This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2008-03-27 at 11:07 a.m.
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First Kindly Impressions about My Kindle

by Tonya Engst

I ordered a Kindle [1] about a month ago, and it finally arrived yesterday. The Kindle,'s new ebook reader, probably won't set the literary world on fire. However, I ordered one anyway because as a publisher of electronic books I'm especially curious about it, because I think it may help beat back the stacks of books that sometimes overwhelm our living space, and because I'm hoping it will work well for reading on trips.

My first impressions have been positive. It was easy to figure out how to start using it, and easy to understand my options. I don't always understand the highly compressed controls in consumer electronics quickly; clock radios in particular often baffle me. And the iPod's controls had me in tears when I first tried to use one. So, if I can get the Kindle working easily without help, that's saying something.

However, the Kindle is not without its quirks:

On the one hand, the Kindle has a strange mix of features and interface elements, but on the other hand, I find it charming that it's so easy to figure out how to use it. At the moment, I feel toward it much as I feel toward my Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner (see "Roomba: a Robot Underfoot [5]," 2005-07-11). Even though the Roomba takes time to clean and periodically requires that I call customer service for a replacement part or ROM upgrade, I still adore what it does well and put up with the downsides in order to enjoy the benefits.

At first, the Kindle couldn't find the Sprint EVDO network that it uses for its Whispernet delivery service in my house. However, once it was out in the yard, where it could pick up the signal, it seemed to have locked on, and now it sees the network even inside. My next step is to try buying new material from the Kindle Store at Amazon. The Kindle did come with a preloaded user manual, a dictionary, and a nice note from Jeff Bezos, but I'm ready for more variety.