Hands-on with the Kindle 4

So amongst the usual stack of books I received this Christmas was a shiny new Kindle 4. I had reservations over ereaders for a long time and few who know me thought I would ever own, let alone enjoy, one. But were they right?

No.

I love my Kindle. It’s fab. Here’s why:

• It’s like reading a book; e-ink really is as good as the printed page. There’s no glare, no eyestrain, no headaches. Brilliant.

• It weighs less than a book; War and Peace will no longer break your wrists.

• It’s not a book; I don’t have to worry about breaking the spine (I’m the sort of person who makes a sound of agony when I see someone breaking the spine of a book. I figure it’s my way of helping the voiceless book express its pain.) It also means I can read with one hand and still turn the pages, allowing me to multi-task.

Downsides? I won’t lie, there are some. It is, of course, never going to be the same as reading a real book (for which I have a true love). If the book has a great cover, for instance, you don’t get to see it when you pick it up (this also means you can’t show off the oh-so-clever book you’re reading to your fellow commuters). You can’t flip back a hundred pages or so; flicking the pages involves finding a location (how the hell do I know what location the dining room scene was at?), and the real page numbers mean nothing on an ereader. And it’s a little hard to get attached to a digital file in the same way as a physical book. Although some might say I could do with a little less attachment to books.

But then an ereader shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for books any more than mp3s were a replacement for CDs. It’s an enhancement, and I’m thrilled to be able to expand my reading experience with a new tool.

A few tips for anyone thinking of picking up the Kindle 4:

• Registering is no picnic; the Kindle decided my username and password weren’t valid and forced me to register on the Amazon website using the serial number. If you need this, you can find it in Device Info, under Settings.

• The onscreen keyboard is pointless; you’ll use it if it’s an absolute necessity only. This makes buying ebooks on the Kindle itself a chore. I recommend using your computer or smartphone. If you’ve not got one or you want to buy books on the Kindle, pay extra for the Kindle Keyboard.

• The Kindle ships with a USB cable only. This means you can only charge it from your computer out of the box. If you want to charge it from a wall socket you’ll need to buy an adapter. You can use any USB adapter, though. I use the one for my iPhone.

4 thoughts on “Hands-on with the Kindle 4

  1. Farah Ng @ Broken Penguins

    Hi James! Glad you like your Kindle. I’ve been using my Kindle 3 for about a year now and I love it too! And I agree on all accounts. There’s a reason why they always put War and Peace on the in-store displays! I also like knowing that trees didn’t have to die for a good read.

    One of the things I could never get over was that you can’t really tell how long a book is on a Kindle. I’ll be reading for hours and discover I’m only 3% into a book and realize that it’s a LONG book. Or I’ll flip the page at 99% and discover that the story has ended and I didn’t even know. That never happens with a paper book.

    Reply
    1. James T Kelly

      Hi Farah, thanks for commenting! You’re absolutely right about the length issue, there’s no way of knowing if you’ve downloaded a tome or a leaflet until you’re a couple of chapters in!

      Incidentally, how well do you get on with the Kindle 3’s keyboard? I had a few tries but didn’t like it, but I wondered if it was something you got used to over time?

      Reply
      1. Farah Ng @ Broken Penguins

        It’s the one think I really hate about the Kindle. Sorry to say that the keyboard is a peice of $#!%. Good thing there aren’t many occasions I have to use it. It’s surprising b/c I have an IPhone which has a much smaller keyboard but I have no problems using it.

        Reply
        1. James T Kelly

          I know what you mean. I think it’s down to the layout. Though the iPhone keyboard is smaller the keys are in positions we expect, whereas the Kindle’s keys are in a uniform grid. I don’t know about you, but my touch-typing fingers can’t handle it!

          Reply

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