Amazon Kindle

The Kindle makes reading more portable than a sackful of books and is likely to inspire you to read more than ever before.


9.0
CNET Rating
7.7
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Editor's note: the RRP listed is in US dollars and is subject to fluctuations in the current exchange rate between the US and Australian dollar. The price is also listed minus postage.

Once upon a time reading books was a favoured pastime by millions of internet-less people stuck in a time when photos were black and white, an Apple was eaten and hacking something usually involved a large knife. But as with everything else in the modern era, reading is becoming electronic and the current king of the electronic book is the Amazon Kindle.

Design

For readers of heavy sci-fi novels, the light, compact size of the Kindle is going to be a major drawcard. At 18mm thick and weighing just under 300 grams, the Kindle is more like a magazine than a heavy paperback. From the front, about 60 per cent of the face of the Kindle is taken up by its 6-inch E-Ink display. This display has a 600x800-pixel resolution and can display four varying shades of grey.

The E-Ink screen may sound like an older generation technology and pretty unexciting next to the new 16-million colour AMOLED mobile phone touchscreens, but there are a number of unique advantages to using this technology over a backlit display technology like LCD, the most important of which is how it looks. E-Ink has a paper-like appearance, with sharp and clear text on the page and your eyes don't get tired reading this surface the way they would a computer screen. It's also unaffected by direct sunlight, so you'll have no trouble reading in the park on a sunny day, and it uses far less power than an LCD, giving the Kindle extraordinary battery life compared to phones and laptops.

Under the screen is a full-QWERTY keyboard, though before you get excited the Kindle is not a word processor. Instead, the keyboard is used for making short notes and for searching through the text in books or the Amazon Store. The edges of the device is dedicated to the navigation buttons; page-turn keys as well as a menu button and a five-way navigation toggle.

Features

When we tell you that the Kindle has a 6-inch screen and 3G wireless connectivity, we don't want you to get the wrong idea. This is not a phone or a mobile computer of any kind, even though it shares some similar technologies. The Kindle's use of 3G is straightforward and for almost a singular purpose — to contact Amazon and buy more books. For this reason Amazon makes this connection free, there are no contracts to pay and no commitments to make.

The 3G wireless connection is a godsend and making it free is a master stroke. Hunting around the Amazon Store is slower on the Kindle than you might be used to, but being able to find books and download them to read immediately is very rewarding (if dangerous for the old credit card). You can also side-load books from your PC via a USB connection, with the Kindle capable of reading TXT and PDF files, .mobi ebook format plus its own proprietary .azn file format. It can also play music too, recognising MP3 music and .aa audio book files. The Kindle now ships with 2GB of internal storage which is enough to hold about 1500 books.

One feature we love is the built-in Oxford Dictionary, which is accessible from the main menu, or word by word within the text you're reading. Simply use the navigation toggle to place the cursor in front of the word you want defined and a brief definition appears at the bottom of the screen. If you'd like more detail you press enter on the keyboard to open a detailed view, including alternative definitions and usage.

Performance

Those of us used to powerful PCs and the slick performance of the iPhone may be underwhelmed by the way the Kindle navigates its menus and moves through the texts. Each menu selection will take a second or more to respond and moving the cursor throughout the text you're reading requires a little patience. The 3G performance is slow, but considering that Australian users can only browse the Amazon Store and Wikipedia, this shouldn't be too much of a concern for most.

Battery life is one area where you'll have no complaints. With the wireless connection active, Amazon predicts a four-day battery cycle, and with wireless turned off the battery can remain charged for weeks. Colleagues at CNET who have been using the Kindle for longer than our review period report up to two weeks and over between charges, and in excess of a whole novel's worth of reading. The secret is that the display uses no power to maintain the E-Ink display once loaded, it only uses power to change pages.

Overall

The Kindle is simple yet fantastic. It performs one specific task and it does so at least as well as the books it replaces, and far better than any other electronic device. Its 3G connection to the Amazon Store makes it superior to other ebooks available in Australia at this time, even if the performance of this connection is a touch on the slow side. The Kindle makes reading more portable than a sackful of books and is likely to inspire you to read more than ever before.

