While I’m mostly a fan of the Kindle Touch, I’ve largely seen little reason to upgrade from the Kindle Keyboard in day to day use. The darker frame is nice, the keyboard works well for any shopping I have to do, and it has generally proven reliable for quite some time now. Since I knew I would be on the road for about a week recently, however, I decided I would give the Kindle Touch a thorough test. You never know what you might learn by trying, right?
One thing that surprised me was that I was generally able to get a better 3G signal through the Kindle Touch than through my Kindle Keyboard. The Keyboard model is definitely far more broken in, so I can’t necessarily count this as a side by side comparison of new devices, but I was able to get more reliable, faster connections at nearly every stage of a 3,500 mile trip with the Kindle Touch.
I expected that the lighter case on the new Kindle Touch would be a pain compared to what I was used to. This was somewhat accurate. While reading in the majority of indoor lighting situations was fine with either eReader, I noticed that it was much easier to use my Kindle Keyboard in bright sunlight. I’m sure this was an optical illusion rather than actual quality differences, but the lighter frame around the screen left the Kindle Touch looking washed out in truly bright light.
Quite frankly, I love the physical page turn buttons. I still get annoyed at Amazon for removing them. That is literally my only complaint about the general reading experience on the Kindle Touch, though. It is quick, light, easier to hold, and generally everything you want in a reading device. The preference for physical buttons aside, I will admit that after a few page turns I stopped noticing that I was having to touch the screen and things moved quite naturally. This could be a matter of my own preconceptions as much as anything.
The place where I really appreciated having a touch screen was in PDF navigation. Things went much more smoothly than I’m used to. The same is true of in-line annotation in Kindle documents. While it is slightly faster to type on the physical keyboard, that advantage is negated by the fact that the Kindle Touch allows for quick placement of your cursor rather than a slow movement via 5-way control pad. The point here has to go to the Kindle Touch on both issues.
You can’t really complain about the battery life on any Kindle product. I used each of my Kindles for about 4 hours per day across a seven day period. They both still had just under half their batteries left when my drive was over. The charger that was packed could have easily been left at home.
My Kindle Touch is going to be seeing a lot more use. The lighter weight and smaller form made it stand out in a lot of ways and the fact that note taking was so much faster than I expected has persuaded me to make this my daily eReader. There are still many reasons to prefer the Kindle Keyboard, the keyboard among them, but it is not as clear a choice as I had expected. I will try to follow up on this in a few weeks to see if extended use is still preferable when both are available.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project has recently published a study about the current trend in electronic reading. Their findings signal impressive gains for the Kindle and eReading in general over the past year. It can now be said with some degree of reliability that at least one in five Americans have read a book on a device designed for reading in the past year and nearly 30% of American adults now own an electronic reading device.
There is reason to be excited about this if you’re a fan of the Kindle, but the results should also be taken with a bit of caution. For example, the definition of “device designed for reading” includes tablets like the iPad. If all we’re concerned about is eBooks getting read, then that makes no difference whatsoever. When we look at ownership levels, however, including the iPad or Kindle Fire will necessarily boost the numbers by including people who have no interest in reading on their multi-function tablet.
If we do look at eBook consumption alone, regardless of the device, the numbers are even better. Pew indicates that 43% of Americans 16 and older have read an either an eBook or some other long-form publication in the past year. This includes consumption via PC, Tablet, eReader, Cell phone, and anything else with a screen that might have been handy.
Kindle users are also more likely to purchase their books than those sticking to paper. The report indicates that readers of electronic books are far more likely to buy than borrow, even when libraries are now available, and are generally more likely to say that they prefer book ownership as a rule.
These readers are more likely than their paper-loving counterparts to have read extensively over the past year as well. Readers who take advantage of options like the Kindle report an average of 24 books read per year compared to the 15 of those who don’t engage with electronic texts. This may be specific to eReaders like the Kindle, since the report also indicates that a similar disparity did not show up when comparing tablet user reading habits to non-eReader reading.
