Pros: Easy to Use, Portable, Very Book Like
Cons: Annoying White to Black flicker when "turning" pages.
I love to read. I have had my eye on Amazon's Kindle for sometime. I was quite pleased when my girlfriend got me the newest Kindle as a gift. This review covers many aspects of the Kindle, each with its own heading. Skip down to read the sections that are of interest to you.
The Kindle 3 - 3G and WiFi
I read the instructions and first plugged it in to charge it up. Although you can charge it via the USB port of your computer, it is faster and more effecient to use the plug attachment with the USB cable (both included) into an electrical outlet. My Kindle was fully charged within a few hours (you will know, a small light turns from amber to green). I did read some of the instructions that came on the Kindle, and soon started to get my Kindle set up. The model I have features both 3G and WiFi, so you can go online to the Kindle store (or even the internet under a new experimental mode)
Ease of Use - Reading Books
The most important thing to know is how easy is this to use? I was at first hesitant, because I am used to reading books of paper. However, when the Kindle is in the leather case I got for it (many are available, I love the one I got, see down further for details), I find that I can carry it, hold it and read my Kindle just as I would a book. It is about the same weight and size as a book. The "Pearl Ink" is so easy to read, it is just like reading a book. It is black ink on an off white page, and easily adjustable in size. (No more worrying about large print books for those of you with less than 20/20 vision). There is no more eye strain reading the Kindle than any other book. To turn the page you just use your thumb to click a button. The forward and back page buttons are easy to use and on both sides of the Kindle. The Kindle remembers where you are in any book you have read, and immediately turns to that page. It is also easy to skip to a chapter or verse with the Kindle, just hit the Go To Button on the menu and it allows you to go to the beginning or a particular page or a table of contents. For example, if you wanted to find a particular Bible Verse, hit the contents, and you can go right to the book and chapter you want.
Ease of Use - Navigation
When you use the Kindle store or navigate the net, the Kindle has a full QWERTY keyboard, with a button to shift to uppercase and another to access most symbols. The Kindle has all the numbers under symbols. This is good for both doing searches or entering passwords. For most navigation, the Kindle has an easy to use 5 way button that works pretty much like a DVD remote controller. (Up, Down, left, right and Center). Aside from accidentaly ordering a book with the Kindle, I found the navigation easy to use.
My only complaint about the Kindle is that when you "turn" the page, the whole screen flickers to white ink on a black page for an instant. It is a bit disconcerting, but I suppose that I will get used to it. I also miss old fashioned page numbers, but since you set the size of your type to suit your eyes, page numbers are rendered irrelevant. Instead a bar at the bottom lets you know what percentage of the book you have read. I also miss seeing title and chapter headings at the top of the page. I love to talk to people, and an easy conversation starter is to comment on a book someone is reading. That won't happen with the Kindle. This may be a plus for you. Of course before getting this, I would always ask Kindle and other e-readers about their thoughts on the e-reader they got.
The Kindle will automatically go on line like a cell phone with 3G so you can download books. I actually already had dozens of books which I got free of charge on the Kindle for PC under my Amazon account. I used the Kindle to transfer several of these books into its memory. (They still remain available to me on the computers that I have Kindle for PC loaded on).
Many business and homes now have WiFi networks for a stable fast internet connection. On the home menu of the Kindle you just click WiFi and it will search for your Wifi network. It quickly found mine, and I just had to work out the way to type in my password. I figured out that one small button made the letters uppercase and that all the numbers are listed under symbols accessible via a button click. So enter your WiFi password (Pennygetyourownwificonnection for example) and your Kindle is connected. After the first time you do this, you don't need to repeat it. I was able to access my computers Kindle libary and quickly download more books. Although I have not done it yet, you can also transfer files onto your Kindle so if I wanted to I could transfer my work files for review in my spare time.
Amazon Leather Case with built in book light
Consider this a bonus review, I couldn't find it in the database. I almost immediately purchased a case. I knew exactly the one I wanted. Amazon makes its own case for the Kindle that is black leather, and has a built in book light that slides out of the upper corner of the case and runs on the Kindle Power. The Kindle locks into the case via two copper tabs (which also allow the aforesaid booklight to run off the Kindle's power). The light slides unobtrusively into the case when not used. You can either hold the Kindle in the leather case open like an actual book or fold the front of the case over to the back. When you close it, a black elastic strap fits into a groove on the front of the leather case. It is very handsome and professional looking and feels good to hold. The Kindle in its case is slightly larger than a standard paperback, and weighs about the same. I mention this NOT INCUDED case here because it impacts my enjoyment of the Kindle (positively) and the battery life. The Amazon Kindle Leather case with the built in book light is available at most places that Kindles are sold and retails for $59.00. (Before you balk at the price, a separate bulky booklight that clumsily attaches to your leather case and runs on batteries will cost at least $20.00).
