Thursday, December 8, 2011

Seriously? PopEye Muscles?

You know I've taken an interest in the new Kindle Fire. Okay, okay, so I love it. But I recognize it's not the perfect device for everyone. I'm taking an interest, in fact, to the opposition as well. And you know there has to be some. Some people hate everything Amazon. Some hate everything not iPad or Apple. Heck, there are even some people still living who hate e-books and are still predicting their imminent demise. I heard one just the other day. A used book seller.

Anyway, I came across a Kindle Fire review the other day .I would have just read and dismissed it but by the time I finished reading, I was shaking with laughter. Read this:
"The Fire is a heavy object. It's unpleasant to hold for extended periods of time. Unless you have forearm muscles like Popeye, you can't comfortably sit and read an engaging novel all evening." 
Popeye, huh? Seriously? All I have to do is read a few hours a day and I'll get muscles in my arms? My PT will love that. Okay, let's drag out the old postal scale and do comparisons. It's not all that accurate but it ought to be close enough. This isn't even government work.
Kindle 3Gen, bare                           9 oz.
Kindle 3Gen w/neoprene sleeve    14 oz.
Kindle 3Gen w/lighted leather case 19 oz.
Kindle Fire, bare                           15 oz
Kindle Fire w/padded nylon case   20 oz
Kindle Fire w/ hardshell case         19 oz.
Apple iPad, bare (info from Apple's tech specs)  1.33 pounds (21.3 oz)
[Addendum 12-12-11: Trade paperback book, 320 pages   15 oz.] 
So Fire is not quite double the weight of 3Gen. About what I'd guessed. But almost all users I know both read and carry their e-readers and tablets in some kind of case or sleeve. My Fire in a nylon case is 1 oz. heavier than my hubby's 3Gen in its fancy leather case. And it's lighter than the iPad, bare (duh! the iPad is bigger!) Now, this guy is trying to tell this asthmatic over-the-hill flabby-muscled gal that the Fire is too heavy for him? That's after I read three books in two days? C'mon! Where are the muscles you promised??? My PT wants muscles!
"The lack of physical buttons for turning the page also impedes on the reading experience for fiction. On the older Kindles, it's easy to keep a finger on the button when all you use it for is to turn the page. In contrast, tapping an area of the screen disrupts reading enjoyment, is slightly error-prone, and leaves smudges on the screen."
Lack of buttons?  Isn't that the point of touch screens? Honestly, I didn't think I'd like a touch screen, and fingerprints? Yuck. But I started getting finger cramp with the old 3Gen. And for me the light tap on the screen, or eve a dramatic, flashy swipe of the finger across the screen is just plain easier. Fingerprints? Not any worse than my laptop screen, and better than my phone.
"The Fire screen also has more glare than the traditional Kindle."
Glare? Sorry, guy. I'm the world's best arbiter of glary screens. If you had my eye problems, you'd understand- I'm missing major parts of my eyes. One of them is almost bionic. I've returned laptops to the store in less than a day because the glare bothered me so much. This is not a glary screen. Think it's too bright? Dim it. It's very adjustable. Even better, use the sepia screen color. It's not depressing like gray is. It's soothing.

So is Fire better or worse than 3Gen? Depends on what you want! Entirely! Want long battery life? Low contrast screen? super light weight? Get the new Kindle Touch. Don't like touch screen? Get the old style with keys. Want bright colors? Flipping through covers at a touch? Fire is better. Need a bigger screen, computer competence? That's where you get into iPad.

The big thing is, these guys are looking for iPads at Fire cost. No, guys. Not gonna happen! Fire is not an iPad. REPEAT AFTER ME: FIRE IS NOT AN iPAD. You want an iPad? Suck it up and plunk down the big bucks because there is no substitute. But if one just wants to read books, why would he buy an iPad? (For that matter, if one wants to write books on the fly, the iPad is probably also not the best choice. Even jazzed up with a keyboard. But that's not its central purpose.)

What they just can't get is that not everybody wants an iPad. Fire is built to be an e-book reader. It's for media consumption. Videos, magazines, music (needs decent headphones), etc. The 3.9 -4 million buyers in November and December are buying it for media consumption, not its computer abilities.

What most of us are buying when we choose a reading/playing device is access to content. I'm not particularly interested in the content and stuff that attracts many people to iPads. And iPad, while perfect for what some people want, is too big to make a good reader to me, but too small to be the computer I want. Or more accurately, not built to be the computer I want. I could write books on one, but I can write more and faster on my little 3 pound MSI Wind. I can do digital art with Photoshop on it. I probably could on iPad, but ya know, sometimes learning a different way can be a pain. What's interesting to me is that suddenly I'm finding a whole lot of people looking at things the way I do, and I thought I was in a really tiny minority. Who would've thought, five years ago, that instead of books vanishing because people had become so jaded with video, millions of readers would re-discover the unique experience of reading a book?

But even though Fire should not be put in the same class as iPad, it looks like it's created problems for Apple. Word is, Apple is going to lower the price of iPad2 because it's lost so much market share to Kindle Fire. In less than a month, Fire has grabbed 13.9% of the tablet market, when it really shouldn't even be in that category, quickly passing second-place Samsung Galaxy, which at its best had 6.9%.

As far as those Popeye muscles go, well, I carried a large messenger bag with both mini Wind and Kindle, plus all those carry-on things from Portland through San Francisco to Maui in October. Didn't think a thing about it. Muscles? Nope, after a whole week in Hawaii, no bigger muscles. I just squeezed my arms again, just in case. Don't think it's gonna happen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My, How the World Has Changed...

In all fairness, I have to say this article by Dan Reisinger was published in April, 2008, almost four years ago. The Kindle he's talking about was one I found not quite satisfactory enough, and I decided to wait a little longer. It was two more years before I finally bought my first Kindle, the granddaughter, you might say, of the original.

