Eran's blog

First Impressions – Kindle 2

I decided to give in to my gadget lust and bought the Kindle 2
as soon as I heard about it. It came in today and here are my first impressions of the device so far:

  • The device itself feels very nice to hold: solid yet light (but not too light). The screen looks pretty good as well.
  • The screen flashes when you scroll through pages. I guess that’s how the e-ink works. Slightly annoying but I’m already getting used to it.
  • The layout of the control buttons is pretty good. It would’ve been nice to have a left side and right side buttons for scrolling back and forward but the current setup is good enough. The 5 way scroll button feels somewhat cheaply made and not as accurate as one would hope but definitely is usable.
  • The keys on the keyboard are nice enough to use but the layout could use some help. My fingers are use to the different rows being slightly offset from each other and the boxy design for the kindle keyboard will take some getting used to.
  • The basic web browser renders websites pretty well but I don’t think I’d be using it for anything complicated. Sticking to mobile versions of google apps and other websites for now. Gmail, reader, calendar all have mobile versions that work pretty well on the kindle 2.
  • Downloading books is fun and easy. Got some Doctorow from manybooks.net (use mnybks.net on the kindle), downloads run in the background while you keep on browsing and the books end up on your Home screen.
  • Reading books is also fun. Brings me back to the days of reading eBooks on my Palm Vx. The kindle remembers exactly where you were and will drop right back there when you turn it back on or return to the same book.
  • Immediate access to the dictionary when you point at a word is a very cool feature. A little window pops up at the bottom of the screen with the definition and a click lets you focus on that and switch to the full definition in the pre-installed dictionary.
  • The annotation mechanism looks pretty nice but I haven’t played around with it much. You can add annotations to specific text sections, you can highlight text and you can collect text-clippings. All seem very useful for research oriented tasks. It would’ve been nice if the clippings file actually contained links to the source text instead of just a textual reference. I’ll have to see how much of a pain that is when I start using this more.

The one thing that would make this a truly awesome device? A touch screen. Scroll using motions, mark text with your finger or a stylus, click through to annotations, etc. Make e-paper feel more like paper.


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