Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

24 hours with a Kindle

Last Friday I really needed cheering up.  There was no sign of my cough/cold clearing, I had a bad headache developing, and the prospect of returning to work did not fill me with the usual joy.

So as is usual I headed over to the Amazon site, to see if there was anything that particularly grabbed my attention.



I looked again at the Kindle site.  Most requested wishlist item, most number of five star ratings.

But I already had 2 x 3.5” Kindle readers (iPhone and iPod touch), and my iPad too.  Did I really need a 6” device?  Even one which could download from (almost) anywhere in the world (though interestingly not Tunisia, which seems to be having one or two problems of its own since I came back).

The following morning (I paid for express delivery, did I mention that I really needed cheering up), the Kindle arrived.  After making a bit of a fool trying to remove the second cellophane cover from the front of the device, I realised that I was actually looking at the e-ink display showing it’s ‘welcome’ message.


Nothing can prepare you for the clarity of the display.  It really is pin sharp and a different experience.  The closest comparison is that reading a book on the iPad is like reading a hardback book in terms of weight and size.  The kindle is a paperback book.  One that fits into a pocket and carry anywhere.

The user interface – to be honest this needs some work.  I love the big ‘forward’ buttons and the slightly smaller ‘back’ buttons, but searching and highlighting needs to be improved.  I know the iPad is a touch screen and so the UI is always going to be different, but I think more can be done here.

Alas, my posting title ‘24 hours with a Kindle’ was prophetic.  The next morning something happened to the display, and became a mass of horizontal and vertical lines, like Etch a Sketch on acid.  The device was still working behind the screen, but it was unreadable.  I guess I was unlucky, though subsequent Googling does seem to indicate some screens are very fragile.

Amazon have been great however, and arranged for DHL to collect the device from my home, and have confirmed that a refund for the full amount is being made.

As soon as the credit does appear back on my card, I will be purchasing another Kindle (the same model with 3G access).  I now also have a thick neoprene case waiting for my new Kindle (I’ve used something similar to protect all of my laptops and iPad).

I’m looking forward to showing the device to my friends (and taking some photos!), but there will be a short delay.


Happy New Year – cough cough

Firstly can I wish everyone who reads this blog on an even semi-regular basis a Happy New Year.  I disappeared off to Tunisia for a week of sun and sand after Christmas, and had a really good time, as soon as I get chance I will post a couple of photos here just to remind myself what I’m missing.

Unfortunately, as all-too frequently happens, I’ve come back with a stinking cough/cold.  I’m loathed to call it flu, mostly because I can’t afford to be ill when I return to work next week as I have a series of interviews crucial to my next piece of PhD work.  So I have four days to get myself well, which considering how I feel as I type, could be an uphill struggle.  I’m off to the docs anyhow this evening, after my scare a couple of years ago I always get this checked out.  Strangely, despite having the jab before and various problems, I wasn’t entitled to a free flu jab, and had to pay for it myself last October, which I duly did.

The holiday was a great break, and also an enforced experiment to see if I could cope without being ‘Gridlinked‘, ironically one of the books which I downloaded to my iPad via Amazon’s Kindle service.  Tunisia does not have a strong wireless Internet presence, and it was day six (of seven) that I discovered a bar with free wi-fi.

So I ‘only’ had the iPad, iPod Shuffle, and iPhone to keep me amused, with no chance of any new content being available to me.  How did I do?

The iPad was really heavily used by both of us.  For me I used it as an e-book reader (Kindle though, not iBooks unfortunately, still too expensive and limited range of titles though this may change), music player, and video viewer.  I only rarely played games, though that’s not the fault of the iPad, I really am poor at playing games, and even a game of Scrabble can’t always keep my attention.  The shuffle performed flawlessly as my night-time music player, and the iPhone filled the (few) gaps when I wasn’t by the pool or in bed.

The only downsides to the iPad are the battery life and screen glare.  I was always aware of the charge on the device, and was concerned about it ‘running out’.  Screen brightness seems to be the single largest influence of battery life (remembering this was running in ‘flight mode’ all the time as there were no wireless networks that the device could even try to connect to).  I know that for it’s primary holiday purpose, that the Kindle device would make a highly compelling purchase, solve the above problems at a stroke, and having seen a couple out ‘in the field’ in Tunisia, I am even more tempted, but like many people I’m being cautious in my purchases in 2011.

Hmm, having just read the Amazon Kindle page again I’ve just noted this interesting paragraph at the very end –

Read Before Bed Without Affecting Sleep

According to some sleep experts, reading on closely-held backlit screens before bed inhibits melatonin production, which is critical for a good night’s sleep. “The take-home lesson is that insomnia and electronic gadgets emitting light should not [be] mixed before bedtime” says UCLA Neurology Clinic Director Alon Avidan. “Kindle is better for your sleep.”

The Kindle is sitting in my shopping basket now, but I must be strong!

I have loads of new years resolutions, and whilst ‘only’ 4lb heavier than this time last year, the relentless upward curve has continued, and for my own health this is something I need to get a grip with.

I’ll try and rattle off another posting before I return to work.