Thursday, September 3, 2009
What I did for my summer vacation
Our library picked up an Amazon Kindle for staff to try out, and I brought it on our family vacation to Manzanita on the Oregon Coast a couple weeks ago.
Let me give you some of my thoughts on it. My first impression was that it was kind of awkward to navigate. The little joysticky thing that functions as a mouse isn't all that intuitive. I kept wanting it to be like an iPhone/iTouch with a larger screen.
Once I figured out how to navigate content, I liked reading on it. The very simple presentation of text is refreshing. It eliminates the distractions of a PC operating system and really lets you concentrate on the text. The e ink technology works well, though I do wish it could illuminate itself in the dark. It is slim and fits into a beach bag as easily as any paper back, though I popped it in a ziplock to keep out the sand.
I found myself navigating around the Amazon store some, reading samples of various books. Having this limited body of content to chose from--just books with a recreational bent, as opposed to the whole web--felt kind of relaxing. Sort of like I was in another limited media environment like a movie theater or flipping channels on TV. (I know it has a web browser built in, but I avoided it because I was on vacation.)
After I got back from vacation and was preparing for a class that I'm teaching on digital libraries, I decided to download a couple PDF reports to the Kindle, just to check out how they would work. (I had assigned a few reports for students to read and needed to read them fully for myself.) I used Stanza to convert them to Kindle format.
It was nice to go out in the backyard and hang out on the hammock and do the reading on the Kindle as opposed to my laptop.
The Kindle is a nice device for concentrated reading in the same way that a big flatscreen TV is a nice device for watching a feature length movie.
In some ways, I wish it wasn't even connected to the network. That way there would be even fewer distractions.
In other ways, I wish it was an iPhone with a bigger screen.