View Full Version : First Impressions


Thistledown
11-20-2007, 02:36 PM
I have owned a Sony PRS-500 for over a year, so these impressions are heavily influenced by my experience with that device.

The Kindle is a little larger than the Sony, but it's not an issue for me. It is very easy to inadvertently turn the page when passing the device around to co-workers (or flipping the device over), but I haven't found this to be a problem when just holding the device to read. It is at a slight downward angle. I have no idea why Amazon did this, but I didn't notice it at first. When laying flat on a table, the device is thicker on the left than on the right. I haven't found this to be a problem or to be annoying when reading either -- just strange.

This device shines compared to the Sony in many ways. It is very easy to place a note or highlight a section within a book, and then browse through those areas later. Looking up definitions in a line is also very slick. Being a Mac user, I always had to purchase and sync books on the Sony through a virtual machine. I love the fact that I can do all this wirelessly from the device without a computer at all. If only J.K. Rowling and Robert Jordan's works were available, I'd be in heaven.

The cover it comes with leaves a lot to be desired. It's not nearly as nice as the Sony Reader's integrated one. The Kindle's seems to be cardboard surrounded by fake leather with an elastic band to keep the case closed. The jury is out on whether this will be enough to prevent the device from falling out of the case in a bag or backpack.

Overall, I'm impressed. It is too bad that Amazon couldn't open up their DRM to work with other devices, but since I was already locked to Sony's DRM, this is just more of the same. Except, now I don't have to plug into a computer ever.

JSWolf
11-20-2007, 02:39 PM
Thank you for your well thought out mini-review.

ajju
11-20-2007, 03:06 PM
Have you tried to send PDF files for conversion via email? Does it work?

Also the text on the Amazon help page implies that there is a free way to convert files by sending them to yourname@free.kindle.com. ("If you would like to avoid the 10 cent charge"). Have you tried that?

Finally, can it handle PRCs loaded on an SD card well? I have a bunch of pdf e-books that I plan on converting to PRCs and being able to read those is the main reason I want to buy a Kindle.

Thanks!

Zoot
11-20-2007, 03:07 PM
How's the speed and screen contrast compared to the Sony?

Z.

tsgreer
11-20-2007, 03:43 PM
Wow, you already got yours?!?! Excellent. I am a Mac user with a Sony Reader as well--I look forward to the Kindle so that I can avoid the hassle of having to open a program for my computer to see the Reader.

I haven't got my kindle delivered yet, but I did try the "...@free.kindle.com and it didn't show up in my "Media Library" online. The files I sent thru my .."kindle.com" addy showed up tho, so for me, the freebie part hasn't worked yet.

I do have several books lined up so that when I open the box, I can start downloading and reading right away.

When you DO hook the Kindle to your mac via USB, does it show up on the desktop?

Nate the great
11-20-2007, 03:46 PM
Have you tried to send PDF files for conversion via email? Does it work?

Also the text on the Amazon help page implies that there is a free way to convert files by sending them to yourname@free.kindle.com. ("If you would like to avoid the 10 cent charge"). Have you tried that?

Finally, can it handle PRCs loaded on an SD card well? I have a bunch of pdf e-books that I plan on converting to PRCs and being able to read those is the main reason I want to buy a Kindle.

Thanks!

I tried the @free.kindle.com, it works. It doesn't matter where the PRCs are, they will work on the Kindle. Just make sure they are formatted properly.

Nate the great
11-20-2007, 03:47 PM
How's the speed and screen contrast compared to the Sony?

Z.

The Kindle is faster than the Sony Reader. I think it might be using the Vizplex.

tsgreer
11-20-2007, 03:48 PM
Nate, did you have to set up your @free.kindle.com addy or anything? My regular @kindle.com was set up automatically when I ordered. I have sent emails to both, but only the @kindle.com works for me so far....

tsgreer
11-20-2007, 03:49 PM
It uses the Vizplex--I was looking up Kindle stuff and there was some press release from the Vizplex guys saying that Amazon picked them to make the screens for the Kindle.

