser) that are listed as experiments.  There's little bits and pieces around the periphery of the core functionality that are nice and promising for more being available – if not on this device, the next generation.

Quick summary?  The Kindle is a great device for reading, and a few extras like the experiments and the few games available for it and the like.

Now, you jack all this functionality into the Amazon store, and you've got yourself a powerhouse.  In fact, I can say until you actually use a Kindle or a similar device you don't really get the power of an eReader.

So I have the Kindle and I get the book whose lack of presence in the stores made me realize the value of the Kindle.  Then I remember a few more I wanted, so I check those and they're there.  I send a gift book to a friend.  I have all of Amazon at my fingertips – well, the digitized version, and that's sort of going to cover a lot of ground.

Then there's the samples.  I hear of a new book and get a sample.  I check a few more books that I'd thought of reading but never got to and download samples.  I get to find if these books look to be what I want – and if they are, a simple click and I can order them.

No wait.  No mess.  No packaging.  Fast.  Instant, sent to me over Wireless or 3G (which Amazon covers in the purchase price).  No looking for bookshelf space.

That's power.  That's what the Kindle and devices like it are – power.  You can feel it as you use one.

The Kindle when you come down to it is a highly focused device that gives power to book enthusiasts to read a lot fast and relatively cheaply.  That's it, that it's thing – but it does it very very well.

So any skepticism I had about eBook readers or the Kindle is gone.  I'm sold.  I drank the Kool-aid.

May I recommend a drink yourself?

Steven Savage