Ahhh, my Amazon Kindle. Such a diminuitive little device that brings me so much pleasure.
While on an extended vacation here in Hawaii, I’m reminded just how much I love the device. Far from being simply an e-ink device that lets me store and read two dozen books, blogs, and newspapers delivered fresh daily via "WhisperNet" (really just Sprint’s cellular network, but with a more whimsical name), it also lets me use the aforementioned internet access for other means. Case in point:
Yesterday I was lounging at the pool and, not wanting my current Neal Stephenson book to end, I popped over to "Experimental" on the Kindle menu. Now keep in mind I am sitting on the edge of the world – Oahu’s North Shore – with only the Pacific Ocean in front of me. There ain’t much up here and I wanted to figure out where to eat for dinner. On the Experimental menu, I chose Amazon’s NowNow service which allowed me to use the (admidettly kind of crappy) chiclet keyboard to type in "where is the best place on oahu’s north shore to eat?". I then went about my business.
I then hopped into the BasicWeb browser to catch up on my blogs – I popped over to Engadget and then followed a couple of links to read about the new HP laptop with the killer IBM-made SSD. Keep in mind, this was all sitting on my beach chair at the pool, joyously connected via WhisperNet (all free, mind you).
I flipped back to my book, read some more fantastic nanotech fiction, and then popped up the elevator to relieve the wife from parenting duty. By the time I got back to my room, I had three answers to my NowNow question telling me the best places on the North Shore to mange. From what I can tell, it uses Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service which farms out tasks to people across the world in exchange for a small payment for their services. Again, Amazon picks up the tab for us Kindle early adopters.
Let’s not forget about my other favorite functions (the built in dictionary – critical when reading Stephenson), the Wikipedia search for more in-depth searches (just where is that island in the Phillipines he is talking about?) and the excellent battery life that lets me read for a week at a time while on vacation. It is the fusion of the primary function (reading) with the value-added connected services that make this device so perfect for me.
Not that it isn’t without warts. My biggest gripes – the buttons to turn the pages are in wonky positions for just picking up the device (i challenge you to pick it up witout accidentlally turning the page), the fact that you have to bookmark pages rather than just having it rememeber where you left off if you somehow manage to jump back to the title page (say, if a four year old gets her hands on it), the slow processor (looking up words in the dictionary takes about 50% too long), and the final, almost deal-killer: the stupid power cord. Seriously – the thing has a USB jack on it – I shouldn’t need to carry another power cord to charge the device. I hate power cords – I try to keep only one (my laptop) and then charge everything else via USB. Trying to charge the Kindle with USB, however, simply results in a dead Kindle since it thinks it’s actually connected to USB and that you might want to do something over USB other than charge it (what that is, however, I don’t know). I wanted to hurl the device from the balcony when I awoke Sunday morning with a dead Kindle while the laptop cheerily cranked away.
However -it’s a testament to how much I love and use the device that I drove twenty minutes into town to a Radio Shack and spent $40 on a universal adapter to keep my Kindle crack flowing into my neurons. Jeff – please fix this in the next version. I promise I’ll buy the upgraded device the first day of release just as I did with version 1. Power bricks suck.