Sunday, 29 August 2010

Amazon Kindle v3 - Really Rather Good :)

So when I arrived home yesterday from my most recent week travelling abroad with work, as well as a happy wife and bouncing excited children, there were 2 new parcels from Amazon for me to open. (Well actually there were 4 parcels but that's about a normal week for me, and 2 new pairs of headphones for work aren't that interesting)

One contained a shiny new Kindle v3 WiFi+3G
The other contained it's Orange Leather Cover

Things I really like :-
  1. Packaging - there's a feel of value / quality about the simple cardboard boxes (not the usual Amazon wrap-around boxes), the internal packaging is clean purposeful, elegant, appears recycled (in a good way) and contains no clutter. Somebody has clearly though a lot about the feel, appearance & impact of the packaging as well as the environmental impact (no unneeded cable twists, or plastic bags, of marketeering pamphlets etc)
  2. The fact that it's pre-configured and setup with your own personal account before you power it on. This really was a surprise and a great customer touch, when I switched it on it already said "Hello Ian", was named "Ian's Kindle" and had the four books I'd ordered from the web site already available on it. Its a small thing, but shows a company totally focused on user experience - imagine if your next new phone already had all your contacts, settings, ringtones and applications on it the first time you powered it on without you having to do anything at all?
  3. The multi-platform seamless integration. With reader applications all running on my Kindle, NexusOne Android & PC - all showing the same content, reading locations and annotations etc. Shows how a proper 'cloud service' should work - mix of devices and always there synchronised content.
  4. Purposeful use model - in the same way I like and respect my Blackberry 8707 for clear and focused usability and design, the Kindle has that same brilliant focused feel, no clutter no tat no spamware just useful. In short it has engineered in simplicity & usability that many other products should rightly be envious of.
  5. Naturally you'd expect a world-leading retail merchant like Amazon to focus on the ease of content purchase & management, and they certainly have here. It's a 'one click' process to purchase content and it arrives effortlessly on the Kindle.
  6. Rapid nature of purchase & delivery - it's an almost real-time purchase from the web site (or device) to delivery of the content on the Kindle.
  7. The E-Ink screen itself - I genuinely thought the text show when it opened the box was printed on a transparent film, the clarity & contrast really are that good! It really is very easy on the eyes and as clean to read as a paperback book.
  8. The combined WiFi & 3G option means it's networking is always on & accessible, and downloads / purchases made have arrived perfectly - in the same way TonTom Live uses networking in a transparent and seamless fashion, Kindle makes the technology transparent.
  9. The power adapter - it's very very small, uses the normal USB cable to plug-in and connect to a tiny power plug. Just aesthetically nice :)
  10. The power off screen is a great touch - showing different images of relevant people / things each time it's powered down, I spent 10 minutes just power cycling it to see different images!
So what are the only down-sides so far?

a) The nice lady guide shown in the advert didn't actually get shipped by Amazon, disappointing for me but I guess my wife is rather happier about this :)

b) There still seems to be a minor 'gotcha' when loading many (ie 100s) books / files onto the device at the same time - in that the inbuilt search system then goes into index update/rebuild mode. This is totally a background process and doesn't impact any functionality or usage - except the general web consensus is that it drains the battery a lot quicker, and that some parts of the software platform are a little 'fragile' whilst this is going on.

c) The black-white-black millisecond screen flash when changing pages could be better if it were reduced or removed, but it isn't anywhere near as irritating or distracting as I thought it might be.

d) There is a minor mental / emotional frustration that I'd like to be able to see all the physical books I've purchased from Amazon available on the Kindle free and immediately, but I understand the content rights owner issues behind this.

Now I'm going to be interested to see :-
  • How quickly Amazon's recommendation platform moves me over to recommending eBooks rather than physical books
  • That Amazon list all of the physical books I've purchased over the years from them, and make it easy for me to obtain the Kindle eBook variant of each book (preferably at some discount price given I already own the physical medium)
  • If Amazon will buy MediaMan and really start to exploit the 'making metadata available to customers' as a differentiation and business opportunity (eg the obvious case of inventory listing for insurance purposes etc)
  • If Amazon will ever release a loyalty based reward scheme...
So the end of day 1 rating :-
  • Would I buy the same one again? Yes
  • Do I like using & reading off it? Yes
  • Have I downloaded content? Yes
  • Have I purchased new books? Yes
  • Has my wife looked at it and said "that's ok"? Yes

Some interesting web sites I've found relating to Kindle v3 topics :-


  1. Nice review Ian. Don't know what I was doing when you published it - must have been distracted. Anyway, now I'm going to have to pick one up for my wife, considering the endorsement above.

  2. Orange, really ?

    Oh well - now get yourself a copy of Calibre and enjoy free newpapers and easy format conversion for ebooks from other sources.