My Greatest Joy

What’s better than getting an Amazon Kindle?

Being given an Amazon Kindle.

That’s right, someone gave me a Kindle last week. After using it for a few days, I’m convinced that this is quite a remarkable device (not that I was in doubt before…but it’s different when you actually get to hold it and use it).

There are two things that I would say are the “coolest” aspects of this device. No, more than that, but I’ll start with two. One, the screen. It’s a digital device, so you expect your eyes to get tired of looking at the screen. My eyes are already tired of looking at my computer screen, and I’ve been typing this entry for two minutes. But on the Kindle, the screen has no glare, nothing to hurt your eyes. The text is so clear and “real” that it looks like there’s a plastic overlay with printed text on top of the screen.

Two, the connectivity is amazing. When you hold a Kindle, you hold a bookstore in your hands, wherever you are. The immediacy of reading and learning about available books is a totally new experience. And the machine doesn’t just connect to Amazon.com—the whole experience of the “Whispernet” is built around getting you the information and reading material you want right away. If you subscribe to the New York Times, you can receive the Book Review on your Kindle on a Friday afternoon, read about a cool book, go online, buy the book, and read the book, all with in a few minutes on the same device.

Or maybe you’re not sure you want that book even after reading a review. So try a sample chapter. Every single book on the Amazon.com Kindle store has a sample (not necessarily an entire chapter, but a significant chunk) that you can download immediately and read.

But it doesn’t stop there. Something I didn’t know about the Kindle is that it comes with an Internet browser. I’m sure a lot of you have smartphones that do this, but my phone just makes calls and texts. Plus, I wouldn’t want internet on a two-inch screen. The Kindle’s screen is about 5 by 3, but because of the e-Ink, I relish looking at that screen over larger LCD screens. The point is, with this one device, you can be reading a book in the park, say, Prince Caspian, and decide that you want to see the movie too, so on the same device, you can check movie times. Or you can check out my blog, which looks awesome on the Kindle.

No big deal, right? You can do this from your smartphone, and it has a color screen to boot. But, refresh my memory: How much do you pay a month for your smartphone cellular service? What’s that, you pay…money? With my Kindle, for the same deal, and on a better screen, I pay $0 dineros. Because the Kindle doesn’t require a monthly fee for Whispernet access, you can stay online as much as you like.

Whose device is smarter now?

As you can tell, I’m enamored with this machine. I’m intrigued to see how much I truly end up loving it. I haven’t even bought any books on it yet, but I burned all my paper (read: outdated) books when I got it, so I don’t have much of a choice. We’ll see if it remains my greatest joy.

And in all fairness, I have a few minor quibbles. One very small one is the option you have to increase or decrease the text size. It’s a cool option, and I love the idea, but when you increase the text size, even though it’s easier on your eyes (and it’s something you can’t do with a paper book), you end up having like four words on the page (I’m overexaggerating, but it feels like that). So it’s a function I can’t see myself using often.

Two, the one big quibble I have is the scrolling wheel. If you need to scroll through an internet site or a table of contents or the lines of text on a page, there’s this little wheel that you scroll up and down with and then click it to select. It’s a simple device, and a good idea in principle, but the issue is that I end up clicking the little wheel a lot. By far more than any other button, even the next page buttons, which are considerably larger. The wheel doesn’t feel like it can or should handle that much clicking, and sometimes it rolls forward when I try to click it, leading to misclicks. I wish there was a large button near the wheel that’s committed just to selecting material (there’s a tiny button for this, but it’s far away from the scrolling wheel).

Those are my only complaints so far. And to be fair, the scrolling wheel helps me select blocks of text that I want to highlight and remember. I never like to write in books, so now when I see a really awesome sentence, I can highlight it in my Kindle. It’ll keep track of every single highlight for me so I don’t have to remember what “page” they’re on.

Oh, and one last thing–I love to lie down and read with the Kindle in one hand. No longer shall both of my hands be occupied by books!

Kittens, chocolate, The Office, and Caroline, step aside: I have a new greatest joy. My Amazon Kindle.