"Although some people see a reason to buy a device just to read a book, I don't. Some have said that Amazon's Kindle is the savior of the e-book market. I don't believe it. Others say that e-book readers will kill the book publishing industry and bring it into the 21st century. I think that's rubbish. The fact of the matter is e-book readers will never have commercial relevance."

Here, go read it for yourself.

Four Kindle Addicts Compare Devices and Accessories

It's a family thing with us. If we're readers, we read ebooks. And that means, for at least some of us, we own Kindles or have Kindle software on our computers. So it really wasn't a big deal when four of us sat down after Thanksgiving to compare our Kindles and accessories.

Andy (right) is holding his brand new Kindle Fire. Pam (center), Jeff (left) and I (taking photo) all have Kindle 3rd Generation. But we have all chosen different cases and accessories.

This was a day before my new Kindle Fire arrived, and what you see in front is my old Kindle. I had a hard time being patient, especially after seeing Andy's, which was his birthday present. (See previous post.)

Jeff has that classy leather cover in orange with an extendable light. When he bought his cover, it was a lot more expensive than it is now- about $70, and he chose orange because he figured not many other people would choose that so it might make his Kindle a little less vulnerable to being stolen. Also he tends to mislay things and orange is hard to miss, especially in a household where the only other orange things are his shirts.

What he likes about Kindle 3: The e-ink screen is easy to read, and the pull-out light is handy if he's in a darker environment. He can read it outside, regardless of how bright the day is. And he likes the long battery life. Kindle books are so easy to download, he's starting to complain about impulse buying.

What he doesn't like: He loves science fiction, and his favorite authors are either expensive or not available in ebook format, but that has nothing to do with e-readers and accessories. The pull-out light can be annoying, with an odd glare on the screen. I wouldn't be surprised to see him up-grading to the Fire. But then again, he might not.

In this photo you can see he's reading with the Kindle propped on a small, lightweight plastic stand. He found holding the Kindle a little awkward so he found this little stand for something like $7. He even uses it in bed by propping it on his nightstand. He reads several books a week. The week we went to Hawaii in October, he actually ran out of Kindle books even though he'd stocked up well before leaving. We had trouble getting his Kindle to download new books so were forced to go to a real bookstore for a change.

Pam bought a silicone sleeve by Marware because the Kindle seemed vulnerable to being dropped.
 It's easier to handle, she says, and she has a bright pink sleeve with a clear window, by M-Edge, so it can be read without removing from the sleeve.

What Pam likes: She can't see any point in buying the Fire. Gray e-ink is easier on her eyes, and she likes the long battery life of the Kindle 3. She gets lots of cheap or free books, and she has no qualms at all about asking her favorite authors to get their books available in e-book format. She still reads lots of paper books, too, and often re-reads her favorite authors. Then there are audio books, to which she listens on her daily commute. She gets them mostly from her local library. So far she hasn't tried the Kindle audio feature, but says she might.

What she doesn't like: High book prices.

At this point, Andy hadn't yet bought a cover. He's thrilled with the Fire, which is actually his first e-reading device beyond his computer.

What he likes: At first he didn't like how easily the screen changes its orientation from portrait to landscape, but then he found the lock. He and I both though we would want the anti-glare screen protector. But the reviews aren't good, and we just aren't seeing any glare worth worrying about. He likes the sharp, bright screen and the ability to change screen text display to white lettering on black for night in-the-car reading.

The case he bought a few days later, by Inland, is lightweight and semi-rigid, with a zipper and an inner mesh pocket. He bought it at Fry's Electronics. He likes the extra protectiveness of the hard shell..
The mesh inner pocket would hold a USB cord, but not the charging cord one that comes with the Kindle.

What he doesn't like: He wishes he could have a longer battery life like the e-ink screen devices.The case doesn't have a strap, loop or lanyard and he had to add one of his own. He also thinks the pocket is too loose and prone to "fall-out".

That purple-encased e-reader in front, with no person attached to it, is mine, and I will be passing it on to a friend for Christmas. I just can't see letting a perfectly good e-book reader go to waste when it could enrich someone's life.

What I like: You know what I love about the new Fire. What I love about Kindle 3, though? It was the first e-book reader I could actually tolerate. My really crazy vision problems kept me from enjoying the older darker, dull-colored screens, but Kindle 3 was bright enough. And it was very lightweight and easy to hold. The long battery life means it will run for several days without re-charging. I did have to re-charge once while in Hawaii, and that charge lasted until long after I was back home. And I think I liked the old Kindle method of grouping books in lists, better than I do the flip-through color covers on "shelves". But the new more visual system is definitely growing on me.

As for the case: I didn't want the weight of a leather case, and I wanted one that could zip, thinking maybe it would offer better protection. This one was made by Tucano for the 7" Galaxy Tablet, bought at Fry's Electronics. It's sort of like this: 
It's a perfect fit, and is nicely padded but lightweight (also fits the Fire, which is essentially the same size). The outer pocket makes a great place for the cord when traveling. The case, possibly by adding some cushioned bulk without much weight, is actually more comfortable to hold than just the reader alone. So for now, I'm keeping this case for my new Fire.

What I don't like: The e-ink screen is not soothing to me. It's my eyes, I guess, and also something about the way I respond emotionally to color. Gray depresses me. The Fire is much more pleasurable for me to read. I had to find a separate light, and never did find one that was really satisfactory. I ended up with a Mighty Bright that folds. It does stay in place better than others, but none of them do a really good job. The Fire sure doesn't need a light!

Oh, the knitted lace tablecloth? Why yes, thank you, I did knit it myself.

About Me

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I write write write. Sometimes I travel. Then I write some more. And I have a great family who understand that I write write write.