Amazons Kindle, hold or fold?

I am a fan of books, at least 3 a week go by these old tired eye balls. But I like my books on paper. I can read them on the bus, I can read them in bed, I can even read them in the bathroom. Paper is great, reasonably light, resilient to drops on the floor, and, if push comes to shove you can use it to light your campfire. Maybe the best feature though is one that my wife invented, I now use thin strips of Post-It notes as my page marker, and when I find something that I want to use in my book review, I use one to mark the page. This is a great invention and think Jan deserves the Nobel prize for literature.

I have never been a fan of the e-book phenom, being tied to my computer is not what I want. Only once have I tackled an E-book, and that was only because the damn thing had been delayed at the printers and I needed to get the review up. I hated the whole adventure, in fact I ended up printing out all 300 odd pages. How much I spent in inkjet supplies I have no idea, it was tedious, time consuming and frustrating, thats all I can remember.

Several companies have tried to produce a portable e-book player, and most of them have been colossal flops. Either the battery life was too short, the catalog of available books too small, or the device was not rugged enough to handle the rigors of life with Simon! And I am pretty hard on my toys.

The e-book player that might just work has been recently released by Amazon. At first sight Amazon might seem like and odd bedfellow, but in reality it is the perfect match made in heaven. their catalog is compendious, I believe that they have over 4 million titles in their index, and their ambition is to have all of them available in e-book format.

The Kindle was unveiled last week, and while the $400 price tag seems a bit high, this looks to be a very interesting product. Although the Kindle is pretty spartan from a physical design aspect, it certainly scores high points in functionality. The technology being used is referred to as E-ink, this is way beyond my high school physics, but as best I can understand it is sort of like the old Etch-a-Sketch, once the page is displayed it will stay visible even if you remove the batteries! This means that power consumption is virtually zero, you only use power when you move to the next page. I have to admit that this sounds like Voodoo to me!

The other issue that I have had with e-book players is the hassle of loading books, generally you have to mess with computers and the endless tangle of damn power cords, USB cords, and whatever else. Kindle has fixed that, no cords, no computer, and no hassle. It comes with built in wireless high speed broadband. The killer feature about this is the service is free. How cool is that?

Apparently Kindle can also act as a simplistic web browser, maybe not one that is quite up to the richness of Firefox, but certainly good enough to check your email.

I’d love to get my hands on one of these to take out for a test drive, so Mr Amazon drop me a line and I’ll give you my address so you can ship me a Kindle for review!

Simon Barrett

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