Nate the great
11-20-2007, 03:52 PM
Nate, did you have to set up your @free.kindle.com addy or anything? My regular @kindle.com was set up automatically when I ordered. I have sent emails to both, but only the @kindle.com works for me so far....
I named the @kindle, and then tried the @free.kindle. They were the same.

tsgreer
11-20-2007, 04:01 PM
K, I actually just got the confirm email that it worked on my free.kindle addy. Just seemed to take longer. So we don't HAVE to pay the 10 charge. That's kind of sneaky that Amazon advertises the pay addy, and then in smaller print makes a suggestion in case you don't want to pay for the conversion, use the alternative freebie option.

I guess I shouldn't complain since we are offered the option, but that seems right on the very edge of lack of integrity to me.

Sorta like my local KFC restaurant. They have a jukebox that plays music and there is a coin slot that says: 25. So naturally, most people put in a quarter and pick some music. Well I noticed one day that an employee kept coming out and picking songs he liked and not putting any money in. I asked him how come he didn't have to pay--he said: "Oh no one has to pay, it's free."

So I asked him why the 25 marker was there and he shrugged and said that it was interesting to see how many people actually paid!! And the money didn't go to charity or anything, so I have no idea what they did with the change, probably just pocketed it. WTH?!

ajju
11-20-2007, 04:20 PM
Yay! I am happy that RTFM (reading the FINE manual) helped me save 10 cents for potentially TENS of people ;)

tsgreer
11-20-2007, 04:23 PM
Yay! I am happy that RTFM (reading the FINE manual) helped me save 10 cents for potentially TENS of people ;)

I don't have the manual yet, does it mention the freebie option pretty clearly? I knew of it because of our fine Mobileread members here, but I usually don't read the manual until I have the device in front of me so I can try everything out as I read it...

If it does mention it clearly, then I take back what I said about them being sneaky. :unafraid:

sfernald
11-20-2007, 05:01 PM
I have been using mine for a couple hours now. I would say the screen compares well to the Sony 505 in terms of contrast and clarity. The font is pleasant and the font size choices are superior to the sony. It seems noticably faster when flipping pages as well. The little lcd screen and scroller is incredibly cool. It will bring out the inner geek in you because it's so unusual. I think I would best describe it as pixel "mercury".

My first impression with the unit as a whole is that it is much more attractive in person than in a photo (much like many people). I don't think it will make me look any more geeky than I already do at the kid's soccer game with the sony reader.

Just a first observation. I think this thing is the real deal. I think it's going to change everything. I had purchased several books, magazines, newspaper subscriptions and blogs just to test everything out. I even sent a couple mobi PRC files (ASIMOV's DEC) to the email address for conversion.

Well, seemingly within seconds, all of the files I had purchased were loaded on the reader. They were there and downloaded by the time I was able to glance through the user manual and figure out how to get to the home screen.

It is a little too easy to accidently change pages with the big navigation buttons on both sides. I haven't decided the best way to hold it yet. I'm not sure why the buttons on the right are slanted as it appears to make it more difficult to use naturally, but i tend to use the left hand buttons anyway. Also, I don't like the case much. It's big and doesn't seem to lock the reader in well at all.

The features on this thing are incredible. I feel like I have only touched the icing on the cake so far, so I won't comment on it too much. I was disappointed that the slashdot blog for instance didn't have comments. When I clicked on one of the links (using the cool scroller) it took me to the experimental browser, which actually seemed to work quite well (and best of all is actually free!).

So I will report back. Right now I'm reading the new york times downloaded freshly to my kindle, along with the Atlantic magazine, the WSJ, Asimov's, and the Mass Effect novel (need to read it before I start playing the game).

Anyway, as a Sony Reader lover (owner of PRS-500 and then 505), i would have to say this is quite a leap and I doubt I'll ever go back to the 505 except to finish the content I have purchased from that reader.

Good job Amazon!!

DaleDe
11-20-2007, 05:03 PM
One thing I would like to know. The manual and the literature say that the device will reach mobi/prc files which has been confirmed. The standard MobiPocket Readers will actually also read Palm DOC files (usually has a pdb extension). I wonder it this reader will actually read these files as well. You can download thousands of those kinds of files (check Memoware (http://www.memoware.com)). They might need their extension changed to PRC to be noticed.

dugbug
11-20-2007, 05:09 PM
The kindle is wider at one end and tapers off on the other to simulate holding a paperback folded over.


thanks for the mini reviews. The text web browser is free? that can't be.

