Kindle Review

July 29th update: The new Kindle 3 is now available.

  1. A Kindle 3 Review based on an hour of playing around with the Kindle 3. 
  2. A Kindle WiFi Review based on experience with the Kindle 3 since Kindle WiFi is identical except for the wireless card.
  3. Kindle vs Kindle WiFi review.
  4. If you’re considering a Kindle DX, you can look at my detailed Kindle DX Review.

Will update with more Kindle review posts soon.

Earlier:

If you’re considering buying a Kindle 2 this Kindle 2 review will help you (if you prefer here’s a kindle 2 review after 6 months of use). 
If you’re unsure you can look at the Kindle DX Vs Kindle 2 comparison post.  

Kindle Review – The Crux

The Kindle 2 is great if you -

  1. Read a lot of books; OR
  2. Travel a lot and want to carry a Kindle 2 reader along instead of lots of books; OR 
  3. Commute daily for work and want to either read (on a train, bus, etc.) or listen to books (in your car, truck etc.).; OR
  4. The combination of features appeals to you.

What the Kindle 2 looks like –

.

If you like it, you can find out more by reading Kindle 2 reviews at Amazon. If you prefer, you can see more Kindle 2 videos and get an idea of how it looks and its features. This review will continue with pros and cons of the Kindle 2. 

Do keep in mind that the Kindle 2 is not such a great choice if  -

  1. You don’t read books.  
  2. You want a multi-purpose device. Kindle 2 is primarily an eBook Reader. 
  3. You want a very flashy device. You might like the newer look of the Kindle 2 – however, it is not the prettiest device around. 
  4. You want to read a lot of PDFs and want very high quality conversions.  

Kindle Review Pros – Reasons a Kindle 2 might be right for You.

  1. Free Internet Access via WhisperNet and there is now extended coverage so your Kindle 2 will have wireless access in more places.
  2. You can download a book over WhisperNet in 60 seconds.
  3. WhisperSync – read books and synchronize documents across Kindle 1, Kindle 2, and soon across other mobile devices.
  4. Read to Me feature. Text to Speech is very cool and should be fun
  5. The Kindle 2 is very slim and sleek looking at just 0.3 inches.
  6. One of the biggest problems with Kindle 1 was accidentally hitting the page turning buttons, and in Kindle 2 that has been fixed. The buttons are smaller and have to be pushed on the inside edge so holding the Kindle 2 cannot accidentally trigger page turns.
  7. You can read blogs, newspapers, and magazines on the Kindle 2.
  8. The eInk is easy on the eyes, and when combined with variable font sizes really makes a big difference.
  9. You can store up to 1500 books.
  10. Up to 6 Kindle 2s and Kindle 1s on one account so you can share with your family and/or close friends.
  11. There are loads of free kindle book sites where you can get tens of thousands of free kindle books. Amazon itself has 7,000+ free kindle edition books.
  12. You can save trees by reading on Kindle2.
  13. Great for aeroplanes and travel – Battery lasts really long; it’s tiny at 10.2 ounces and 0.3 inches; easy to read even with overhead light.
  14. Kindle 2 has an in-built dictionary.
  15. The quality of the screen has been improved.
  16. Buy books anytime and get them delivered instantly.
  17. Can read without having to hold down a book and cause damage to it. Can read with one hand, or use Read To Me feature to read without using hands.
  18. From Kindle 1 review, and applies -

    Wow – My wife is a stroke survivor, and has lost use of the left side of her body. Reading books has been impossible since she could not hold the book open and turn the pages with only one hand. Kindle has changed all of that for her, and made reading a joy again.

  19. Fits easily in your purse; packs easily for a trip.
  20. Travel with as many books as you like – just the Kindle 2’s 10.2 ounces.
  21. From a Kindle 1 review – High praise indeed -

    the best thing since amazon.com & zappos.com.

  22. You can send your own files to the Kindle 2.
  23. The UISB can be used to recharge Kindle 2.
  24. The Kindle 1 falling out of the case problem has been fixed.

Kindle Review Cons – Reasons a 2nd generation Kindle may not be what you are looking for.

