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Books

Is interest finally kindling for e-books?

11.27.07 | Comment?

What with Thanksgiving and all, you may have missed the buzz over Amazon’s long-anticipated e-book device, the Kindle. I found a helpful review video I’ll embed below, but first here’s a quick list of pros and cons.

Pro:

  • Wireless access to Amazon.com via built-in cellular system essentially means you’re carrying around an entire bookstore, with access from anywhere you have cellular signal. This also allows the subscription to a limited number of periodicals and popular blogs.
  • The e-ink screen uses little power, which means you can probably read multiple books between recharges. The screen contrast is also supposed to be quite comfortable for reading.

Con

  • Some physical design choices on the device were not well thought out. For instance, the page forward/backward buttons are too easy to push accidentally.
  • The same year that the publishing industry votes on a universal e-book format, the new Kindle device uses a proprietary format. Other formats can be supported through a translation service, but it would have been much better to support multiple formats natively.
  • Even though the device allows users to subscribe to certain periodicals, it doesn’t allow users to subscribe to any RSS feed.

Here’s the video from Benjamin Higginbotham of Technology Evangelist.

Conclusion

I think the Kindle is a strong first-generation device. If you compare the Kindle to the first generation iPod, you can see that in a few generations we’ll see the device that everyone wants. In the next generation, I’d like to see a redesigned interface with smaller page forward/backward buttons and a less obtrusive keyboard, plus much wider native support for various e-book formats–especially the universal epub format.  In the meantime, I’m going to take another look at the iRex Illiad. I love the look of that larger screen.

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