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Product Review: <i>Amazon Kindle</i>


I've had my kindle for a month now, and while there's not really a machine that can replicate the glory of an actual, real life book, the kindle is an excellent substitute.

I admit, the reason I got a kindle wasn't that grown up. I'd been reading e-books on my eee transformer, which is a nifty little machine, I'll give it that. But when it's wearing its case, the transformer weighs nearly a kilo. I know, it's not much, particularly compared to a standard laptop. But it's more than a paperback, and my god, it gets heavy on my poor little shoulder while I walk to work with it.

That's an okay reason to give a kindle a red hot go. But the deciding factor was thusly; when one has a hangover, one simply cannot read on a bright, glarey ole screen like any computer, or tablet device, or mobile phone. I had the kindle programme on both of those, and then if I felt like the transformer was too heavy to carry around I'd squint at the tiny print on my HTC phone before angrily and dehydratedly browsing facebook. I'm not saying I get hangovers ALL THE TIME, or anything, it's just sometimes when I have one, or god forbid, a headache, all I want to do is read. And the transformer was making that really tough on me.

(At this stage, if you're rolling your eyes in frustration and telling me that a good old fashioned paper book is what I should be carrying around, you should know that I've read all my paper books a million times, and sadly, e format is really where it's at for me acquiring new reading material. It's kind of rooted in practicality, I just can't fit more books into the house.)

So I borrowed a couple of kindles to get me used to the idea. The first one I borrowed was good, but it didn't connect to the net (using instead the now defunct “whisper network”) and because I use linux I can't download the Adobe Digital Editions programme, so I need a kindle that I can send things to over the wifi. Also, it was HUGE. Probably weighed close to my transformer. So I borrowed a cute little kindle 1st release, with a little keypad and whatnot. So far, so good; light, and I think it's so amazing to be able to read an electronic device in bright sunlight. You know, I was born before the internet so little things like that make me chuffed.

I had an excellent ebay buying experience; a nice lady had been given a kindle as a gift she didn't want, and – get this – she threw in a hot pink case as a bonus extra, boom. I had it literally two days after I transferred the money, and there you have it, six inch screen, that I can read like a book, weighing just 275 grams with the case on.

Okay so when I first got it and put some books on it, I wasn't sure any more. I missed the way a book is tactile, the way you can flip through it. I actually felt claustrophobic, like it was too small, and I didn't like that there was no back cover and no front cover, like it was missing visual cues which apparently, I really rely on heavily. Also, I like to be able to flip, check that ahead is consistent with what I'm reading, flip back to see if I zoned out and missed something. Read what people have said on the back. This was particularly pertinent because I was reading a book that wasn't very good and perhaps that made a difference, But I just wasn't sure.

After that I put quite a bit more stuff on it and booked a holiday, and immediately downloaded the lonely planet guide to my kindle, which freaked me out as well because I like to be able to dog ear the pages and flip to and fro. But I persevered, and now I'm thinking when I go away in three months, carrying the kindle will be so much easier and lighter than the guide! Anyway, I just finished reading a really good crime fiction novel (review to come closer to publication, in April!) and that was a great experience on the kindle. I even had my faith in virtual flipping established; a character name came up who I couldn't quite place, so I searched, and the kindle brought up every instance of the name, in order! So much more efficient that flipping by hand!

So it's come to my attention that kindle's latest thing is selling the “kindle fire”, which is basically like a tablet. As in, they have an lcd screen. WHY? I mean, sure, so you can watch movies and stuff, but WHHHYYY? The joy of the kindle is that it looks like paper. That you can read it in bright light, wearing sunglasses, with a hangover. I hope that kindle keep working on these ones too, because I would hate this tech to fall by the wayside because “everybody” wants lcd. It's not true, we don't.

So the kindle, the kind with a non-glarey, papery screen. It's so light and easy to carry and soothing to read with a hangover. With a little adjustment, it's readable if not exactly like a paper book, in a style that equates to a similar reading experience. And, my favourite bit about it is that it's even easier than a real book to read in bed. Light. No pages to lose. No need to awkwardly figure out the best way to squish the pages. Brilliant. I'm a convert, in that while I still love paper, the kindle has brilliant aspects which cannot be ignored.


This is a completely independent review, for which I was not in any way compensated by Amazon or affiliates.

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