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Old 06-11-2008, 12:56 AM   #1
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Indeed the Kindle is the iPhone of e-Ink Reading Devices...Soooo,

it is going back.

Despite my knowing better, I went ahead and bought a Kindle since they lowered the price a bit and the idea of reading outside again appeals to me.

Sadly the only area where the Kindle shines, so to speak, is outside in the sunlight. I am not saying it is a bad device. However it truly is the iPhone of reading devices. As in it's a lot of fluff, smoke and mirrors. It tries to be many things and just does not deliver in a satisfying way for my expectations and needs.

First the physical design is just too awkward for me to use. The page forward button on the left is in the ideal location and is the ideal size allowing for a fairly wide array of hand sizes. The page back buttons might as well not even be present. The are impossible to reach w/o moving my hand position. And any repositioning of my hand makes it feel like I am going to drop the Kindle instantly.

Holding the device...there is NOWHERE to easily hold the device w/o feeling as if it is going to fall. The rubberized back cover over the battery compartment is a nice touch but better still would be an elastic strap to slip you hand between the Kindle and the strap. It could be designed for lefties and righties easily enough.

Next, for me, and this is specifically something I just have to deal with, but the Kindle it too thin. I have a difficult time gripping anything with either hand. I use super fat pens & pencils just to write. A regular pen or pencil is sheer agony. Now, if the above strap was attached I believe the whole problem goes away. And yeah, I could fabricate a strap with little problem. In fact I would if I was going to keep the thing.

I actually like the keyboard. I found it to be almost invisible to me as I was reading on the device. I also liked the feel of the key click.

Next is the Whispernet...great idea...LOUSY execution from a hardware standpoint. I happen to use the exact same Sprint Mobile Broadband service over which Whispernet functions. I am extremely intimate with it how well it works and signal strengths here in my town and home. I am under 300 yards from a tower. I get FAST (1.2-1.8Mbps) download speeds and never get other than an EVDO Rev.A connection on any of my devices which I use on the service. Well, the Kindle was lucky to achieve 1xRTT connections. Which for those who don't know, well that is not much faster than dial-up...say in the 0.050Mpbs-0.125Mbps (or 50k-125k) speeds. Additionally it dropped the connection frequently. Now this is not a really bad thing since is not surrently intended for serious web use and as a rule books will download fine and in under a couple minutes 90% of the time. But it is still a failure to deliver on the promised specs...a big time failure. Poor range would make me wonder how it will function in fringe areas which are already just 1xRTT service. Likely in those areas the Kindle Whispernet will not function at all. I consider this a negative and failure to deliver on the portability aspect of the device. Of course mine could simply be buggy.

Next the menu system. It's not awful, but for a $350 device the lack of a touch display is a big negative. Still, I could live w/o it easily enough, I mean all I want to use this device for was to read books and maybe even a newspaper or magazine. I found navigating the menu system sort of, quaint, and soooooo very 1982. But it serves it's function well enough.

Last I have my biggest love/hate issue with the Kindle...the uninspiring Vizplex Eink display. In normal room light the display is marginal due to the lack of contrast from the grey background. It simply must be whiter. If I held it 'just ever so' I could read fine and easily enough. But then again one cannot count on perfect lighting everywhere you go. Then is the part I LOVE about the display....outside...hands down the best thing around...outside in the bright sunlight. This is where I am not sure if a whiter background would have the opposite effect on reading under bright lights, making the display harder to read outside. So, I don't know...all I know is I am not thrilled nor is the e-ink display the panacea the more zealous would have you believe.

I tried the web browsing...bleech...reminded me of NetFront on my Sony Clie nx73v. Worked a bit better yet still it is far from worth the effort for casual reading.

I liked the Wiki access a lot and the dictionary function is very nice...all is easy to use.

Overall the device would be about a 5 or 6 out of 10 from me. Mostly because it is not very flexible to use under many of the conditions where I would want to read. The obvious example is in bed. I use my Nokia N800 in bed w/o a light and my better half, she can just snore away completely unaware I am reading. Also detracting are the ergonomics. This thing is not designed to be held securely yet it is not designed to be put on a flat surface either...I think it's not sure what it wants to be...I personally find it as tedious and difficult to hold as a paperback. Of course the Whispernet's poor EVDO behavior is a big disappointment too, what good is it if the range is so limited I can't get or stay connected when I am just about 750ft from the tower?

For me it was exactly the same experience I had a few months back when I got to fiddle with one for about 20-mins....only more so...

Still it is a step towards a solid device...but for me it just does not deliver well enough on any of the issues important to my use and on the top of that list is the ability to hold the device w/o squeezing it and also the ability to read anywhere anytime.

