Review of Kindle 2 with Video

It’s been 2 weeks and 2 days since I got my Kindle 2 and after reading through 4 full books I absolutely LOVE IT!   Here’s a comprehensive Kindle 2 review and a kindle 2 video review. 

It’ll help you get a very good idea of whether you ought to buy a Kindle  2 and the videos show the screen very well.

Kindle 2 Review – What It Looks Like

The Kindle 2 is a good looking device –

  1. The white color looks a bit plain – however, it makes it easy for the Kindle 2 to fade into the background and the book you’re reading to take center-stage.
  2. Kindle 2 is very, very thin.
  3. The keyboard is tiny – tiny buttons, tiny lettering.
  4. The Next Page and Prev Page buttons have been modified so there are no longer accidental page-turns.
  5. The back is now polished metal – however, the battery is non-replaceable.

Here’s a video of what the Kindle 2 looks like – [wpvideo alwBbPmy].

Kindle 2 –  What the Screen Looks Like

A lot of discussions have focused on the Screen and my thoughts are –

  1. Its very readable.  
  2. The background is very light grey and not white, and the text is dark grey and not black.
  3. If you have eye problems and need high contrast black on white – it won’t work. If your eye-sight issues are related to font size it works very well. 
  4. The six font sizes make for a great feature and allow even people with low eye-sight to read.

Here’s a video showing the contrast and comparing it with a paperback and a hardcover book – [wpvideo yJmdUa7v]. There’s a video showing font sizes below.

What Reading a Book on the Kindle 2 is like

Reading a book on Kindle 2 is –

  1. Very enjoyable. I find it a bit faster than reading an actual book.  
  2. Much, much more enjoyable than reading on a computer screen.  
  3. Does not tire your eyes.
  4. The 6″ screen size is a little smaller than ideal – 8″ or 9″ would work much better. One out of Kindle 3 and KindleText is going to have a 9.7′ screen.
  5. The ability to change font sizes makes things very enjoyable.
  6. Read To Me is a good feature. Do note that now its up to publishers on whether to allow the feature or not. 
  7. Kindle 2 fades into the background.
  8. Page refreshes are relatively quick.

Kindle 2 Review – My 10 Favorite Features 

  1. Ability to buy books instantly.
  2. Light weight and thin Kindle 2 is convenient to carry around and hold in your hand. Also, reading with one hand is easy.  
  3. Changeable Font Sizes.  
  4. Using Read To Me Text To Speech feature to let the Kindle 2 read to me.  
  5. Battery life – it goes on forever, especially if you turn off the wireless. 
  6. Free Internet Access and Free Wikipedia Access (not in Canada though so I’m missing this).
  7. It fades into the background.  
  8. I’m reading much more – In 2 weeks I’ve read 4 full books and snippets of a  lot of other books.  
  9. Most books’ Kindle Editions are cheaper than print editions. I don’t buy any Kindle books over $9.99.
  10. 16 levels of grey-scale makes for much clearer pictures.

Here’s a video of changeable Font Sizes – [wpvideo dXyaxN0G].

Kindle 2 – Good Features

  1. 86% of Kindle 2 owners love it – check my post on Kindle 2 Reviews from actual owners.
  2. Whispernet coverage is extended to more areas, and you can buy books instantly over WhisperNet.  
  3. WhisperSync which lets you read across different devices.  
  4. Kindle for iPhone App to let you read on your iPhone or iTouch.
  5. 2 GB Internal storage. 
  6. Saves Trees.
  7. MP3 songs can be played in the background.
  8. Powers from USB cable in addition to charger. So you can charge it from your PC or laptop.

Kindle 2 – Things I Wish Get Improved in Kindle 3.

This is not a wish-list for Kindle 3. Its just things that need to be improved based on my Kindle 2 review experience –

  1. A better keyboard – the keys are tiny and difficult to read and press.
  2. Improved navigation – the 5 way controller is useful. However, its slow and a touchscreen or better navigation is desperately needed.
  3. Folders – The ability to organize content into folders.
  4. SD Card slot to let you add more storage.
  5. Ability to work well with non-linear content i.e. newspapers, web pages, etc.

Kindle 2 – Software/Firmware Updates that ought to be done.

  1. Improve screen contrast by letting people choose ‘Read in Bold’ option, and also turn off anti-aliasing for the 2 smallest sized fonts.  
  2. Allow 3rd party applications.  
  3. Put in support for Folders.

Should You Buy a Kindle 2?

