Kindle in short supply again

28 09 2010

After being ‘in stock’ for a few weeks Amazon have put a small shipping delay of 3-5 days on the Kindle 3. Both the 3g + Wifi and Wifi only models are subject to this restriction. The more expensive DX is in stock.


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In addition, Amazon are limiting customers to a total of 5 Kindles per account. If you have a genuine need for more than 5, you have to email Amazon at kindle-sales@amazon.com.

When the Kindle was first released at the end of August it was on back-order for a few weeks due to strong pent-up demand. On September 15th Amazon showed the Kindle being in stock, presumably having received a new shipment and satisfying all outstanding orders.

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E-book sales in July 2010 showed a surge in demand of over 25% compared to previous months, signaling that e-books are becoming main stream. Amazon recently announced that their sales of e-books exceeded the sales of hardcover books. The e-book revolution is here.





Amazons first paid Kindle game – Scrabble – tops the charts

26 09 2010

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The latest Kindle game, scrabble costs $4.99 and was released on Thursday 23rd September 2010. It shot straight to the top of the best selling Kindle titles besting out the latest ‘bestseller’  Freedom, by Johnathon Franzen which is featured in the Oprah Book Club.

Amazon don’t release numbers, but to very quickly outsell an item endorsed by Oprah is no small feat. To see what all the fuss is about I obtained a copy and found the game to be easier to use and navigate than I had anticipated. I beat the medium difficulty level readily, so will try my luck at the advanced level. It may not be very challenging for a Scrabble enthusiast. The game plays its turn within 2-3 seconds so one is not left waiting for your turn as with a human opponent.

There are several different scrabble rules variants programmed, Classic, 75 Points, 150 Points, 8 round, 12 round. The game will ‘help’ you with the ‘Best Word’ feature, it shows you the highest scoring word given the letters you have available, you only get a few turns using this feature :-) The game uses the ‘Official Players Scrabble Dictionary’. In our ever increasing politically correct world, ‘offensive words’ have been removed from this dictionary, which amounts to just over 800 otherwise valid words.  It would be nice if you could specify which dictionary to use to overcome the political correctness or for the game to be played in foreign languages. Maybe in the updated version.

I found the ‘blank’ tile to be confusing, for several turns I thought I had been jipped out of my seven tiles, the blank tile looks like a tile is missing, they need to make it a little more obvious, maybe by putting a point value of zero on the tile. I accidentally played one of my blanks, the game chooses the blank if you spell a word which includes a letter that is not in your rack, I’d prefer if it asked you if it was OK to do that.

The obvious missing feature is online play. With on-board 3g the ability to play scrabble anywhere against real opponents would be a major addition to the game. Wonder if they will ever add this feature.

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It is quite odd to think of a dedicated e-book reader to be used for gaming, however if one looks at the top selling free titles on Amazon, two of the top three titles are games.

Personally I’m waiting for a Backgammon title to be released.





New Kindle Owner – Week 2

22 09 2010

Reading Experience

I’ve read a fictional novel in the past week and have started to read a non-fictional book. It was great for the Kindle system to keep my place in the books and be able to easily switch between my Kindle and my android phone and pickup where I left off on the other device. I did not use my PC’s to do any reading last week. It is neat to see your progression through a book represented as percentage complete.

I found if light got low and a reading light was not readily available, switching to the droid allowed for low light reading. I didn’t do this often, most of the time I had enough light to read by, as one would with a physical book. The automatic bookmark synchronization between devices was very convenient. I never lost my place once :-)

Why I chose the Kindle in the first place

Amazon Kindle

Several of my blog readers asked me to compare the Kindle to the Nook. I don’t have a Nook but will share with you  my reasoning for picking the Kindle over the other e-book readers on the market. I was looking for an e-ink device so will not compare to the iPad in this analysis.

In my opinion the front runners in the e-book reading marketplace are the Kindle and the Nook. The Kobo and Sony are e-ink readers but I quickly eliminated them from my choices available based on the market share they have and reviews about them I had read online. The Kobo got poor reviews and the Sony I saw in Office Depot and did not like how it handled or looked.

The Nook and Kindle are both backed by large libraries of e-books, and both offer free classics.