My battery lasted about 3 weeks before being down to one bar. I didn't let it run completely out. This was with pretty steady use of reading the Kindle, using the book light at night and frequently leaving the Wifi connection on. I suspect that the battery life may be longer if you remember to shut the Wifi connection off when you aren't using.
With 3G and Wireless, you can go to the Kindle store anywhere that a cell phone has a signal or there is Wifi! Be careful though, if you have Amazon set to one-click shopping, you may find yourself accidentaly buying a book before you realize it. I did, fortunately, you can cancel the transaction just as quickly. The store also has a list of Top 100 Best sellers and even better, a list of Top 100 Free Bestsellers. Yes, that is free books.
I was pleased to find that one of the greatest books written was available for free. You know how there are some books that everybody knows and looks to for life's answers, but few actually read the whole book to see what it actually says. Well, with the Amazon Kindle Free store, I was able to get the book that literally changed history, influenced millions and changed the way we look at our world. You too can download Charles Darwin - The Origin of Species.
For other science books by Dawkins, Hawkings and Sagan, you have to pay, but they are all there for almost instantaneous download. For free though you can get books like Famous Men of Science or A History of the Conflict between Religion and Science.
I was also able to download several books for free on religion, folklore, and mythology including The Edda (Norse mythology), Japanese Folklore, The Bible (New Standard Edition), Dante's - The Divine Comedy, The Religion of the Ancient Celts, The Religion of the Ancient Samuri (Zen Philosophy), Russian Fairy Tales, Grimm's Fairy Tales and Aesop's Fables.
Fans of sci fi will find a number of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne, fans of horror will find the Complete Edgar Allen Poe and Bram Stokers Dracula and Shelley's Frankenstein. Those of a literary bent will find the Complete Works of Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling, as well as books like Ivanhoe, Moby Dick, The Illiad, The Three Muskateers, The Count of Monte Cristo and Jane Eyre.
Technology has taken the first known written work of man, Beowulf and made it available on the latest 21st Century device.
I also frequently find up and coming authors with the latest murder mysteries and such. The Kindle Store is awesome!
Organizing with Collections
After a short while with your Kindle, you will have a huge number of books. The Kindle lets you easily organize them with Collections! Simply put, this lets you create categories and then add all the books that belong to that category under the collections that you have created. I for example have categories for mythology, science, classic literature and science fiction to name a few. Once you create a category, you can add (or delete) books to that category. Then when you open your Kindle and turn it on, instead of a list of some hundred plus books, you have a list of neat categories that you yourself have created. My only complaint about Categories is that whenever you add to a collection, rather than go through the books that have yet been unassigned, the Kindle takes you through EVERY book that is on your Kindle. I think it would have made organization easier if once a book was assigned to a category, it was there until you deleted it. However, I suppose that the way it is set up would allow you to add a book to more than one category.
The Kindle 3 comes with a few experimental things.
MP3 You can put a few tunes on there, which I haven't tried.
Web Browser You can also go online to pages OTHER than the Kindle store. Perhaps you want to read your Facebook page or check out the newest Epinions reviews. You can. You won't be able to play World of Warcraft on the Kindle, but you can check out stuff online. I have not fully explored how well the net works.
Text to Speech Another feature it has is text to speech, you can use it for navigation or to read many books. (Some books, due to copyright issues, have text to speech disabled). It is a computer like voice, which would probably be best used to listen to the works of Stephen Hawkings. This is not Jeffrey Kafer caliber voice narration, it is just a computer reading the book. It isn't very loud either. I also tried the female voice, it isn't exactly the Starship Enterprises voice. Nevertheless, its rather neat that this is a feature of the Kindle. It did stop working once, but rebooting the Kindle cured the problem.
The only other reader I really looked seriously at was the Nook by Barnes and Noble. I found it to be a bit too bulky, and saw more screen glare on it than the Kindle has. I also don't know if it has the cool free library Kindle does, I was told that I couldn't read my Amazon books on the Nook. The Nook is in color, but for me that wasn't a strong selling point, since the majority of books, illustrations and all are black and white.
When I got my iPod I loved being able to have many of my albums in a small convenient easy to use format. Now that I have my Kindle 3, I have a huge collection of books in a small, convenient, easy to use format. I absolutely love my Kindle. If you have any specific questions I didn't answer in my review, leave a comment, I will do my best to answer it!
Five Stars all the way!