Friday, March 27, 2009

An Exercise with the Kindle 2

I am interupting the main story of this blog to review an exercise that happened at Astak yesterday. One person went out and purchased a Kindle 2 and pre-loaded books and music onto it. They also fully-charged it. It was then given to me and others in the office to try to figure out how to operate the Kindle 2 without reading the user manual. Astak does this so all of its employees find out the good and bad about their competion and to design better eBook Readers in the future. NOW... if only they would expand the exercise to include a one week trip to Hawaii to judge units in the sand. Ah, well, you cannot have everything.

I need to preface that I am male, 42 years old, with a 138 IQ. I am also working for Astak... a competitor to the Kindle 2. However, that means I know my way around eBook Readers and how they work and are used. It also means I am biased; but used to judging eBook Readers. I also compare based on our own EZ Reader device. It allows me to have a good knowledge of what the end users seem to want based on what they have expressed to me.

SO... onto the exercise.

First off, let me say I was a bit surprised that for this much money I got not somuch as a cheap vinyl pouch, nothing to listen to the music on, and nothing that I would want preloaded... if I bought a Kindle 2 the first step is downloading something I can read and listen to. I see this as a flaw with eBook Readers in general... many of these are GIFTS and people expect to at least be able to use the thing for its main purpose (reading a book) right out of the box. Amazon has a huge eBook library! Would it kill them to preload one classic book onto the device?? My EZ Reader comes with a minimum of 8 preloaded classic books for this purpose.

My analysis is my own and in no way expresses or implies the views of my companythruout this review.

I have to say that before turning the device on I could see the quality of workmanship. I give it a 9 (out 0f ten) for precise lines around the buttons and a great finish. I was impressed with the appearance and fit.

The Kindle 2 is LONG! I mean it is very long. That "qwerty" keyboard means a device that is heavy and unweildy to hold in the hand for long periods of time. It just seemed a bit too long for me. It is thin and that is a great improvement.

The Kindle 2 has a search function on it... but it is one of the least "logical" search engines I have seen. Looking for the pre-loaded music I typed in every word I could think up that had to do with music and came up empty. I was able to type in "book" and get the pre-loaded book to come up along with endless device info WHICH IS NOT A BOOK! I never did find ANY music on the device and I knew it was there.

Anyway, I did find a book and found the page advance. regress was great and smooth. The resolution was very good and reading was a breeze. I tried using the note-taking function (what appears to be the main use for the "qwerty" keyboard) and found it easy to use and essentially flawless once you scrolled up or down with the cursor to where you wanted the notewhich can be a chore. However, unless I am a student reading a textbook, I kind of wonder if I would ever use this type of note-taking. SO... high marks for the reading of the book but mediocre for the actual use of the note-taking.

What was really maddening was that once I was in the book I could not get out. There is no button for "return to main menu" or "stop application" or "end book". Frankly, I never did find the Main Menu at all and found that very strange. I am use to turning on an EZ Reader and having it greet me with a main menu that neatly lays out my main categories: "My Music" , My eBooks", "My Applications" and more. THIS, to me, is like "My Documents" on Windows on my PC. I organize THIS way!! Where is this on the Kindle 2? After trying everything I could think of I finally DID get out of the book but I have a suggestion for Amazon: MAKE IT SIMPLE!! Can you imagine a 65 or older person using a Kindle 2?? Yet, they adapt perfectly to the EZ Reader!

NOW, this exercise may prove useless to most people. That is what they have User Manuals for. BUT... if the goal of the eBook Reader is to be easy to understand (MEANING LOGICAL) this is the least LOGICAL device I have ever seen. I mean someone had to TRY to design something so inane as this interface. Whatever happened to "intuitive"?

Now, this is only an exercise and not a real review of the Kindle 2. You might love it if you are a PHD and a Rhodes Scholar. Me... after 90 minutes I wanted my sledge hammer. Amazon: buy an EZ Reader and do the same exercise. I will sell it to you at cost! Talk to HONDA and learn... "Make it SIMPLE".


  1. One of the biggest complaints I see on Mobileread regarding the Kindle is lack of folder support and navigation such as you noticed. You might be interested in my latest post here:

  2. ive never seen a Kindle in person, on the train if anyone is reading its usually off a newspaper or phone. so no comments on size/crafmanship

    i picked up the Astak EZ Reader after seeing your comments and the excellent mobileread forum... so far im quite satisfied, it is everything i expected and works flawlessly

    my biggest gripe about the Kindle is a keyboard? its a book. it doesnt need a keyboard. a 3G Modem? its a book, not some weird DRM-encumbered downloading wireless device, or wait..


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