View Full Version : Amazon Kindle 2 Review

August 18th, 2009, 04:26 AM
From: http://www.mikesplanet.net/2009/08/amazon-kindle-2-review

I got an Amazon Kindle 2 (http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Amazons-Wireless-Reading-Generation/dp/B00154JDAI/ref=amb_link_84932831_2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_r d_s=center-1&pf_rd_r=1SYPVTKSBQB6MBD3D4F6&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p =485983371&pf_rd_i=507846) this summer, it has DRM, and I love it (The Kindle). More on that later. The Kindle is a great gadget that has re-kindled (excuse the pun) my love of reading for pleasure.

Kindle 2 Specs

CPU: Freescale 532 MHz, ARM-11
OS: Linux-2.6.10
Display: 6-in diagonal E-Ink screen. 600x800 resolution with 16 shades of gray
Size: 8-in.x5.3-in.x 0.36-in., 10.2 ounces
Wireless: Amazon 3G Whispernet using EVDO/CDMA
Sound: Stereo with Text-to-Speech
Storage: 2 GB, but no SD card slot
Battery Life: Appr. 2 weeks with wireless disabled.
Formats (Text): DRM-Free Mobipocket books (MOBI, PRC), plain text files (TXT), and Amazon's proprietary, DRM-restricted format (AZW)
Formats (Audio): MP3 and Audible DRM AAX format.

The Good
E-Ink Display: The display is "worth the price of admission". The E-Ink display is easy to read, and your eyes react well to it. I have read on the Kindle for hours with no eye strain. It is much easier reading from the Kindle than a laptop. It is perfectly visible in bright daylight but is not backlit, so you will need a book light at night.

WhisperNet: The Kindle comes subscription-free with 3G networking from Sprint. While Amazon hopes you will use the WhisperNet to impulse buy books from their store, it works very well with GMail and other simple web sites. Do not use it on heavy AJAX/Javascript based websites. The Kindle 2 must have a nice antenna. I'm yet to find a spot, even deep in a building, that I unable to get an EDVO signal.

Battery Life: The battery life is great on the Kindle, since the device only uses power for wireless, or when you change the E-ink display. I get 7+ days of battery life with the wireless on, so the claim of two weeks is believable.

Works on Linux: The Kindle 2 is detected as a hard drive by Linux, making it easy to use with it. Calibre (http://calibre.kovidgoyal.net/) software is installable for most Linux distros, and auto detects the Kindle allowing quick syncing of non-Amazon download books.

The OK
Text-to-Speech: While obvious a computer voice, the Text-to-Speech feature in the Kindle 2 is quite usable. The voice is very easy to understand, and does not lull you to sleep by being too monotone. Amazon did give the Author's guild the right to disable Text-to Speech on certain books, but e-books that are purchased from from third party e-bookstores in mobi, prc, and txt allow Text-to-Speech.

In the "Amazon Irony" department, one word the Kindle has trouble saying is "Kindle".

Selection: The Amazon Kindle store boasts 300,000 Kindle titles. That is stretch, since many titles are multiple versions of public domain books formatted for the Kindle. On a random search of 30 history and fiction books I have on my bookshelf at home, I found 11 of the newer titles for sale the Kindle store. There are many third party e-bookstores that have DRM-free Kindle formatted books for sale to help expand the selection of books available for the Kindle. If you are a sci-fi nut like me, I would suggest the Webscription (http://www.webscription.net/) store, that sell hundreds of classic sci-fi titles DRM-free.

Storage: The 2GB internal storage give you plenty of room for thousands of e-books. The lack of an external storage slot make the Kindle useless for large amounts of audio or audiobooks. I would preferred the Kindle 2 be a couple of centimeters thicker to add a SD slot.

The Bad
DRM: Books in the Amazon Kindle store are in the AZW DRM-encumbered format. What can I say about this that has not been said a thousands times before? How can I support DRM and look my look my OSS friends in the eye? Easy, I (mostly) don't. 90% of the books on my Kindle are free public domain titles or DRM-free titles I purchased from a third party e-bookstore (see above). The only thing you lose by not shopping at the Amazon Kindle store is automatically deliver via WhisperNet, since the Kindle work so easily with Linux via USB, this is not a problem. Every time I purchase a DRM-Free book, I write Amazon to let them know my decision to take my business elsewhere due to DRM.

