Amazon Kindle Review + Recommendation – The Kindle Decision aka the $359 Question

Should You Buy a Kindle?
I’m collating everything I’ve read and realized in the process of researching the Kindle for this blog and answering the ‘Should I buy a Kindle’ question via the following sections -

  1. I start off by listing the categories of people for which the decision is a no-brainer.
  2. After that I list the main functionality and additional functionalities.
  3. I list the major pros that Actual Kindle Owners have listed.
  4. I then list the major cons from Kindle owners and critics (i.e. people who’ve never owned a Kindle and have strong opinions) alike. For the cons I have included an explanation of whether it really is a con or not since there seems to be a ton of misinformation on the internet.

Note: I have collated details and information from all sorts of reviews (owners; non-owners; amazon customers; journalists) – if you do want to look at reviews yourself there is an excruciatingly painful level of detail on the Should I Buy a Kindle? page or you could use the link on the left to jump to Reviews at Amazon and go through the 1700+ reviews there.

Category of People for which its a definite YES:

  1. Anyone who reads a lot of books i.e. 1 book a week or more
  2. Anyone who reads a lot while commuting and/or travelling i.e. more than 1 business trip a month OR a commute time of greater than 1 hr a day on a train/bus/tube.
  3. Someone who is looking specifically for an ereader that adds on a TON of bonuses like free internet access.

    There might be a few categories i’m missing here and will add these as more come up. If you fall into one of the above three categories, you can rest assured that like the overwhelming majority of Kindle owners you will love it – Go Ahead and Buy the Kindle at Amazon.

Category of People for which its a definite NO:

  1. People who want a laptop, UPMC, iTouch, cellphone or some other device and don’t really want an ebook reader.
  2. People who are hung up over DRM – authors deserve to get money for what they write – sending a book out without DRM would severely cut authors’ and publishers’ revenue streams. The music album download that radiohead set up where they let users decide on how much users wanted to pay is a good example since a lot of people did not pay even 1 cent for the album. If an author writes a good or great book, its completely reasonable for him to expect to get paid. DRM might not be the most elegant solution – however, its a necessary evil. Until someone finds a better solution DRM is the only way authors can get what they deserve.
  3. People who are NOT looking for an ebook reader. A lot of Kindle haters are people who don’t even read much and are attacking it for something other than its core functionality i.e. it being an ebook reader. You can read books on your cellphone, your PDA, your Asus EeePC and your laptop. So if you only have a passing interest in books and just want to ‘try out’ reading on a device, then use a device you have and don’t buy a Kindle.

A Quick Synopsis of Functionality, Pros, and Cons

  1. The Main Function – A book reader. That’s it. If you read a lot of books, especially on the go and want an elegant eReader then the Kindle is a Great Fit.
  2. Additional Functions (listing the main ones)
    1. [Experimental] GPS Device with Google Maps
    2. Wireless Internet Access with Experimental Browser
    3. Music Player [Random Shuffle of Songs] 
    4. Audio Books
    5. [Experimental with no Colour] Picture Viewer 
    6. Amazon Kindle Store for Books 
    7. NewsPapers and Magazines
  3. Big Pluses
    1. The overwhelming majority of People who own it, love it.
    2. eInk screen looks much closer to a book than any electronic device screen (except of course for other devices that use eInk)
    3. Easier on the eyes + can also change font sizes
    4. Free Ebooks – insane collection of books from all eras.
    5. Over 100,000 eBooks from the amazon Kindle Store
    6. Amazon store all the time
    7. Newspaper and Magazine subscriptions
    8. Blogs (my recommendation is to use the browser and not use the 1$ a month subscription service)
    9. Free Wireless Access – Wikipedia + Internet browsing + being on EVDO means you aren’t just restricted to WiFi hotspots.
    10. Kindle NowNow – instant answers from real people
    11. Dictionary
    12. Up to 6 Kindles on one account. So a family can share their books. Or a group of friends. Or a group of classmates
    13. Easy to shop and books get downloaded in 1-2 minutes
    14. Easy to travel and move.
    15. Access to all your books easily.
    16. Save paper = save trees.
    17. Can make notes on the Kindle
    18. Transport all your reading material in the Kindle.  
    19. Built in capacity for 200 books.
      1.  SD card to add capacity
      2. Newspapers
      3. Magazines
      4. Blogs
    20. Extensions 
      1.  MineSweeper
      2. Convert from formats like PDF to view on your Kindle
  4. Big Drawbacks
    1. Price is steep (at $400).
    2. Not a Colour Monitor
    3. The backbutton gets pressed inadvertently
    4. Delivery Time wait – approximately 6 weeks when i last did a study.
    5. Problems with the Cover – Velcro solution (flicker picture) – there is a solution.
    6. Aesthetics – This is a very individual thing.
      1. Don’t like it’s only in white
      2. Button design (already mentioned back button problem)
    7. Limited number of papers and magazines
    8. Limited number of books (at 100K books now – so check what you like + whether it’s available + have close to 75% of bestsellers)
    9. $1 for blog subscription – solution: just read off the browser
    10. Only in the US + no coverage in montana and alaska. – Do check coverage BEFORE you order. important.
    11. Lack of support for common file formats – solution: MobiPocket Creator.
    12. How do you lend books to friends? Personally, i’ve lost too many good books. and at 10$ a book – let ‘em buy it. or share an account amongst friends.
    13. Prospect of free wireless internet later being removed. Highly unlikely cause of the public outcry and i’m sure there are legal issues here.

