Amazon Kindle – Long Term Report

It’s now very nearly nine months since I got my Kindle, so it’s a good a time as any for a long-term report. This is the kind of thing I like to do when the “new toy” gloss has worn off, and any annoyances, irritations or problems will have shown up, and I can give an honest report on how the device in question is behaving.

Now apart from the little matter of ebook prices, I have precisely one negative point to make, so I’ll get that out of the way first.

After a few months of regular use, my Kindle quite unexpectedly rebooted itself, and took several minutes to come back on. All my books were still there, but it had forgotten my place in the book I’d been reading. At the time, I put this down to a bit of temperature shock – I’d been standing on a very cold railway platform with the Kindle in a quite exposed pocket on the outside of my bag, and I turned it on as soon as I got on the train. I’d have thought no more of it, if it hadn’t started rebooting itself more often. This seemed a bit odd – at first there seemed to be a problem with the power switch sticking (apparently a known issue which can generally be cleared by sliding it a few times), but then it just started rebooting more frequently. A bit of digging led me to some forums where very large pointy fingers where being pointed at, of all things, the leather case. Because this connects to the Kindle using metal hooks into slots, and because the lighted version uses those connections to get power, it seems the case can, under some circumstances, for some people, make the Kindle reboot – whether it’s a short, or some other electrical wossname, I don’t know. I was fairly sceptical about this – on the face of it, the idea that a case could be making the device crash seemed crazy. But I decided to try this out. I removed the case and got a cheap sleeve to protect the Kindle. And waddaya know? Since I removed the case, the Kindle hasn’t crashed once. So it seems that there may indeed be a problem with the Amazon leather case. I’ve found that using a protective sleeve works well for me – it protects the Kindle when it’s in my bag, and it means that when I’m holding the Kindle it’s even lighter and more comfortable to hold. So I’d suggest looking at a case other than the Amazon leather one if you’re getting a Kindle.

But enough about that. Now that I have a stable, well-behaved Kindle, let’s go through the traditional long-term questions:

Am I still using it? Yes, pretty much every day, except when whatever I’m reading isn’t in ebook form.

Would I buy it again? Yes. Absolutely. Totally. Instantly. If my Kindle suffered fatal damage, I’d be getting a replacement immediately. And as you can now buy them in Tesco’s, that wouldn’t even involve waiting for next-day delivery.

What do I like about it? Ummmm, everything. It works. It’s comfortable to hold, easy to read from, and weighs less than a smallish paper book. The eInk display is as close to good quality print as it needs to be[1], page transitions are quick enough, though this will probably improve in future versions, and it’s easy to load it up with plenty of reading matter before you go away on a trip. The battery life is seriously impressive – the last time I saw a powered device run for so long was a Psion 3 series…

And here’s something – I’ve always read a lot of science fiction, but I rarely managed to get hold of the American sf magazines. Availability in the UK was always a bit hit and miss, and subscriptions always seemed a bit too expensive. But I now get Asimov’s and Analog delivered to my Kindle on a regular basis. I pay £1.99 a month for each of them, which gets me ten issues a year of each. For reasons that probably make sense in publishing, two issues a year are “double”. Not quite twice the size of a regular one, but with a decent amount of extra content. It’s almost worth having the Kindle for those subscriptions alone.

So, in conclusion, the Kindle is pretty much the best thing since unsliced bread. Just be careful with your choice of case.

[1] And it’s better than the quality of some reprinted books, which appear to have been created by scanning the text of a previous copy and printing from that rather than setting new type. Blurry and nasty.

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