One thing the Amazon should allow is give authors the choice to use a DRM-free format in the Kindle store for their works. This would give independent authors a prominent selling point for their titles.

The Ugly
Remote Deletion: In July, Amazon remote deleted thousands copies of 1984 (Irony, thy name is Amazon) from Kindles, since they did not really have the e-books rights for that title. This was a poor decision by Amazon. Amazon should have worked a deal out with George Orwell's heirs, and ate the cost as the price of doing business. While Jeff Bezos apologies (http://www.amazon.com/tag/kindle/forum/ref=cm_cd_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1D7SY 3BVSESG&cdThread=Tx1FXQPSF67X1IU&displayType=tagsD etail) for doing this and said it would never happen again, I think action speak louder than words. Amazon should update the Kindle firmware and remove this ability.

In Conclusion
While it has some some tarnish, I think the Kindle 2 is a great gadget, which I hope encourages the spread of e-book devices. Hopefully book publishers will learn that DRM is broken, and actually hurts profit margins.

What I'm reading now: "The Art of Community (http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-of-Community-ebook/dp/B002L4EXDI/ref=kinw_dp_ke)" by Jono Bacon.

Forums Discussion: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=7804319

August 18th, 2009, 04:50 PM
On Art of Community, are you reading the whole book? Because I thought that as of yet, he has only released the first chapter.

Also, can't you download that for free?

Edit: I was talking about Art of Community by the way.

August 18th, 2009, 04:52 PM
I love my Kindle (2). It's so much easier than carrying around a book from The Wheel of Time, then finishing it and having nothing to read...

August 18th, 2009, 10:35 PM
"Hopefully book publishers will learn that DRM is broken"

I don't see how they'll learn that as long as people keep buying them.

December 2nd, 2009, 11:24 AM
I would be very interested in a kindle-like device, the Barnes & Noble Nook looks rather interesting too.

But for devices that focus on one feature they seem to be rather highly priced, not sure I would be willing to pay €2-300 euros for a reading device.

December 2nd, 2009, 11:25 AM
I like the look of them, too. Last time I checked there was poor distribution in the UK; the price also didn't help, you can buy a lot of books for that!

December 2nd, 2009, 11:35 AM
Convergence anyone?

Is it just me, or does anyone find all of these devices ridiculous. You could end up with a compact digital camera, mp3 player, book reader, mobile phone, hand held console, all clugging around in your bag. Whilst there are mobiles that allow some or all of the above options, they tend to be crap at all of them (ie, mobile phones with mp3 players and cameras tend to have crap cameras and poor mp3 play back and access).

It would be great if someone could just nail all of that in one device and sell if for 300 or something. It is the 21st century afterall.

December 2nd, 2009, 12:10 PM
Android Phone... 'nuff said.

December 2nd, 2009, 12:28 PM
I wouldn't mind having an e-book reader of some kind. But that remote deletion thing really puts me off the Kindle. If I buy an e-book, I want it to be mine. I don't want the vendor to be able to remotely delete anything, whether accidently or deliberately.

One thing that interests me about the Kindle is the fact that it runs Linux.On episode 605 of Hak5 (http://www.hak5.org/episodes/episode-605), Shannon was trying to get to a shell prompt on her Kindle: she got to see all the boot up messages and got as far as a login prompt; but hadn't been able to get any further because she didn't have a password (Amazon changes the paswords on its Kindles so it isn't just a default like "root" or "password"). Then her Kindle hacking just stopped: i dunno if Hak5 got a cease and desist from Amazon or something; I would have thought that they would have told us if that was the problem. If Amazon ever make a deal with a UK 3G carrier for whispernet support, I might be tempted to buy a Kindle just for the hardware hack potential: if you can log in as root on a Kindle with free whispernet connectivity, I reckon that whispernet might be an interesting place to explore.

