Amazon Kindle (2014) Review

Kindle LogoArriving in 2007 with its e-paper display, the Amazon Kindle revolutionised reading and has become almost synonymous with e-readers. Seven years on, there’s been a steady evolution of the Kindle, introducing whiter screens, backlights and touch. On review here is the Kindle, 2014 edition. This is the standard model – not the Paperwhite, not the Voyage – so let’s take a look at what Amazon has done this time round.

Kindle with Box

The headline news for the Kindle e-reader is that it now has a touch screen and the power button is the only moving part on the e-reader. This brings touch right across the Amazon range, and while some diehards may mourn the demise of the buttons, navigating round the Kindle is much easier. Besides, whenever I had anything go wrong with electronic devices, it was always the buttons.

Kindle Library

In other news, the Kindle has picked up the same design cues as the Fire tablets with a slightly chunkier look and the bevelled plastic back of its siblings. The new Kindle is perhaps not as svelte as previous iterations, it’s still light at 191 g. Reviewing the exterior, there’s not much to talk about – 6″ 800 x 600 Pearl e-paper screen, micro USB socket, power button and reset hole. That’s it, but that’s all you need. There’s no backlight on this model, so no reading in the dark.

Kindle Bottom

Speaking of what you need, potential purchasers should note that there’s only a charging cable in the box and there’s no charger. This has been the case with Kindles for some time now but I thought I’d mention it to avoid an unpleasant surprise.

Getting started with the Kindle is easy. Hook up to a wi-fi connection (b/g/n) and then enter Amazon credentials to see all the literature on the account. 3G is no longer an option but given the ubiquitous nature of wif-fi, I doubt anyone will miss it. As with the Fire tablets, there’s a clear distinction between content on device and content in the cloud but it’s a simple tap to switch views. There’s 4 GB of storage standing by for holiday reading and for ordinary novels, 4 GB goes a very long way.

Without the buttons, how does one navigate? At the “home” level, it’s a case of tapping on icons as if it were a full-blown tablet. Once in a book, it’s tap on the right to go forward, tap on the left to go back and tap at the top to get the menu bar up. From here you can leave the book or adjust settings. While taps are reliably recorded, the response time isn’t quite up there with a tablet but it’s still quick enough and it’s not unsurprising given the limitations of e-paper. The presentation of the books can be adjusted with six different typefaces, eight text sizes, three line spaces and three margin settings.

In addition to books, the Kindle brings into the hand much of the Amazon experience. It’s easy to shop for new books, especially now with the touch screen, and features such as Kindle for Kids and Household registration will be familiar to users of the Amazon Fire. X-Ray is present too, providing a ready reckoner for characters, plot points and referenced terms: it’s handy, especially when reading a new genre of book or hitting a series midway through. Kindle FreeTime helps parents set reading targets for children and rewards the children with badges when they hit their goals.

Shop Kindle

As with all previous Kindles, the e-reader is designed to work with ebooks bought from Amazon. Books from other on-line stores can’t usually be loaded unless they’re DRM-free and there’s no Overdrive app for library books.

Overall, the new Kindle is a satisfactory evolution of the entry level model and the touchscreen makes the e-reader easier to use, especially when browsing for books. Currently priced with a £10 discount for Mother’s Day, the Kindle is priced at GB£49 with special offers and £59 without ads. Even without the £10 offer, it’s a great value product.

Thanks to Amazon for the Kindle review unit.

iOstand: a 2013 CES Innovation Design and Engineering Winner

iOstandThe awards for CES 2013 were announced on November 12, 2012 and iOmounts won an International Innovation Design and Engineering Award for the iOstand. If you look at pictures of it you can see why it is simple and simply beautiful. The iOstand works with most of today’s tablet and e-readers. It is made of stainless steel and comes in stainless steel and powder coat black and white. The stand attaches to a tablet or e-reader by the razor-thin iOadapt and iOcore through a magnet. iOmount recommends you attach the iOadapt to the tablet or e-reader cover and not directly to the device, because it is difficult to remove. Once you connect the iOstand to the iOcore, it is there to stay under normal circumstances. The connection allows the tablet or e-reader to be set at any angle you want. The stand itself is a simple round base and a pole with the connector at the top.

Innovations entries are judged on the following criteria by judges that are experts in their fields.

  • Engineering qualities, based on technical specs and materials used
  • Aesthetic and design qualities
  • The product’s intended use/function and user value
  • Unique/novel features that consumers would find attractive
  • How the design and innovation of the product compares to other products in the marketplace.

If you are going to attend CES 2013 and want to see the iOstand and other iOmount products at Booth #35349, LVCC South Hall 4. The iOstand will also be on display at the Innovation Design and Engineering showcase in the Venetian Ballroom, booth #70425. If you don’t want to wait for CES and want a iOstand now it is available on site for $100.00. Personally, the more I look at it the more I know it is going to be added to my Christmas list. I love its simple and elegant design.

Worth Avenue Group Electronic Device Insurance

Aaron Cooper of Worth Avenue Group (my.worthavegroup.com) talks about the insurance coverage they provide for iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads, Cell Phones, e-readers, televisions, laptops, tablets and other high-value electronic devices. With so many high-value portable and other electronics devices, many with glass touch screens screens, insuring these devices can make sense. Their computer insurance even covers virus removal. They require that damaged covered devices be sent in to them.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast and Tom Newman of The Fogview Podcast.

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An E-Library for E-Books

Another e-book reader is rumored to be in the works  and this one is by Creative.  And the promises are broad with a color screen, media, music, the moon.  Of course this is right on the heels of Barne’s and Nobles Android powered e-book.  Did I forget Apple  who has long been rumored to be working on a tablet style device that will reinvent media once again?  I confess that I put more faith in Apple’s ability to bring success, if I have any at all.

I have fingered the Kindle and I have browsed the iPhone/iPod Touch e-reader applications.  And I still don’t own, or have plans to own an e-reader.  Why?  Books are expensive.  Buying and e-reader so I can buy e-books is still expensive.  If I am tempted to read after a day at work and at the computer, I don’t want to look at another digital screen.  If I need something to read, I hesitate to pull the trigger on a $12 book that I will finish in a week.  I’m struggling.

1214060_58827580 2-250rdCould or should there be a reinventing of the library?  Your town probably still has one.  It is an old technology where you can check out books for free (or a nominal membership fee), and then bring them back.  I must admit I’m shocked that the print industry didn’t sue the libraries for lost profit years ago.  What about a library system for e-books?  Could it work?  How?  Amazon allows two Kindle’s to share a single account, and that works great for family.  Apple is demonstrating the technology with its online video rental system.  You rent it, download it, and then it disappears.  Certainly it could be done.  I would even pay to rent a book.

Well Creative, I hope your e-reader convinces me, but I’m not sure it’s possible without a revamp from the print industry.  Maybe Apple will come through and convince me to pay $700 for a tablet so I can purchase really snazzy media to read, but I don’t see it.