I've just taken delivery of a shiny new Amazon Kindle 3. I'm looking forward to giving it a thorough review - but here's a quick comparison between it and my venerable Elonex 511EB.
|Weight||247g||195g||Both lighter than a paperback. 511EB just about edges the Kindle out, but the extra 50g isn't going to strain your arms.|
|Storage Size||3GB (internal memory available to user. Fixed)||4GB (SD card up to 32GB)||511EB wins it. Realistically, the Kindle's 3GB is more than enough unless you're storing lots of huge PDFs.|
|Device Size||190 x 123 x 8.5 mm||173 × 117 × 10.3 mm||The Kindle is thinner, but the 511EB is more pocket friendly.|
|Screen Size (diagonal)||157mm (6 inches)||127mm (5 inches)||The extra screen size really does make reading easier. More words on screen means less page turning - which should also help the Kindle's battery life.|
|Screen Resolution||800*600 - 16 level grey-scale||800*600 - 8 level grey-scale||The Kindle is much better for showing off images. But for text reading, they're identical.|
|Security||Password Protected||Password Protected||Both can be secured against unwanted users. The 511EB's SD card is unencrypted, so anyone can take a copy of your books. On the Kindle, everything you bought is available again through Amazon. Both allow you to make backups.|
|Battery||1750 mAh - quoted for up to a month using Wifi, less for 3G||1500 mAh - 3,000 page turns||Realistically, both will last you for two weeks on a desert island without power. But the Kindle's battery will drain considerably faster when using Wifi / 3G. Both recharge using USB.|
|USB||USB Micro||USB Mini||The Kindle user the newer USB lead which all mobile phones should be standardising on. The 511EB uses the older size which is more common. You shouldn't have any issue finding an adaptor or computer lead anywhere in the world.|
|Connectivity||Wifi, Global 3G, USB||USB only||The wifi in the Kindle is more than a gimmick - and the 3G is a lifesaver if you don't have access to a computer.|
|Formats||Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.||TXT, PDF, EPUB, DOC, HTML, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIF. mp3, wav, wma||The 511EB works with more formats. That the Kindle doesn't support ePub is a huge failing. Just like how the iPod tried to force the world to AAC, so Amazon are trying to force the world into AZW. This time next year Amazon will allow native ePub on their devices.|
|Operating System & Support||Linux. Frequent software updates and unofficial 3rd party firmware for extra hacky goodness.||WinCE 5.0. Abandoned by Elonex who refuse to acknowledge customer support emails.||Can you tell I'm bitter 🙂 Ultimately, even if Amazon abandon this device, I'll be able to keep it working and up-to-date with security and functionality patches.|
First up, the obligatory unboxing video. Don't worry - it's short!
I've only had a few hours to play with the Kindle - so these are my initial findings.
Let's start with what I dislike about it...
- It's a little too big to hold in one hand. It just sits wrong. I'm sure I'll be able to get used to it, but it is a little uncomfortable.
- The UI is messy. There are a lot of options there - far more than the 511EB - but too little thought has gone in to the UI. It's easy enough to read on, but navigating books and features is a bit confusing.
- Speaking of the UI - I can find no way of changing the lock screen image. It also took me ages to switch off the annoying "annotations".
- The keyboard is atrocious. Whereas the 511EB has no great need of a keyboard - at least the keys are well defined and feel pleasant to use. The Kindle isn't in the same league as the ZX81 "dead flesh" keyboard - but it's pretty repellent. There are also no number keys despite plenty of space.
- No ePub support.
- The screen. Wow. Just.... fucking wow! Bigger and brighter than the 511EB. The whites are whiter. The 16 level grey-scale does wonders for images.
- The speed of screen refresh. Again... amazingly fast. With the 511EB I got used to hitting the "next" button just as I got to the last line of text. The Kindle blows this away. Super fast.
- The back has a rubber coating - stops it from slipping and is enjoyably tactile.
- Build quality. It's a little flexible, but it doesn't emit the creaks and groans of the 511EB's plastic frame.
- Start-up speed is instant. It's running Linux, not Windows CE - so it doesn't need to be switched off when you're done with it.
- Amazon could learn a trick or two from Apple in terms of presentation. The box the Kindle comes in is needlessly large.
- The power cable is white. So is the plug. A little odd for a black book, no? Sure, Kindle users aren't likely to be as aesthetically precious as Apple devotees - but a bit of consistency doesn't hurt.
- The UI is going to take a lot of getting used to...
It's too early to be certain - but this is in the running for my new favourite device ever. Converting all my ePubs to Kindle will be a bit of a chore - but Calibre should do most of the heavy lifting.
I'll need to throw some hefty PDFs and files with weird characters in them, but so far, it's doing a sterling job.
The size and weight aren't a huge issue - especially compared to a paperback - but there's no denying Amazon haven't done themselves any favours there. The UI is either so rubbish that I'll rewrite it or something which will fade into the background.
The 3G is a mixed blessing. The WhisperNet method of wirelessly buying and trying books is astonishing. But I'm worried I'll be tempted into web browsing when I ought to be reading.
Overall? Pretty close to perfect.