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Kindle 2: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device by Gayle Surrette
Review by Gayle Surrette
Amazon.com Electronics  ISBN/ITEM#: B00154JDAI
Date: 02 March 2009 List Price $359.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Amazon Kindle 2 Page /

When the Kindle first came out I thought it sounded interesting, but I didn't really have a need for an extra electronic device to carry around. As times changed so did I and a Kindle seemed just what I needed for reading electronic documents.

My Kindle arrived late on Friday and I've been putting it through its paces ever since.

When I ordered my Kindle, I was ordering the older version. However, Amazon sent me email telling me that I was being upgraded to the Kindle 2 with a target deliver date of March 3rd (this was in mid-December). So, I patiently waited while reading review after review of the new Kindle 2. So, as March approached I was getting pretty excited about it. Then it arrived the last Friday in February.

PACKAGING:

The Kindle arrives in a very slim packaging box. It's then nestled in a cardboard cradle with its power cord and a short getting-started pamphlet. The packing material is minimal as part of Amazon's movement to being more green. But the material is very study and also very arty (black form-fitting cardboard with shiny letters of the alphabet artistically placed here and there. Nice presentation.

POWERING UP:

Once it's out of the package the next step is to power it up. The pamphlet said you could try using your Kindle while it was being charged. I first plugged it in then turned it on.

REGISTERING YOUR KINDLE:

Normally, if you buy a Kindle it is attached to your Amazon account since you'll be buying books at the Kindle store. Amazon needs to know what Kindle to deliver to so it links the Kindle to your Amazon account.

My husband bought me the Kindle as a Christmas gift so it came preregistered to him. The pamphlet had step-by-step instructions for de-registering and then registering it to me. Again no problem.

WHY A KINDLE:

Now a short break for an explanation. I love books, the experience of reading them, and the feel and weight of holding them in your hands. But, I also review books and, in these economic times, more and more publishers are releasing their advanced reader copies as PDF files.

You're probably thinking, and correctly, that the Kindle doesn't read PDF files. You right they don't. But Amazon gives instruction in their Kindle User's Manual on how you can email PDFs to Amazon and they'll transform them to the .AZW file format. For a small charge they deliver the new file direct to your Kindle, and for free they sent you a notice and you can FTP the file to your PC or laptop and then upload to your Kindle.

I on the other hand don't want to pay 50 cents per attachment to have them transform the file for free so I got a copy of Stanza and translated a few of the PDF files I have for review. Stanza doesn't do a great job but it's a readable file and I can do it myself.

BUYING A KINDLE BOOK:

Knowing that I was going to do this review, I thought I should run the Kindle through what a normal Kindle user would do with it. So, I got on my PC and bought a Kindle book. When you buy a book from the Kindle store on Amazon the book is supposed to be sent over the Whispernet to your Kindle automatically. In the process of buying the book, we had to update the credit card and change the expiration date. But the purchase went through and I waited for the book to show up on my Kindle. I waited...and waited...and waited.... I checked the network, and I was getting 5 bars but no book. I sent a note to Kindle support and gave it up for the night.

Next morning, I used the Kindle to order a book from the Kindle store thinking if there was a problem with the network I wouldn't be able to buy a book. Again the purchase when through but no book arrived on my Kindle.

This time, I found the Kindle support area where you can request that technical support call you back. Surprisingly, within a minute we got a call and within two minutes, we were online with Kindle support. Once we got through all the simple questions and they transferred us to the upper technical level, they walked us through a restart of the system which seems to have cleared up the problem and both books arrived immediately.

It seemed that between the re-registering of the Kindle and the change to the purchase method the Kindle got jammed (that's a technical term) and the restart cleared it.

KINDLE SUPPORT:

See the previous section. It's excellent. Response time was good. The email I'd sent the previous night was answered late the next afternoon. But, by then the phone call had solved the problem.

READING the Kindle:

So far, I've just been reading on the Kindle. The text is sharp, crisp and very easy on the eyes. It's very simple to change the font size -- I've tried that out. So, if you forget your glasses you can up the font size and still read.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS:

I love it. Unabashedly love it. I thought it would be a good tool since I didn't want to be tied to either my desktop or to my heavy laptop to read novels as PDFs. With the Kindle, I get to sit in my easy chair, curled up with a cup of tea and be as comfortable reading as I would with a traditional book. I'm finding I enjoy the experience much more than I thought I would.

There's many more features available that I haven't gotten a chance to try out yet. For example, you can take notes within the book and you can highlight pieces of text. There's other features but I still haven't gotten to read the full User's Manual that comes pre-installed on the Kindle. I'm too busy reading books for review.

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