Thoughts on Kindle

Amazon has just introduced a new electronic book reader called the Kindle, which looks pretty interesting. My thoughts while reading the details:

  • First mass-market use of electronic paper for a display. I wonder what the resolution is like? Ah, 800×600 with 4 levels of gray. (By comparison, the iPhone is 480×320, though it’s smaller and full color.) The screen refreshes in the video are kinda wacky. Pros: high contrast, shatter-resistant, low power draw. Cons: you need a booklight to read your electronic book! (Thanks to Mark for pointing that out.)
  • I really like the idea of being able to buy and have a book available in a minute or two, especially given that they appear to be selling for much less than their hardcover equivalents. Yay, cheap!
  • They tout the ability to read blogs, but apparently only those that Amazon chooses. I hope they update it to support any RSS feeds, though given that they have to make enough money on it to pay for the wireless service they supply, that may be challenging.
  • I wonder what the headphone port is good for? Are there audiobooks in its future? Text-to-speech? Nobody seemed to use it in the videos.
  • There’s a USB port and another port or two I wasn’t able to immediately identify on the bottom of the thing. It should be interesting to see what the Internet hackers are able to do with the gadget.
  • The decision to use a cellular network is an interesting one. Pros: coverage everywhere, low power. Cons: because piggybacking on someone else’s data network costs them money, they’ll have to pay for that somehow. Thus, free content (such as individual’s weblogs) will be hard to come by.
  • You know what else this ought to connect to? I’d love to have a giant virtual cookbook on my kitchen counter.
  • The “Email a Word file and have it sent wirelessly to your Kindle” feature is pretty cool. Nice to have easy access to reference copies of your personal documents. Seems like Doctors and Lawyers would really dig this aspect of it.
  • 256MB of internal storage seems a little paltry, but I guess if you’re storing compressed text, it would go a long way.
  • Maximum operating temperature is 95°? So much for using it outside in Texas summers.
  • I expect the Amazon content will have DRM slathered over it. It would be very nice if one could also put one’s own content (like Project Gutenberg texts) on via the USB port without wrapping it up in some wacky rights management scheme.
  • It sure is homely.