-d

Zoot
11-20-2007, 05:11 PM
Mine just arrived, time to play.

Z.

sfernald
11-20-2007, 05:11 PM
Yeah, free. Hopefully it stays free. I'm sure my monthly subscriptions (NYT, WSJ, several magazines) more than make up for what little data charges might exist when I do occasionally decide to surf. I really hope amazon keeps this free.

sfernald
11-20-2007, 05:14 PM
The kindle is wider at one end and tapers off on the other to simulate holding a paperback folded over.

-d

I realize that, but the point where it tapers in a normal book is usually the end of the pages which I usually like to play with and flip through with my thumb as I'm reading. Well in this case of this device, that tapered end is the next page button, so I have to retrain my thumb not to play or fidget around.

dugbug
11-20-2007, 05:15 PM
Yeah, free. Hopefully it stays free. I'm sure my monthly subscriptions (NYT, WSJ, several magazines) more than make up for what little data charges might exist when I do occasionally decide to surf. I really hope amazon keeps this free.

This think just keeps getting more impressive.


-d

Zoot
11-20-2007, 05:16 PM
Yeah, free. Hopefully it stays free. I'm sure my monthly subscriptions (NYT, WSJ, several magazines) more than make up for what little data charges might exist when I do occasionally decide to surf. I really hope amazon keeps this free.
By starting it out free, they will answer the question of how much people will really use the web browsing when cost is no option. If that turns out to be pretty low usage then they may keep it free. If not, then at least they'll have good data on which to price a data service. This is much better than the other way where for example if they required an optional $10/month for web access from the beginning then you'd never really know how many people would use the service but just weren't willing to pay for it.

If they can't keep it free I might be happy with a subsidized model where you get free web (and maybe even bidirectional email which shouldn't be too hard to add) in exchange for spending $10/month or more in the Amazon Kindle store or something similar.

Z.

sfernald
11-20-2007, 05:19 PM
If they can't keep it free I might be happy with a subsidized model where you get free web (and maybe even bidirectional email which shouldn't be too hard to add) in exchange for spending $10/month or more in the Amazon Kindle store or something similar.

Z.

That would be fair to me. I will probably end up spending $30+ just on subscriptions anyway. The articles on the Atlantic and New York Times and Salon really are so much better than most of the free content on the web that it is worth it to me.

dugbug
11-20-2007, 05:21 PM
If they can't keep it free I might be happy with a subsidized model where you get free web (and maybe even bidirectional email which shouldn't be too hard to add) in exchange for spending $10/month or more in the Amazon Kindle store or something similar.

Z.

Yeah, I imagine given the limits of an Eink browser using those controls, most users will be happy just knowing they can go to some simple mobile web site (no video or flash anim, etc). That should keep it very low cost to amazon, and hopefully to us.

-d

Thistledown
11-20-2007, 06:22 PM
A few more additions and answers to questions:

The scroll wheel is really nice. It's very quick to select a menu item. In contrast, on the Sony reader, you have to wait for a screen refresh for every item you scroll onto. The LCD (the technology name escape me) the wheel controls has a neat feature in that it doubles as a progress meter. It will rotate or expand depending on what you are doing/waiting on.

I haven't had an opportunity to try to convert any files PDF or otherwise. That's on my list, but I haven't had time yet. You first need to setup the e-mail address through amazon.com according to the manual, and you also have to configure which e-mail address it can receive from -- so not anyone can mail your kindle.

As for speed and contrast - it definitely feels faster than the Sony, and side-by-side it turns pages faster. How much faster? Tough to say - .25 seconds? .5 second? I imagine the speed difference is comparable to the Sony 500 to the 505. Contrast is also comparable. It's tough to say if the screen is lighter than the 500 or if that's just the white plastic around it making it look that way.

When you hook the Kindle up to a Mac via USB, a message is displayed telling you that you can't use your kindle to read and the wireless is turned off. It is mounted just like a flash device.

I agree with sfernald's statement - aside from finishing a book or two on the PRS-500, I have no reason to go back to it.

tsgreer
11-20-2007, 06:26 PM
I...Just a first observation. I think this thing is the real deal. I think it's going to change everything....

Excellent news. Mine hasn't arrived yet, I do think this has the potential to be better than the Sony Reader. Great little mini-review....

