Before going on vacation, I was blessed to receive my new Kindle from Amazon.com. Why the Kindle? Well, I had looked around for some time on which e-Reader I would commit my money and library. I checked out the Barnes and Noble’s Nook and found it to have some good features, but when I asked the store clerk to show me how the device worked, he had problems trying to get the Nook to highlight or take personal notes. I don’t know if the problem was with the sales clerk or the Nook itself, but after other employees tried to get it to highlight or take notes and failed, I gave up any interest in it. I also priced some of the eBooks from B&N and found them to be more expensive than Amazon. So, the Nook was crossed off my list.
I also became interested in the iPad from Apple to be released on April 3rd. I am a Mac and an iPhone user. I have enjoyed both products and they have been beneficial to my work. I rate both with a high level of quality and reliability. Therefore, with anticipation, I checked out the new iPad videos on the Apple web site and was impressed with the device. The iPad is more than an eReader. It is, for lack of a better description, an iPod touch on steroids. I really like the idea of having a touch screen with which to navigate. The initial drawback I found with the product was its size. A little too big and cumbersome for me to carry around and read books, but not a deal breaker. The deal breaker came with the price, $499 for the base iPad. Models went all the way up to $899. If you got the iPad with the 3-G feature, you would be charged a monthly fee for the 3-G usage. On the high end, once you buy the extended warranty and some other accessories you can quickly have over a $1000 investment. Even with the base model, you could approach $700 quickly with all the add-ons. For me, the iPad (I nickname it the iSlurp) with all its extra features did not add any value over and above what I already have in my iPhone. I am even able to read books from Amazon with the Kindle app on my iPhone. So, I see no benefit to shell out hundreds of dollars to get what I consider an overgrown turbo charged iPhone. Again, my interest is an eReader.
So back to the Kindle. I purchased the Kindle II. Again, size did matter for me as I thought the Kindle DX was a bit too big and cumbersome. I didn’t see the added benefit of spending more money for a bigger device. While the iPhone app for Kindle is great, but the iPhone itself too small to be a quality eReader, the Kindle II is the perfect size. After adding the extended warranty and a case to keep it in, I spent around $350. With the books I have already purchased, I have saved about $100 off the printed versions of the same books. Hopefully, I will make up the rest of the cost by years end with other book purchases. I will let you check out the Kindle on Amazon.com to find all the features, but here are a few observations from my initial use. Note taking and highlighting is relatively easy compared to the Nook even though movement of the cursor is a bit awkward. The typing pad is too big and spaced out. I have big hands and it was uncomfortable for me to hold the Kindle and type with my thumbs like I would on my iPhone when typing a note or thought. I could only imagine more difficulty for someone with smaller hands. Page turning was easy once I got used to which buttons went forward and backwards. The best feature was the text-to-speech ability. I was able to drive and listen to a book being read to me as we traveled. While this feature is not available for all books, it is still great to use when available. There were some words that were difficult for the Kindle pronounce, but let’s face it, many of us have difficulty pronouncing ecclesiology. ;-) All together, I have enjoyed reading with it thus far. I have had no problems with my eyes and the screen has been easy on them.
In the future, I hope Amazon will develop an eReader that is a touch screen that would rival the iPad and beat it on the price. But until then, I would recommend the Kindle for anyone looking for an eReader. If you have the money and really want the extra features the iPad contains, splurge and enjoy, but I would recommend an iPhone and Kindle combination if you are going to shell out that amount of money. I would imagine in the next few years other devices will come that will contain improvements on the Kindle, but for the price, it is worth the purchase now to read books.