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melissalane Facebook
9
Rating
 

"Take it with you anywhere!"

melissalane posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Light, slim and easy to use

The Bad:Screensaver are a little ugly... Needs to come with a case.

Love love love my Kindle! Can't believe I used to carry 2-3 large books on holidays with me and now I can carry something lighter and thinner than a magazine!

Magoo
9
Rating
 

Magoo posted a review   

The Good:Everything

The Bad:Only being able to charge via computer

This device is sensational - for travel, for the gym, for anywhere. I'm reading more and buying more. Australia publishers worried about the impact of imported books are living in the dark ages. Unless the paper edition has something unique that you need to touch and feel, ebooks will do it for me all the time from now. I'm travelling next year and I already have 3 guides on the Kindle - would never have wasted suitcase space on them! Great review.

 

D posted a reply   

My charger has an adaptor at the end of the cordd so I can charge it using a regular wall plug or the computer.

 

Idin posted a comment   

The Good:Dont't know yet

The Bad:Don't know yet

I am planning to buy one but I am unsure if I can transfer the ebooks that I already have (They are in pdf format) and read them on it?
Does anyone know?
Cheers,

 

Joseph Hanlon posted a comment   
Australia

Hi complectus,
The books I've downloaded all came with cover images and any images that were supposed to be included. I really don't think the Kindle is crippled in Australia. The range of books is smaller than in the US (280,000 compared to 350,000) but its my understanding that Amazon are adjusting this all the time.

 

Andy posted a comment   

I got one as soon as it was released, and it is amazing. The e ink display is not sore on the eyes at all, and it is so easy to navigate around.
My only problem with the kindle is the limited amount of books available in Australia. No John Grisham, No David Eddings, No Terry Brooks. I had every intention of buying the books from Amazon, but if your not going to make them available to me, you can go down the same path as the music and television industry and we will all find a way to get it for free, because it took me all of about 2 minutes to figure out how to convert formats to those that can be read on the kindle.

But apart from that... AWESOME product.... Just give us more books!!!

 

complectus posted a comment   

I've read elsewhere that outside the USA, content downloaded from Amazon has graphics removed to save on wireless data charges. Is that true for Australia? It's not mentioned in the review - nor is the outside-USA restriction on available content mentioned by Shane in these comments.

Can this product really deserve its 9/10 rating given that it's crippled in this country?

Shane
5
Rating
 

Shane posted a review   

The Good:the device

The Bad:publishing restrictions

You can only buy from Amazon. I love the device - but international publishing restrictions result in only a tiny fraction of current titles being available if you're purchasing from Australia, in comparison to US customers. These publishing restrictions are SO archaic and heavy handed.

 

MickyS posted a comment   

Excellent review Joe - thanks for reporting on this and giving such a detailed overview.

MickyS

 

iReader posted a comment   

The Good:Almost everything

The Bad:Doesn't ship with case or recharger

It delivers what it promises, with only a few minor complaints - like not shipping with a case or a recharger (these can be purchased separately from the amazon website). I really like the ability to download samples (usually the first chapter) and the "take anywhere" feel to it, including ordering and receiving downloads with no need for any intermediary devices. I've been waiting a long time for a good e-reader, and this one lives up to my expectations.


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User Reviews / Comments  Amazon Kindle

  • melissalane

    melissalane

    Rating9

    "Love love love my Kindle! Can't believe I used to carry 2-3 large books on holidays with me and now I can carry something lighter and thinner than a magazine!"

  • Magoo

    Magoo

    Rating9

    "This device is sensational - for travel, for the gym, for anywhere. I'm reading more and buying more. Australia publishers worried about the impact of imported books are living in the dark ages. ..."

  • Idin

    Idin

    "I am planning to buy one but I am unsure if I can transfer the ebooks that I already have (They are in pdf format) and read them on it?
    Does anyone know?
    Cheers,"

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