Nate the great
11-20-2007, 06:31 PM
I agree with sfernald's statement - aside from finishing a book or two on the PRS-500, I have no reason to go back to it.

I feel the same way. This (3 for 3) does not bode well for Sony.

jmdor
11-20-2007, 06:58 PM
I'm eagerly awaiting mine....now up to shipping soon from amazon. I hope this is a sony replacer, especially since the page keys are getting a little unreliable...

Zoot
11-20-2007, 07:25 PM
Yeah, my Sony 500 is history now. The basic reading experience is very similar (the screen is probably identical to the 505 in terms of size and contrast, and slightly better contrast and faster speed than the 500), but the reader software is much better (the user interface, buttons, and the navigation system).

I would say that in terms of the screen, reading text off it, and the physical size and weight of the device, it's 10% better than the Sony.

In terms of the reader software, navigation, etc. it might be twice as good.

In terms of the overall experience, the free integrated net access, the Amazon-quality store with 4x the available titles, web browsing, subscriptions, and instant-gratification book delivery without the need to sync with a PC, it might be ten times better.

That extra $100 is absolutely worth it, and I cannot imagine buying the current Sony device at this point when the Kindle is available.

I still can't say if this is a revolution in ebooks or not, but it's way better than the Sony in my opinion.

Z.

da_jane
11-20-2007, 08:25 PM
Why subscribe to the papers if you can browse the web for free. I.e., why not just read the papers/magazines straight from the web?

Alisa
11-20-2007, 08:52 PM
Why subscribe to the papers if you can browse the web for free. I.e., why not just read the papers/magazines straight from the web?

For the same reason many of us don't like reading ebooks on our computers, I would imagine: eye fatigue, portability, etc.

tsgreer
11-20-2007, 08:54 PM
My experiences are the same as the others. Sleek and fast--I like it so far. The only thing is that I don't think the mobipocket formatting is as good as the formatting I got using html2lrf. And I am not overly fond of the the default font of the Kindle.

But I have only had it for an hour or so, so still playing. I do think that my Sony Reader is going to be collecting dust now as I enjoy the extras with this Kindle way better. And this is just out of the box! I am assuming their will be updates, hacks and tricks in the future.

The cover is a pretty odd thing though. It doesn't seem to be made to really protect the reader that much, but then you can't really read the reader while it's in it's case either. Seems more to protect it from scratching and whatnot. I also think the Kindle looks way better in real life that pictures. But then again, I didn't hate the picture like everyone else did...:)

dugbug
11-20-2007, 08:55 PM
For the same reason many of us don't like reading ebooks on our computers, I would imagine: eye fatigue, portability, etc.

I think he means, why not use the built-in kindle web browser to visit the blogs since it is free.

I imagine the clean formatting and push for later offline access are good reasons. In some cases, the web content is not free to being with.

Alisa
11-20-2007, 08:59 PM
I think he means, why not use the built-in kindle web browser to visit the blogs since it is free.

I imagine the clean formatting and push for later offline access are good reasons. In some cases, the web content is not free to being with.

Ah. I see. Yeah, having the experience of reading blogs and non-mobile news sites on my PDA, it would be worth something to me to have it nicely formatted and just right there. But if Feedbooks did the mobi output thing and I could just load them to the Kindle with the USB for free, I might do that instead. Though if the blog owners are getting a cut, I kinda like rewarding people who are giving me content I like.

dugbug
11-20-2007, 09:14 PM
Though if the blog owners are getting a cut, I kinda like rewarding people who are giving me content I like.


They get a cut according to something I read (I think its on the amazon site where you suggest a blog). I think I would rather subscribe to magazines. I'd love to see scientificamerican be available on it.

-d

Alisa
11-20-2007, 09:23 PM
They get a cut according to something I read (I think its on the amazon site where you suggest a blog). I think I would rather subscribe to magazines. I'd love to see scientificamerican be available on it.

-d

I was hoping for Mother Jones. They actually offer a PDF subscription. I might try seeing if I can convert the file well (or at all) if I ever commit and buy a reader. I have to admit, I'm pretty darned close to ordering the Kindle.

sfernald
11-20-2007, 10:20 PM
Now that I am home, I am comparing this to my Sony 505.

The contrast appears about the same side-by-side.