B&N Nook

The Nook has some unique and interesting features that make it very attractive.

  • Free assistance from employees at Barnes & Noble stores
  • Read any e-book for free for one hour while at a Barnes & Noble store.
  • Color touchscreen book covers and menus, (book text is black & white).
  • Ability to ‘lend or borrow’ books between Nook friends, restricted to 14 day loan period.
  • Reasonable quantity of  Text Books in e-book format.
  • Extend-able memory through Micro-SD Memory slot.
  • EPub ‘open’ e-book format supported.
  • Runs on open source Android operating system, a true computer OS.

The Kindle 3 also has some unique features.

  • WhisperSync – keeps your place between reading devices (Nook website says ‘coming soon’).
  • Integration and account synchronization with Audible.com audio book library.
  • WebKit based browser which results in great web page rendering.
  • Extraordinary battery life – one month without wireless.
  • Lightest e-book reader in its class.
  • Free 3g web browsing.

The Nook features are very strong and technically it probably is the better reader, so why did I choose the Kindle over the Nook?

The two clinchers for me were

  1. The Financial solidity of Amazon. With e-books they are stored by the host company in a library. You can download from the library to your device. If you lose your device or it breaks, the books you purchased are still with the host company and available for download again. Barnes & Noble are unprofitable and in August 2010 put themselves up for sale. What will the future of the B&N e-book library be? No one can know and the uncertainty of this makes me skittish about putting dollars into a library of books I may lose control / access to in the not to distant future.
  2. Integration with Audible.com. I have been an Audible subscriber for 6 months or more and have quite a collection of audio books. These are instantly available on the Kindle because Amazon own Audible.com. I have listened to some of my audio books on the Kindle and they play as well as any MP3 player I have. For now one still has to buy audio and e-books separately and could end up paying twice. I am hopeful, as Amazon continue to integrate Audible into the Kindle ecosystem that a single payment will give access to both formats.

Had Barnes & Noble been more financially stable, my choice would have been much closer.

Books Read last week

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larrson. Murder Mystery fictional book. Highly recommended

Lies, Damn Lies and Science – Sherry Seethaler – Non fictional – Not enough read to recommend.

Oh yeah and I read the Kindle Users Guide :-)





Pre-Release version of Kindle 3 software available

21 09 2010

Amazon have posted a preview version of a software update for the Kindle latest generation. The software is available for a limited time. If you intend to update be sure to download before it is removed

The release fixes several issues including

  • Slow web-browsing
  • Slow page turns in bright sunlight.

I find it ironic that page turns with the current Kindle 3 are slower in bright sunlight, especially after Amazon’s latest TV ad poking fun at the iPad’s readability in bright sunlight. I’m sure they will release the software update as soon as possible to save getting too much egg on their face regarding the sunlight issue. I believe their TV Ad campaign is flawed, read more here.

.To learn more about the Kindle visit the Kindle product page





New Kindle Owner – Week 1

19 09 2010

I placed my order for the latest Kindle 3 with Wifi + 3g on September 3rd 2010 and it arrived a few weeks later on September 16th. I’ve used it for a few days now and here are my first impressions :-

The Unexpected

Being sold out and on back order I resigned myself to having to wait 2 weeks to get the device before I could use it. However as I read up on the Kindle I quickly discovered you don’t actually need a Kindle at all to read Kindle books. Amazon have released Kindle applications for computers and smart phones. Visit this web page for more details.

I was able to install the Kindle app on my Android phone and start downloading and reading Kindle books immediately.  You don’t need to have ordered a Kindle to do this, the software is freely available.

I read HG Wells War of the Worlds. I had seen the TV reenactment of the famous radio version of this story. The book however was both different and delightful. Quite a satisfying read. I was amazed how readable the book was on an Android phone. I had read the entire book while waiting on the Kindle to arrive in the mail. I found the ‘Sepia’ theme to be the easiest on the eyes. I also experimented with the Desktop application on both Windows XP and Windows 7. It worked great and synchronized my reading place between devices across the internet. Amazon refer to this sync feature as WhisperSync. It works remarkably well.

I also discovered that many classic books are free, and some books are offered for free on short term promotions. Many books offer the first chapter for free.

