A Kindle reader is ideal if you want a dedicated electronic-book reader that will really enhance your reading experience. It retains the best things about paperbacks and eliminates or improves the worst.
Do you read a lot of paperback books?
If so, maybe you don’t need a reader
with a color display, web access, email, games, music, video and other
features you may never use. If color and these other advanced features are important to you, then the Kindle Fire is worth considering.
But if you want a quality reading experience, immersing yourself in the content, not the technology, the basic Kindle is exceptional.
The Amazon Kindle is a sophisticated electronic device that enables you to wirelessly download and read electronic books (e books).
It’s of similar size to a paperback book, lighter than most books and much thinner.
While its wireless technology is superb, it’s largely kept ‘under the hood’, keeping your reading experience ‘front and center’. It’s technology makes it simple and very easy to use.
And while Amazon also sell a reader that's also a Tablet computer, you'll need to decide whether you want a device for reading or whether you really want a computer. This is important as it's easy to blur the boundaries between reader-only and computer, and end up with a compromise.
But what also impresses me is ‘what it’s not’. It’s not a computer, or any other type of multifunction electronic device.
It’s a reader. It’s only a reader. It’s like an electronic paperback book ‘with a never ending repertoire of easy-to-access titles’.
The Kindle design retains most of the best features of a paperback and overcomes, or improves, the worst.
However, if you like the smell and feel of paper, Kindle can’t emulate that… not yet anyway.
The Kindle has:
The display is the part that counts because this is the ‘page’. Its quality is absolutely critical. If you didn’t get a quality experience here, it wouldn’t matter how good the rest of it was - and the rest is good.
And fortunately the Kindle reader display is excellent. It has the best features of a paper page. The text is sharp and clear. The display gives no significant glare; you can read it in bright sunlight. The characters have clean, well-defined edges, comparable to the print on a high-quality printed page. The quality of the type on a paper page is often limited by the granularity of the paper and the quality of the printing process.
I find this display is better than paper and superior to other displays such as computer LCD displays, especially when I read for long periods of time.
Amazon call this technology eInk and ePaper. When you see it for the first time you can see why. It’s just like reading words on paper, without its limitations.
The ePaper is a very light grey color. The contrast of ‘black-on-grey isn’t quite as high as ‘black-on-white’, but the light grey background seems better; less ‘visually-demanding than black-on-white. So despite the lower contrast, you may prefer the ‘easy-on-the-eyes’ light grey background. I do.
There’s no backlighting on the Kindle reader. It’s similar to reading a paperback book –it needs front lighting, so you need a reading light at night. If you want to read in low light conditions, you can buy a protective cover that has a LED light built into it for a few dollars more than the same cover without the light.
Kindle’s passive display uses very little power, unlike other readers with active ‘lit’ displays. This is the main reason you don’t have to recharge it very often.
Reading time between recharging mostly depends on how often you use the wireless, so it’s worthwhile turning this off when you don’t need it. You can recharge it via a USB port on a computer, using the cable that comes with it, or buy a suitable charger as an optional extra.
If you want to, you can change the word size, the typeface, line spacing, words per line and rotate the text 90 degrees to switch between portrait and landscape. Otherwise, you don’t have to do anything - the display will just default to its standard settings.
I find it faster to read shorter lines
as they’re easier to scan, but with fewer words you have more pages to
turn. However turning Kindle pages is so quiet (page turning doesn’t
distract others nearby), fast and easy that it doesn’t seem to matter.
The Kindle reader has a pair of ‘page turn’ buttons located on its left
and right edges, allowing easy page turning with either hand.
You may prefer a regular typeface, or perhaps a plain typeface, ‘sans serif’ (a French term meaning without serifs - the fancy bits that make characters look more stylish). Sans serif text is popular for computer screens as it’s faster to scan, but in my view, serifs look good on the Kindle. It’s a matter of personal choice... you get to decide.
You can’t change the typeface or line-spacing on a paperback.
When I read a paperback I find that a page seldom lies completely flat. One side of the page often seems to end up closer to one eye than the other. This doesn’t happen with the Kindle reader. It’s flat.
And you don’t have to bend it back into shape when you turn a page as you so often do with a paperback book. And you don’t have to grasp it firmly to hold it in position.
My elderly father, who struggles with conventional books, and has very poor eyesight, has little trouble operating the Kindle with its larger text size and large ‘page turn’ buttons. He told me of a book that had left a big impression on him decades ago and which he’d never seen again. A minute later I handed him the Kindle with a sample chapter of this obscure H. G. Wells book; searched for, found and downloaded easily. His delight was priceless.
With Kindle, you’re unlikely to ever fill your eBookshelf.
As it can store up to 3,500 books, you’re unlikely to run out of storage space in a hurry.
The Kindle wireless reader comes with:
The wireless connection works very well and gives you freedom to browse and download eBooks anywhere you can get a Wi-Fi (or 3G) connection. The 3G connects via a cellular network when there is no ‘local area’Wi-Fi network within range.
Wireless browsing at the Kindle store is simple and fast.
It’s easy to search for eBooks by title, author or subject. You just use the keys to enter your search term into the Kindle’s search box and Kindle will bring back the results. You can often sample a few pages of an eBook free, to see if you like it enough to buy the complete book.
You can also use the wireless to browse and download complete books free –these are probably free because there are no longer any associated publishing rights, so these books may typically be older classics.
Kindle gets the basics so right that it has, and needs, few special features.
But here’s a very interesting one...
If you get tired of reading, the Kindle reader can read to you on command.
Press the Aa button, select ‘Text-to-Speech’from the menu and Kindle will read to you, either through its speakers, or headphone if you have one plugged in. This is OK, as far as it goes, but isn’t great. While it is a real voice that appears to be a string of individual spoken words joined together, the nuances you would get with a human narrator just aren’t there. It doesn’t always flow well, and lacks emotion.
Despite this, it’s quite good, certainly better than not having it at all, as you at least get the information, even if you can’t engage with the content as well as you could with a human narrator.
You can select either a man’s or a woman’s voice, and one of three reading speeds. While reading to you, the Kindle reader displays the text while an ‘invisible hand’ turns the pages automatically.
But there is a better alternative.
If you want to listen to a human narrator there may be an audio-eBook version available from the Kindle store.
And Amazon keeps a record of all your purchases. So if you lose your Kindle Amazon lets you reload all your eBooks into a replacement e-reading device at no cost.
I purchased my Kindle reader on-line. Four days later, on the other side of the world, it arrived. I downloaded a free book without even reading the user instructions.
With effortless and almost instant access to more eBooks than you could hope to read in a hundred lifetimes, Kindle takes reading to the next level.
Kindle is a superbly designed, fit-for-purpose and exceptional product that tries to “make the book disappear” and leave you immersed in the content.
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