The Amazon Kindle 2 – a review from Norway

As a gadget enthusiast and wannabe bookworm, I jumped onto the bandwagon right away when Amazon released their Kindle 2 with international support. It arrived promptly via UPS after three days.

26.10.2009

I’ve just finished reading “The Children of Men” by PD James – the time is ripe for a short review of this practical little device.

I had a rather busy day when receiving it – so a half-hour tram ride provided the perfect opportunity to give it a go. As I hoped, the battery charge was sufficient for immediate use. After switching it on, I could go online without needing to configure anything – marvellous. I searched up the book, bought it, had it on the device in less than two minutes and started reading. By the end of the ride I was well into the third chapter and having a good time.

The Kindle 2 is the right size. It doesn’t feel that solid, but it is pretty light-weight, which is more important. I’m definitely getting some sort of hardcover plastic protection for it, as I doubt it’ll survive tumbling around in my backpack on its own.

The e-ink screen works well – the more light you have available, the better. It can’t compete with paper for constrast, but it reaches the crucial “good enough” milestone. View angles are great. I love the ability to adjust font size – being nearsighted, I turned it up a notch at once, and this makes it easier for me to have a comfortable reading position when using the Kindle as compared to normal books. The fact that the device is board-shaped means it is practical to read when holding it with one hand, and having the “Next”-button there on both sides means you can alternate hands. I’m really appreciating this – it means I can stand, eat and read simultaneously. The board-ey nature of the device also means it can be put down on a table and stay there without support while you’re reading – unlike, say, a pocketbook.

The device’s buttons themselves aren’t that great – they make a low, clicking sound, which I’d prefer it was without, it is mildly annoying until you get used to it. I can see it potentially unnerving my partner.

Navigating menus and surfing Wikipedia or the Kindle store is slow, but usable. I haven’t used the reading support or MP3 support yet. It is obvious that this is a dedicated reading device – and to me, that’s definitely a good thing. It translates to a good reading experience and long battery life – I have charged mine once since getting it, read one book, and it is still at 80%. A book is supposed to be a book, not everything else a electronic device with a screen could possibly be, and I like that the Kindle is dedicated to being good book.

I’ve used the open-source caliber support application to convert PDFs and transfer stuff to the Kindle – works like a charm. As a result, I now have quite the mini-library with me wherever I go. And if you don’t have it on the device, the Kindle store is only a few clicks away. The books are a bit expensive, but not completely unreasonable – they cost about the same as a pocket book would cost from the bookstore.

I’d say the principal negative of the Kindle 2 is the lack of support for lending books to others when you buy books in the Kindle store. I really enjoy lending books, and I think many avid readers feel the same way – now I can only give a warm recommendation, unless I want to part with my Kindle for an extended period of time. And unless the book is in an open format, of course.

To sum it up – this is a nice device which works well as a e-book reader. I like it, and it makes me read more (of course I can’t promise there’s no novelty factor involved there – we’ll see). It is easy to use, and at 2200 NOK taxes and freight included not that expensive. If you can handle not being able to lend books to friends (perhaps swapping Kindles is a substitute..?) I’d say the Kindle 2 is a good deal. Make sure you consider the Nook too, though the colour touch screen is a turn-off for me – makes it look less bookey and more like a tablet computer.

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6 Responses to “The Amazon Kindle 2 – a review from Norway”

  1. Chitra Says:

    i was gifted a kindle last weekend and love it so far. I think a kindle account should facilitate book exchanges amongst friends? But obviously this has complications of having to email other kindle accounts….and online content storage. but still a good idea!

    I would love the kindle to have a colour screen with touch screen navigation, surely that is the way forward!

    the text to speech is downright annoying. the male and female voices have a distinctive american accent but most annoyingly, they dont “read” a story, they simple spit out the words, punctuation, etc in sequence! so not much joy there i am afraid!

  2. Are Wold Says:

    Hi there! Thanks for the comment. I can definitely imagine the text-to-speech being annoying.

    Personally I don’t feel the need for a colour screen – it would be nice to have though. And touch would feel more intuitive. But until we can get it all, I’d rather go for portability, low price, long battery life, high contrast and low weight :)

  3. Tor Says:

    Seriously? You buy a kindle, and you not only don’t write a review for calcuttagutta, but you don’t even mention to your close friends that you have turned to the dark side. I’m shocked.

  4. Are Says:

    I deny turning to the dark side! I am simply drawing lightly in the sweetness of a tightly integrated ecosystem. And the device can still be used for good!

  5. Three months on – review of the Kindle 2 « Are about everything Says:

    [...] three days, and I’ve now had it for more than three months. This is a revised version of the review I wrote after using it for about a week, written for [...]

  6. Marybeth Macallister Says:

    Between myself and my sister we’ve owned more gadgets over the years than I care to count, including GPS units, iPods (classic & touch), etc. I love Amazon’s kindel, it’s by far the coolest toy I got.  Why? Because I was happy to discover just how well-designed and fun it was and how easy it was to use . Make sure you accuire the leather cover though as it gets scratched pretty quickly.

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