This week finds the Kindle 3 back in stock and available for immediate shipping. As a result there are more reviews than ever from new users and old ones deciding to make the switch. If you are one of those unfortunate customers who ordered their new Kindle while it was backordered, you have my sympathies for any delay you might be suffering. Apparently Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) is taking their time catching up on those many orders. In the meantime, fresh orders are going out immediately even in instances of Super Saver Shipping, by many accounts.
Wondering what this new influx of Kindles will mean for the reputation of the popular eReading device? I was too. Here’s what people are saying:
The Positive Experiences
It appears that many people were put off of eReaders as a whole due to public displays of the Nook’s early poor functionality at Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) outlets. While this is understandable, given the bumps in the road that the Nook had to make it over to be worthy of a place at the top, it’s good to see people giving these things another try.
“I enjoy reading so much but my home was being overrun with books! I waited, did not let my friend talk me into buying a Nook last December and I’m glad I did. The Kindle 3 has many aspects I like…books download in seconds, so many books to choose from, free books and books self-published authors on Amazon, I can use the Internet, shop the Kindle store, not be carrying around a ton of books and so much more.”
“I almost was completely turned off on purchasing an e-reader from my experience with the Nook, sure it looked pretty, it had the cool color touch screen at the bottom and a few other nice features but it felt so slow, whenever you turn the page it would flash black and a second or two later the next page would show up. Even the touch screen activity at the bottom of the device felt slow and buggy to me.” As for the Kindle? “I pre-ordered it, got free shipping and received it the very next day after it was released! I had already purchased some books for it and when I got it and set up the wi-fi the books were instantly downloaded to the device! As for the actual performance of the device and am very happy with, the page turns are extremely fast, hardly even noticeable! Wonderful battery life, have only had to charge once since I have had it! The new Kindle is an amazing e-reader and would suggest it to anyone who is looking for a superb device and experience!”
There are also some words about the potential use of the Kindle as an Academic tool, something that has often been disregarded due to the highly noticeable differences from working with a paper book or pamphlet.
“As a PhD candidate who travels a lot and has tremendous amounts of reading to do, I gave the Kindle 3 a shot as a way to be more productive. I was hesitant at first, given what other reviewers had said about difficulty with PDF files. However, after trying it myself and tinkering with the features, I am head-over-heels in love with my Kindle.”
There’s plenty more, of course, but what’s the point of simply quoting over and over again things along the lines of “I love it, I love it, I l0ve it”? I’ll admit to some surprise that the upgraded web browser is not more commonly reviewed. Personally, I can’t help but take note of how great it performs and how much of an improvement I’ve noticed over the old version. That’s just me, however.
Of course, if we’re going to highlight the good reviews then it only stands to reason that some of the bad ones might be relevant as well. This week’s complaints:
The Negative Experiences
There are two distinct categories that I’m not going to touch on here.
First is defective units. Yes, there are some. Fortunately, Amazon seems to be doing a great job getting replacements out. If you don’t panic, chances are that the worst that will come of any damage in transit or malfunction in your unit is a day or two of waiting.
Second are those reviewers who are blindly lashing out against the product by reviewing something they’ve never even seen in person. There are plenty of these people to be found on the Kindle review page complaining about everything from lack of informative commercials to not being an Amazon version of the iPad, but you can usually pick them out because they don’t list as having “Amazon Verified Purchase” under their name. If that’s not there, chances are the person has no real right to be reviewing any given thing on Amazon.
So what are the real complaints? Well, first and without any surprise is the PDF crowd. PDF conversion is tedious and complicated at the best of times, and the Amazon automated conversion only works well when you’re really lucky. Naturally there are complaints.
“Only problem is my existing PDF books. The text is really small. You have to zoom and navigate. Doable, but not ideal. PDF loading is very easy.”
“I initially looked into getting a Kindle because I wanted a device to read my PDF text books on other than my net book or printing and binding them.” “First I e-mailed the PDF file to my Kindle e-mail to have it converted to Kindle format. None of the text came over correctly, it was a bunch of mixed up letters. Then I tried downloading a free converter. While this worked better, the text was super small and you couldn’t really enlarge it to a readable size. (Please note that I can read small print.) Finally I transferred my book to my Kindle using the USB cable”
“I received my order happily. I mainly wanted to use it for reading pdf, science/technology papers and books, which usually have a lot of figures and tables and formula.” “Perhaps I need to revisit my thinking about DX and IPAD to see whichever is better fitting my reading need.”
There are also concerns about the WiFi. Many users seem to be having trouble grasping the concept that WiFi-only means that you will not be able to access Whispernet except at hotspots or on your home network. This can hardly be considered a fault in Amazon or the Kindle, but many are trying to cast it in that light. Other WiFi complaints revolve around network security. There IS a known issue wherein WPA2 protected mixed-mode routers will be unable to connect to the Kindle. In general, if this is a concern, switching to a WEP setup or connecting via USB to your computer seem to be the only options available.
“It’s a great device but it won’t work with my Cisco E1000 wireless router.” “I had to return this device and spring for the extra $50 to get the 3G version. I love Kindle. This is my second one – I gave the first one to my lovely wife, who is delighted. Pity about the WiFi.”
Then we have those pleasant individuals who seem to be unable to understand the differences between the traditional LCD screen and eInk. While I do not personally consider the lack of backlighting as anything but a positive, it is important to be aware of. This is usually a feature, rather than a failing. It saves on eye strain and it increases battery life significantly. That said, word is not quite out yet, apparently.
“I don’t remember reading anything about the fact that you couldn’t use it in the dark or I never would have gotten it. There is no way to adjust the brightness or contrast at all. I do 99% of my reading indoors, so being able to see the screen in bright sunlight is irrelevant to me. They sell a lighted cover for it for another $50 – it doubles the weight and runs the battery down fast – two of the pluses I liked when purchasing it (light and one month of battery life). I wouldn’t recommend this over a regular book to anyone.”
And so, that’s where we stand at the moment. Again, the positive reviews outweigh the negative in number, length, and clarity without it even coming close. There are shortcomings, of course, and no device is perfect. People sure do seem to like their Kindles though!