Apples To Apples: Reviewing The Kindle 3

Posted September 4, 2011 by Meoskop in Opinion / 0 Comments

Are we still doing this? (How can we still be doing this?) Ok then. Here we are. Drumroll for the big dog in the fight, the Kindle 3.  The Kindle 3 is the reader you buy your grandmother. Ordered from Amazon, it’s ready to go out of the box. Picked up at Target, it just takes a few minutes to authorize. The Kindle has some serious weight behind it, so let’s talk about it’s limitations first. The Kindle has a visual design only it’s mother could love. Let’s be real, it’s ugly. Grey may be my favorite color but carrying a keyboard around at the bottom of my reader… all I can think to compare it to is tying a fanny pack on a chubby teenager. That keyboard is not doing Kindle 3’s styling any favors. Adding insult to that injury,  the letters are going to wear off the keys fairly rapidly. Sony is correct to place the page turn keys on the base of their units. While the Kindle buttons are smoother to operate, having them on the sides is cumbersome. There’s no great place to hold a naked Kindle. Although it is extremely light, I haven’t found a position that is both stable and enables one finger swiping of the pages. Mostly I hold it in one hand, hit the button with the other. That’s way too much effort for someone like me. (It’s probably my tiny mutant hands, but I need some buttons rearranged.)

Other than that, Kindle could eat everyone else’s lunch and still have room for dessert. Yes, it’s cumbersome not to have Touch after experiencing it with other e-readers and yes, there are some serious limitations in the Amazon interface, but let’s not kid ourselves. WhisperSync makes up for a lot. The selling point of the Kindle is that buying and loading books is ridiculously easy. This is true. You want it, you click on it, you have it. There’s no need to get out your USB cable, there’s no need to shop around. Click. Read. Done. Additionally, if you forget your Kindle on the bus or in your other handbag or at the office, just pull out your iThing or your laptop or whatever you’ve loaded your Kindle App to and resume reading where you left off. Click. Read. Done. Amazon doesn’t need to make the changes that would ensure it’s dominion when it already holds that power. No other reader can follow you from device to device at this time. For sheer ease of use the Kindle cannot be beat. While it’s plastic case is more prone to breakage than other units,  Amazon’s customer service handles that easily. Broke your Kindle a day before the warranty ran out? Odds are good you’re getting a new one. Day after? I still like your chances. Amazon recognizes that the real value of the Kindle is not the unit you’re holding in your hand but the consumer relationship between your wallet and their store. Suddenly remember you forgot to order Aunt Seraphina’s 80th Birthday Gift? Use the web browser to connect to Amazon and hook that up before resuming your read. It may not be an elegant or quick browser but it just saved you from having to leave the Lazy-Boy.

Click. Read. Done. and WhisperSync are so attractive that I would leave the better designed Sony product behind if Amazon would make a few changes to it’s software. Kindle files everything under The. While you can make collections, it’s cumbersome and annoying to do so. Instead of a fetishist joy, building collections is a root canal. You know the longer you put off getting started the worse it will be, but you still avoid it. Making things worse is the lack of WhisperSync for non-Amazon purchases. Did you sideload your previously purchased (now unlocked and converted) Sony library to that Kindle? No WhisperSync for you. Amazon only wants to maintain the library you paid it for. (It’s a little ironic that Apple and Amazon are currently facing off over whose closed system can be the tightest. Both of those guys need to loosen up so we could fit more money in their pocket.) The other thing keeping me from Kindle is it’s lack of locks. With the Sony and iPad systems I know my companions are too lazy to get a USB cable out and teach themselves how Calibre looks. I can load a reader with the books they wanted, hand it off, and call it a day. While Kindle has the (awesome!) option to link up to six units to one account, it does not let me partition which Kindles see which books. This means your four year old early reader can accidentally download your Erica Jong collection. You can’t buy Puppies On Parade without Uncle Joe noticing. You can’t even have a special folder marked YOUR BOOKS ARE HERE for when your partner (who still doesn’t want an e-reader) borrows your Kindle (again) and asks who needs 360 books in their Archive. (As we all know this leads to said partner researching How To Delete Books From A Kindle Archive and tossing half your books out in their effort to ‘help’ you find ‘things’ more easily.)

On paper, Kindle is the perfect lover. In the flesh, it’s easy to notice Kindle needs to floss more. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to mine. I could de-authorize it and establish a separate account for another user, but that creates needless partitioning issues for my computer and iThings. I could hand it off to another user and tell them not to even think about messing about with the Archive. I could give up Touch and accept only some of my books will be both WhisperSync’d and automatically delivered on release. I’m completely on the fence. If you plan on only buying from one source and you don’t like sharing; if you think organizing your books easily is for sissies or buy only a dozen books a year, the Kindle will never make you cry. With it’s ease of use for Audiobooks and insanely simple text scaling, it is a huge hit with the older members of my clan. It is not an accident Amazon is dominating this market, but they haven’t done so in a way that makes me stop looking at Sony.

Points Of Awesome

  • No Cable Needed. WiFi or 3G Load Options
  • Elementary Interface
  • Customer Service Out The Wazoo
  • Backed By Internet’s Largest Store
  • MOBI Also Sold Elsewhere
  • Insane Battery Life
  • Automatic Loading Of Pre-orders
  • Limited Loaning
  • Easy Gifting
  • Lightweight & Pleasant To Hold
  • Best Screen For Clear Reading
  • Built In Support For Audible Books
Points of Bummer
  • Keyboards
  • Cumbersome Navigation For Large Libraries
  • Lack Of Locks
  • Must Jailbreak To Lose Ugly Screensavers
  • Lack Of Support From Most Public Libraries
  • Ugly As Shame
  • Feels Kinda Cheap
  • Only Fully Supports Amazon Purchased Product
Monday(ish) – So What Do I Buy? 
Tuesday – Why Calibre?