I just plugged in my 4GB SD card, then I transferred my files over to the SD card. The content manager is very slick. It feels a bit like Mac OS X (yes, that easy and smooth).

The one thing is that the Kindle is about twice as thick as the sony (and with the respective covers on maybe 2.5 times as thick). The cover is pretty useless I think. I will probably only carry it to protect it during my travels.

Overall, I am falling more and more in love with this thing. Probably the best gadget this year I've gotten since the iPhone.

tsgreer
11-20-2007, 10:48 PM
What really strikes me is how fast it is when opening new books. I know the sony reader always had a minor delay while it loaded all the sizes the first time a book was opened, but the Kindle opens them right away. So far, I love it...

da_jane
11-20-2007, 11:01 PM
I think he means, why not use the built-in kindle web browser to visit the blogs since it is free.

I imagine the clean formatting and push for later offline access are good reasons. In some cases, the web content is not free to being with.

Yes that is what I meant. I think using Google Reader for those full feed RSS would be one way to get around the formatting issue. I use that to read feeds on my iPhone.

gregr209
11-21-2007, 03:38 AM
I ordered my Kindle yesterday (should arrive at the end of the month) and after having my Sony Reader for a week now I am going to take it back and pay the 15% restocking fee. I love the Sony Reader but I have a feeling the Kindle is going to be PERFECT for my needs.

Thanks everyone for the great reviews and insights so far!!!!!

Greg
(newbie to the site)

WilliamG
11-21-2007, 03:57 AM
Thanks for the impressions! I had posted elsewhere on this forum that I truly believe the Sony Readers are dead from yesterday. I have 2 (my wife has one), and loved them, but boy am I excited to get the Kindle. The Reader just hasn't grown up in over a year! Back to the Kindle: I've ordered a few samples from books, changed the name of my Kindle to my wife's so that when she gets it she can think that's cool, too. :) Wireless delivery? Dictionary? Web browsing? Near-505-like display? Amazon prices and a REAL SEARCH ENGINE? Count me in for one, and if I like it, a definite two. Sorry Sony. I'm jumping ship for now.

(PS Ahem Amazon, your Kindle edition of "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" is the same price as the paperback version.) :D

HarryT
11-21-2007, 07:54 AM
My experiences are the same as the others. Sleek and fast--I like it so far. The only thing is that I don't think the mobipocket formatting is as good as the formatting I got using html2lrf. And I am not overly fond of the the default font of the Kindle.


Do you get a choice of fonts, or can you upload additional ones?

CCDMan
11-21-2007, 11:47 AM
After these great reviews (Thanks!), I eagerly await mine (supposedly a week from today).

Has anyone tried unencrypted Mobi (like from the BAEN site) on the Kindle and if so, how do they look?

Nate the great
11-21-2007, 11:54 AM
Yes. It worked fine.

DaleDe
11-21-2007, 12:00 PM
Yes. It worked fine.

Have you tried a PalmDOC book? These are not mentioned as being supported but standard MobiPocket software supports them even though they don't advertise the fact much. You can choose from thousands of titles in PalmDOC format over at Memoware (http://www.memoware.com). It would be nice to know if they can be read. You might have to change the extension to .prc but hopefully not.

Dale

Thistledown
11-21-2007, 12:09 PM
You don't get a choice of fonts, but you do get a choice of 6 sizes. I don't know if additional fonts can be embedded in a book or not. I also don't think it supports uploading fonts.

tsgreer
11-21-2007, 12:36 PM
You don't get a choice of fonts, but you do get a choice of 6 sizes. I don't know if additional fonts can be embedded in a book or not. I also don't think it supports uploading fonts.

But I do hope that changes sometime in the future. I am not exactly in love with the font they are using. To me, it seems one step away from Courier. I'm a simple Times New Roman fan when it comes to reading novels.

Nate the great
11-21-2007, 12:37 PM
The forum is losing posts.
Have you tried a PalmDOC book? These are not mentioned as being supported but standard MobiPocket software supports them even though they don't advertise the fact much. You can choose from thousands of titles in PalmDOC format over at Memoware (http://www.memoware.com). It would be nice to know if they can be read. You might have to change the extension to .prc but hopefully not.

Dale

I tried it. It didn't work.

HarryT
11-21-2007, 12:49 PM
Sorry Nate, what do you mean "the forum is losing posts"?

