First impressions of Kindle

I got a Kindle 3 (Wifi version) for my trip to Korea and Japan. The main reason being that it weighs 250g. When I went to Australia I must have lugged over 1.5kg of guidebooks with me. First impressions are good – the screen is totally different from an LCD – totally matte, no back-illumination. It does genuinely look like ink. I like the way it renders a portrait of a different author when you put it on stand-by. Reading is easy in lowlight or sunlight. Everyone I’ve shown it to has tried to navigate using the screen but you have to use the buttons and keys. Navigation is fine for linear reading, the pages turn quick enough although the colour inverts which is disconcerting.

Guidebooks, however, such as the Lonely Planet Guide to Japan do not work well. It’s hard to jump to sections and the full-text search is brittle. Images are not easy to zoom and pan around. It is also hard to know where you are in the book (other than in percentage terms). Probably best to stick to iPhone for this kind of thing, particularly as that has built-in GPS and a proper browser.

Kindle battery life is apparently a month if you turn WiFi off which is amazing. But it seems silly you have to remember to turn WiFi off manually. I won’t even take the cable with me when I travel. “Experimental” features include a virtually useless WebKit browser built-in and a virtually useless MP3 player. Kindle is cheap (£109) and great for reading novels. Book selection on Amazon isn’t bad if you stick to popular and new stuff, and prices seem to be keen versus paper.

BTW the first book I bought was the (excellent) $1000 Genome by Kevin Davies.