Added a Kindle 3 to my collection of gadgets

Just got my Kindle 3! The screen is pretty cool. When I first got it, I couldn’t decide if the picture was printed on a covering sticker or actually the screen…it was the screen. It is amazing and the refresh is not annoying at all–this was one of my biggest fears. It’s actually really easy to read even in low light.

I got it because my iPad is just too heavy for long extended use. It’s been giving me a backache no matter how I held it. Propping up with pillows, putting it on my knees, etc. Pain. Pain. Pain. I’m hoping the Kindle, being a fraction of the weight, will be easier on my back.

I’m disappointed that Audible on the Kindle is a little clunky. After all, it is owned by Amazon too. You have to install the Audible Manager software on your PC and then connect your Kindle via USB cable. The interface is basic basic. Lame. No chapters! It tracks progress using “Sections”, but these appear to have no relationship to “Chapters” used on the iPhone app. So if you listen to something on one, it’s hard to figure out the corresponding place on the other. No Whispersync! C’mon Amazon!

Apple iPad causes back problems

Have you seen the billboards where the iPad user is comfortably lounging on a couch or something, relaxingly using their Apple iPad? Well, maybe if they showed their face, they would be grimacing.

Let me explain. Since I started using my iPad more and more, I’ve noticed I’m starting to get acute back pains. I think this is mostly caused when I use it sitting in bed before I go to sleep. In some ways just as it is being used in the ads. You don’t get a lot of back support sitting in bed and I suppose my back is hunched over for too long a period. I’ve tried pillows and such, but it’s impossible to make it the functional equivalent of sitting in a chair.

I’ve tried using it laying flat with the iPad propped up on a small pillow on my chest. It’s a little awkward, but my back seems better. The device is pretty heavy and you don’t really notice it at first. You really can’t hold it comfortably very long in one hand. I’m guessing that the weight contributes to the problem.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I thing it is an amazing device and I will continue to use it. However, I am thinking seriously about getting the lighter Amazon Kindle for reading in bed (and outside use). It will be interesting to see if mainstream media starts jumping on Apple on this. Picking on Apple seems to be the thing to do these days. I did a Google search and got some hits on the topic. I’m going to coin the phrase now: “iPad Syndrome”!

Ordered my first Kindle book for my iPod Touch

I don’t own a Kindle, nor do I intend on buying one; however, I just ordered my first Kindle book, “Daemon” by Daniel Suarez. I’ll be reading it on my iPod Touch.

I scoff at anyone that thinks the Touch (or iPhone) can’t be someone’s main Kindle eBook reader. These people are either A) old; B) trying to justify the $359 you already wasted on a Kindle; or C) don’t read ebooks. I also predict that non-Kindle people will soon be the main consumers of Kindle books.

My 15yo daughter actually LOL’d when I told her that some people think you can’t read an entire eBook on a Touch. That somehow there is some kind of severe handicap doing it.

I also think that the WhisperSync feature, while cool, is too cumbersome to depend on. Syncing, in general, sucks, albeit often necessary.

Amazon gets it: Kindle for iPhone

Anyone that reads my blog knows that I’ve been agonizing over getting an ebook reader. I nearly got a Sony Reader a few weeks back, but just couldn’t swallow the $400 price tag for a single-purpose device. I’ve been hovering over the Kindle 2 Buy button as well ;-)

The real reason I wanted either a Sony or Kindle was the access to the larger bookstore. eReader.com is good, but it doesn’t have near the depth of selections. With the new Kindle for iPhone app, I now have access to the huge catalog of ebooks as Amazon.

Personally, I now see no need for a dedicated single-purpose ebook reader. Sure the display is close to paper, but does that really matter. I’m sure the newer generation of people used to tiny phone screens, MP3 players, etc. don’t really care. It’s a dying generation of people, trying to hang onto paper that truly embrace dedicated ebook readers. We’ve seen it before: CRTs are superior to LCDs, the original IBM keyboard is the best, notebooks can never replace full-powered desktops, CDs can’t replace vinyl records, MP3s don’t sound as good as CDs, etc. etc. Old technology always lost. People adapt. People embrace the new. People move on.

The mere fact that I can whip out my iPod Touch and start reading a book on a gorgeous, albeit small, screen isn’t a negative at all. The fonts are crisp and clean, the page movement is smooth and fast–uh better than ereaders–, and it remembers my place. What more do you need?