By the end of the first week I had purchased 17 books. 15 free, 2 paid for, for a grand total of $10. I had registered 2 mobile devices and 4 computers to my Amazon account in addition to the yet to be received Kindle.

The Good

The Kindle arrived and I found the reading experience to be much better than anticipated, even given the positive reviews I had already read on the web. The text is very sharp thanks to great contrast. This is my first time to experience ‘e-ink’ and it is quite phenomenal. In bright light I find the readability to be superior to physical books.

Not only were all my purchases available directly upon opening of the box, but all my Audible titles were also available for download. The automatic synchronization between my Kindle and Audible accounts was seamless and the audio books sound great on the Kindle. I was able to pick up reading Stieg Larssons, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ where I had left off on my android device.

Free 3g wireless for the life of the service/device. What a deal!! No contracts, no fees just download content from anywhere with 3g data. It even works with Edge if 3g isn’t available.

The Bad

The price of e-books. You’ll notice I ‘purchased’ a lot of books at no cost, this sounds great, what can I complain about? The reason I selected free books is that current books are in my opinion over priced, as a rule of thumb, e-books are priced the same as paperbacks, or a smidgen less. Don’t blame Amazon, they wanted to price most e-books at $9.99 or less, but the publishers lead by Macmillan were successful in strong arming Amazon into charging more. Read more here . It is dismaying to see Apple at the center of the price hike as a result introducing the iPad earlier this year. More competition leads to higher prices!?! Am I missing something? I refer to higher e-Book prices that is, thanks to Apple the Kindle price is cut in half, hence my purchase :-)

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Amazon advertise the latest Kindle as having 4GB of storage. Well actually its more like 3GB usable storage. I’m accustomed to GB inflation from hard drive manufacturers, but 25% difference? Hmmm….

The Ugly

‘Experimental Features’ such as the MP3 player and Web Browser are not easy to use on the Kindle. The MP3 player is simply a jukebox that plays your MP3′s in the order they were loaded on the device. No controls.

The Web Browser is slow and very difficult to use without a pointing device. Using up/down/right/left arrows to navigate is very frustrating. One good note however, the browser scores 100 on the acid3 browser test and renders sites such as Gmail very well. Why offer a browser at all? To sell books of course.

Summary

I like it. I like it a lot. I recommend you get one even if you already have a laptop/notebook/iPad. This dedicated reading device is very compelling.





Why Amazon’s Kindle vs iPad ‘pool ad’ is a mistake

17 09 2010

Recently Amazon have aired an ad that makes fun of the iPads readability (or lack thereof) in bright sunlight.

In my opinion this is a huge mistake. The two products are complementary not competitive. What Amazon should be doing is comparing their Kindle Library to the Apple iBook Library. Content is king, devices will come and go, ones e-book library will by contrast persist for much longer.

Amazon’s Kindle library can be accessed on a wide range of devices, including the iPad no less. Making fun of a platform that you officially support is rather silly. Do Amazon really want to sell Kindles or do they want to sell Kindle books? Kindles are merely a delivery mechanism for the real product, a book, magazine, newspaper etc.

There are so many great things about the Kindle ecosystem that they could promote, the device isn’t that important. The fact that the 3g model has free worldwide 3g without any monthly cost or commitments is quite frankly amazing, push this and compare to the price of the iPads data plan. Free vs $$$ per month.

Learn more about the Kindle here.





Froyo Woes – Maps and Pandora

7 09 2010

Google Maps navigation voice prompts stops Pandora music playing!

The Android 2.2 update has brought many good things to the Droid user, however I discovered recently that since the 2.2 update Maps does not play nicely with Pandora anymore. While getting audible directions while navigating I used to enjoy Pandora, maps would simply mute Pandora while it spoke its directions. Now Maps paues Pandora and Pandora eventually dies, requiring a restart.

The problem is definitely a result of the Android update, I found an official Google support forum where many hundreds of users complained of the same issue. Apparently the issues affects the stock media player as well.

Let’s hope a fix is in the works – soon.

Update October 3rd 2010 – Recent updates to both Pandora and Google Maps seem to have resolved this annoying issue. Now I can both navigate and listen to my favorite music channel  on my Droid once again.








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