Wednesday 30 April 2014

Ten Kindles I have known

I do love a Kindle, as I’m sure you know by now if you have ever visited this blog before. I think I’ve used at least ten different Kindles, but let’s see. I write this knowing it won’t interest anyone but me. But I will find it fascinating.

1. The iPad Kindle app, which by checking my iTunes receipts I can see I got in the week of 13 May 2010. In fact, it’s the very first item on my very first iTunes receipt. I’d had a pair of Sony Readers and though I used them a lot, I only bought a few books in that format (from WH Smith, weirdly), because they were so expensive, such a faff to get on there, and I had lots of review stuff to keep me occupied. I did give iBooks a try (another iTunes receipt tells me that on 12 June 2010 I bought Neal Asher’s Shadow of the Scorpion) on there, but the iPad was a bit big for reading at length, and I couldn’t conveniently take it with me anywhere to read. Even now that it’s 37 generations behind the times I’m still reluctant to get it out in public. Funny now to think that when it first came out, sensible people were calling the iPad a Kindle killer. More like a stalking horse.

2. International Kindle (version 2). After settling for that pair of Sony Readers while impatiently waiting for Amazon to release the Kindle here, and then using the iPad app, this was my first actual Kindle. At this point they were still being shipped from the US. There’s a lot to like about this Kindle, not least that it still, even now, has absolutely free 3G internet access, and unlike more recent iterations it’s not restricted to browsing the Amazon store and receiving publications. You can use it to browse the wider web, albeit fairly slowly. It also has a nice little pair of speakers and a keyboard (which was a big selling point for me after struggling to make notes on the Sony Readers), sits nicely in your hand because its width lets it balance, and it has nice big buttons for clicking forward and back between pages. I still use this one from time to time.

3. Kindle (version 3, wi-fi only). Retrospectively renamed the Kindle Keyboard, the first of these I bought was for Mrs Theaker, and I was jealous of its wi-fi, which for the first time let documents be emailed to it without incurring a charge, and the ability to change the contrast of text in pdfs – useful for many review pdfs. One thing I don’t like about Mrs Theaker’s Kindle version 3 is that the keyboard buttons are a bit scratchy.

4. Kindle (version 3, wi-fi only). This one was mine. I just got too jealous of Mrs Theaker’s and bought myself one. Not quite as easy to hold as the v2, and the keyboard lost the number row, but as well as the features mentioned above it had one that made it ideal for an internet addict for me: it could only access the internet if the wifi router allowed it, and I made sure it didn’t. That meant no breaking away from reading to check my email just one more time before sleeping. The v3 had nice speakers too, and plenty of room for audiobooks.

5. Kindle (version 3, wi-fi only). Being an idiot I once put my v3 under my pillow and then leant on it with my elbow. Amazon let me have a new one for £40 in return for sending them the broken one, and I still use it quite often, especially for reading comics (the panel view is glitchy on the Paperwhite) and listening to audiobooks and music (I keep the new Pixies MP3s on it).

6. Kindle Android app on Google Nexus. I want to like this, and it’s slowly getting better, but it has problems. It doesn’t use the full height of the Nexus screen, and you can’t turn the brightness of the screen down to a bearable level. If I’m reading on the Nexus, I tend to use Play Books instead, which doesn’t have those problems.

7. Kindle Android app on Samsung phone. I want to like this more than I do, but the phone is always running out of power and slow to respond and by the time the app has loaded itself and loaded a book I’m often past the point where I needed something to read.

8. Kindle Paperwhite. I wasn’t that impressed by this model at first: it certainly didn’t live up to the promise of its name, and was quickly dubbed the Kindle Ghostlight in our house. The backlight caused strange shadows at the bottom of the screen, and could never be switched entirely off, giving it an eerie green glow. But it grew on me very quickly, for a few reasons. Its case is lovely, and switches it on automatically. All the screen, except left and top bars, can be tapped for next page, so you can hold it in lots of different positions and there’s no need for irritating swipes. No internet browsing on 3G, only book shopping, which means I don’t waste time checking my email on it. The downside: from the day I got a Paperwhite I had to negotiate in order to read in bed with the lamp on, and that’s made me very, very slow to read paper books, to the point where I’ve told publishers to stop sending them to us for review.

9. Kindle Desktop. I would like this a lot more if you could access your personal documents on it, since review copies make up a lot of my reading. It’d be really handy to browse my notes on the Kindle Desktop, side by side with the reviews I’m writing. Instead I have to cross refer to a physical Kindle. Disappointing.

10. Kindle Cloud Reader. Quite handy, but again suffers from a lack of personal documents, for me at least.

That’s a lot of Kindles. There are quite a few Kindles I’ve never tried, but the two I wish I’d had were the original, and the big Kindle DX. I was desperate for a DX at one point, but the lack of wifi and the way it couldn’t annotate pdfs meant it was never going to be a sensible use of my money. Still want one though.

Kindles that don’t yet exist that I would like: Kindle on Xbox, a little phone-sized Kindle, and Kindle on Google Glasses. That’s what I’ve always dreamed of – to be able to read while walking around, without walking into lamp-posts.

Wednesday is occasionally list day on the blog, though not as frequently this year because I have been so busy, and this is list #17. I would describe this as our most boring yet, but I fear my muse would take that as a challenge.

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