Nate the great
11-21-2007, 01:02 PM
Sorry Nate, what do you mean "the forum is losing posts"?

At least three of my posts have disappeared in the last couple days after I knew that I had posted them.

HarryT
11-21-2007, 01:04 PM
Nobody's been deleting posts, Nate, I promise you. We have been moving threads into the appropriate forum sub-sections, but that's all. No deletions!

Nate the great
11-21-2007, 01:06 PM
Nobody's been deleting posts, Nate, I promise you. We have been moving threads into the appropriate forum sub-sections, but that's all. No deletions!

I didn't say they were deleted. I was trying to say that the forum is doing it on its own.

If I had thought you were deleting posts, I would send a pm and ask.

DaleDe
11-21-2007, 04:59 PM
The forum is losing posts.


I tried it. It didn't work.

Thanks, too bad but I suppose if they supported DOC files they would have mentioned it.

Dale

CCDMan
11-21-2007, 08:26 PM
Yes. It worked fine.

Cool!

Even better, I just got shipment notice on mine - should be here Monday - 2 days earlier than expected!

JSWolf
11-21-2007, 08:30 PM
Why subscribe to the papers if you can browse the web for free. I.e., why not just read the papers/magazines straight from the web?
Because browsing the net using the wifi eats a lot of the battery.

tsgreer
11-23-2007, 02:13 PM
You don't get a choice of fonts, but you do get a choice of 6 sizes. I don't know if additional fonts can be embedded in a book or not. I also don't think it supports uploading fonts.

Actually I don't know if the individual user can embed fonts in a book, but I have noticed that in some of the Kindle edition books I've bought there are different fonts being used. Sorry I don't know enough about how e-readers do the font thing, but the font used in the Kindle Edition of Gus Lee's "Courage" is the one that I wish was standard on my reader...

zuul
11-26-2007, 12:45 PM
Hi

When you download from the kindle store do you get the option of saving to internal memory or the SD card? TIA

TallMomof2
11-26-2007, 05:05 PM
If you download via Whispernet it goes into the Kindle's memory. If you download to your PC then you can drag and drop the file where ever you want.

tklaus
11-26-2007, 05:07 PM
If you download via Whispernet it goes into the Kindle's memory. If you download to your PC then you can drag and drop the file where ever you want.

But once it's there, you can easily move things between SD and main memory.

allen.gotwald
11-27-2007, 10:49 AM
Has anyone tried downloading a local library e-book which are normally in mobipocket or pdf with DRM and been able to display it on the Kindle? Since the 505 doesn't accomodate either, I can't take advantage of library texts.

igorsk
11-27-2007, 11:24 AM
Kindle doesn't support any DRM except its own.

wallcraft
11-27-2007, 06:35 PM
Has anyone tried downloading a local library e-book which are normally in mobipocket or pdf with DRM and been able to display it on the Kindle? These won't work on the Kindle.

It would be incredibly easy for Amazon to support DRMed MOBI and PRC e-books, including MobiPocket library books. This might only require a 1-line change in the Java source code for the Kindle Reader application. Perhaps it is as much as 5 lines - it is certainly less than one days work for a single programmer including rigorous testing. They are not doing so purely for marketing reasons.

pilotbob
11-28-2007, 02:38 PM
These won't work on the Kindle.

It would be incredibly easy for Amazon to support DRMed MOBI and PRC e-books, including MobiPocket library books. This might only require a 1-line change in the Java source code for the Kindle Reader application. Perhaps it is as much as 5 lines - it is certainly less than one days work for a single programmer including rigorous testing. They are not doing so purely for marketing reasons.

Would they even need that much? They just need to tell you what the PID of the device is, right? That is assuming that each device has it's own, and they don't all use the same PID (which would be incredibly stupid, so I doubt this is the case.)

BOb

HarryT
11-29-2007, 09:41 AM
Would they even need that much? They just need to tell you what the PID of the device is, right? That is assuming that each device has it's own, and they don't all use the same PID (which would be incredibly stupid, so I doubt this is the case.)

BOb

It's not quite that simple. A Mobi file has a "Publisher" field, and it appears that the Kindle also checks this and won't display a DRM-encoded file which wasn't sold by Amazon. This check would also need to be removed.