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Kindle on the Go

You can hear about my early impressions of the Kindle in a recent MacNotables podcast.

Following up on that podcast, and on my earlier TidBITS article (see “First Kindly Impressions about My Kindle,” 2008-03-27), I want to comment here briefly on my experiences with the Kindle during my recent trip via airplane from Ithaca to California and back.

The Kindle worked flawlessly for reading ebooks that I purchased from the Amazon store. I especially liked being able to download free samples to the Kindle, typically a chapter or two, because I could then read a bunch of samples but buy only the titles whose samples I liked the most. I also adored accessing and posting to Twitter from the Philadelphia airport, something that I could do easily and for free via the Sprint EVDO network that the Kindle uses, but that would have required more effort or money to do via Wi-Fi on a laptop.

On the negative side, although the Kindle’s keyboard works well for two-thumbs keyboarding into a field on a Web page, such as the field used for posting a message in Twitter, the navigation for using fields and buttons on a Web page is odd and slow. The Kindle lacks a free-floating pointer on its screen, which makes it harder to select or click onscreen items, since you must use a menu to do so. Amazon puts Web access under the Experimental portion of the Kindle’s features, and for good reason. And, I never did get to listen to my audiobook, because you have to hook the Kindle up to a Windows machine to establish an Audible account, and that turned out to be more of a project than I wanted to do while on vacation.

When I carried the Kindle in public, it attracted the interest of the people around me, who were intrigued by the possibilities, but some were put off by the $399 price tag and others didn’t like the somewhat funky navigation.

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