This is not the end of the printed word, of course. Print books still account for the overwhelming majority of reading material being consumed. There have been large enough spikes in Kindle use lately to indicate the comparison might be more equal soon, but print still has its place. While most people who use eReaders reported that they prefer eBooks for a variety of reasons, print was still the desired format when talking about children’s books and book lending. The latter point is especially obvious since publishers have forced lending restrictions onto eBooks, but it is a factor nonetheless.
The thing that best sums this up is probably the demographics. While not specific to the Kindle, eReading was measured as fairly even across the board. Men and women are roughly equally likely to have read something electronically. All income groups show at least 20% to the same question. The only real areas lagging behind in adoption are among those with a high school level education or below and readers over age 65. Even in those groups the numbers are higher than ever before, which Pew attributes to the low price of the now <$80 Kindle.
The image on the right is a really creative marketing strategy by Milwaukee Public Library. I like how they mention sites that just about everyone is familiar with.
The amount of technology including social media, e-readers, tablets, computers, and more, is overwhelming. Technology is a very good thing because it puts the world at our fingertips. Social media has formed a global community of users. It has also helped us keep up with the lives of our friends and family more easily.
Social media can be used to share what we are reading. We can share passages from our Kindle via Facebook or Twitter. We can also follow Amazon or other Kindle related users to keep up with the latest news and reviews.
The drawback is that it is all a major time suck. The time we used to spend curled up with a book or playing outside is now spent on Facebook. More and more of our interactions with others are done online rather than in person.
So, how does this all relate to the Kindle? Well it is more of a topic for discussion than anything. If you could take a break from social media for a period of time, would you do the same for your Kindle? I am excluding the Kindle Fire from this question because it is more tablet than e-reader.
In my personal opinion, there is something that sets the e-ink Kindle apart from other gadgets. It is considered electronic, but it is built in a way that simulates that feeling we get when we read a real book. I curl up on the couch and escape into my Kindle books often. Does anyone ever say they’re addicted to the Kindle? If so, do you consider that a bad thing?
I think social media also affects the quality of what and how we read. We are exposed to so much information that we have to filter it out. So we spend less time reading more in depth material.
So, how can we use the technology more effectively? We will have to actively allot time for various things. Check e-mail or Facebook twice a day, get outside for an hour each day, etc. Read for an hour a day. Those are just examples.
It is amazing to me that just 10 years ago a majority of what is out there now wasn’t even invented yet. However, books have been around for a very long time. Now e-readers add another medium for reading them. Happy reading!
Now that the Kindle Fire is out and making a splash on the tablet marketplace, a commonly heard description by people who aren’t trying to set it up as the next iPad is that it’s “Amazon’s newest, most advanced eReader”. Now, in the interest of complete honesty from the start I will admit that nothing has managed to compare to the experience of E Ink Pearl for me when it comes to reading. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Kindle Fire is horrible for reading, just that for people who happen to have access to both technologies it will likely remain preferable to use the dedicated eReader.
What if you only want, or can only afford, to have one device on hand? The Kindle Fire will work just fine. Thanks to some of the options for display, it is almost pleasant to read even though it’s an LCD and there are some features that work even better with the tablet than they would on the admittedly slower eReaders. Moving from the Kindle 3, for example, to the Kindle Fire will require some adjustments, however, which it might help to be aware of.
Your books are now arranged a bit differently. Unlike on the other Kindles, which show you the books you actually have on your device unless you go out of your way to look at the “Archived Items” category, initially a Kindle Fire will display the Cloud view of your library. What this means is that every book you currently own through Amazon will be displayed, regardless of whether or not they have been downloaded. Kindle App users will likely be familiar with the concept. To download a particular book, just tap it. If you are interested in looking at only books that are already downloaded, though, such as in cases where WiFi is not available, there is a tab at the top of the screen called “Device”. This will narrow it down for you.
The Kindle Fire’s reading app is pretty nice, all things considered. Tapping the bottom of the screen will pull up a menu bar and slider. The slider allows navigation by location or percentage. The menu bar has the familiar “Aa” button that pulls up a Font Style tab to let you choose between all eight font sizes, three different options each for line spacing and margin width, and a few color schemes. Those first two will mostly be a matter of preference while the latter contains the vital “white text on black screen” option that most people will prefer for extended reading. This button will also pull up a tab for Typeface selection, of which the Kindle Fire has eight.
