Kindle 2 Review

This kindle 2 review is based on 6 months of use and will focus on the kindle reading and ownership experience. It will help you decide whether the kindle will add to your enjoyment of reading.

You can buy the Kindle 2 for $259 at Amazon, and there are also 7,000+ kindle 2 reviews from owners on that page. Kindle 2 ships to 174 countries – check my Kindle International Review post for availability in your country and what it means.

Kindle 2 Review – the indispensable eReader functions

The two indispensable eReader functions are -

  1. Being able to get Books. 
  2. Being able to read Books.

The Kindle 2 does extremely well on both of these –

Getting books on to the Kindle

It’s really easy thanks to 24/7 wireless access to the Kindle Store from your Kindle 2 and the 60 second wireless downloads.

There are a lot of choices for both paid and free content -

  1. The Kindle Store has 350,000 books. That’s more new books than any other ebook seller, and at better prices (usually $9.99).
  2. The Kindle Store adds 10-15 free book offers every month.
  3. You can get 7,000 public domain books from the Kindle Store itself.
  4. 30,000 free public domain books are available at ManyBooks and Gutenberg (check the free books post on the left).
  5. You can also access all Google Free Books after you convert them using Calibre.

An overall 9 out of 10 stars.

Reading Books on the Kindle

  1. The Kindle has a great screen – eInk is very readable, with little to no eye-strain and works in bright sunshine. 
  2. There’s a long battery life so your reading doesn’t get interrupted (1-2 weeks without wireless, a day or so with wireless on).
  3. It’s very easy to turn pages as buttons are very conveniently placed.
  4. The Kindle 2 disappears once you start reading.
  5. Lots of good feature like changeable font sizes, Wikipedia access and the dictionary add to your reading pleasure.

An overall 9 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – the hugely important eReader functions

Screen Quality and Size

Kindle 2’s screen uses eInk technology with 16 shades of grayscale which makes for a very clear screen. Its 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi.

Here’s a video contrasting it with a paperback and a hardcover –

.

Do check out the other Kindle 2 videos.

The 6″ screen is a good size – the full Kindle is about the size of a paperback and the Kindle’s screen is about 70% of that.

Kindle 2 gets 8 out of 10 stars on Screen Quality.

Kindle 2 Review – Ease of Use

The Kindle 2 is extremely easy to use. Most actions are straightforward and you don’t have to be a tech person at all. The lack of touch and the tiny keyboard keys do make things a bit difficult.

8 out of 10 stars.

Portability

Kindle 2 really shines here because -

  1. It’s very thin and sleek at just .36 inches.
  2. It’s also light at 10.2 ounces.
  3. It has a large in-built memory that can hold a lot of books.
  4. It has great battery life.

One downside is that there’s no SD card slot for expanding the memory.

9 out of 10 stars.

Reference

Kindle 2 has a lot of good reference features -

  1. Built-In Dictionary. 
  2. Ability to search through all books.  
  3. Wikipedia access.
  4. Free Internet Access.

9 out of 10 stars.

Search

While Kindle 2 has a good search function, the way the results are displayed is rather inelegant and there are more features that should have been added.

Just 6 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – Content Rights and Content Portability

Kindle 2 gets a lot of flak because it isn’t an ‘open’ system.

The important things to keep in mind are -

  1. No ePub Support.
  2. Kindle books use a proprietary format that does not work on other eReaders.
  3. There is a Kindle for iPhone app that lets you read Kindle books you have bought on the iPhone and iTouch.
  4. There is Kindle for PC that lets you read Kindle books on your PC or netbook.
  5. You can download a Kindle book as many times as you like.
  6. The number of devices you can download a book to is limited – usually 5 or 6.

As far as PDF -

  • Amazon just added in-built PDF support.
  • PDFs cannot zoom text, and you cannot add notes and highlights.
  • PDFs in different languages are supported.
  • You can have Amazon convert PDFs for you, or do it yourself using software like Calibre. The converted files support changing font sizes, and adding notes and highlights.

Kindle gets 6 out of 10 on content rights and content portability.

Annotations

Kindle 2 lets you add highlights, notes, and bookmarks. You can also access these in the book or through your My Clippings file.