The Kindle for iPhone app is bare bones, but more than adequate. You can buy the book through Amazon on the Safari browser and it appears when you open the app. You can instantly change the font size (the eReader.com app doesn’t do this instantly), dog-ear (ie bookmark) a page by touching the corner of a page, among other things. Moving from page to page is done with a left/right swipe. Personally, I prefer up/down, but that’s not a biggie. No dictionary support that I can see, but hopefully that’s coming.

I love the fact that you can download a free preview of a book. I don’t know exactly how much of the book it is, but it’s quite a bit. For the one I tried it was nearly 4 chapters! Good strategy I think.

I predict that there will quickly be more books sold to iPhone/Touch owners than Kindle owners. It’s a no brainer. Thanks Amazon! Sorry eReader :-(

Tempted by Sony Reader, but it’s just too damn expensive!

I’ve been trying to talk myself out of a Kindle or Sony Reader for a long time. I know it doesn’t make any sense for me, but they are just cool. Well, I was on my annual walk-down-every-aisle-of-Fry’s trip (my birthday is Weds) and I came across the Sony in THREE different locations. IS SOMEONE TRYING TO DRIVE ME INSANE???

Well, by the end of my journey I was weak and decided to give in and drop the $399 necessary for the PRS-700 Sony Reader. But then I saw the Acer and HP netbooks. Beautiful tiny amazing devices; full Windows XP computers for just $249-$299. Is the Reader really good enough to justify $100-$150 extra cost??? Clearly, the answer is No.

Well, I wasn’t ready to jump on the netbook bandwagon, so I left with just a few non-tech odds and ends only about $30 lighter…what a disappointment…

Well, I still think the readers are cool, but the biggest thing I really can’t get my arms around is that the Sony is a better device, but Amazon’s got the better bookstore. I just know its eventually going to be one of those love-hate purchases. So far I’m holding out.

Slate tabletPC kicks Kindle’s rear

I’ve been seriously trying to decide between the Kindle and the Sony Reader, but I’ve just discovered that you can’t beat a slate-style tabletPC-I’ve got the Motion Computing LE1700.  Digital media consumers, like me, have long moved way beyond the one-dimensional black and white mediums and onto color-intensive things like magazines,  websites, etc. Even newspapers have embraced color. What would USA Today be without color.

This is why I see single-purpose devices like the Kindle and Sony Reader as great devices, but unnecessary in the grander/long-term scheme of things. Plus, they are relatively expensive. How much more use can you get out of a 32GB iPod Touch or netbook compared to a Kindle or Sony Reader?

More and more traditionally print publications are being offered in electronic versions, although you’d be often hard pressed to find them. I recently discovered the (well hidden) digital subscription to Maximum PC and LA Times, but PC Mag, being only offered in digital format, was not surprisingly easier to get. A digital version of PC World is also available, but at $19.97/yr, it’s a bit pricey. MaxPC and PC Mag are under $10/yr. PC Mag has a special 2-year subscriptions for $15!

Digital subscriptions are by no means limited to tech magazines either. Check out Zinio.com, the engine used by PC Mag, and you’ll probably be surprised at the strong catalog of offerings. Newsstand.com is also good. That’s where you’ll find a lot of the newspapers like the LA Times, NY Times, USA Today, etc.

I will fully admit that I envy the awesome ebook reader battery life and the crisp eInk display, but giving up a full PC experience is too much to ask. I was just relaxing reading an issue of PC Mag and decided to start blogging my experience. Try THAT on an eBook reader.

The big downside to electronic publications, as with any copyrighted electronic medium, is DRM. Zinio and Newsstand both rely on proprietary file formats. Sure you can download and archive them, but who knows when they will become obsolete.

In my opinion, however, do publications have that much value after a year or two? Maybe books do, but who really re-reads their books? Yeah, I now people like to save and collect their magazines and books into their own personal library, but how often do they look at them? How much is relegated to dusty cardboard boxes in the garage taking up valuable storage space? Now hopefully, electronic publishers will embrace and standardize on the ePub format, but I’m not holding my breath. For the most part, I think the usefulness of individual magazine and newspaper copies are transitory. Just re-buy them in the future if the desire arises.

For portability, I’ll rely on my iPod Touch and N95. Both support eReader ebooks. Guess I could even stoop to a good old fashion paperback. The battery lasts forever, but no built-in backlight…oh the Kindle doesn’t have that either  ;-)