Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My New Toy...

...a Kindle Touch

For the longest time I considered myself a purist when it came to reading, holding a book in my hands and being able to smell and feel the pages is part of the reading experience. Add to it that since I was a child I will get the most annoying headaches and migraines possible, so the idea of reading from a device while no longer holding a real book was a little far fetch for me. However, once I started college I became familiarized with this technology; and truly, I fell in love with it.

It was a very convenient fix to my problem of an already too heavy backpack. Since my laptop had to go with me everywhere, all I needed was a program that allowed me to read my books while on the go, sort of speak. I discovered the wonders of Microsoft Reader for PC and it became my number one format for most of my non-college books. Slowly, but surely eBooks began pulling me more and more towards the digital media. Still, I refused to buy an actual reading device on the principle that eBooks where not “real books” and that I will – at some point – buy the ones I really love to add them to my collection (a collection that, at the time, my mother was getting extremely weary of).

After falling into the smartphone trend and discovering the various e-reader apps on the markets I was excited, I no longer needed my laptop in order to read a book. Although is a great convenience to have the apps on the phone it is also mortal to the device’s battery, more than once I have drain a considerably huge chunk of my battery on a single sitting while waiting for my turn at an office. Even though the concept of a smartphone is the ability to multitask while literary on the go, the main reason most people – including me – buy a phone is to have the means to make a call in case of emergencies or when needed; purpose that is defeated after a couple of hours of reading, playing, surfing the net, or using any other of the extra functions available today.

I finally caved; at the beginning of December – after careful consideration, and a lot of research – I gifted myself a Kindle Touch. The reason I chose Kindle over Nook, or any other e-reader, was primarily based on the fact that my entire eBook collection is from Amazon. Actually, before I even started buying eBooks I was buying paperbacks and hardbacks from the same website. I do have to say that the Nook Simple Touch almost had me with the expandable memory, but in the end Kindle won because, like I said before, my entire book collection is from Amazon; I don’t have a single Barnes & Noble book, so the Kindle Touch was the obvious choice for me. I know, I know, I could have gone for the Kindle Fire, and to be honest, I nearly did. But the Kindle Fire has a few specifications that, considering is a tablet, were a deal breaker for me; the most important being its lack of expandable memory even though is an Android Tablet plus the back lit screen. One of the reasons I decided I was getting an e-reader was for the e-ink capability, which neither the Kindle Fire, nor the Nook Tablet, nor any Tablet in the market for that matter has.

Come December, and I walk into an electronics’ store and I see it, it’s standing on a small rack right beside all the other e-readers and tablets. I couldn’t contain myself; I was planning on ordering it, but now I could have it in my hands in a matter of minutes instead of days and at the same price! After what seem like an eternity waiting in line to pay, I got to my boyfriend’s house and opened my precious.


There are two versions of the Kindle Touch currently available, each one comes with or without “special offers”, which a fancy way of saying it has ads. The Kindle Touch it’s priced at $99.00 with offers (this is the version I bought) and at $139.00 without the special offers. The Kindle Touch 3G it’s priced at $149.00 with offers and $189.00 without them. The devices are exactly the same, the only difference is that whereas the Touch is only Wi-Fi, the Touch 3G has free 3G wireless + Wi-Fi. Personally, I don’t need the 3G, all I need to do is load up the kindle beforehand while home and then don’t have to worry about needing the Wi-Fi. The ads appear while you are either working in some part of the menu or while the device is on standby; not a single ad can be seen while reading a book.
The box only includes the device and a USB 2.0 with a micro-B connector cable for your computer; a power adapter for the wall is not included. I bought mine for $14.99 directly from Amazon; that is $14.99 + shipping. It is only a wall adapter, it does not bring an extra cable, be mindful of that if you plan to buy one; I saw a small box on Best Buy that had both the wall power adapter and an extra cable in a pretty Amazon emblazoned box for $19.99 + tax, more or less $5.00 more but with a spare cable that can be used for traveling or to be left at two different places in case one switches between them often (example, college dorm Monday–Friday, home for the weekends).


The Kindle Touch’s design is very simplistic; it has two built-in speakers on its back. It has two buttons on the outer case – one on the front which serves as a Home button, and a second one at the bottom and it is an On/Standby/Off button; to the left of this button you can find the audio jack, and to its left the micro-B port. It also includes, pre-loaded, the Kindle’s User Guide and two dictionaries, the Oxford Dictionary of English and the The New Oxford American Dictionary. You can make either one as your default choice for when you need to look up a word. To set it, you go to Menu, Settings, Dictionaries, English, then select your favorite and press ok.

According to Amazon, the Kindle Touch measures 6.8” x 4.7” x 0.4” and weighs 7.5 ounces, but because I like to make sure that things are as stated, I took my measuring tape and gave it a go. All the measurements are an approximate except for the display screen which truly is 6” diagonally; I could not test the weigh because I don’t own a small enough scale for it to work. Storage wise, the e-reader comes with an internal memory of 4GB out of which only about 3GB are available for use for, supposedly, up to 3,000 books. The good thing is that if you have more than that you can pick which books to keep on the Kindle and which ones to keep on its free cloud storage and then download them through their whispersync connectivity when needed.