The lack of a touch interface and the tiny keyboard hold back the Kindle and it only gets 6 of 10 stars here.

Kindle 2 Review – Changeable Font Sizes

These work very well on the Kindle. 7 out of 10 stars.

AudioBooks

There are a rich set of controls for audiobooks. In addition you get -

  1. Amazon owns Audible which provides access to a wide variety of paid audio books. 
  2. You can get free audiobooks from LibriVox.  
  3. The built-in speakers are pretty loud and work well for when you’re driving or cooking.

7 out of 10 stars.

Easy to Use Store

The Kindle Store is excellent in comparison to other ebook stores.

There’s a good recommendation engine, you have bestsellers lists and categories for a lot of genres, and the store is accessible through the Kindle itself.

9 out of 10 stars.  

Kindle 2 Review – One Handed Use

Kindle 2 does an excellent job by placing buttons on both sides and having them located conveniently. This means that one-handed use with either hand is easy.

9 out of 10 stars.

Time and Date

Whenever you press the Menu button the time is shown. In addition you can type in @t on the Home Screen to get the date and time. A very useful feature.

7 out of 10 stars.

Language Support

Kindle does poorly here as it only supports English and languages based on the English alphabet.

There are hacks to support other fonts – however, nothing official.

1 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – Book Organization (Folders)

One real downside of the Kindle 2 is that there is no easy way to organize your books into folders, bookshelves or via tags.

There are workarounds that help a bit – However, the lack of Folders really makes things difficult.

0 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – the nice to have eReader features

Looks

This video covers the Kindle’s looks and some basic features –

While the Kindle does a good job of disappearing when you’re reading and has a nice, simplistic look it’s no head-turner.

A lot of people complain about the Kindle’s lack of sex appeal and they have a point.

5 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – Free Internet Access

Kindle 2 has free built-in Internet Access. It’s really convenient and adds to both your reading (via reference and search) and convenience (checking email and news).

The downside is that the Kindle’s browser is rather limited.

8 out of 10 stars.

Color

eInk technology at the moment doesn’t support color.

Incomplete.

Kindle 2 Review – Text to Speech Feature

A great bonus with the Kindle 2 is the ability to have the Kindle read your book to you. Some publishers switch this off. However, a lot don’t plus you can have all your personal documents and free public domain books read to you.

8 out of 10 stars.

Journal

Kindle 2 has no support for a notepad or journal.

Incomplete.

Extensions and Utilities

Kindle 2 does not have any extensions like an address book or calendar. You can find rudimentary calendars and weekly planners at the Kindle Store or download free ones at my Kindle 3 Labs page (top of the page).

0 out of 10 stars.

Games & Diversions

Kindle 2 has a simple MineSweeper game.

5 out of 10 stars. Perhaps less.

Background Music

Kindle has a useful background music feature. There are no controls other than play/pause and jump to next song.

5 out of 10 stars.

Device Lock, Lost and Found Options

Kindle 2 does not have a way to lock it and it doesn’t have the option to add on a ‘Return To’ screen.

0 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – Personalization

Kindle 2’s personalization is mostly via third-party products i.e. skins, covers, and cases.

You cannot add your own custom screensavers or themes.

5 out of 10 stars.

Kindle 2 Review – Overall 8.5 Stars Rating, Strongly Recommended 

The Kindle 2 does extremely well on the reading experience and the amount of content available. If you love to read you should buy a Kindle 2.

The addition of the free Internet access, the wireless delivery and wireless syncing, support for iPhone reading, and the ease of use make the Kindle 2 a very compelling product.

You should keep in mind that there are several downsides due to eInk being an evolving technology (no color, screen refreshes take .5 to 1 second, $299 price). These are on top of a few Amazon created downsides i.e. lack of openness (to protect its revenue stream from ebooks), no folders, relatively plain design.

However, most of the downsides don’t impact the reading experience. Kindle 2 is excellent at its core function of reading, its easy to get a lot of paid and free books, and you’ll get a lot of pleasure from reading on the Kindle 2.

This Kindle 2 review is based on the ‘What makes a good eReader’ review guide.

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