Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kindle 3

I've had a Kindle for a little more than a month now, so I've had enough time to get the feel for its advantages and disadvantages while it isn't old enough to lose the new gadget feel. I wasn't sure I wanted to move on from the comfortable feel of paper books, but I soon found I love this way of reading.

The main hesitation I've heard people express about e-readers is the same one I was feeling, some readers don't want to give up the feel of books. I have a cover for my kindle that has compensated in that area surprisingly well. With the cover I open it up and hold it the same way I hold a paper book. Yet I can also read it in other ways. I use it while exercising. I can place it on the little ledges that are on the exercise bike and treadmill at the gym. Then I can increase the text size so I can read it without my magnifying glasses. With paper books turning pages is tricky, but with a Kindle I just have to punch a button. And if I want to refer back to something I just read that's simply a different button.

The text is very readable. It does require light, which some people see as a disadvantage. There is a cover available with a built in light, but for my uses I didn't feel that was something I wanted. For the rare times I need to read in the dark I can use the Kindle application on my laptop. My Kindle and my application can sync up, so finding my place isn't difficult.

On the Kindle 3 there are a few new features Amazon has labeled as "experimental." These are: Web browsing, playing MP3 files, and text to voice. I have enough devices for playing MP3 files, so for me that wasn't something I care about. The other two were interesting enough for me to try. The web browsing seems weak. I tried to look at my facebook page and had trouble scrolling down. But it worked acceptably for other uses. I could check the weather or look at a movie schedule without any significant problems. I suppose it is good for someone who wants a mobile device and doesn't have a smart phone.

I like the text to voice, but it takes awhile to get used to the synthesized voice. There is no expression, of course, and the pauses aren't always right. I get the feeling the software gives too much emphasis to commas and not enough to periods. I compensate for that by setting it on the slow speed, so I have time to correct those situations in my head. I like mixing the ways I read with some listening and some standard reading. When I do that I think I get a better feel for a book.

The disadvantages I've found are worth noting. It doesn't function well in cold temperatures. My Kindle locked up in that situation and required a reset. Reading in the cold isn't something I do very often, but if I was someone who liked winter camping, I'd bring a paper book for those situations.

The other think I don't like about e-readers in general is that they don't use compatible formats. I like the Kindle more than the others because it has so many available titles. (Motherless Soul has a Kindle version.) But I wish I could read epub formats.

The things I like the most about my Kindle are the way I can carry a library in my briefcase and the fact that my reading habit doesn't kill as many trees as it used to. But in the end the words are what's important, not the format on which they are shared.

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