  1. Kindle 2 is NOT the iPhone – there are no Apps, there is no multi-purpose do everything device, and its not as flashy or pretty as the iPhone.
  2. No colour – 16 shades of gray make for a good screen for reading books, and eInk is much, much easier on the eyes – however, there is no colour.
  3. At $359 the Kindle2 is expensive. Mr. Bezos did say that there are no subscription fees and there is free internet access so worth keeping in mind.
  4. Blog subcriptions cost $1.
  5. Read To Me feature is experimental. And now at the mercy of publishers and authors – some of them will request Amazon to disable it.
  6. Kindle2’s battery is not replaceable – so you cannot carry a spare battery for emergencies and in case of problems you have to send it back to amazon to be replaced.
  7. Kindle 2 does not have a  SD card – so you cannot increase storage indefinitely. 
  8. Range of newspapers and magazines is limited. And prices are somewhat high.
  9. Only colour available is white.
  10. The keyboard and the 5 way controller take a bit of getting used to.
  11. Range of books etc. has expanded to 230,000 – however, it still has a lot of growing to do.
  12. Prices of Kindle Editions for some books is now higher than the $9.99 ideal tht Amazon has been pushing as a benchmark.  
  13. There is no Kindle 2 Cover shipped with Kindle2.
  14. There is no “backlighting” or “sidelighting” in the device.
  15. DRM is still there – so you don’t really own the books and can’t lend them to a friend.
  16. Lack of support for common file formats – still no support for PDF files.
  17. No touch screen – This may be coming in Kindle 3.
  18. No International versions. I’m in Canada and still hoping for an international release of Kindle 2 later. I do own Kindle 1.
  19. Amazon knows what books you read and what sites you visit. 

Hopefully this Kindle review helped you decide whether a Kindle 2 is right for you.

56 Responses

    • I got the first Kindle for a birthday present a year ago and just love it. I have always been a voracious reader and accumulated hundreds of books and have read thousands in my lifetime.

      I am disabled and home bound much of the time and don’t have space for books anymore, so the Kindle is just perfect. I only need it for reading but the extra functions are wonderful. The size and weight are perfect for me; it’s user friendly and has a huge capacity for storing and keeping books and it takes no time at all to download.

      For anyone with a disability who loves to read, the Kindle is a miraculous device. Buy one. You will not be disappointed.

      • Yippee……..my software updated yesterday and my Kindle now has folders, which I can name, lets me categorise my reading material and is just SO much more accessible. This is a great improvement and has enhanced the quality of the Kindle experience no end

    • I love my Kindle for travel. But with more e-readers coming on the market I am concerned about future compatibility.

      The Kindle has a proprietary format and I am worried that the format may be the BetaMax format of the future. I don’t want to have all my books in a format that can’t be transferred to a different device if Amazon stops upgrading or supporting the Kindle. Or if I want a better reader later.

      I have searched everywhere, but I can’t find any information about converting Kindle books to another format, like ePub or even PDF.

  1. Yes by all means — buy a Kindle — everyone who has one loves it. Don’t sweat the price — it will pay for itself if you just buy an average number of books over a year like most people who read books — even pulps and paperbacks which aren’t cheap anymore at all.

    And thanks for the undocumented features — didn’t know all these, and this is a great summary which surely is totally complete — how did you ever find all that information.

  2. Charles, the undocumented features are all courtesy IgorS – if you search for Igor on my blog’s search then you’ll find the link to his blog post where he dissected a kindle and linked up to its OS and searched around. From my perspective what i’d really like to see is someone hack into the Linux version that the Kindle is using and enable the linux browser OR for Amazon to open up the API so someone can write applications like a graphical navigation through books based on covers etc. .

  3. Great post!

    You mentioned in the negatives that people are worried that the free internet will someday not be free anymore. You also stated it wasn’t likely becuase of legal issues and public outcry.

    In reality, it would be very easy for Amazon to phase out the free internet access.All they have to do is release a color version of Kindle (or a version with some other killer new feature) and clearly state that the new version requires a subscription to download. Even better, price it a $99.00

    Then simply end support and repair for the older versions. Within a year or two the free internet would be gone. – Presto! No legal issues and no real public outcry.

  4. I would love to buy a Kindle, but I am not in the US. This is a huge drawback, and means I am considering other solutions.

  5. [...] Reader (aff.) (CNET review) and the Kindle (aff.) (CNET review). Kindle blog also weighs up the pros and cons of the Kindle. Dymocks has also started to stock the iRex iLiad (aff.) (review), which is pricey ($AU800), but [...]

  6. Wondering about the “does not work in US” element? I’m about to leave on a 13-week solo backpacking trip through Europe. I’m a huge reader, and don’t want to give myself a hernia carrying 35 pounds of books on my back! I am literally within HOURS of pulling the trigger and buying a Kindle…but now I’m worried/confused. Can I “synch up” with a laptop and get books on it that way? Will I really only be able to add books while on US soil (which may still be worth it if I just load it up before I head out)? Thanks in advance! V

  7. Sorry…make that “wondering about does not work OUTSIDE U.S. element?” I should’ve proofread myself before hitting “submit”! Thx!

