September 25, 2010

First Impressions of the Kindle 3

KindleMy Kindle 3 arrived this week, and while I haven't had as much time to use it as I'd like, I thought I'd share my initial impressions now and then follow up with a more thorough review at a later date. Surprisingly, I've already noticed that some of my initial impressions upon opening the box were quite wrong.

I bought a Kindle because I like to read, have accumulated way too many books over the years, and would like to reduce clutter by buying most (but not all) my books electronically. I've tried reading on the Kindle application on my desktop computer and on my Android phone, but I was not satisfied by either. The phone screen was too small, and I like to read in bed, which ruled out the desktop.

On unboxing the Kindle, my biggest surprise was how thin and light the device was. It seemed like the perfect size, but the thinness, combined with the marginal fit and finish of the face, made it feel cheap. I decided I was going to have to be quite careful with this device.

After some brief charging, I figured out how to turn on the Kindle and set up wi-fi without looking at any instructions. Even though I'd never seen an e-reader up close before, it couldn't have been any easier. Within seconds, the books I had bought from while waiting for the Kindle appeared on the device. Actually, "bought" is incorrect because I found several free books I wanted to read or re-read and thought it made sense to start there.

I decided that the first thing I would read on the Kindle was Thomas Paine's Common Sense. I had never read the whole thing before, and I had the sneaking suspicion that members of the Republican Tea Party who are obsessed with quoting one or two lines from it may have never read all of it either. I wanted to see for myself, and it turns out that I was right.

The experience of reading on the Kindle was delightful. I figured out how to highlight passages easily and then how to view what I had highlighted later. I marveled at how I could turn the device off and then when I turned it on, it was at the same place I left off. Much like the reviews I had read before buying it said, the keyboard is horrible and not something I'll be using much. Too bad because the annotation functions seem like they might be useful. Of course, I expect that the sort of books I take notes on will not be the sort I want to read on the Kindle.

I find that the more I use the device, the less flimsy and cheap it seems. Yes, the fit and finish could be better, but the Kindle really does seem more durable than it did initially. I think I've become used to the thinness and realized that it is actually quite solid. I will need a cover, so if you Kindle owners have any recommendations, that would be helpful.

All in all, I'm very happy with my new Kindle. I've been having fun browsing books on atheism and trying to decide which one should be my next read.