Amazon Kindle 2


I pre-ordered a Kindle 2 last month, for two reasons:

1) I wanted to read more.
2) I wanted to have my own, personal Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Amazon offers free access to wikipedia)

So, I’ve been playing around with it for about a month, trying to gauge how well it works. I’ve read several books with it, and I thought I’d offer my impressions.


  • Display – Personally, I’ve always hated ClearType, and I prefer my text to be pixelated and ugly on a LCD monitor.  Still, I found the e-ink display to be truly incredible.  It has a completely different ‘look’ about it that is difficult to describe.  It’s unique, and is almost, but not quite, completely unlike paper.  It displays surprisingly crisp, easy-to-read text.
  • Ordering Books – Ordering books is easy.  Too easy.  I thought, “Hmm, I wonder if there are any Isaac Asimov books available…”, and I found myself indebted to for $17.97 within three minutes.
  • Internet/Wikipedia Access – The ability to access the internet and wikipedia from anywhere there is a cell phone signal, with no charge, is awesome.  Amazon says they reserve the right to charge at any later time, but have not announced anything yet.
  • Free Books – Surprisingly, the Kindle fully supports free e-book web sites like  Clicking on a link to a .txt or .mobi file will cause the Kindle to ask you if you want to download this book to your device.  Then, it appears in the main Kindle interface like any other book.
  • Computer Interface – With previous annoyances with the iTunes and Zune computer applications (required to add music to the associated devices), I was afraid that the Kindle would require you to install an ‘iBook’ application.  But, I was happy to see that any computer detects the Kindle as an external drive, just like a jump drive or other device.  You can easily copy-and-paste supported documents (txt, mobi, etc files) directly to the Kindle with ease.
  • Battery Life – It seems to last forever, and I haven’t had any difficulties.
  • Minesweeper – The game Minesweeper is installed on the Kindle as a hidden easter egg.  It’s fun.


  • Internet Speed – Perhaps this is just my lack-of-experience with portable internet devices, but the internet speed on the Kindle is slow.  I just searched wikipedia for ‘car’, and the page finally displayed after 75 seconds.  It isn’t really usable as a portable encyclopedia when the response times are so slow.
  • Lack of Folders – Amazingly, the Kindle does not support any form of folder organization.  Every book, newspaper, and magazine appears in one big honking list, ordered by date downloaded / date last viewed.  You can put 1500 books on the Kindle, but good luck finding the one you want.
  • Browsing – When I read books, I tend to remember the layout of pages.  So, if there’s a big paragraph on the left page, and a grey box on the right, I can quickly flip through and find it easily.  With the Kindle, this isn’t really possible.  Each page change takes about 2 seconds, so quickly flipping through and finding something doesn’t work.  This isn’t an issue for fictional works, but for reference materials (I bought Kindle version of ‘The Pragmattic Programmer’) it is a huge downside.
  • Lack of Case – The Kindle costs about $360, but that doesn’t include a case.  Oh, no.  For a case, they’ll charge you another 30 bucks.


I have found that I read more thanks to the Kindle (because it overcomes a lack of motiviation to go out and find books).  But as a Hitchhiker’s Guide, it falls flat.  And its pretty flat as it is.

Overall, I really can’t easily recommend it for the price.  Perhaps if you find yourself on public transportation for a couple hours each day, it might be a decent investment.  As it is, most casual (or technical) readers won’t find much utility here.

Maybe in a few years, when you can get a free Kindle X in your box of Cocoa Puffs…

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