  8. To answer your questions specifically – yes you can synch up with a laptop and get books on it that way.
    You can add books outside the us – buy your books/papers etc. and they get added to your amazon media library. you can then download them to your laptop and do a usb transfer.

  9. I was all set to buy this tonight when I saw that there is no coverage in Alaska. Are there any future plans to use other wireless carriers that would provide more coverage?

  10. GrayKitty – you should check at the official amazon blog on their plans for supporting alaska –
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/A1F8Z0JAEIDVRY.

  11. Can we buy “french” books?

    if yes, at $9,99 each?

    Thanks for your reply.

    Suzanne

  12. suzanne – couldn’t really find any french books at amazon.com. and amazon.fr has no kindle section. so probably not.

  13. I want to get a kindle. I saw Oprah’s show and of course I started looking into it and telling all my friends. Now the way I understand it is there is a kindle and a kindle 2? If I want to get one for myself for Christmas, should I wait for the kindle 2 or buy the kindle and get the $50 off now? Not sure what to do here… Thanks

  14. hi kityhwk – that’s a tough decision.
    currently there are three possibilities –

    1) amazon releases kindle 2 in jan or feb of 2009. you could buy kindle 2 then. this is the best option if you’re ok waiting for a kindle.

    2) amazon releases kindle 2 just before xmas. this is actually unlikely now that they have oprah endorsing kindle 1. so for now let’s assume this is off the table.

    3) you buy kindle 1 now.
    honestly – buying a kindle 1 now is the best option if you can’t wait till jan or feb. probably feb mid to end.

    so the answer would be – if you’re sure you want to get a kindle for xmas, then take advantage of the discount now. amazon has been pretty clear in that they won’t release kindle 2 this year.

    finally, if kindle makes some software improvements there’s a chance the kindle 1’s software gets updated and you get a few (though only a few) of the benefits of the kindle 2 on the kindle 1.

  15. [...] The Kindle Blog has a nice review of the Kindle and why you may or may not want to buy one, giving a nice breakdown for some definite yes and definite no for certain types of people. The fact that the Kindle utilizes DRM makes it into a definite no for those people staunchly opposed to such a system. This is true, however, I think the blog glosses over what DRM is and what it does for Amazon, even citing Radiohead giving away its album on a donation basis. [...]

  16. I asked Amazon regarding the longevity of the battery before having to replace it and here is what they said:

    “The specific life of the Kindle 2 battery is dependent upon how much use it gets. We do not estimate any battery life issues during the initial limited one-year or extended warranty periods. However, if this is something you are concerned about then we do suggest purchasing that extended warranty, as it covers any kind of battery or power issues.”

    Also, you can have as many as 6 kindles registered on your account and they can all share the books. I just sent my entire library to my future new Kindle 2. They will be installed onto my new Kindle when I receive it. The only limitation is the subscriptions to mags, blogs, and newpapers, they can only go to one Kindle but the subscription can be transferred to another Kindle if you need it to be,

  17. I love to read so getting a kindle was a no brainier for me. But I still like the look and feel of paper and ink books too! So I still have a lot of those in my place. Hopefully my V2 will be here in a week or two. I all so like to listen to audio books but now that V2 will read any book I have maybe I don’t need my audio books !!

  18. I am seriously considering getting a Kindle 2, but I have a few unanswered questions. I travel by plane frequently. Upon takeoff and landing passengers are instructed to turn off wireless devices. Does that include Kindle 2?

    Second, when traveling outside of the coverage area, I’m assuming you can still read books you’ve previously downloaded, but would be unable to download new books. Am I right? Thanks for your help!

  19. Kaya,
    Yes you do have to turn off the Kindle 2 at take-off and landing.
    Also – yes, you can still read books you’ve previously downloaded outside of Whispernet. In addition you can buy books, and download them to your PC, and then transfer them to the Kindle in areas where Whispernet isn’t available.

  20. I would love to have a Kindle 2 now, but some of the cons you mentioned are holding me back: no colour screen, only comes in white, and no backlight.

    I understand a colour screen and backlight would affect the battery life, but I really hope they are working on a viable solution. I didn’t buy a black and white iPod then and I doubt I will with the Kindle- I settled for a cheaper mp3 player until the Video iPod came out, but I’m hoping the Kindle 3 will be when I join the Kindle World.

