November 19, 2007

Amazon's Kindle.

This is shockingly cool.
Revolutionary electronic-paper display provides a sharp, high-resolution screen that looks and reads like real paper.

Simple to use: no computer, no cables, no syncing.

Wireless connectivity enables you to shop the Kindle Store directly from your Kindle...

Top U.S. newspapers including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post; top magazines including TIME, Atlantic Monthly, and Forbes—all auto-delivered wirelessly....

More than 250 top blogs from the worlds of business, technology, sports, entertainment, and politics, including BoingBoing, Slashdot, TechCrunch, ESPN's Bill Simmons, The Onion, Michelle Malkin, and The Huffington Post....

Includes free wireless access to... Wikipedia.org.

Email your Word documents and pictures...
Amazon is providing free high-speed access to a cell phone network. That is, you can get newpapers, blogs, and Wikipedia anywhere, free. You can download books (from Amazon, at a price). You can get your own documents into it. And the screen is (supposedly) better on the eyes (and easier to see outdoors) than a computer screen.

Note: Please, if you're thinking of getting a Kindle and you love the Althouse blog, use the link on this post to buy it.

ADDED: Complaining here. I agree that it looks ugly.

AND: You have to subscribe to the blogs — most are 99¢ — and most of what's offered are sports blogs.

IN THE COMMENTS: George sez: "You'll see newer lighter cooler versions of this thing given away with magazine and newspaper subscriptions, the same way razor blade companies essentially give away the handles. Paper is over."

24 comments:

Joe said...

It looks like a cheap piece of shit to me. And just about as useful. Is anyone seriously going to pay $400 to read stuff online? (And look at their porn in B&W no less?)

Ann Althouse said...

I agree that it doesn't look elegant and pretty, like something designed by Apple. I'd like see the screen and hold it in my hands. It's 10 ounces... what does that feel like? I'd love to be able to carry my reading around easily... and to get to the newpaper all the time would be worth a lot.

Revenant said...

It does look interesting, but at that price it isn't a good buy for me.

John said...

Sony's E-reader is better than this thing in every way but one.

1. costs half as much
2. only draws power on page turns
3. doesn't look like crap (should be important for Althouse. It's uglier than a grown man's kneecaps)
4. much nicer display

The only thing this monstrosity is better at is the sync feature. With the Sony, you have to put material on an SD card.(takes no time at all so I don't care)

Iphone+Kindle=Ritz Carlton+33cent coffee rebate. Does not compute.

MadisonMan said...

I'd never buy it 'til I take it out for a spin. Can you buy it in a Brick/Mortar store? Even then: $400? I'd rather buy an iPhone.

Interesting that access to wikipedia is a selling point. If you've written an entry in wikipedia do you get a royalty?

George said...

It uses E-ink which nearly instantly rearranges itself. This wonderstuff has been in development for years and is backed by Intel, Motorola, and Philips. It is the real thing.

The next big oil shock, say, if we have a repeat of 1973-74, and the price per barrel triples, it will be goodbye to home delivered newspapers and lots and lots of magazines as we know them on paper.

Also, Books on Demand, one of Time Magazine's Products of the Year, will soon starting popping up in places like Borders.

George said...

Lest I forget, soon no home will be without its own 3D printer.

We will be assembling some products at home, instead of buying them already built.

Sheila said...

This thing isn't for surfing the internet, so no porn, black and white or otherwise. It's for reading books.

Imagine carrying one of these instead of a packpack full of heavy textbooks. I wish they'd had these when I was in college. Actually, I doubt the textbook publishers will play along with any electronic readers. Greedy bastiches.

I like that when you wake up in the morning your newspaper is already downloaded to the reader. Cool.

I also like that it's not as feyly pretty as apple products. My ipod is purty but everytime I have to spend 3 minutes thumb scrolling to find a song I get more pissed at them. Plus if the battery is as good as they say it is, who cares what it looks like? Apple stuff looks great but their batteries suck.

I care if the product is usable and doesn't drive me nuts with a bad interface.

$400 is a lot but it does include lifetime wireless access to the kindle store and wikipedia, plus some kind of "ask a question" service. Not sure what that is yet.

Amazon is having a lot of stuff on sale on Friday. Maybe they'll knock the price a little lower for one day? Please? I want one.

jeff said...

$400 bucks, but you get the wireless service. I like the newspaper part. That would really be nice. Plus I don't have to dispose of the paper when I am done. I agree with whoever mentioned textbooks. The thing I didnt like was the buying of the electronic book but only storing 200 titles on the device. I have more than 5000 books at home and like to re-read them. But I found where it says it keeps track of your titles for you so you could rotate them on the device and still own the book to re-read later. I don't know. I am starting to lean towards this thing.

shake-and-bake said...

Ordered one from your link. I'll get my nephew to decorate it with stickers.

Sheila said...

