Archive for October, 2009

The Amazon Kindle 2 – a review from Norway

October 26, 2009

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.


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.