Saturday, April 26, 2008

Getting to know my Kindle

I think I will name her Grendel. I always rooted for Grendel in the Beowulf stories, and for some reason thought the monster should be a she. I also thought of Gwin, the ferret in the Ink series, but like the complete rhyming quality of Grendel. Anyway, I just got my hands on a long-awaited Kindle yesterday. Our department ordered several back in November, and we have waited all this time for their arrival. As I have done with other new acquisitions, I want to chronicle my first impressions of my new friend.

First off, when opening her, I had an almost MAC feeling. The packaging reminded me a little of the unpacking of my iPhone. There was the heavy duty box with the cute little clasp, and the packaging inside of the unit, cords, and brief documentation booklet. Oh and the cover! It was lovingly covered in a sexy little translucent sleeve. The only difference was that the Kindle was nestled in rather ugly gray egg-cartonish cardboard rather than soft, cushy Styrofoam. I wonder about the comparative biodegradability (is that a word?) of the two presentations. Anyway, I lifted it out gently and felt a little thrill as I carefully peeled off the plastic coverings. Lots of people say Kindles are ugly and complain about the color. I was not put off by Grendel's pure whiteness, personally. I liked the weight and the feel of the back cover which is non-skid material and a bit friendly to the touch. So far so good!

I determined to be a good girl and read the instruction book. No problem--there is not much there to read. The real user guide is appropriately housed in the unit, ready to be your first reading experience. I spent some time going through the guide and getting a feel for handling the gizmo.

Here are some early impressions
  • The appearance of the displays is very appealing. It does look more like book pages than any other portable reader I have seen, because of the ink-like print and the matte finish screen.
  • Adjusting text size is nice so I don't have to wear my cheater glasses to see small print.
  • One early problem I have noted that is still persisting is that it is awfully easy to hit a page forward button by mistake. One review I read last night points out that there is no really obvious way to hold the Kindle and let your hands rest. I tried using the unit with and without the cover and found that the problem exists either way.
  • Another issue with handling was that I tended to hold it in such a way that left bottom corner was digging into my left hand. It made me wish all corners were more rounded. As with the button problem, this may be something that goes away as I get more used to holding it.
  • The keyboard has very small symbols. It took me a while to figure out which one stood for home page, something that I wanted to know very early on.
  • Actual reading from the device is fun and comfortable. I am pleased with this, which of course is the raison d'etre for the device in the first place.
After early exploring I do have questions. My goal for the next day or so is to find answers for them:
  • First off I wanted to download blogs. In my mind I can download someone's entire blog history and then subscribe for future updates. I can find how to go to Amazon and subscribe there, but it seems to be fee based, with a small fee attached to using them for RSS. I don't want to have to pay for reading blogs that are free in other formats. This is top of my question list.
  • A colleague, Dr. Frank Hoffmann, wants to know about archiving. His question is, once you download a book from Amazon, can you then save it as well to a computer and then to a CD? From what I read, the answer is not clear. I do know that Amazon helpfully offers to keep all your files for you at your profile site. I am thinking that is their remedy for this question.
  • Somewhat related to my blog question, I want to know what can I download from where, and get for free? I am stingy! Hoping to figure out more about that today.
As I said, this entry is just to record first impressions. This evening or tomorrow I want to post an update describing how I am getting along with my new friend after spending more time with her, and what answers I have found to my questions. Overall, my first speed date with Grendel was enchanting. I am looking forward to getting to know her (OK now I am thinking maybe Grendel is a HE) better!

PS OK Grendel IS a guy...I just reviewed and remembered this in (where else?) Wikipedia. I also looked up Gwin, and reminded myself that he was a martin, not a ferret. So my memory is hazy. Big deal. Anybody that knows me is aware of that! And as a TOTAL ASIDE I read again about the plans for an Inkheart movie. It is supposed to come out in October of this year. Cannot wait! In my opinion, the Inkheart series beats the heck out of HP for fantasy reading. There is still a chance I may change the name of my buddy from Grendel to Gwin...

Here are some questions:
  1. About blogs...does a blog have to be listed with Amazon for you to subscribe? I know you can also browse to blogs which is likely what I will do, but wondering.
  2. Is there a way to move stuff from your Kindle to a computer, as in backing up a book? I know Amazon helpfully saves for you, but wondering about alternative.

1 comment:

  1. Ditto on the Inkheart thoughts. Rich fantasy!