I’ve had the Amazon Kindle for just over two weeks. Having followed E Ink for a few years and having played with the Sony Reader, I was a skeptic. Not so much now. A few observations:
- It is smaller and less odd looking than it appears in photos. This is attributable to the angles used to acheive the form factor.
- The display, as anticipated, is great, even in direct sunlight.
- The design and usability are quite good; there is some unpredictable latency.
- While “always on” it lacks simple sharing functionality, presumably because of DRM.
- Whispernet makes it a standalone device- I’ve not had a need to tether it to my laptop.
- The overall portability makes it great for business travel.
The business model has been beaten tirelessly (and often not well), so I won’t address it other than to suggest that anyone who still uses Gilette as a proxy for a consumables business model should pick up a head cleaner for his/her VCR next time he/she is at the local radio store.
Critics who pan the device for lacking a color display are missing the point. The baseline here is ink and paper and a bound publication or newspaper.
Outside of typography, print publishing has arguably seen no consumer-facing innovation or product management for the last five centuries (graphic designers will likely disagree). This, coupled with the fact that most coporeal publications are buried in artifacts of production and efficiency (or lack thereof), means that the reading experience has never been about the reader. The Kindle is meaningful attempt to change that.
Will authors, publisher, and rights holders follow suit quickly enough (or at all) to make the Kindle a success in the mass market? I won’t speculate. For the moment, the Kindle has a spot on my nightstand.