A while back, I got a kindle. The cheapest one. 140 bucks (which incidentally is the same number of characters that you can put in a tweet).
the packaging: the kindle came in a box with everything already set up. it was hooked up to my amazon account and I just started it and connected to wifi. the entire setup was a breeze.
the ordering process: what amazon has done with this device is link my credit card with jeff bezos’ bank account. it is incredibly easy to buy a book. the absence of the proverbial confirmation dialog, asking me whether I am sure, and that this book will cost me 10 bucks which I could rather invest in a pizza means that nothing will stop you from buying stuff. plus, returning a book means acknowledging that you purchased it by mistake and honestly, I am not one to go admitting that I purchased the book by mistake. if I’ve paid for it, I might just as well read it. after all, even the worst book teaches you something.
the screen: so, the kindle has this new high-funda e-ink screen. its not one of those lcds which is backlit and causes strain on your eyes. its just text, rendered gorgeously, like chinese calligraphy. reading is a pleasure on the device. it works well whether you are a spy, sitting in the dark, reading classified kgb material or you are a happy parent watching your kids play football on a sunny afternoon …
the newspapers: I never used to read newspapers in hyderabad. In delhi though, over a plate of parathas I would devour the times of india (paying close attention to the back page of the delhi times *wink wink*) and the hindustan times and the hindu (yes, for a time we used to get three newspapers at home). the kindle allows you to subscribe to newspapers. while this is fairly expensive (think 15 bucks a month) you do get a free trial for 14 days. I’ve already finished free trials of slate magazine, the international herald tribune and the new york times (which is a very good newspaper btw) and that goes to say something.
the battery: the battery life is amazing. I have read a total of nine books on the kindle now (and assorted time spent reading newspapers) and charged it twice.
overall: this is one of those products that as an engineer you dream of building. it is functional. it does what it is supposed to do. it does it incredibly well. it does a whole lot of other things as well but I don’t care. think of one of those slide thingies you used to play on in school, you’d climb up a set of stairs and come down. those were perfect – well designed doing what they were meant to do – impart lot of fun for kids. now think of an improved version which never burnt your backside on a hot summer day in the middle of the afternoon. the kindle, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly that.