Based on the 2 weeks of owning and using a Kindle 2, you should definitely buy a Kindle 2 if you fall into one of these categories –

  1. Love to read books.  
  2. Travel a lot.  
  3. Commute to work everyday with a longer than 30 minutes trip.
  4. Want to read more books than you currently do.  BTW, it makes a great gift if you want to encourage kids to read more.  
  5. Are running out of space for books or are tired of moving with lots of books.

The Read To Me feature also makes it great for when you’re driving. However, it’s now up to Publishers to enable or disable this feature for their books and they might turn it off.

You can see a whole bunch of Kindle 2 Videos and video reviews of features at the Kindle 2 Video Page. Since Kindle 2 isn’t available at any store this is a good way to figure out what you’ll be getting.

You can find a longer list of Pros and Cons, and additional data like Comparisons with Kindle 1 at my detailed Kindle 2 Review post.

Kindle 2 Technical Specifications

And finally, the technical specifications –

Display: 6″ diagonal E-Ink® electronic paper display, 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 16-level gray scale.

Size (in inches): 8″ x 5.3″ x 0.36″.

Weight: 10.2 ounces.

System requirements: None, because it doesn’t require a computer.

Storage: 2GB internal (approximately 1.4GB available for user content).

Battery Life: Read on a single charge for up to 4 days with wireless on. Turn wireless off and read for up to two weeks. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as shopping the Kindle Store and downloading content. In low coverage areas or in 1xRTT only coverage, wireless usage will consume battery power more quickly.

Charge Time: Fully charges in approximately 4 hours and supports charging from your computer via the included USB 2.0 cable.

Connectivity: EVDOmodem with fallback to 1xRTT; utilizes Amazon Whispernet to provide U.S wireless coverage via Sprint’s 3G high-speed data network (check wireless coverage). See Wireless Terms and Conditions.

USB Port: USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) for connection to the Kindle power adapter or optionally to connect to a PC or Macintosh computer.

Audio: 3.5mm stereo audio jack, rear-mounted stereo speakers.

Content Formats Supported: Kindle (AZW), TXT, Audible (formats 4, Audible Enhanced (AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; PDF, HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.

Included Accessories: Power adapter, USB 2.0 cable, rechargeable battery. Book cover sold separately.

Documentation: Quick Start Guide(included in box) [PDF]; Kindle 2 User’s Guide(pre-installed on device) [PDF].

Warranty and Service: 1 year limited warranty and service included. Optional 2 year Extended Warrantysold separately.

I hope the Kindle 2 Review helped you and congrats on reaching the end 😉 .

Kaizen, Deming & Jeff Bezos

There are a few really interesting Jeff Bezos related articles that all stem from –

  1. Jeff Bezos spending a week working at an Amazon distribution Center in Lexington, Kentucky

    “Thanks so much for your interest in speaking with our CEO Jeff Bezos,” said spokeswoman Patty Smith. “Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to arrange any interviews or photos this week while he is in Lexington.

    “He is there to work,” Smith said, “and, unfortunately, we are just not scheduling any interviews while he is in town.”

    Local Amazon employees say Bezos is working in the warehouse with the company’s hourly employees to see what they do and hear their comments about their work

  2. Mr. Bezos’ focus on Kaizen, Six Sigma and related stuff.  Here’s a snippet from a Harvard Business Review interview (from the Shmula Blog) –

    I mean I literally learned a bunch of techniques, like Six Sigma and lean manufacturing and other incredibly useful approaches …  that execution focus is a big factor … for instance, we look at the number of customer contacts per unit sold. Our customers don’t contact us unless something’s wrong, so we want that number to move down—and it has gone down every year for 12 years. That’s big-time process management.

If you’re interested in finding out more, here are 2 good posts –

  1.  Jeff Bezos at the Gemba (from the Lean Blog).
  2. Jeff Bezos and Root Cause Analysis (another Mr. Bezos at a Distribution Center story).  

Here’s something more on Deming, Kaizen, and the auto industry –

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy (stemming from the work of an American) that focuses on continuous improvement in every aspect of life (or in the case of a company, the company’s processes).

What Kaizen Means
What Kaizen Means

It works really well as part of a three step process i.e. ->

  1. Strategy  (what is our/my purpose and what is our/my  strategy to achieve it).
  2. Execution. 
  3. Review + Improve Strategy and Execution (the main kaizen step, although kaizen ought to be incorporated in every step).

It also goes hand in hand with the whole concept of “the 10 years, 10,000 hours rule” that Outliers and Talent is Overrated talk about i.e.

It takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice and focus on improving to truly master an area and reach a point of exceptional performance. This usually takes 8 to 10 years, sometimes longer.

 Kaizen and the 10 year rule go well together because Kaizen provides an exceptionally powerful framework to ensure that the 10,000 hours is actual ‘deliberate’ practice and makes you and your processes better.

Who is Deming?

W. Edwards Deming (courtesy Wikipedia) –

is perhaps best known for his work in Japan. There, from 1950 onward he taught top management how to improve design (and thus service), product quality, testing and sales (the last through global markets) through various methods, including the application of statistical methods.

Deming made a significant contribution to Japan’s later renown for innovative high-quality products and its economic power. He is regarded as having had more impact upon Japanese manufacturing and business than any other individual not of Japanese heritage. Despite being considered something of a hero in Japan, he was only beginning to win widespread recognition in the U.S. at the time of his death

Deming taught the Japanese what became the foundation for the Kaizen philosophy and is the main reason that Toyota and Honda make better cars than the Big 3. His 14 points are revolutionary (you can find them on the Wikipedia Deming page) and some of the especially powerful points are –

 

*Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and stay in business, and to provide jobs.

*Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease cost.

*Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company. (See Ch. 3 of “Out of the Crisis“)

*a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.
b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective (See Ch. 3 of “Out of the Crisis“).

*Put everyone in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everyone’s work. “Massive training is required to instill the courage to break with tradition. Every activity and every job is a part of the process.”

The Kaizen philosophy has now (finally) made its way to the US, although it is better known here by buzzwords like ‘Lean Manufacturing’, ‘Six Sigma’, ‘TQM’ , etc.  

Applying Kaizen and Deming’s Work to Achieve Personal Excellence

If you combine the two principles of

  1. The 10 year, 10,000 hours rule.  
  2. Kaizen – continuous improvement and always creating better and more efficient processes.

It gives you a rather interesting way of looking at yourself and what results you get –

  1. Everything you get in your life (health, wealth, job satisfaction, relationships,etc.) is a result of the processes you use and the purpose you choose.
  2. Your processes are the way you think (your beliefs), the way you do things (your habits), and the way you think of the future and your aims (your strategy and your purpose). All of these can and ought to be improved.
  3. With a sufficient amount of time (10,000 hours) and a focus on Kaizen you can become world class in any area, regardless of ‘natural talent’ (the Talent is Overrated book is specifically focused on this idea). Do note however, that if you are not passionate about an area it’ll be harder to get in the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.
  4. Don’t overestimate what you can do in a year, and don’t underestimate what you can do in 10 years. Anthony Robbins came up with this – however, regardless of what you think of him, its a powerful concept.
  5. Its crucially important to decide very early or as early as possible what you want to commit to, and then  do it – that means Today. Tiger Woods’ dad started teaching him to hit golf balls and showing him technique before he could walk. The sooner you decide exactly what you want to achieve in your life and what area you want to excel in, the sooner you can start putting in your 10,000 hours.

A lot of self-help gurus use Deming’s principles (Anthony Robbins for example). However, instead of taking a $10,000 week-long retreat you just need to read up on Deming and Kaizen, look at the difference between Toyota and GM, and see the success of companies like Amazon.

Then make a decision on whether you will incorporate kaizen into your own life. And, if you decide yes, commit to it.

Frustrations of creating a Journal for Kindle2

The free kindle calendar was mostly a formatting struggle. With the concept of a Journal for the Kindle 2, there are some more weighty issues –  

Basically, Jakob Nielsen is right – You have to optimize content for the Kindle.

Here are my biggest struggles with creating a Journal –

  1. Kindle is optimized for long linear content.  
  2. Don’t know whether to make it date agnostic?
  3. Don’t know whether to jump into a daily planner or weekly planner type format?
  4. You can’t read notes unless you’ve selected one or the cusor is hovered over one. So reading your journal will be a hassle.   
  5. The keyboard isn’t close to ideal for a lot of writing. 
  6. There is no touch screen – so to allow quick navigation you have to minimize words, items, links, etc.
  7. Can’t figure out a way to choose to send highlights to the Journal. Is there a cut and paste that I haven’t found?

The Zeigarnik method says you should just sleep on a problem and your brain will figure it out. Well, let me tell you it doesn’t work all the time.

At this point the possibility of a good Kindle 2 Journal is fading before my eyes. I’m going to come back to it down the line. Hoping you guys can suggest some good ideas to get a serviceable journal and/or notepad for the Kindle done.