Incidentally, in Hak5 episode 615 (http://www.hak5.org/episodes/episode-615), Shannon hacks the Zipit (a little $40 instant messaging device) so it gets most of the functionality of an older smart phone (minus the telephone function). Interesting stuff. Hak5 is a great show, I recommend it to anyone with a hands-on interest in computing and technology (not just hands-on in a hardware hacking sense; there's a lot of great coding stuff too) - check it out (http://hak5.org)!

December 2nd, 2009, 02:36 PM
"Hopefully book publishers will learn that DRM is broken"

I don't see how they'll learn that as long as people keep buying them.


December 7th, 2009, 08:47 PM
I've been shopping for an ebook reader and have tenatively made a decision.

I first looked at the Sony PRS-300 and -600 at my local Target store. In many respects, I like the PRS-300 the best of all the ebook readers, but the small screen is a deal-killer for me. I liked the way the PRS-600 worked, but the touch screen seems to cloud the text to an extent that takes it out of the running.

I haven't seen one, but I was very interested in the Nook. Unfortunately, the inital reviews are not good:


Last night I saw a Kindle for the first time and was surprised how much I liked it. It appears sturdy and well made, the screen is great, and everything just seems to work. I'm put off by the proprietary format, but at least it now has native support for PDF.

So, at least for me, the Kindle 2 seems the best all around.

December 7th, 2009, 09:22 PM
I like the device but I wish it were better positioned for reading other file formats. As a University professor, I have free access to a deluge of reading material and it would be great to be able to sync the kindle to the databases I need. But really, most of the stuff that I like/need to read is not available for the kindle. If I subscribed to a number of popular periodicals and read mainstream fiction and non-fiction, I'd think that the kindle is the best thing ever.

December 25th, 2009, 04:54 PM
I try to make a basic comparison between this 3 e-reader Nook, Kindle & Sony. (http://www.tablettweet.com/2009/12/23/nook-kindle-dx-and-sony-digital-reader-touch-edition-comparison-table/)

Maybe I'll go with Kindle DX because Its screen size.

February 8th, 2010, 08:48 PM
I've been using a Kindle that our library just purchased for allowing people to take out. I love it!

So for Linux, the Kindle works pretty much like a USB hard drive and so the only "issue" is the Kindle reader for the PC (which works under Wine with some changes)? I think I can live with that.

I love the small, light size and weight and I have a number of PDFs that I would put on it to read when I get the chance (tutorials, etc.). The screen is just awesome!

Is Nook or Sony any better than the Kindle with Linux?

February 14th, 2010, 01:18 AM
nook works great with Linux; there's no software needed to load so like the Kindle it loads up as an external drive but that's all you need anyway.

I love my nook; the only issue I've had with it is that the battery doesn't sit close enough to the terminals so I had to fold a piece of paper into the housing to keep it connected. Other than that it's fast, easy to work with, and stable now after the last firmware update.

I was talking to a guy who works at Barnes & Noble's digital support service and he was telling me that, thanks to being built on Android, the nook has a lot of stuff coming to it in later releases after all the bugs are worked out. The next release (1.3) is going to focus on battery life and tweaking things to make the power use more efficient (I imagine this has a lot to do with making sure wireless is being used more sparingly, etc.) and then they're going to start working on bigger releases, like a (limited) web browser, access to wikipedia (like the Kindle), instant messaging (wonder how that is going to work?) etc. So while the nook is already an awesome e-reader, the potential is also great.

February 14th, 2010, 02:57 AM
Formats (Text): DRM-Free Mobipocket books (MOBI, PRC), plain text files (TXT), and Amazon's proprietary, DRM-restricted format (AZW)

No pdf?

February 14th, 2010, 04:38 PM
The Kindle is supposed to support PDFs, but I tried copying a PDF onto the Kindle and I can't find it to open it. It isn't mine, so I can't email it to the address to get it converted, and the site says to just drag-and-drop the PDF into the Kindle but I don't know if I am doing it right.

Do I have to put it on the root? in the /books folder? Anybody experience this?