mar 24

Have You Seen My Kindle?

After owning it for six days, my Kindle was stolen in Austin. Bad timing, cuz Jacob Weisberg says it's gonna change the world.


Does that mean we're not getting that writeup? I at least am very interested in what extent web surfing is possible/practical on it.

posted by alesh at 12:07 PM on March 24, 2009

Web surfing is possible, but it's really a last resort type thing.... In theory, you can read gmail on it, but it's so clunky.

posted by Rex at 12:11 PM on March 24, 2009

Can Amazon get it back for you via the whispernet?

posted by Eric at 1:36 PM on March 24, 2009

Blah. That's so weird... it has a keyboard, so you should be able to WRITE g-mail on it, no?

One day somebody (Sony? soon??) will get this right, and that will REALLY spell the end for newspapers. And take a big bite out of laptop, netbook, and even iPhone.

I think "right" = essentially a Kindle form factor, WiFi, just enough OS to run Firefox and an mp3 player, and an SD slot.

posted by alesh at 3:09 PM on March 24, 2009

It's one of those things where you CAN do it, but a combination of the clunky keyboard, b/w screen, and slow internet connection sorta makes it not seem right.

If you hear Bezos talk about it, he says they wanted to get the reading experience down, and the other stuff (playing mp3s, internet access, etc.), is in there... but it's not crucial.

posted by Rex at 5:43 PM on March 24, 2009

Right. That asshole Bezos (I shall continue to refer to him that way until he gets rid of the do not read bit) has a feverish fantasy where people are going to start paying him $10 a pop for e-books.

I think the iPhone demonstrates that people don't want a million specialized gadgets. I, at least, want an e-reader that does as much as possible, and does it reasonably well.

(I don't see that B&W web browsing would necessarily be completely detrimental, especially if the focus is on reading text.)

posted by alesh at 8:53 PM on March 24, 2009

Sorry your thing was stolen, man. That stinks. Regarding the article, I still don't get why Kindle is as successful as the buzz appears to indicate that it is. It seems to make it less convenient to read ebooks than existing methods. It's yet another device to lug around, and yet it's too big to go in your pockets with your other device(s). I think it has a few advantages but loses on a single major flaw.

Since 2000 or 2001, I've been reading books on Palm devices and loving it. For me to read a book in hard copy format these days, it has to be something I absolutely have to have and absolutely can't find in e format, or that is technical and has lots of diagrams or reference sections I have to keep referring to. If I can't find it in my format of choice, I'll even suffer through a horrid pdf if that's all they've got, though you don't see those much anymore. So I understand why ebooks are popular. I just don't understand why they didn't take off much sooner, and I don't understand why Kindle makes them more appealing.

Some people say they wouldn't want to read on a Palm-sized screen. I was worried about that too on my first book, and forgot that concern almost immediately. Once you're in the story or text, the medium becomes transparent - and I'm not someone who would want to read a book on a regular computer screen - I tried it and didn't like it. Others worry about glare - that's a legit concern, but only if you're outside on a bright day, which I almost never am when reading. Others say the text is too small, but you can make it the same size as a print book or even larger. Others worry about the battery, but my smartphone sits on the charger every night anyway. And most people just didn't want or need a Palm-type device back in Palm's heyday. So for them it would have been just another unnecessary gizmo. That makes sense, or did.

But now that more and more phones have operating systems that can handle documents and ebooks, the Kindle makes even less sense. We finally have convergence to varying degrees and levels of quality - phone, Palm/whatever, camera, mp3 player, voice recorder, video camera, video player, etc., all in one device. There's no reason to have more than one device anymore, except perhaps cost, which continues to fall, and maybe camera quality, which hasn't quite caught up yet at least in most US models. And these phones/handhelds fit in your pocket, so they can go everywhere with you, ready to read wherever you are if you find a spare moment - cafe, waiting room, work meeting, etc.

With the Kindle, you get some of the same benefits of ebook-on-handheld, such as being able to carry a library around with you and not having to keep up with and store lots of hard copy books. Except a handheld fits in your pocket - no bag or hands needed, and is with you wherever you go already. And you get some advantages over handhelds such as glareless electronic paper and more screen real estate, which is nice... when you stop what you're doing and take it out of whatever you're carrying it in and have a reading session (contrast to the handheld that you view on the fly anywhere and doesn't require any planning or remembering or baggage). And you get some things that seem like they ought to be advantages at first glance, but are kind of superfluous. For example, being able to buy a book directly from the unit is an advantage of sorts, but how often has a book purchase been so urgent that that having instant access is solving a problem, given how accessible the web already is via computer? And being able to check your email is in theory an advantage, but you can very easily do that already via computer or handheld, and both of those do it better, and one of them fits in your pocket and neither of them costs you another $360. Newspaper delivery, too, would seem to be an advantage, except that you probably already sit at a computer for hours a day anyway and get your news that way.

So I think it's a great device that is fundamentally crippled by the fact that it can't go everywhere with you (unless you carry a purse/murse everywhere) and the fact that you've already got something that goes everywhere with you anyway that you can read books on - your phone or handheld. To put a finer point on it - it's not that the Kindle can't go everywhere with you - I mean, it's wafer-thin and light - just that it won't. And for that reason, aside from being duplicative and unnecessary, it just won't get used as much as it would if it could fit in your pocket. If they make a model that will fold to a quarter of its current size... and do my PIM functions for me... and texting and email... and web browsing... and have a camera/camcorder... and play mp3s.... and make phone calls, I'll totally get one. Wait! Already got one! I think the release of the Kindle iPhone app was the recognition of all of the above. I think the standalone unit itself will ultimately be a niche novelty or else evolve into a pocket-sized, full-featured smartphone/handheld.

posted by Eric (a different one) at 9:49 PM on March 24, 2009

what i want

posted by alesh at 8:09 AM on March 25, 2009

First time I've heard of that kindle. So portable and hassle free for all of those who are into net surfing. Great for keeping notes also. Technology has rapidly evolved now. Not until I have found this post, I might not be able to know things like that. Such an amazing gadget. Makes me think and hope that I could have that one.

posted by cooking games at 10:18 PM on April 22, 2009

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