  21. [...] be realistic and distinguish what a Kindle can and cannot do, [...]

  22. My mother loves to read. She has failing eyesight.

    Would the Kindle 2 allow her to continue her reading. also, how difficult would it be to download books with her eyesight ? (see keys)

    • Mark, the amazon team has written on their blog that they are working on making the kindle’s menu accessible. that would help. not sure if that includes the buying process for books. do check with kindle customer service at –

      6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pacific Time, seven days a week. You can also reach us by calling one of these numbers: Inside the United States: 1-866-321-8851 ; Outside the United States: 1-206-266-0927 .

      Take a look at the videos above to see the font sizes etc. let your mother take a look and also use ‘see a kindle in your city’ to get her to meet a kindle 2 owner and try out the sizes. you have to check on font sizes and contrast.

      text to speech is very helpful though publishers can now turn it off and some are.
      let me know if there’s a particular video of a kindle 2 or using a kindle 2 you’d like me to put up.
      the keys are tiny and while she could get used to the positions (perhaps) – seeing them would probably not work. again take a look at the videos.

  23. Should I buy a kindle or wait for plastic logic?

    • tough question – what’s your budget and what size screen are you looking for.

      plastic logic’s ereader will probably be $500 or upwards.
      It’s definitely not going to be priced near the $299 of the kindle 2.

      also it comes out january 2010.

      give me a little more detail and i can give you a better answer.

  24. Is it possible to make notes on kindle while reading ??

    • Yes,
      You can add notes at any place in a book on the Kindle. You cannot add notes on original PDFs on the Kindle DX.
      However, converted PDFs and every other format files let you add notes.

      You can also add highlights and bookmarks.

  25. I beg to differ on one point: The text-to-speech feature does require a lot of improvement , in my opinion. Even on dx, I feel it kind of metallic and it disturbs my concentration.

    Other than that, I hear there’s a new e-reader by Fujitsu with color e-ink screen. It’s only available in Japan right now and it costs about $1000. Wonder when Amazon will catch up. It would be a nice feature for newspaper/textbook lovers and probably for younger kids, too.

  26. I just bought my kindle and I am noticing that there are some ebooks available for the nook but not the kindle. Will the Kindle read the nook ebook files if i download them from b&n.com?

  27. I really want a Kindle but frankly and out right, what are the pro’s and con’s? How much does a Kindle cost? And are there any free books that a Kindle can buy? Thx.

    • Jasmine, the post lists the pros and cons. The price is $259. There are lots of free books – 20,000 or so public domain, another 65,000 to be added soon via British Library. You can read the million books from the Internet Archive or convert and read the million plus books from google books. There are also 10-15 free new books every month.

  28. Easy to down load new and updated titles. Read in waiting rooms, lobbies, commuter trains or next to loved ones in bed and limit the disruptions. I was able to bring my manuscript “All About Dining Out” to Kindle and avoid the publishing hurdle barriers. Top foodserver and bartender pet peeves to avoid came from years of interviews and didn’t need a editor to hack up their comments.

  29. do you know if you can download pictures onto the kindle from your computer any way?
    claire

  30. I like certian authors how do i know i can get there novels are books on a Kindle

  31. I always underline when studying textbooks. Can I underline and save underlines for review in Kindle?

    • You can make highlights. Highlights are saved. In a book you can see a list of all highlights.

      They are also saved into a MyClippings.txt file that’s in the Documents folder of your Kindle.
      One downside is that all highlights and notes for all books are saved into that one file.

    • Yes, as highlights.

  32. Any chance I could send you the free Word version of my Kindle collection of short stories for a review?

    • I don’t review books. If your collection is priced under $3 and has more than 5 reviews then you could leave a link on any of the posts related to book deals or free books, and I might include it in the next post on book deals.

  33. Stop these reviews. I like you email but not the constant reviews by others. How can I stop them?

  34. The Kindle, euphemistically called the ‘Kindle with Special Offers,’ should be called the ‘Kindle with Advertising that You Cannot Opt Out of.’ When you purchase it, you get pictures or birds, flowers, etc., as a screensaver, which change to advertising as soon as you register. You cannot opt out; I asked. You also cannot use the organize feature for organizing all those books that you store on the Kindle unless you buy something for the Kindle from Amazon. Had I known this first, I would not have bought a Kindle, and I don’t recommend companies that I feel use devious means of making more sales.

    • Michael, for Folders – my understanding is that you just need to connect to WhisperNet and then can use Folders. You don’t need to buy the documents from Amazon to organize them.

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