Amazon’s Kindle 3G, My Review

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I recently bought an Amazon Kindle 3G ($189.99) and so far I love it. I have decided to discontinue the use of my Netbook and moved on to an Amazon Kindle. I know some (most, maybe even all), of you are thinking how can an e-Reader replace an entire computer?

It may seem like an odd alternative to some, but the Kindle packs a hard punch where it counts! Keep on reading to find out what were the major deciding factors which swayed me towards the Amazon Kindle instead of the many other e-Readers and Tablets available.


 

The Hunt for a New Internet-ready Device

I was looking for an alternative to my Netbook for evening use. It must have “basic Internet functionality” – such as email, Twitter, news, maybe an occasional search or 2. Nothing more.  The idea was to help tone down my excessive use of computers and overall – the ability to work during hours I’d favor doing other activities. Many a night, I turned on my Netbook, fired up Mozilla Firefox for something as simple as checking my email. Often times a simple task such as “checking email” would turn into working 15 minutes.. 30 minutes.. an hour, sometimes even 2 hours! Not because I had to, but because I “wanted” to. This had to come to an end.

So, desperate to find a great, affordable replacement, I started my search with a quick visit to Google, followed by NewEgg, and CNET. I read user reviews on Tech sites, watched demonstration videos on YouTube, and searched both official and unofficial forums to see what kind of strange problems people were having with their e-Readers, Tablets, and other mobile computing devices.

With pricing in mind, user’s reviews/feedback, and wanting something as basic as possible, that wouldn’t be frustrating to use I was left with 3 choices:  the Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, and Apple’s iPod Touch. These three pieces of hardware were my top three contenders to replace my Asus EEE PC.

I had looked into tablet options – iPads (Ha!), Samsung Galaxy, and even a few Chinese knock-off tablets. Both Apple and Samsung have sleek looking tablets but cost an arm and a leg and do not offer the user enough bang for their buck. Consumers may be ready to blow their money on these devices, but anyone looking for something that offers real functionality and portability should keep looking, as these tablets aren’t a substitute for a computer. If you want a less portable iPod touch, than the iPad is your friend.

So back on the hunt, I was quick to throw out Apple’s iPod Touch due to the size of it’s screen compared to it’s cost. For it’s cost, I would have been better off buying a 40” LCD TV or something else I’d get more use out (how about groceries for several weeks? Even that seems like a better option than an iPod touch.)  The Nook and the Kindle duked it out a bit longer, lots of defining factors such as:  Color vs B&W; LCD vs e-Ink; Barnes & Nobles vs Amazon; Touch screen vs Not.

A lot of the differences really came down to:  “Techy vs Less Techy” – or as I look at it:  Functionality: Eye Candy.

So, moving on with this review. Obviously, my final decision on what to buy was the Kindle.  The main specifications which swayed my vote were:

  1. Portability
  2. Battery Life
  3. Non back-lite display (E-Ink)
  4. Name Brand
  5. Warranty Available
  6. Price

Basic technical specifications can be found by visiting Amazon’s main page – Amazon’s Kindle 3G

My Review of the Amazon Kindle

The size of the Kindle is large enough to be used for lengthy periods of time without any eye strain, yet it’s still small enough to fit in my jacket pocket, as well as my jeans back pocket (but don’t sit down!)  Since getting the Kindle, roughly 4 weeks ago, I’ve charged the unit twice. Once when I first opened it, and once a few days ago. The battery life is very long, making it a convenient addition to my coffee table.

Now, lets move onto another core feature -E-Ink technology.  It’s a hit for me, because as a Web Developer and SEO, my eyes get fatigued after a long day of work, and the last thing I need to do to them is to be operating another brightly lite LCD screen deep into the evening hours.  Another obvious perk to this e-Ink is the anti-glare characteristic it embodies, allowing you to easily use this device while outside on a bright day. Amazon, originally a book seller, has kept true to their roots when developing this e-Reader. This brings me to my next point, Brand names. 

Normally I’m a bargain shopper, will sacrifice a little quality if it means saving money (this doesn’t apply to all walks of life though). Sometimes Chinese knock-offs aren’t worth the hassle to use, and after reading many reviews of other low cost alternatives to the iPad, Galaxy, and Android tablets, I quickly retreated back to my research on the Kindle, Nook, and iPod touch (as mentioned earlier.)

I went with the 3G Kindle instead of the regular Kindle. For an extra $60 ($129 vs $189), it’s a steal! You get free 3G – no contracts, no fees, no BS!! Being able to check email, my Websites, the news, the weather, Google Maps, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, and countless other websites from anywhere at anytime, without having to pay an extra dime – How can you put a price on that? The Kindle web browser is still marked as “experimental” meaning it may gain features if Amazon decides to keep working on it.

Now before I go making the Kindle’s browser experience sound like a gift from the Gods, well let me just say it’s flawed for many minor reasons (or major depending what you look for in a browser.) If you want to watch videos, you are out of luck. If you want to view websites in color – get lost! If you want to go to Craigslist, prepare to hit the down arrow allow, because this thing is very good at finding click-able links, so unless the link you want is near the top, you will be forced to hit the directional pad many times to get where you are trying to go. That’s my only issue, but it was an issue I knew about before I even bought the Kindle.

The Kindle also comes equipped with an MP3 player. You get very little from it beyond the ability to play music, but this is another Kindle feature that is still in it’s “Experimental” phase. Right now it operates similar to that of an iPod shuffle. You can play, stop, and skip – nothing more (maybe Pause, but I haven’t used it enough to say for sure.) I find it’s nice to pop on a little music before browsing the Web or reading a book (you can control the MP3 player while reading an eBook so that’s a nice unexpected feature.)

Finally, on to the Amazon Kindle’s actual purpose in life – to be an e-Reader!

I’m a big fan of reading technical books. I’m not a big novel reader. I find the time spend programming books reading a novel could be better spent reading a book that will teach me new skills or provide me with knowledge on topics that are unfamiliar to me. Most books I buy are on subjects that change rapidly (SEO, Social Media, Web Development / Programming, etc…) So as you may know, my book shelf is really full of a lot of dated books. These subjects change so fast that buying physical books almost seems like a waste of space and resources to me.  Over the last year or so, I’ve slowly been reading more eBooks on subjects under this category. Most of these eBooks are just digital copies of books I would have gone out to the store and buy – so from a content perspective, I’m still getting the same knowledge and information as I would have gotten with a traditional book.

Let’s Wrap This Up

So overall, I’d rate my Kindle experience rather high. It’s gone beyond my expectations as an E-reader, Email checker, and has delivered what I feel is “the most bang for my buck.” Would I recommend it as an alternative for someone who is already eying tablets? Probably not. Would I suggest it over the Nook or Sony’s E-Reader? Definitely.


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2 Comments

  1. M

    Hi there,

    I came across your review while surfing to find out whether I can use Kindle 3G still for emails and gogole etc. I wanna get this as a gift to my wife but I don’t want it to be an e-reader only. We are based on Belgium so I hope 3G is indeed global..

    Cheers

    M

    • Dan

      Hi M. That might be a good question to ask Amazon directly. I’ve had my Kindle just shy of a year now and I still think it’s an awesome device.