Thoughts on the Kindle

I’ve been looking at the Kindle again lately. I have a lot of PDFs, so I would have to get the Kindle DX, which is $489. (Incidentally, the small/normal Kindle appears to have been reduced to $299 recently.) The DX looks unreasonably big, but I think that it’s pretty comparable to an 8.5×11″ sheet of paper. Electronics should be small, but the screen to read books on should be big.

$489 is a lot of money. The ability to consolidate many PDFs on it is neat. If I were still in school I would give a lot of thought to getting it, photographing all the pages in my textbooks, and converting to PDF. Textbooks are heavy. (I don’t condone it, but there is apparently such a thing as pirated e-books, including textbooks.)

You can subscribe to many major newspapers and have them delivered to your Kindle. The same is true of a few dozen magazines. This is an incredible idea. The pricing seems off to me, though. $14/month for the New York Times? It’s cheaper than subscribing to the print edition, true. But it’s enough to make me realize that it’s probably not worth it. If it were, say, $5/month, I’d sign up without thinking. (If I had a Kindle.) Additionally, they have poor reviews, with users complaining that graphics don’t always look good at all, and that the Kindle versions often don’t have the full content, with articles occasionally being truncated.

I’m not really into buying books, though. I like libraries. When libraries don’t have the books I want, I often try to get them from $10 for a book is a bargain in some cases, but it’s still $10 more than the library charges. I buy a handful of books, but not if I don’t have to. Plus “buying” an e-book isn’t really teh same as buying a dead-tree book. I think it’s going to take a long time for people, myself included, to see them as analogous. The whole scandal with Amazon deleting a book from customers’ devices that they found was sold without proper arrangements for loyalties set them far, far back in this area, too.

The browser is fairly basic, but pretty awesome. I don’t go anywhere without a 3G iPhone, though, so it’s not as if having “real” Internet access with me is something new. And it sounds like Safari on the iPhone does a much better job of handling graphics, etc. than does the Kindle. Having looked into this a bit, it seems that you’re effectively forced to go through their proxy servers, and that nothing, not even DNS, will work if you don’t. This works great for what it’s intended for, but poorly if you’d hoped to “hack” it to do more. (For example, if it had an ssh client, it might be much more attractive to me, since it would be of great benefit to me professionally. But it doesn’t, and one won’t work, unless it’s through a webpage.)

It’s also disappointing that there’s not an SD slot for expansion.

At the end of the day, though, $489 is way too much. If I could use it for ssh anywhere, and if there was a wealth of free content, it might be worth it. But if I’m buying it to buy books for, I don’t think it’s worth more than about $199 to me. Sorry, Amazon.

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