Kindle 2 — Not Bad for Reading

Late to the party considering Amazon’s Kindle 3 got announced yesterday, but here’s my Kindle 2 review.

I was one of those who scoffed at the device when the Kindle first came out. It looked like some gadget out of the 80s, all angled and clumsy looking. When the Kindle 2 with its rounded corners and better display came out, I still didn’t hop on the ereader bandwagon.  But after moving and packing all my books into box after box and lugging the heavy things from one house to the next, I started to contemplate the perks of having a whole library digitalized.

A few months ago, I finally broke down and bought a Kindle 2. I was worried that it was just another case of gadget lust and I’d grow bored of it after a few weeks, but luckily that’s not the case.  I’ve read several full-length books on it now and I have to say, it’s very convenient.

Things I like about the Kindle 2:

  • Lighter than most paperback books I read.
  • Lays down flat on a table, which makes it super easy to read and eat at the same time.
  • Easy to hold with one hand.
  • I can listen to a book using text-to-voice in the car, making my commute more bearable.
  • Screen works fine in the sun.
  • Decent battery life. I read about an hour a day and one charge can last me two weeks. With wifi turned off of course.
  • If I’m reading some embarrassing paranormal romance, I’m not carrying around some book cover with an oily-chested man on it.

Things that the Kindle 2 does poorly:

  • PDF support is crappy at best. Most native PDF files are so small they’re hardly readable and Kindle’s ‘zooming’ feature makes it practically impossible to read things in a fluid manner.
  • Text to voice is functional, but man does it butcher words.
  • Book organization/navigation is clumsy.
  • Non-changeable screensaver. The default screen-savers are decent, but I’m getting sick of some of them. I wish we could just drag & drop our own into the Kindle.

Overall, as a reading machine, Kindle 2 is probably the best out of all that I’ve tried.  Before getting used to it, I thought the 1/2 second refresh rate was going to be an issue but it’s hardly noticeable now.  The actual act of reading on the Kindle 2 is pleasant, but navigating through a list of books, especially if you tend to have tons of books on the device is clumsy even with the new update that includes the option to create folders.

Navigating it isn’t much of an issue since that only accounts for less than 5% of the time I use the Kindle 2.  Is it going to make me stop buying dead tree books forever? Probably not. There’s still nothing that compares to flipping through the pages of a new book and of course, the new book smell, but for books that I’m only going to read through once, Kindle it is.