Kindle!

I have been deeply in love with tiny portable toys ever since I bought a Palm IIIc in college and spent a very boring art history class going through everything even remotely interesting, in several languages, on AvantGo. Also, Pac-Man. Mid-range Palm OS had an eensy-weensy razor-sharp pixel-perfect port of arcade Pac-Man available, which played surprisingly well on the menu buttons. It also tried valiantly to run a Gameboy emulator, although the thing really wasn't playable until I replaced it with a Tungsten later on. Man, I loved those things. I used them not quite absolutely to death -- actually, a friend of mine inherited the IIIc for a while and did the same.

It should be no surprise, therefore, that I've been dying to get a Kindle. I read a lot -- you probably guessed -- and while this is good for my brain, it's less good for the shoulder I hang my messenger bag on. You can have my DS Lite and flashcard when you pry it from my cold, dead hands, so I've been making use of an EPUB reader called DS Libris, which I cannot recommend too highly; the interface is simple and easy to use, even one-handed, and the book-fold format makes excellent use of the DS's dual screens. The only drawbacks are that DS screens are optimized for colorful things and animation, not black and white text, so the jaggies get obvious after a while, and that the RAM setup is not meant for cramming large wads of linear text into, so loading up very large books can crawl a bit.

Still. KINDLE.

Recently, I was sent a very generous Amazon gift card completely out of the blue. I decided this was probably a sign.

I ordered a Kindle3 rather than a Fire; for one thing, having a tablet of any kind on my person would guarantee that I would never pay attention to anything else ever again. For another, I hate touchscreen keyboards with what is probably an unwarranted passion, and there is a Kindle3 model with a tiny chicklet keyboard on the bottom of the bezel. But mostly, it's that they're not restricted to wifi. I don't know how many souls they sold, or how many blowjobs they threw in as a lagniappe, but somehow Amazon got AT&T to agree to provide free lifetime 3G service for the top-tier K3s. If you're not one of those people with a fancy smartphone and an expensive unlimited data plan who is already nodding enthusiastically, I think this xkcd strip will adequately explain.

(It came with a cover, whose design is rather clever. I wondered why the brace bar was metal, as the Kindle isn't that heavy, until I realized that there's a contact in there somewhere that allows the light to run off the Kindle's battery. I'm thinking of painting DON'T PANIC in large friendly pink letters on the front.)

The browser is filed as "experimental" in the menu -- as a dedicated user of Google eternally-in-beta services, this deters me not at all -- and understandably quite slow, but someone has put a great deal of care into whatever algorithm converts full-color webpages into black and white dithering. It looks surprisingly nice. Wikipedia works. GameFAQs works. Most of my message boards work decently, especially with avatar images off. A wide variety of Google things work, including Gmail, Reader, Maps, and the Blogger post editor. Gtalk Mobile supposedly works, although I haven't tried yet.

And of course, it excels at being an e-reader. The first thing I did, after I made sure it turned on and charged, was dump about a gigabyte of assorted stuff into its library. The sharpness of the Pearl display made me realize just how crap the printing in real trade paperbacks has gotten. The switches, including the keyboard, all give tiny but satisfying clicks when you press them. The QWERTY keys are infinitesimal, but I can manage. The K3 supports the full Unicode character set -- I need to dig up some things in Japanese or Chinese to test that, but it handles a load of Jules Verne and Maurice Leblanc in French from Gutenberg.org without garbling anything. I spent much, much too long fussing with the Collections feature last night.

I also find the screensaver inexplicably charming. The illustrations are designed to look like copperplate engravings, and are an excellent way to show off the sharpness of the e-ink display. It is possible to see the individual pixels, but only if you get the thing right up to your nose and stare.

Today I investigate the exact nature of the email-things-to-your-gizmo feature. Supposedly there's a way to convert PDFs for display that works via their email gateway; I expect a GURPS sourcebook full of pictures is probably its worst-case scenario.

Comments

  1. I absolutely love this great and interesting device, because I can have in just one place, hundreds of good titles. I downloaded some from All you can books and I can read them whenever I have a little spare time... unfortunately I'm quite busy these days and I can't read as much as I want, but I will have soon a little holiday... I can't wait for it!

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    Replies
    1. When I went to "All You Can Books", the first post was "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes". One of my favorites, and always a good sign. :) I'll bookmark that, thanks!

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