Battery wise Amazon says that a single charge can last up to 2 months (as long as the Wi-Fi is off) and up to 6 weeks with the Wi-Fi on. Now, I bought the Kindle in the first week of this December and fully charged it, I have had to toggle the Wi-Fi on and off on various occasions (is currently on as I write this post), I haven’t giving it an exhaustive use yet (I sometimes do marathon readings were I read an entire series back to back, example the Night Huntress Series); it’s been almost three weeks since I bought it and the battery is exactly at its midpoint; will test and update about how long it lasts with the Wi-Fi off after I give it the second charge.

The Touch also has a 3.5 mm stereo audio jack and rear speakers; you can upload music into the device, however I do not recommend this as music files take a considerably bigger amount of space than books. Any file that comes in either of these next formats can be transferred into the Kindle Touch: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, Audible [Audible Enhance (AA, AAX)], MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP through conversion.

The device interface – although it responds a tad slowly – is very simple and user friendly. I bought the Wi-Fi enabled version; but don’t expect to have an in-depth web browsing experience with it. It does opens up web pages, but it takes quite a long time to do so. What I mean is that, if you are expecting to browse the net with ease while having the ability to read books, be warned to look for another device as the Kindle Touch’s Wi-Fi capability extents to only buying books directly from Amazon. It does has a browser but Google, one of the simplest pages out there, takes a good 6 seconds to open vs. 0.9 seconds on my 2 year old laptop. Goodreads, another relatively simple page takes 24 seconds to fully open vs. 7 seconds on my laptop; however, the Touch offers me the option to open the mobile version of goodreads, which takes 6.5 seconds to fully load. After several “Error 502 (Server Error)” messages and “Unable to Start Application” crashes it became obvious that opening my blog will be impossible. I tested these at my boyfriend’s 5-10 MB of speed home network at around 2:20 am.

The main menu is your book list, on the upper band of the screen you find (from left to right) the back button as an¬, a shopping cart which accesses the kindle store, a search bar for either searching among you library or while you are at the store, and the Menu button; is through this last button that everything gets set up in the device. There is a feature that the Kindle has and I’ve wanted to test it since I bought it, it’s called the X-Ray. Supposedly, it gives you an insight look or special features from the book, unfortunately, none of the books that I currently own are X-Ray enabled.

In all, the kindle Touch is not meant to be anything other than a simple e-reader. Its design is basic and very user friendly; anyone from a kid to an elderly person can learn to manipulate it with ease, plus the font and text size can be change according to one’s preferences. I have to say, this was a pretty good self-gifted present.

Besides, Santa was really good to me this year, since he gifted me all the accessories that I wanted.

Like the screen protector to keep it scratch free:


The skin I wanted to identify it from that of my sister, since I knew Santa was bringing her one as well.


And the Sleeve to keep it safe:


Now that I’ve had time to play with my new toy I feel extremely happy and satisfied with it. All I really wanted was a good and simple e-reader that could hold my books, that would free me from carrying my laptop everywhere, that will help me safe some vital phone battery, and above all, that will not be so hard on my eyes. I’m not saying that I will never own a tablet or that I won’t considered whether or not I should buy the next Kindle Fire when it comes out; all I’m saying is that for the time being and for the close future this device is all I truly need.

On a side note; the environmentalist, as well of the techy girl in me coincide that an e-reader of any type or brand is both a look into the future and a small way to help protect our environment from the over deforestation that as a society we have characterized ourselves since the industrialization. However, the bibliophile in me points out that nothing beats the experience of falling in love with story while holding the actual physical book in your hands. As such, there are certain books that will remain on my physical shelves, books that are so dear to me that I find myself wanting to hold them, to feel them and smell them, to just have them.

UPDATE:

My Kindle's battery died last Saturday January 14th; so i fully charged it and now i will keep it with the Wi-Fi to see how long it takes for the battery to fully drain again. Will update again when i have more information.

After testing the Kindle's battery durability it is clear that regardless of the settings it lasts more or less one month if used sparingly (not using it also consumes the battery) and about 2 weeks if used frequently. I still have to test it with a marathon read to see how long the battery truly lasts; testing how many 'average' sized books I can read before the battery dies.

In another matter, the Kindle's Touch screen is a bit unresponsive. For example, if i want to change pages one at a time quickly it takes to touch the screen more than once to flip a single page, yet i accidentally placed my headphones' cable over the screen and it changed on its own accord.


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4 comments:

  1. Sorry, it came out longer than i expected :S

    ReplyDelete
  2. Congrats on the kindle :) I prefer a real book in my hands as well but the kindle app on my phone makes traveling a bit lighter lol. You're gonna love it.

    ReplyDelete

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