The Kindle

One really cool thing that happened this week was that I finally got my Amazon Kindle that I ordered on December 6 of 2008. Since I was on the waiting list for the first version, I was in the first group in line for the new edition, Kindle 2. If you don’t know what the Kindle is check it out here: The reviews are rolling into Amazon, many of them with 5 stars, so I’ll try to keep the description brief. I haven’t purchased any books yet, although I have downloaded dozens of free books in the public domain. The Kindle uses cell phone service to deliver books and allow browsing of Amazon’s site wirelessly from anywhere with cell phone service. I easily found books that I wanted wirelessly on the Kindle and with a push of a button, they are mine and stored onboard.

There is no charge or subscription for the wireless service, I get free and unlimited 3G web browsing. The screen is optimized for text reading and doesn’t play videos, but I can read blogs and Wikipedia and all other web pages, as well as access and send email and I have live access to my Outlook calendar via Google Calendar sync. At this point I haven’t been able to play online video; while pictures are very sharp on the electronic ink display, the display is optimized for clear and sharp text and doesn’t play video well. The web service isn’t as fast as my 8Mbps desk connection, but it definitely will work in a pinch. A Blackberry or iPhone would work better, but I don’t have a way to justify spending the $100 a month on it.

Magazines and newspapers are also available; they come in wirelessly during the night with a fresh copy waiting when I wake up. Now I get Newsweek and The Washington Post daily newspaper. I’ve been wildly giddy to have the Post here because gas stations in Flagstaff don’t carry the Washington newspapers. It is a luxury to have the newspaper lying on my desk in the morning when I get up, and it’s small enough that I can keep it in my backpack all day, along with 1500 other books and, yes, the Washington Post Magazine is included with the Sunday paper. All the back issues are archived online and searchable for that good article I might remember in a week or two and want to reread. Of course I can always clip an article and save it indefinitely. There’s an onboard Oxford dictionary that instantly looks up a word if you hover the mouse cursor over it. As you may have deduced, it’s kind of an obsession with me, and one that I kind of hope will eventually pass because I have other obligations that need my time.