Hands-on Kindle


Amazon hosted a networking event tonight. They had me at free beer and a chance to look at a Kindle. Now that I’ve actually played with one, I can comment on some of its features for better or worse.

It’s heavier and more solid than it looks. With the little padded cover, it could pass for a physical book in most situations, and it would probably survive a drop to the floor just fine.

The screen does look great, even in the sub-optimal lighting conditions of a bar. I had to compare with the XO when I got home, and with the backlight off, I think the resoloutions are very nearly similar. However, the XO (without backlight) is fairly hard to read at indoor lighting levels, though in full sunshine it’s great. I don’t know how easy it would be to read the Kindle in full sunlight…

Page turning is annoyingly slow, and annoyingly easy to do by accident. The annoying part is that after pressing the button, nothing seems to happen for a second, then the page blacks out, waits another second, then displays the new content. I understand the technical limitations of the black flash (and the corresponding benefits–essentially zero power consumption to hold an image). But it feels like if it started working as soon as the button was pressed, it could cut the overall page change time in half. Keyboard entry felt slow and lagged as well.

Overall, the device didn’t feel usable to me. I somehow stumbled my way into Wikipedia and got to see the browser in action. I would love to see a touch-screen version.

Did seeing one change my mind about buying one? Nope. Still waiting. I’d buy this one at half it’s current price, an updated model for maybe more. -m

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