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A Hands-On Review of Amazon's Kindle

KindleOriginalipod_3 No, of course I don't have one of these devices yet...and neither do most of the people hyping/bashing it across the blogosphere today.  That's why when I finally came across an initial review that was written by someone who actually has a Kindle I thought I ought to call attention to it.  Maybe you can avoid reading all the speculative posts that I've been fighting through this afternoon.

Here's an insightful first look at the Kindle from Joseph Weisenthal on paidcontent.  The bottom line: It sounds like a typical version 1.0 product, which means it has a number of flaws but could also be an interesting device at the 2.0 or 3.0 stage.  Kindle is no iPod, that's for sure, but put an original iPod next to the iPhone and think about how much that product has evolved in six years.  Now look at this first-generation Kindle and consider the possibilities...

P.S. -- Mike Hyatt was one of the first to buy a Kindle and offers this review on his blog.  He also talks about why Amazon was uniquely qualified to take e-content to the next level.  Mike reviews the product as both a publishing executive (President and CEO of Thomas Nelson) and a typical consumer.  Very insightful.


Fran Toolan

Hi Joe,

that looked like a pretty good review. Hopefully you didn't fight too hard through my posts.... fpt

Joe Wikert

Hi Fran, no, your post was one of the easier ones to get through. ;-)


So has Apple hired all the good designers in the world? It blows my mind that with all the examples of elegant design that come out of Cupertino, Amazon still can only manage an e-book reader that looks like a prop stolen from the set of Star Wars. And I mean the original Star Wars, released in... what... 1976? Makes me think of the Detroit auto industry. All sorts of beautiful cars coming out of Germany and Japan and we get the Dodge Caliber.

Joe Wikert

Neil, LOL! Very funny, albeit painfully true, comment.

Bob Martinengo

It seems to me this device has a better chance of being picked up for other uses than as a standalone reader for an individual. Maybe cruise lines will buy them to supplement their libraries - how about fancy hotels looking for the next status symbol?

Also, there are all sorts of interesting corporate scenarios, especially if content can be synchronized to a central server. Legal firms, construction projects sharing documents, etc. Lots of possibilities.

Funny, but the least exciting scenario is the one they went out the gate with - as a personal reading device purchased by an individual. Amazon seems to have a blind spot here.

Timothy Fish

I have not touched a Kindle, but the specs are bothersome to me. It weighs twice as much as a PDA that can be bought for half the price. It is black and white, whereas the PDA would be color. The Kindle doesn't do much, while a PDA can be used for many different things. The screen size may be the only advantage it has over a PDA. Given the current state of technology, the Kindle seems more like a prototype than a 1.0 device. Given a choice, I think I would rather buy a $200 PDA with more features and a smaller screen then the $400 Kindle. I would be more likely to read a book on my cell phone than I would be to buy even a $200 dollar device to carry around for reading books. I have seen a few people reading books on PDAs. Mostly because they forgot or don't want to bring their Bibles to church, but there are very few people who do that. I have seen a few people with standalone electronic Bibles, but I haven't seen any of them who have kept using it after a few weeks. I would be surprised if Amazon recovers the money they have spend on marketing this thing.


Sorry, but I don't consider DRM a disadvantage of the Kindle or any other such device (like, for example, the iPod) for several reasons. First, there are other ways to get content onto the Kindle -- it is perfectly happy to read unprotected books, if you can actually get them legitimately. Second, the Kindle's DRM, like iTunes', is unobtrusive enough that most of the general public will not, I suspect, ever run into its limitations.
Third, DRM is the only way to get content providers to play along; just like how it took several years of iTunes before the music labels became convinced to start selling unprotected tracks, it will probably take a while for most publishers to come around to the idea. And fourth, i don't think DRM is necessarily bad, so if you would prefer to just assume I'm an evil bastard, go ahead and do so, I totally won't mind.
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