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Tag Archives: Amazon.com

I swore up and down when I had to sell the Sony eReader back in my days at Borders that I would never, ever get one of them.  They heralded a movement away from my beloved books and magazines.  It was horrible, I thought then, that they would try to replace print media.  There’s a lesson here, folks.

Never make an ultimate; fate (or God, or Allah, or what-have-you) WILL make you eat your words.

This summer, I was perusing my booklist for classes this fall, and a couple of my professors, both men whose opinion I value very highly, suggested to me that I purchase some sort of eReader device, as it would be a powerful asset to me in both schooling and my proposed eventual career of teaching.  I took myself to the esteemed internet, did some research, polled some friends, and came down to purchasing the Kindle from Amazon.

Now, I have to tell you, this entire time I was waging a war with myself internally.  I felt like I was selling out.  I was giving in; I should just stamp a corporate logo on my forehead and collect my thirty pieces of silver.  At the same time, the eight-year-old still trapped in my psyche maniacally jumped up and down and rubbed his palms together, gleefully cackling, “oh boy, new toy” over and over.

I had looked over the Nook. Kobo, Sony eReader, and Kindle over the course of three days.  I carefully perused online sentiments outside of the vendor websites, and I looked at the bells and whistles of each.  I would be damned if I was going to just up and buy one of these things, only to find out that I had made the worst choice I could.  In the end, it was the Kindle, as I stated above, that won me over.

Here’s why:

  1. It wasn’t a touchscreen model.  I hate touchscreens.  I have large fingers that tend to be very warm, which makes operating a touchscreen a lot like trying to pick a lock with a butter knife.  It can be done, but it ain’t pretty.  The actual keypad, set up like a keyboard, is easily operated, and far enough out of the way that it is rarely bumped.  The side keys for page-turning are easily accessible and make about zero noise.
  2. It wasn’t a color model.  This may seem trivial, but I don’t give a damn.  I am going to be using the device to read print, not peruse art.  If that is what I was going for, I would have been looking harder at tablet PCs.  I can sit in full, direct sunlight and see my Kindle screen perfectly.  The technology used for the screen prevents LCD glare in light, and actually is easy on the eyes, as it does not use stark white for a background.  It really is just like reading the page of a book.
  3. The built-in OED.  That’s correct; each Kindle comes with a built-in Oxford English Dictionary.  All you do is use the directional pad to position the cursor at the beginning of a word, and it pops up a brief definition that you can expand with a single button push.  One button push later and you are back where you left off.
  4. Highlight and notation functions.  I know other eReader devices have them, but I found more positive reviews of the Kindle system than the others.  Now that I have it, I have to agree that it is a simplistic and straight-forward system that I like immensely.  I have used it a couple times already for some texts, and it is a very nice utility.
  5. Security.  Amazon keeps a record of all your purchases for your Kindle online so that if you lose it, you upgrade to a new model, or you have a catastrophic system loss,  you do not have to repurchase all  your books over again.  This is a great boon.  I now know that if I accidentally lose my copy of Small Favor by Jim butcher, it is only a couple of clicks away.
  6. Compatibility.  The Kindle reads almost all of the files used for eReaders.  It has a small problem with .PDF files, and it cannot read the independent .EPUB file, but the good news is that a free program, named Calibre, can transform those into .MOBI files, which the Kindle has no problem with whatsoever.  Which brings me to…
  7. I can port my own files over to the Kindle with minimal hassle.  I can do this wirelessly, if I wish.  You get at least one email address for your Kindle, which works with its 3G service.  Using the 3G costs you money, I believe about $.15 per MB.  However, if you get the wireless-enabled model, you get a second address that is completely free to transmit files through to your Kindle.  This brings me to…
  8. I can put my own generated files on my Kindle.  Using Microsoft Word, I can make up my own documents, such as notes, individual works, lecture notes, etc. and put them on my Kindle.  Just save them as a .PDF, use Calibre to convert them to a .MOBI, and voila, I have what I need on my Kindle.  If I save these to a cloud drive online, in a matter of moments, with a wireless connection, I have the documents I need from just about everywhere.
  9. The thing holds a charge just about for-damn-ever.  I charged it once when I first got it on the 25th of August.  It is now the 1st of September, and it is only down to half a charge, and I use the thing every day.
  10. The 3G allows you to purchase and download from the Amazon store just about any time, anywhere.
  11. The wireless comes with an experimental browser that lets you peruse a number of sites, including the BBC, Wikipedia, and the New York Times.

I didn’t realize it has a built-in MP3 player with good speakers (I have an iPod for that0, and I didn’t realize just how light it is (all of eight ounces).

But not everything is good.

  1. It really doesn’t like PDFs.  I mean, at all.  Text-based PDFs convert easily using Calibre.  However, if it is an image-based PDF, it hates you, your whole family, and anyone in five mile radius.  It displays the whole PDF on the six inch screen at once.  And no amount of text-resizing is going to help you, honestly.
  2. You have to be careful when reading on your Kindle.  Those side buttons for paging through are easily accidentally click, so until you really get the hang of it, you will be doing a lot of backward and forward paging.
  3. The screen is not backlit at all.  You have to have some kind of external light source for it to work.  There are a number of Kindle jackets sold with a built-in light, but it runs off the Kindle’s charge, so it will decrease your battery life.
  4. You really have to buy a cover for it.  The model I got is $189, and I don’t want to waste that money.  So, I purchased a $34.99 leather cover for it, and I do not regret it, but it is an unspoken cost for anyone that wants their Kindle to last a while.
  5. For you students, you HAVE to contact your professor and determine if you can, indeed, buy any of your books for use on your Kindle.  There are a number of professors that outright forbid this, and will make your life hell by making you also purchase a physical copy of the book.  Don’t assume.

The more I use it and have it, the more I like the Kindle.  The USB tether comes with a wall-socket adapter for recharging as well, and the manual installed right on the device is easy to read and get set up.  In all, I am glad I made this purchase, even if there is still a lingering feeling of betrayal.

To Literature, English Education, Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, and History majors, as well as people that do a good deal of travelling, enjoy new gizmos, and are looking for a portable device, I really do suggest the Amazon Kindle.  Avoid the models with “Special Offers,” as these are simply ads that come up whenever you boot up your Kindle.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go read the latest World of Warcraft novel on my Kindle.

Don’t judge!

What do you think?

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