Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday ToolTalk: Kindle 3G +WiFi

There’s something about a book …

I’ve felt that way as far back as I can remember. I love the feel and texture and smell and weight of a book. And I love feeling the cover yield to you as you crack it open the first time.
It’s those feelings that initially dissuaded me from buying an eReader.

I read any number of product descriptions and reviews. I idled at in-store displays, flipping back box covers, reading all the information. I combed over titles offered by various free and paid websites. I discussed options with my own personal gadget girl, the MonkeyGirl.

When my department gathered recently for a celebration at work, the discussion turned to reading and eReaders. When I recommitted myself to reading a few years ago – a commitment that lasted for about two years – I managed to read 30 or more books during each of those years.

“Thirty?!” One of my coworkers nearly shouted. “Seriously? And you don’t own a Kindle or a Nook or something?” I shook my head. “You should. You’re the perfect candidate for one.”

I’d thought that getting an eReader might encourage me to start reading again. After all, I spend 60-90 minutes a day commuting, much of this time I could spend reading. I used to do it a lot but then the whole carrying a book around thing got a little inconvenient because I already lug a 20-pound satchel (including my laptop) back and forth each day.

So I bought a Kindle, Amazon.com’s eReader. I considered a Nook (Barnes & Noble) and a Kobo (Border’s). With the latter, I was a little unnerved by the state of Border’s financial house. And for the former, I don’t need a backlit screen. I stare at a computer all day. That’s the LAST thing I want when I want to read a book. Kindle uses Pearl (not to be confused with my Pearl), the latest in eInk technology with 50% better contrast and the sharpest text. This also means you can read outdoors – even in bright sunlight – without glare.

I will admit that I was tempted though by the Nook’s color screen and add-on capabilities.

I went with “the whole enchilada” Kindle getting the 3G + WiFi. There are two reasons. First, I don’t have wireless at home and I don’t want to have to wander into Starbucks or make sure I’m in another hotspot to get new reading material. All I have to do is make sure the wireless function is on! Blammo – downloaded!

Pros: It’s light, easy to read, easy to carry. The battery life is great. There are literally MILLIONS of titles to pick from, many of which are free – this includes books AND games. And, new free and discounted material appears EVERY DAY; you just have to watch for it. Lots of blog sites are dedicated to these finds. There are a host of up and coming authors in almost every genre to pick from, too. Combine these with the thousands of classic lit and contemporary titles and it literally puts an entire library into your hand! Items download uber fast, too. Choose a book and you could be reading it a minute later. At the end of the year, Amazon added “lending” capabilities to the Kindle – a prior criticism that sent many to buy Nooks. However, not all materials are lendable no matter what eReader you own.

With the 3G version, you CAN browse the Internet, making a Google search or Wikipedia entry easy to access – but it can be hard to read, not helped by being in black and white since Web pages were never meant for that.

Cons: Books can be expensive. But, hey, you'd pay the price if you were buying a hardcover. Cases can be expensive (both sleeves and covers can set you back at least $30-$50) but I’d say they’re a requirement if you’re taking advantage of the portability. You can’t access free library downloads, at least not instantly. The Kindle uses a MOBI format; most library books come in ePub. But with all the free content out there, this hasn’t been the issue I’d thought it might. (And there is a program, Calibre, that will supposedly translate ePub items into MOBI but I’ve not tried it.) Black and white can be disappointing on games, for me it’s with Scrabble in particular. The Kindle doesn’t have an SD card slot, meaning you can’t increase your memory. (I don’t see this as being a big problem for me.)

Conclusion: For what I want it to do, the Kindle is a great eReader option. I already have about 35 items on my Kindle, including two games. The majority of these items were free. Those that weren’t free were mostly 99 cents with a handful costing more than $3. Not having had it a full seven days, I’ve read a novella, a book and am halfway through a second book. (And this is almost all bus-riding and lunch time reading.) So, it has given me back the gift of reading in less than seven days!

Availability: $189 at Amazon.com (A WiFi only version is available for $139.) You can choose graphite or white.


Joanne said...

It's too bad B&N is pushing the back lit Nook color to the detriment of its eInk black and white version - readable in the sun. Have fun with your eReader - almost as good as sliced bread! (I do wish I had Scrabble!)

Cindy Paul said...

Glad you are happy with your new toy NV. Do you have to pay a monthly fee for the 3G? I already pay for internet at my home and on my phone, plus work wants me to buy a card (which I have not yet done) so a 4th internet access fee would be too much for me. I may just have to check out the WIFI only version and see if I like it. I have been on the fence for a while. It looks like you will be reading lots more now.


Mama Martha said...

Congrats on your purchase NV! I am surprised that MG did not sway you over to the iPad. I have to say that I love all the free books. I am currently reading Bram Stoker's Dracula, a free purchase, and finding that I love these classics.