Jonathan Crowe

My Correct Views on Everything

Kindle First Impressions

Ophiuchus and Serpens on Kindle The Kindle is half the size of my iPad. It’s also one-third the weight (241 g vs. 730 g). It’s quite easy to hold, and the e-ink is as readable as advertised. I hadn’t actually seen a Kindle before mine turned up last week, and this screen is better, I think, than the Sony e-reader screens, which I had seen before. I can easily see reading this thing for long periods of time.

Ergonomically it’s a bit of a mixed bag. E-ink notwithstanding, the Kindle’s text rendering falls short of the iPad’s iBooks app in a couple of ways: its always-on text justification is messy in places, and it doesn’t support hyphenation. And navigation is trickier than I’d like: I’m still getting used to going without a touchscreen. Anything other than page-turning is fiddly.

Buying books has always been easy: even when I was using the Kindle’s iPad app, I was impressed by how quickly purchased books turned up. I imagine buying from the Kindle itself will be easy enough as well. Selection and price via Amazon is substantially better for Canadians than via Apple’s iBooks, which has Canadian prices a buck or two higher than U.S. prices, even though the dollar is at par right now; books that are available in both stores in the U.S. are often available only via Amazon in Canada. And Amazon doesn’t charge any taxes at all.

Adding Kindle-formatted content requires hooking up the Kindle to the computer via USB and treating it like a connected drive: you add files to the appropriate folder. Files added manually do not sync to other Kindle reading apps: only purchased Kindle content does that. It’s a little clunkier than adding epub files to iTunes, which at least allows for a central repository of e-books, whether purchased or imported, that gets synced to the iBooks app on all your devices.

So, so far: Amazon wins on screen readability, weight, and book selection and prices, as well as the as-yet-unmentioned-but-obvious battery life; Apple wins on text formatting, user interface, and library management. I expect to continue to use both for the foreseeable future.