I stand corrected. One of the beta testers posting in the customer review section over at amazon says that you can web surf with it, but it's in grey scale and it doesn't support flash or java. Meh. I could live with that. It would be nice to read some blogs online on the train in the morning.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

Ann - your iphone weighs 4.8 oz. The Sony ebook weighs in @ 9oz., is .5" thick while the Kindle is .7" thick. Kindle has 167 pixels per inch vs. Sony's 170 pixels per inch. Kindle has keyboard for writing notes, memos, etc. Sony is a reader only. SOny has dropped their price to $249. They also are offering free downloading of your choice of up to 100 "classic titles." (Think those that are not copyrighted.)

The newspaper download is appealing, although the gray-scale only is a drawback for them, I think. In time, I imagine a full-color version would be a big boost to content providers like newspapers (and magazines).

Interesting idea.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

Oops - the Sony is listed @ 279 on their website. In case anyone wants order one, they don't have any. All sold out.

Blake said...

If you were the sort of person who bought a lot of bestsellers, you could easily make back the $400 with those books they're selling at $10 (versus $20-$30 for hard-copy).

That's the way to go, really, to speed adoption of this stuff.

At a book a month, you'd be in the black after about 2-3 years, depending.

shake-and-bake said...

I lived in Washington, D.C. for years and love the Post, which you can't get here (San Francisco) by subscription or otherwise. Now I learn that I can have it delivered to my Kindle daily, available to read during my morning commute, for a piddling $9.99 a month. I'm all tingly.

George said...

You'll see newer lighter cooler versions of this thing given away with magazine and newspaper subscriptions, the same way razor blade companies essentially give away the handles. Paper is over.

Sheila said...

Okay. I've had a few hours to cool off. I was inflamed with kindle lust for a while there.

I think I'm going to dust off my old unused Sony Clio PDA and download some ebooks and xword puzzles to see if I will actually make use of an electronic reading device.

Having spent half the day reading about the kindle, now I think the worst thing about it is that it isn't compatible with ebook format. You can get lots of free ebooks on line. But to use the kindle you have to buy books in a proprietary format from Amazon. Phooey!

MarkW said...

I'm just not seeing the appeal of e-ink or a device that can't display color and has no back light. I read books fairly regularly on portable devices. My current favorite is a Nokia internet tablet (a bit like the iPhone or iPod Touch) that has a very high res 4" screen. Very readable. But it also has wifi and a web browser and does photos and movies and MP3s and internet radio and internet phone calls and GPS mapping -- I just can't see carrying around a single-purpose device.

Also -- the DRM garbage is finally disappearing from the MP3 market. It needs to disappear from the ebook market too, before it's going to have a chance. If I buy an eBook, I want to be able to read it on any computer or device I own (or buy in the future). I'm really not willing to buy a book tied to a particular device.

Rich B said...

I think the big drawback is lack of PDF support. I know the Sony Reader is supposed to support PDF, but as far as I can gather, it's not a great implementation.

Balfegor said...

Re: markw

I'm just not seeing the appeal of e-ink or a device that can't display color and has no back light. I read books fairly regularly on portable devices. My current favorite is a Nokia internet tablet (a bit like the iPhone or iPod Touch) that has a very high res 4" screen. Very readable. But it also has wifi and a web browser and does photos and movies and MP3s and internet radio and internet phone calls and GPS mapping -- I just can't see carrying around a single-purpose device.

I have (and regularly use) a Sony Reader. It's an excellent device because I can take it on, say, a business trip or a long flight/train ride, and I won't need to recharge afterwards. It also displays extremely well in sunlight. I've read books on other portable devices -- a Cowon A2 (an excellent portable media player, incidentally) and a Samsung P2 -- and it can be okay, but the battery charge issue does make itself known in fairly short order. People have different ways of using devices, of course, so the Reader or the Kindle are not for everyone. But they're a good fit for me.

If I had one gripe, though, it would be the resolution. I can read scanned Japanese text on the Reader as it is (Sony has not condescended to put East Asian Text support into the Reader natively, even though the Reader's immediate predecessor was the Japanese-market Librie), but they're on the edge of legibility for complex characters. I think this may have been resolved with the new version of the Reader (I have the PRS-500, not the 505), but it's a slight defect.

I think the Kindle is overpriced, and I don't think I'd make much use of it myself. But I can see the appeal. Another defect of the Reader -- one that doesn't really impact me, but which probably limits its appeal -- is that the online bookstore is really not implemented well. It's like the first version of the iTunes store. Amazon will probably do a better job with that.

Re: rich b:

I think the big drawback is lack of PDF support. I know the Sony Reader is supposed to support PDF, but as far as I can gather, it's not a great implementation.

Yes, it's not all that great, because most PDFs are optimised for a different screen size. There are free utilities you can use to resize the PDFs so they display properly, but you actually have to go look for them, and one of them has a command-line/terminal interface. Not hugely user-friendly at this point. Hopefully Sony will improve the software at some point.

re: Sheila:

This thing isn't for surfing the internet, so no porn, black and white or otherwise. It's for reading books.

It connects to the internet. And it has a screen. The chances that it won't be used for porn are vanishingly small.

reader_iam said...

But can you write in the margins?

Or use Silly Putty on the comics?

See your kid's fingerprints next to the dog-ears? Read your grandma's annotations?

What does it smell like--new and old?

What about the "tactiles"?

hanum said...

It's awesome gadget, cool. I like it ;)

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