I really tried to like it. The tech feels old and has a feel about it that makes one sense someone will replace it with a sub $200 device that does more in less than a year. I feel as if I overpaid for what it brings to the table. So, this one is indeed going to be returned. Bummer. (I am keeping the new Canon 40D I bought the same day though...hehehehe...it takes gooder pics A walk in the park...)

BTW, one test I did not do with the Kindle was to bounce it off the floor as shown in the video on the Kindle site...and I failed to mention, the build quality, it's excellent with a solid feel. In fact it has a superior feel in terms of fit and finish.

Maybe the 2nd gen Kindle with work better for me...I think for most folks it's an excellent device but it is as underwhelming a reading device as the iPhone is a phone/internet/pda style device...
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:47 AM   #2
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I'm sorry that the Kindle didn't work out for you. Honestly, I too would like better contrast but I know that the screen is as good as it gets and for me it's still far superior to backlit LCD. What I've found works for me is to change the font size in lower light situations. This only works to a certain point but since I keep my Kindle in my M-Edge cover all the time it's simple to clip on a book light. I use book lights with pbooks so that's not a big deal to me.

It take me awhile to get used to the buttons but since I keep it in my cover I have no problem with gripping and button manipulation. I tend to alternate between my hands but hold it mostly in my left hand since I'm a lefty.

Since backlit LCDs don't bother you, I can see why you are disappointed in the eInk screen.

Regarding the EVDO, I'm surprised that you're having such slow speeds. Mine is adequate, data speeds as good as I get on my phone when surfing the net. Books download in seconds not minutes. I wonder if there is a hardware issue with yours?
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:53 AM   #3
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For the EVDO, I would call Amazon about it. It seems like something must be wrong with your specific unit.

For the gripping, a good cover (like the M-Edge) really does solve the problem.

For the contrast issue, I don't find it a lot different from a real book. I think we are so used to backlit LCD screens that something that is not backlit looks dull and contrast-less to our eyes. Inadequate lighting is always a problem with a real book, and it will be with the Kindle too. having the display whiter might not give you as much bang for the buck as you think -- most books are printed on grey paper as well.

As a visually impaired person I will say that I have no trouble reading on the Kindle. I'm sorry about the issues you're having, though. Clearly the device is not for everyone. I hope you do find a reader that works for you! Amazon offers a 30-day return policy and they are quick to honor it.
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:00 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brecklundin View Post
Next the menu system. It's not awful, but for a $350 device the lack of a touch display is a big negative.
I really must disagree. I think personally that, for a book reader, hardware button are a big plus. I couldn't bear to read from a device which had fingerprints all over the screen, and that's what you'd inevitably get on a touch screen.
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:02 AM   #5
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brecklundin sorry you didn't like the screen of the Kindle. That means then that you won't like any of the current crop of 6" screen sized eink devices as they are all they same Vizplex screen. You'll just have to wait for a 3rd gen eink screen and hop that will do for you.
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:23 AM   #6
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I'm also a Kindle user, but not distressed as much by the deficiencies that you have noted.

1 - My Kindle stays in its cover at all times. I fold back the cover to hold the Kindle in my left hand. Keeping the cover on while reading also makes the entire package thicker. I'm right-handed and just cannot be happy having my "good" hand tied up holding a book or the Kindle. I multitask, so having my right hand free to pick up my fork or a Diet Coke means that I'm going to hold the Kindle in my left hand.

2 - Some people have used the elastic on the cover to give them an easy way to hold the Kindle. Fold back the cover & loop the elastic around the front cover. Now insert your right hand either between the two covers or simply under the elastic and you can "hold" the Kindle needing no grip strength at all.

3 - My first reaction to the eInk screen was an impression that there wasn't enough contrast between the characters (ink) and background (paper). As I read, I realize that there's plenty of contrast -- but the Kindle's white frame emphasizes the fact that the background of the screen isn't white.

4 - I keep the Kindle on font size 2 in most well-lit situations. If I'm in a low-light environment, I enlarge the font to 3 or 4. Or, I use a flashlight. I don't have a book light that I like using with the Kindle and haven't really pursued it yet.

5 - I'm surprised that you are getting poor response with the Whispernet. Are you sure that it's the network? I wonder if the problem might be a slow rendering of web pages by the very primitive browser in the Kindle. Maybe you're expecting too much of the Kindle as an Internet appliance. I live in what I'd term a remote area 55 miles north of Dallas and about 25 miles south of the Oklahoma border. I get excellent response from the Amazon store, though the pictures (cover images) load slowly. After purchasing the book, it's completely downloaded in {usually} under a minute.

For my needs, the Kindle is an ideal device for recreational reading. I wish that there were more books available at lower prices, but I couldn't read any faster even if they were available. I have 'way too many books in my backlog; both paper and electronic. (This is what my TBR stack looked like on 17 February when I received my Kindle: http://www.elsi123.net/~elsi/pictures/Image1.jpg The stacks on the floor are taller now and I've flowed into a fourth stack.) I only have about 80 "books" loaded onto my Kindle. About 10 of those aren't books at all, but text files that I have transferred to the Kindle for reference.

