Keys to the Kingdom

My Kindle arrived yesterday. First impressions were not quite up to the technolust I feel when opening a box “Designed by Apple in California,” but pretty darned good. Amazon has done a nice job with the packaging and merchandising here. I particularly appreciate that the Kindle arrives already linked to my Amazon account. It literally works right out of the box. This also makes it painfully easy to immediately start buying content. After all, I want to read more than just the user’s guide on this thing!

I can tell I’m really going to like the ability to download free samples/trials of books. This may be my saving grace in terms of how easy the Kindle makes dropping money on books (the process is seamless and there’s no physical consequence, like buying music on iTunes). If I can discipline myself to always only download the sample on impulse, my kids may still go to college.


I downloaded several sample chapters of books, but ultimately made a sentimental choice for first Kindle reading experience: Isaac Asimov’s Foundation (I fell in love with reading science fiction reading the Foundation books, immersing myself in the story of Hari Seldon).

In short, the Kindle passed the test. I was able to read quite comfortably for about half an hour before sleep overtook me. In fact, I found reading in bed with the Kindle to be superior in some ways; the device is so lightweight that holding it for an extended period of time is inconsequential. I found myself using the left-hand page button more frequently than the right, and quickly got used to the keypress/read, keypress/read rhythm. Reading off of Kindle’s grayscale screen, and the notorious flash while the screen refreshes takes some getting used to, but didn’t seem to impose any additional eye strain.

So far it has been a little bit hard to get past the “dude, I’m reading this on a Kindle” effect, but if the writing is high quality I no longer have any doubt that the experience will be just as immersive as paper.

One interesting effect I’ve noticed is that I seem to read faster on the Kindle; indeed, on more than one occassion I’ve had to force myself to slow down to really absorb the text.

My initial theory on this is that my brain is trained to quickly skim on-screen text, and has not yet found the distinction between skimming Twitter or feeds on my monitor or iPhone and close reading or its equivalent on the Kindle. There seems to be a kind of built-in impatience with large blocks of screen type. We’ll see if that changes as I spend more time with it.

Whispernet, as in “barely there”

So far, I’ve found the Whispernet (Amazon’s brand for the slice of Sprint’s 3G network) to be remarkably spotty and slow. Several times in the first 24 hours, it has dropped off completely, even in areas where I get quite strong AT&T 3G speeds on the iPhone. I never thought 3G would feel quite so snappy on my iPhone until I started playing with the Basic Web browser on the Kindle.

Speed issues aside, it is nice to have a (pretty vanilla) web browser on this thing. First thing I did web-wise was to load up my Instapaper account — now I can literally access my to-read pile of web articles from any device. Snazzy. And I’m not sure why I should pay Amazon to deliver blogs to me when Reader appears to work serviceablely well.

A Start

I’m sure there will be more thoughts to come, but I didn’t want to let the first 24 hours of this new adventure go by without some initial thoughts. I’m excited, and am even more convinced that the Kindle is paving the leading edge of how reading will increasingly happen.

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