Over the last few years, my Amazon.com Kindle eBook reader has become my favorite travel gadget, accompanying me across the world. I love to read, so I used to lug several books along with me. Now I carry one thin, portable device that can store thousands of books. Not only that, but the books are cheaper since they don’t use real paper. A book I had been dying to read came out only in hardback and cost $30. I got it on the Kindle instead for half the price.
The Kindle has traditionally come with a free wireless 3G network that allows you to download your books without having to plug in to a computer. It used to only work within the US, but expanded to international coverage. Amazon just released a new version of the Kindle (Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi — affiliate link) that is less expensive because it doesn’t have 3G, but is instead only WiFi enabled. This means you can only download books by being on a WiFi network or plugging in to your computer.
Regardless of your connection, you can read the books on your Kindle at any time–you don’t need to be on WiFi or 3G to use it. You only need one of those connections to download books. You actually save battery power by shutting the connections off when you’re just reading.
Here are the pros and cons of the Kindle in my eyes:
- Cheaper than paper books–sometimes significantly less. You get the most savings with major books that initially only come out in hard cover, but you still save money on paperbacks.
- Extremely portable. Kindles, especially the current generations, are incredibly slim. Sometimes I leave it in my purse in a hard case, so I can read whenever I’m stuck somewhere, like a doctor waiting room or car wash.
- Easy on the eyes. I don’t know about you, but my eyes start to ache after spending too many hours reading on a computer. The Kindle uses electronic ink, which has no backlight, giving it no glare (this means you do need a light to read it at night). It reads like paper.
- Major storage. Kindles come with loads of storage, allowing you to fit thousands of books on one device (should you somehow manage to exceed the limit, the purchases will still be saved in your Amazon account–they just won’t be on the device).
- Lighter backpack. I love reading, so when I traveled in the past, I would always bring more than one book. It got heavy! The Kindle reduces your load by only requiring you to take one thin device rather than a bag full of books.
- You can change the text size. This makes it easy to use for all generations. I prefer it to be on a smaller size, while my dad uses a size or two larger than me.
- It has an iPhone app. You can download a few iPhone app and read any of your Kindle books on your iPhone. It’s painful to read on the small screen for long stretches, but it’s perfect for when you are stuck somewhere and have some time to kill.
- Saves you space. My bookshelves at home are overflowing, and there is hardly room for more. My Kindle allows me to amass a book collection without cluttering my house.
- Free books. There are several websites out there, such as ManyBooks.net, where you can get free copies of books in Kindle format that are now in the public domain. This includes many of the classics.
- The device is delicate. The first generation was sturdier, but the latest version is very thin. When you take it from place to place, you need to keep it in a hard case. When I upgraded from the original one to the newer one, it got smushed in my travel bag and the screen became all wacky and striped. It had been in a soft case, but it wasn’t protective enough. I called to tell them it stopped working, and because I had just bought it, they shipped me a new one the next day (I had to send my old one back). I also immediately got a firmer case, and it has worked well.
- You can’t use it during the whole plane ride. This is my biggest complaint. Airlines still consider it an electronic device that needs to be turned off during takeoff and landing, so I am stuck reading SkyMall until we’re in the air.
- Sometimes there are technical problems. After all, it is technology. My first Kindle died after about two years of unknown causes (it just started to get glitchy and wouldn’t hold a charge). I called customer support a few times and we were never able to get it back to normal. Fortunately, a techie bought it from me for $40 on eBay and was able to restore it, but I didn’t have the ability to do that (plus, I wanted the new generation!).
Do you have a Kindle? If not, would you consider getting one?
Photos by goXunuReviews