I do have a reading plan which encompasses both paper and electronic books. I read on average 10-12 books every month. It varies depending on how much travel I do.


I'm sorry the Kindle isn't the device that you need. If you find one that works better for you, please post a message and let everyone know what you settled upon. Fortunately for you, Amazon's 30-day money-back guarantee gave you the opportunity to try the Kindle in your own environment; which I think is better than simply handling a device in the store.
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Old 06-11-2008, 12:41 PM   #7
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I must say I'm also shocked at the slow speeds. My house is a black hole for wireless. I use Sprint for my mobile provider as well. My Kindle consistently has more bars and better performance than my phone. My books download in seconds. I don't like web browsing with it, though. Web browsing on a small screen is bad enough as it is but on e ink it's really frustrating. I use the Wikipedia search pretty frequently, though, and that really is a great feature.
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Old 06-11-2008, 01:13 PM   #8
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Well ... so far I love my Kindle. I haven't had any problem holding it and hitting the buttons I want to hit with one hand.

There have been only two deficiencies for me:

1. The cover, which I hate ... but which has inpired me to creat my own;

2. The Kindle Store ... which for some reason will NOT connect for me. This, despite the fact that the browser is working just fine thank you very much and I LOVE being able to get wiki information so easily (I'm taking it to all the cocktail parties I attend from now on .... the ability to slap down other know-it-alls will be worth the price).

Oh .... I forgot, I don't get invited to cocktail parties. Oh damn.
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Old 06-11-2008, 01:24 PM   #9
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The Kindle cover problem is EASILY overcome. All you have to do is bend the little plastic tab up a little bit, just a little bit, and voila! My Kindle never even hints at falling out of the case now. There's absolutely no need to go through all the "hoo-ha" of cutting and modifying unless that's the type of thing you're into. Or, unless you don't like how it looks.

By the way, Frankn (I think that's his screen name) makes some great looking covers. But as for functionality, the original cover does exactly what it's supposed to.
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Old 06-11-2008, 01:40 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by HaggisMacJedi View Post
The Kindle cover problem is EASILY overcome. All you have to do is bend the little plastic tab up a little bit, just a little bit, and voila! My Kindle never even hints at falling out of the case now. There's absolutely no need to go through all the "hoo-ha" of cutting and modifying unless that's the type of thing you're into. Or, unless you don't like how it looks.

By the way, Frankn (I think that's his screen name) makes some great looking covers. But as for functionality, the original cover does exactly what it's supposed to.
Well, that's how to overcome one problem with the cover. I've got a ton of complaints about the cover (including the fact that elastic gets old and worn out rather quickly, not being able to get to the switches without crabbing between book and cover .... they go on ...).

I've seen FrankN's covers on eBay. They are lovely. However, I don't want to have to pounce at just the right time to get a cover that I really like ... I've seen some that have already sold ... and they are lovely ... but no reason to suppose he's going to make exactly that cover again.

So, I'm afraid making my own cover is going to be the most viable option for me.
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Old 06-11-2008, 01:52 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by RickyMaveety View Post
I've seen FrankN's covers on eBay. They are lovely. However, I don't want to have to pounce at just the right time to get a cover that I really like ... I've seen some that have already sold ... and they are lovely ... but no reason to suppose he's going to make exactly that cover again.
Send FrankN a PM, pay in advance, and he'll make a cover to your specification. I even asked if I could send the fabric so that the cover would match my tote!
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Old 06-11-2008, 01:55 PM   #12
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Send FrankN a PM, pay in advance, and he'll make a cover to your specification. I even asked if I could send the fabric so that the cover would match my tote!
Sent him an email before he went on vacation. He never got back to me on what he could or would do as a special order.
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Old 06-11-2008, 02:48 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by RickyMaveety View Post
2. The Kindle Store ... which for some reason will NOT connect for me. This, despite the fact that the browser is working just fine thank you very much and I LOVE being able to get wiki information so easily (I'm taking it to all the cocktail parties I attend from now on .... the ability to slap down other know-it-alls will be worth the price).
Really? Does your kindle show as registered on the about page? Perhaps the wrong s/n was entered when you bought it. If you buy a book at the Kindle store via a PC browser does it get sent to your device via whispernet?

BOb
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Old 06-11-2008, 04:49 PM   #14
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FrankN still hasn't returned my PM.
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Old 06-11-2008, 05:23 PM   #15
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I also always use the Kindle in its original cover. The only issue I have with it is due to the silly on/off switches being on the back so it's not really the covers fault. Otherwise it functions perfectly and gives plenty of places to hold on. I've had it since February, use it every day, and have had no issues with the elastic wearing or stretching out. Perhaps I got the best one they ever made?
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