I am all wrought up today over Amazon’s new Kindle device.
As you probably know, I take my reading pretty seriously. But I also take my technology seriously. That’s why I’m all clenched about this.
Amazon’s $400 device is specifically for reading stuff: books, newspapers, magazines. It has an e-ink display, which mimics the look and contrast of a printed page. OK, I appreciate the focus (there is a lot of bellyaching in various tech-centric blogs and forums today about how reading should really be done on multi-purpose devices and cell phones–I totally disagree.). I actually appreciate the eschewing of other wingdings like a full-blown Web browser, in a strange way.
But here’s where the problems start.
- Have you seen this thing? When the photos were circulating this weekend, everyone was sure that they were of the prototype device because no product since Soviet Russia has looked so bad. What is this thing? A prop from Star Trek TNG? A mutated calculator watch? If I’m going to spend hours a day with a device, it needs to be hot. Not just functional. Hot.
- Attention to detail. Sure, you can buy books directly on the device and it’s always connected via EVDO (a la Sprint phones), but when I watched the demo video I was struck by how ugly this process is. I noticed in not one, but two shots that the page to buy the book didn’t even fit on the screen–the “Buy” button was cut off. The buttons and page elements are ugly. I think it’s actually pretty awesome that the device is only black and white, but the designers of the UI need to embrace that, not fight with it.
- Price. Not so much the unit (though $400 is a hefty chunk), but the $9.99 per book. Remember what you lose: the tactile, color gorgeousness of the book on your shelves, making your life brighter. All that’s left is data after that. I know I sound like one of those people who’s having a hard time giving up vinyl for MP3, but still.
What do you guys think? “Revolutionary” as they claim, or just another piece of garbage to throw on the e-book heap?