Conclusion

If you read a lot of books, travel or commute regularly, or one of the main pros makes the Kindle a winner for you, then Go Ahead and Buy the Kindle at Amazon. It is easily the best eBook Reader solution available (and i include all the additional things it brings to the table).

Additionally, if some information on this blog or this post helped you make a decison – that makes me feel my time is well spent.

If you need to look at more facts or more of an in-depth discussion try this page – Should I Buy a Kindle?

If on the other hand, you are looking for something other than an ebook reader, then please take into acount that the Kindle’s main functionality is ‘eBook Reader’ and expecting it to be a cellphone, mini computer, ultra portable laptop, etc. will lead to disappointment.
Finally, if you have one or two main reasons that are dissuading you from buying a kindle, please add them as a comment so we can submit it to Amazon as ‘Suggestions’ for Kindle Version 2.0.

And thank you for surviving this far ;)
A much more detailed list of Kindle extensions, pros, cons, reviews etc. is available at the Should I Buy a Kindle? page.

9 Responses

  1. [...] Is the Kindle getting unfair Reviews? Posted on January 18, 2008 by switch11 Update: If you want to make a decision on buying the Kindle the data from this post as well as numerous other reviews, posts and articles is collated at The Kindle Decision aka the $400 Question – Should I Buy a Kindle?.  [...]

  2. [...] Reviews of the Kindle Posted on January 15, 2008 by switch11 Update: I’m glad to say that I now have the (shall i daresay) most well rounded post on Kindle pros, cons, details and things you want to know before making decisions and/or forming an opinion i.e. The Kindle Decision aka the $400 Question – Should I Buy a Kindle?.  [...]

  3. [...] The information in this post is used primarily in – The Kindle Decision aka the $400 Question – Should I Buy a Kindle?.  [...]

  4. [...] Kindle – The Positives Posted on January 16, 2008 by switch11 This post forms a hugely important part of The Kindle Decision aka the $400 Question – Should I Buy a Kindle?.   [...]

  5. [...] Posted on January 16, 2008 by switch11 This post forms an important building block for The Kindle Decision aka the $400 Question – Should I Buy a Kindle?.  The main themes of discontent spring from the ‘back button getting inadvertently [...]

  6. [...] Thoughts on Negative Reviews on Amazon Posted on January 16, 2008 by switch11 For a full collation of information to help you decide you can go to The Kindle Decision aka the $400 Question – Should I Buy a Kindle?.   [...]

  7. [...] Singh presents The Kindle Decision aka the $400 Question – Should I Buy a Kindle? posted at Kindle, EBooks, Books, and Amazon Guide – the Kindle, saying, “discussion on the [...]

  8. [...] the record, the blogger does include drawbacks, but we don’t need no stinking drawbacks.  Besides if you win, you’re getting it for [...]

  9. I got my Kindle in October 2008. I have really enjoyed the product and have raved to friends and family about it. Now after one and a half years of careful use, the screen has failed. I have contacted customer service. They offer no repair service. They say that the only option for screen failure is to replace the device with a refurbished one for $99. There is a 3 to 4 week wait for my first generation model to be replaced since this item is no longer produced for retail. So I can’t read my e-reader until then. I was not expecting this response from Amazon. Considering the cost of the device, one would think they would do more to help the customer. On reading online posts on the topic, I find that many people have had the same problem. This device and the new model seem to have screen failure issues. It is a little fragile for its purpose. I say this because my device was not mishandled for this malfunction to occur. I think an e-reader should last more than a year and a half before it conks out. For it to be cost-effective and environmentally friendly, it should definitely be more durable than that. Wait and do your research before you buy this. Also, share your experiences with screen failure if you own a kindle. It may help achieve better customer service options if Amazon.com realizes this to be a common issue that loyal customers would like to see addressed.

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