Users of older Kindles will also be pleased to find how much easier it is to interact with the text. Just hold down on a word to select it or drag across an area to make a larger selection. The option will appear to highlight, annotate, or search based on that. The search can take place through Google, Wikipedia, or within the text itself.
Overall it’s unlikely you will run into many problems adjusting to the Kindle Fire. It might not be the perfect reading device, but it does the job better than most. Feel free to leave a note if you have any questions about adjustment I haven’t touched on. I’ll try to answer any questions that pop up.
With the Kindle Fire opening up whole new avenues of entertainment in the product line and the Kindle Touch providing the affordable touchscreen eReader that people have been asking for for years now, there is a sense that both the Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3) and just plain “Kindle” (Kindle 4) are superfluous. Sure the low price on the basic Kindle is great, for example, but for only a $20 difference over the touchscreen model you are asserting that you will never need an audiobook and don’t have much interest in note taking. Sometimes it is nice to retain those capabilities just in case, even if you have no interest in them from day to day. This absolutely does not mean that there is no situation where that is the smart move to make, it just means that being aware of your needs is important.
I think that the obvious contrast will be between the Kindle Fire and the Kindle products with mechanical interfaces. While I will maintain that there is a definite difference between the new tablet and the eReader line it is billed as a part of, Amazon’s association of the two types of hardware under the same brand name makes the comparison important. It’s true that much of the argument also goes for the Kindle Touch, right now we can look at the Kindle and Kindle Keyboard hands-on. That makes things a bit simpler.
Naturally I could go on again about the superior reading experience to be found in an E INK Pearl screen over pretty much any LCD we’re ever likely to see. Fortunately, I think most people have come to accept that already. The battery life issue is also a big one, but not worth dwelling on. It is not likely that people would fail to see the benefits of only having to charge a portable device every few weeks. What I will contend is that there is an advantage to be found in the simplified experience of the Kindle and Kindle Keyboard over that we can expect from the Kindle Fire.
Since the Kindle is traditionally associated with reading and I’m talking about the virtues of the less expensive members of the Kindle family, it’s only natural that a great deal of weight is to be placed on the act of reading. For example, I consider it a great advantage to be able to read without the distractions offered by a multi-functional device. I won’t deny this owes to my own easily distracted nature, but that’s hardly an uncommon trait. Reading a book should not generally be an act of willpower overcoming the urge to do something else. That detracts somehow. With a Kindle or Kindle Keyboard, not only can you do little besides read, most of what else you are able to do revolves around acquiring more things to read. It is a cohesive experience.
The fact that both of the Kindles in question make use of mechanical controls rather than a touch interface can also be an advantage. Aside from any risk of fingerprints being left, many people will prefer to be able to navigate their eBooks via the page turn buttons on the sides of the device. When using a Kindle Keyboard, for example, you can adjust your grip to allow for page turning with nothing more than a light squeeze of the thumb. Even assuming this is possible on a touchscreen, it would involve covering part of the display. You may only save a small motion, but when Amazon is looking to save on even the effort of a swiping gesture in their touch interface there is obviously a preference for conserved effort in the user base.
The Kindle Keyboard in particular also offers the distinct advantage of being able to interact with your device without tying up screen real estate. Normally this is not a big deal, I will be the first to admit. When it comes to making in-text notations, however, it is useful to be able to see as much as possible while forming your thoughts. I do think that the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire will offer a greater speed to the notation process since selecting text is a bit clunky with the more basic directional control, but it is useful to be aware of the tradeoff. Losing the keyboard was worthwhile in terms of reducing size and weight, but for some people the keyboard is still a useful part of the Kindle experience.
This is not a claim for the overarching superiority of the older Kindle Keyboard or even the equality of the Kindle 4 (there is a reason that it is priced lower than all the other Kindles). What I am claiming is that they each fill niches separate from the Kindle Fire and, to a lesser degree, the Kindle Touch. Yes the newer, more powerful device can do basically all the same things that the eReaders are able to do as well as many other things that people will find useful, but that does not mean that it is a direct upgrade. For an affordable tablet, the Kindle Fire is great. For an eReader I would recommend any other Kindle without hesitation. There is no more reason to disregard the Kindle or the Kindle Keyboard than there is to ignore the situational usefulness of the Kindle DX, which is an issue I have also gotten into recently. Know your options and your needs when you decide it is time for a new Kindle.
