Kindle Review, part 4 - Tech - User Experience

In my last post, I talked about the user experience with the Kindle screen and why I chose it over Barnes and Noble's Nook. In this post, I will discuss a variety of other user experience and technical topics. Then I want to go back to reviewing books for a while! There is one big Kindle topic left, which is content, but I think I will sprinkle that throughout my posts for a while and do a more holistic post about it later.

One decision you need to make when buying the Kindle: 3G or wi-fi? I chose the wi-fi only version because it was $60 cheaper at the time, and I'm rarely away from wi-fi. I live in a major city with wi-fi everywhere, and I have wi-fi at home and work. The only time I don't have wi-fi is during my 20 minute bus commute each day. If you only use your Kindle for reading books, like I do, the only time you need a wireless connection is when you are downloading new books, which isn't very often. You might need 3G if you don't have a computer or wi-fi (which is easy to set up at home with the purchase of an inexpensive wireless router), or if you travel a lot or live in a place where there is not ready access to wi-fi.

The only other benefit to 3G over wi-fi is that wi-fi drains the battery a little more (I've heard). But the battery life on the Kindle is so long that I never have trouble with the battery draining while I am reading. The Kindle website says the battery can last up to two months if you turn off your wi-fi. I haven't tested that, since I am too lazy to turn off my wi-fi, but I just find if I plug it in for an hour here and there, the battery life is no problem. The Kindle is not really doing anything that would drain a battery too much.

OK, so there is a commercial out there with a snotty girl saying she didn't want the Kindle because you can't turn the pages over, and the guy says this is not true. It's true that there are no pages, but I like Kindle's bookmark system a lot. It's an easy-to-get-to menu option and the bookmark is always saved, unlike paper bookmarks which can fall out! As you read through the book, all your previous bookmarks are saved as well.

Another snotty comment heard about the Kindle, which I actually heard from Joyce Carol Oates at a reading she gave, was that you can't mark passages (cue old people cheering). Actually, sorry Joyce, but you can!  There is even a feature you can turn on or off where you can see which passages others have highlighted. I don't care to know that when I am reading for pleasure, so I turned it off. But it might be interesting to others; like the feature where you can review the book afterwards from your Kindle (albeit with the dumb little squirrel-sized QWERTY keyboard), it kind of brings a social network element to reading which might be fun. And if you fall asleep reading your Kindle, even though it doesn't technically "bookmark" your page, chances are your place is still there, because the screen saver comes on after a short time and it can't fall "closed" like a paper book.

This brings me to a topic that is near and dear to many: reading in bed. So many people have said "Well, Kindles are interesting, but I like to read in bed with my books propped up on my chest/pillow etc." I actually find it easier to read in bed with a Kindle now. It's very lightweight and portable, and the page turning is so easy - you just click a button rather than moving your hand or arm to turn a page. This means you can get comfortable and don't really have to take the book's physical weight or size into account. I have been an avid reader for going on 35 years now, much of that done while lying down, and I was kind of floored by how fast I converted to Kindle reading, especially in bed. It's just so much more comfortable.

**note: I am a member of Amazon Associates, and if enough of you click links to Amazon that I add to my posts, I will receive a tiny incentive. Computers are smart; they know we are talking about Kindle at the moment, so there might even be a Kindle for sale in the ad box on my page right now (the content of which I do not control). However, Amazon did not send me my Kindle to review and I am not receiving any compensation from them (or anyone else) directly for writing this series of posts, which reflect my true experience as an Amazon customer and Kindle reader.

Although I would sell it to them if they wanted it . . . 

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