04 September, 2010

Amazon Kindle 2 International Version

Last updated: 2 Jun 2011

This post is way overdue. I got this on 14 Feb, and Amazon has released a third (fourth? If you count the International version as a new one) Kindle, which they're simply calling "Kindle". This is going to get confusing. Ebook readers are getting more and more common now. Even mainstream stores like Officeworks and JB Hifi are selling them. There are more and more brands available too.
They've recently released an update for the Kindle, to 2.5. It adds social networking, letting you see most common highlights, and the ability to rearrange your books into folders. It's nice when a company cares about products after you've paid for them.

My Kindle came gift-wrapped. The wrapper is quite simple. So is the box, which looks really plain. That's the advantage of being an online store, I guess - you don't need fancy packaging. It's environmentally friendly too.
The Kindle uses Amazon's "frustration-free packaging", so it's supposed to be easier to be open. Has our society come to the state where we need packaging that's specifically easy to open? How hard is it to design? Anyway, it is easy to open and isn't unnecessarily large. The bad thing is you can't reclose the box.
  • Thin and light. More compact than the average book.
  • The e-ink screen is amazing. I had a surprise with the "sticker" in the picture above, so did my friend who bought one a few months ago. The screen is so simple - it's like an electric Magna-Doodle, yet it works so well.
  • Comes with speakers, even though it's an e-book reader.
  • I like the fact that the charging light shows a different colour when charged, instead of turning off. How do you know the power didn't go out?
  • The keyboard is pretty useful if you take notes, otherwise it wastes space.
  • No memory expansion!
  • Proprietary USB cable
  • Screen protectors are really hard to get off the screen. Not that they leave residue, they just stick really well.
  • The International edition is the same price as the US, but leaves out the USB wall adapter!

  • Quite easy to use. I like the Home button, which will be especially useful for those not used to navigating or prone to getting lost.
  • Dictionary is surprisingly useful and easy to use.
  • Can read your books to you, except some which the publishers don't allow. So potentially all your books are audiobooks.
  • It used to restart without warning on the old software.
  • Experimental browser is so slow! The processor is pretty fast, 500+MHz, so I'm not sure why.
  • mp3 player is really basic. It can only play, pause, and skip to the next track.
My friend from China found software to dual-boot his Kindle with an OS someone wrote, adding a lot more functions. It's like jailbreaking an iPhone. It's surprising, because the Kindle isn't even sold in China, yet it's popular enough to have its own OS.

  • It turns out Whispernet is a term invented by Amazon. I thought it was a general term.
  • Very convenient to buy new books.
  • Now able to browse all sites for free. Free Internet access everywhere in Australia! It's really slow, though.
  • Should ask for password every time you buy something, like on the iPhone. What if you lose your Kindle?

Buying books
  • I believe the strength of the Kindle, like the iPod, lies not in its features, but its content available. The Kindle has a head start over all ebook readers and has hundreds of thousands of books available from Amazon.
  • It's going to get better, since the Kindle is Amazon's best selling product, and ebooks have outsold real books.
  • Free samples of most books!
  • Oh come on, publishers, people can't sell ebooks second-hand. They should be about half the price of physical books.

People keep comparing the Kindle with the iPad, but they're really designed to be different things. The Kindle is for reading books, and does that very well. It's cheaper, lighter, has a better screen (for reading) and more books available. If you don't like reading, it's not for you. If you want to do other things than reading, it's not for you. Personally, I support the Kindle over iBooks, since the more users it has, the better it'll be.

International use
This post is the second most read on the site, so I thought I'd update it instead of writing a new one. The Kindle is meant to be used internationally, and I recently had the chance to test it out.

  • Officially, Amazon does not sell the Kindle in Singapore
  • As a result, they do not sell Kindle books to Singapore
  • I can still surf the net on Whispernet
  • I think that, with a registered address in Australia (and a credit card to prove it), I'll be able to buy books in Singapore. To be tested.

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