I want to add my two cents here on the newest upgrade on the Kindle product line. I am excited about the much anticipated Kindle Fire, the Kindle Touch, and the fact that the prices have taken a huge nose dive over the past two years. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has done a great job of addressing competition and listening to what its customers want.
It is hard to believe that in December of 2009, I got my Kindle 2 for $259. Now the cheapest Kindle is a very affordable $79. It is overwhelming to observe how quickly the competition has ramped up and caused such a dramatic drop in prices.
The Kindle is very much a reading device to me. I curl up on the couch with it and treat it as I would any old book. I don’t want it to serve as a computer. I have my own PC and iPad for that. So, I have been eagerly awaiting to release of the touchscreen version of the Kindle in November. I look forward to quietly turning pages with my fingers instead of the click of the page turner buttons. The e-ink display has improved dramatically over the past two years to become much crisper, clearer, and easier on the eyes. All of these factors create a pleasant reading experience.
I think deciding on whether you want a Kindle Fire, Kindle Touch, or mini Kindle is determining what YOU want from it. Some go for the visual, interactive, multifunctional feel of the Kindle Fire. Others, just want a device that serves one purpose: reading. Then there’s wi-fi and battery life to consider…
I think the Kindle Fire is awesome and has a lot to offer, especially considering how much cheaper it is than the iPad. I think the Kindle gaming platform is going to really take off here. Not to mention audio, video, and internet access. There are a couple of things that it would need to have in order for me to consider it in the place of my iPad: external keyboard compatibility and long battery life. I use my iPad as a laptop to write with an external keyboard, and that has worked very well for me so far. Who knows what I’ll be saying in a couple of years.
So, all in all, it doesn’t really come down to “iPad Killer”, “tablet wars” or even “price wars”. It just boils down to what the users want from the device.
I am so glad we, as consumers, now have such a huge variety of e-reader and tablet choices at the prices to beat!
Oh my god, why is everyone is looking at me??!!!… are you the type of person who gets paranoid about what people are thinking when you indulge in the latest self-help book? Lets face it there are some books which are just plain embarrassing to be seen with, The Amazon Kindle official blog has a humorous post about one bloggers addiction to self-help books and how they make her feel, she lists what’s going through her mind when she’s reading on the bus;
Me (reading): He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys
Bus passenger (thinking): “That chick probably gets dumped a lot.”
Me (reading): How Not to Look Old
Bus passenger (thinking): “She should have read that a couple of decades ago.”
Me (reading): The Secret
Bus passenger (thinking): “She watches too much Oprah.”
Me (reading): Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires
Bus passenger (thinking): “Geez…yesterday she was reading The Secret.”
For those of you who are conscious about what other people are thinking when you read your book the Kindle makes reading your weird little titles a little more bearable in public, no longer do you have to hide the cover or find a secluded spot to read your book, the Kindle offers protection because the title you are reading remains anonymous. However now people will now think you are cool because you own a Kindle, or are they just saying that because you own a Kindle?… hmm
Has the Kindle made you more a adventurous reader in public?
Source: Amazon Kindle Offical Blog
The images above are from a test conducted by Cartwright Reed, with the iPhone on the left and Kindle on the right showing The Stand by Stephen King.
From Cartwright Reed
The smaller, brighter iPhone screen is showing the same number of words as the Kindle. The Kindle is the premiere ebook reader, but I think that the eReader/iPhone combination is compelling. Listening to music while reading off the iPhone screen is a great experience.
The Kindle is still the winner when you’re buying ebooks, though. I bought a few titles from Fictionwise and eReader from the iPhone, but it’s not nearly as easy as Kindle’s Whispernet experience. Of course, you can only go to one bookstore on the Kindle :-).
What is interesting is that the iPhone can squeeze the same amount of words onto the screen as the Kindle, however I suspect you will be squinting quite hard as you try and read the the tiny font on the iPhone. The only solution would be to increase the font size which means less words per screen, which means more page flipping.
Source: Cartwright Reed