To all of you who shun the eBook trend and view it as a bane to the literary world...to those of you who consider yourself to be "real book" purists, and don't reel right without a weighty book in your hand that smells of that particularly wonderful mix of ink, binding glue, and paper...to all of you I have a confession:
I used to be one of you.
And I still am! I promise.
BUT. But but but. The Kindle is an amazingly addictive little device, and while it can never replace a "real book" experience, it comes pretty darn close.
Two weeks before the release date, I pre-ordered the regular size Kindle (not the DX, too bulky to carry around for me), with wireless and 3G, in white. Two weeks after the release date, it finally arrived in my mailbox. Total waiting time: one month of anticipatory torture. Argh!
Previously, I had owned the original Kindle 1, the one that everyone mocked with its awkward buttons and funky triangle shape. However, even with its many design flaws, the Kindle 1 did just what it was supposed to do - store and display hundreds of books - and did it better than its current competition at the time, the Sony E-Reader.
As you may or may not know, the Sony E-Reader is still around, but there is also another contender these days - the Barnes & Noble Nook, which has received a lot of attention due to it's (partially) colored screen. Well, my apologies to Sony & B&N (both companies whom I love dearly for other products), but the new Kindle 3 leaves all other ebook readers in the dust. Again.
What's so great about it? If you read like I do, then the fact that you can now have thousands of books ready to read, right at your fingertips, with even more just a click away, should throw you into a full-on swoon of rapture. If it doesn't, check your pulse; have you been reading those vampire novels that shall not be named lately? If you travel frequently, like I do, you probably know how annoying/difficult/heavy it is to lug around enough books to last a whole trip. The Kindle solves that problem neatly...just bring along one book shaped item, and you have your whole library with you, wherever you are.
The Kindle has a redesigned keyboard for easier typing/navigation/book purchasing. Instead of the Kindle 1's scroller or the Kindle 2's joystick, the Kindle 3 has a 5-way controller with a four arrow keys and a central "enter" button. While I think it might be difficult for larger fingers to handle accurately, I have had no problems with it.
The speech-to-text function is interesting; you can choose to have either a male or female voice read almost any book or document you have out loud to you. The voice sounds slightly mechanical, and the rhythmic flow of an audio book is just not there. While I can understand how this might be a useful feature for some, I can't really see myself using it much.
Battery life: one month! Yes, you read that right - with the wireless turned off, you can go without plugging in for a whole month. Feel free to swoon again right now. With the wireless on, it will last about a week. The only time you really need the wireless on though, is when you are browsing for books to buy within the device, or using the experimental browser. The browser is actually much improved and definitely usable, but I prefer to use my laptop or phone for internet purposes.
Another of my favorite things about the Kindle is that you can highlight, save, and search interesting passages from any of your books. I used to spend hours writing down quotes from books; this singular feature has saved from an advanced case of future carpal tunnel.
The Kindle 3 also has something called "Collections" now. Basically it's a folder-type system for organizing your books on the kindle, which the Kindles 1 & 2 sadly lacked. Finally the Kindle developers took the hint, and now all of my books are organized neatly into their appropriate collections.
I also bought a pink leather lighted cover for my Kindle. Although I know plenty of people who use their Kindle "naked" (the Kindle, not the person!) for me, a cover is a necessity. I bring my Kindle everywhere, and it gets tossed into whatever bag is nearest with whatever might be in said bag.
Yes, the cover is pricey, but it works for me. I like the color, I like the feel of it, I like that it holds my Kindle securely so I don't have to worry about it falling out, and I especially like the light. It runs off the Kindle's battery, so you need never buy replacement batteries for it. Whee!
The only thing the Kindle 3 is missing is that new book smell. You know the one, when you crack open the cover of a new book and you get that lovely scent of paper and ink. Kindle developers, are you listening? Perhaps the Kindle 4 will have aromatherapy.
All in all, the Kindle 3 is a fantastic device for book lovers, and worth every penny.