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Amazon Kindle - A Class Apart
Many would say that the Amazon Kindle is what first sparked the eBook reader revolution. Today, we have a ton of eBook readers in the market, which quite honestly, haven’t entered the Indian market but you can always get your hands on them if you choose to purchase them online. Only a week or so back, we reviewed Infibeam’s new Pi2 eBook reader, which we thought was rather nice despite its average text rendition and somewhat slow interface.
A simple design but an effective one
Amazon’s Kindle too has been a grand success and those of us in India have hardly got a glimpse of it. For those unaware, this is the Kindle’s third iteration and Amazon were kind enough to send us their Wi-Fi model. The 3G model is pretty much the same device except that it has 3G connectivity pretty much everywhere and it can hook on to a partner network. That’s right - free 3G browsing on the Kindle. Leaving that aside for now, we move on to the product at hand - the Wi-Fi Kindle that sells for $133 (approximately Rs. 5,900).
One would expect a good eBook reader to have a decent sized screen, somewhere in the same size of a typical paper book novel page. The Kindle like the Infibeam Pi2 has had that. It too uses the E Ink display like many other eBook readers.
A real slim design
Unlike the Pi2, there is no touchscreen and the searching of keywords and occasional web page URL needs to be done using the full QWERTY keyboard at the bottom of the screen. It’s missing numbers though, so you need to press the SYM key and access the onscreen symbols screen. Wi-Fi connectivity is present on this model, and like we mentioned earlier, there is a also 3G model that sells for $189. One of the neat experimental features on this new Kindle is the text-to-speech synthesis.
Buying books online
One of the nice things about being a Kindle and an Amazon user is the ability to buy books on the go. There’s no need to use your PC to download books and then transfer them to your Kindle. It can be done over-the-air at your convenience. The Kindle can also be locked to your user ID, so the entire experience is seamless.
The reading experience is good fun. There is a pair of buttons on either side of the reader which are used to switch back and forth between pages. They come handy if you’re left-handed and also if you’re lying down on one side with your Kindle in either hand.
Font size presets
The books load in full screen, so there’s little wastage of space. A tiny status indicator on the screen, at the bottom displays your progress through the book. You can quickly switch font styles and sizes as well along with the line spacing and character spacing if you don’t like crowded walls of text.
There are quite a few nifty features in the reader. You can, for example, add notes or add highlights to interesting pieces of text. You can also share it with users on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. You can also find other interesting highlights in books you’re reading.
Build Quality and Design
The product itself is a nicely designed device. It’s solid, slimmer than most other readers and it feels lighter, as well. All the QWERTY keys feel just about right. We don’t expect users to be typing a lot with the keyboard, but you could technically use this to send somewhat long e-mails. It’s easier than using an onscreen keyboard on a resistive touchscreen.
Pretty when turned off
The power button lies at the bottom edge of the device. Slide it and you’re welcomed to a nice glowing green indicator. There is also a 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom that you can use to listen to music on your earphones or listen to books. Remember that this device has the text-to-speech functionality and Amazon also has audio books on offer as well.
There are also two speakers placed on either side at the top of the reader, at the back.
The text rendition on the Kindle is beautiful. There isn’t any backlighting but the whites on the Kindle look a lot cleaner and the text appears darker and more contrasted as well. Reading is extremely easy on the eyes in almost all lighting conditions. The brighter white makes the text a little more visible under poor lighting as well. The kind of fonts used is also what makes the Kindle so impressive.
Settings for the Kindle
Performance of the reader is superior to the Pi2 as well. Pages for example, switch switch faster and this includes the page rendition while browsing the web. Don’t expect it to be anywhere near the
The text-to-speech synthesis is strictly OK. It’s an experimental feature and although the speech is clear for the most part, it might run into hiccups with complicated words or names. The Kindle has options to change the characteristics of the reading voice too. The speaker is fairly loud and the quality of the voice audible.
We noticed no heating or instability issues while using the Kindle. The experience was generally flawless except for the faint screen refreshing issue.
The Amazon Kindle is an excellent eBook reader. It’s a little restricted than other eBook readers in the sense that you can’t simply dump a load of eBooks on the Kindle and start reading them. It’s a great reading experience and although this Wi-Fi model sells for just $139, shipping charges to India are bound to push this price a little close to Rs. 9,000. We’ve noticed a few models being sold by local traders for around Rs. 9,000, which isn’t too bad a deal either. If you’re an avid reader as well as a loyal Amazon user, you will be very pleased with this purchase.