Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Kindle: Pretty Cool!

Amazon.com: Kindle

This is the first ebook product that gives me a vision of where the book is going to go. I am imagining students with complete libraries without having to carry twenty pounds in their backpacks!

And, while not perfect, it gives a vision of where this technology will go. Sort of like the iPod: not the first of its type, but the one that pointed the way forward and ignited the field.

I bought my Kindle on the first day of availability, and received it the day before Thanksgiving (2007). By the end of Thanksgiving, I finished reading my first book, Stardust. It's comfortable to hold and to read. The flash at each page turn was initially bothersome, but quickly faded from notice. The textsize is handy for someone with aging eyeballs like mine. I haven't read the manual: it's pretty easy to figure out.

What makes this an extraordinary device is the combination of wireless ease with the e-ink display.

Here are my three downsides:

1. The display is really black on gray. It's darker than light gray or the off-white in paperbacks. But, it's still comfortable.
2. It's inaccessible for many disabled people. The keys are really small, the contrast is on the low side, and you need to see to read the books (not so good for blind folks).
3. You have to pull down periodicals, I couldn't figure out how to automatically have them downloaded. It goes pretty fast on the New York Times, but I wonder about being on a plane wishing it had downloaded something already when the wireless needs to be off.

On the obvious complaints: $399 is expensive. Of course, this is a tech product, and I expect the price of the device to steadily fall over time.

In conclusion, I think that it's pretty good for a version 1 breakthrough product!

Disclosure: My brother Tom worked on this product at Amazon.com. He knows about my accessibility concerns.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Here's an interesting report on Kindle accessibility: http://www.it-director.com/blogs/Abrahams_Accessibility/2007/12/Amazon_Kindle_for_people_with_disabilities.html

Given recent news that Amazon is getting into the textbook business with Kindle (competing, I guess, with the iPod/iTunes approach), perhaps both Apple and Amazon will be more attentive to accessibility.