Home > Big Boy's Toys, Education, Electronics, General, Literature, Tech > The Kindle 2 has Arrived!

The Kindle 2 has Arrived!

Update, 15 April 2009: I see my blog was found using a search for the number of lines on the K2’s display, so I decided to mention the number of lines per page at each selectable font size.

The font size is selectable by pressing the button between the spacebar and SYM keys.  This also is a shortcut for controlling the Text-to-Speech options (on/off, speed, and voice).  There are six selectable font sizes.  From smallest to largest, here are the number of lines of text per selection: 26, 23, 20, 18, 14, and 12.  The default – or at least the size selected when I first powered mine up – is 20 lines per page.  I’m more comfortable with 18 lines, but even then I still must wear reading glasses; to forego glasses completely, I must select 14 lines.  Getting older kinda suXorz, but I suppose it’s better than the alternative.

Update, 17 March 2009:  I’ve read a number books on it now, a couple of Elmore Leonard and a couple freebies by Orwell and Verne, and I have to say it works quite well.  My gripes are that the display isn’t quite large enough, it isn’t backlit, and the joystick controller isn’t that great.   At the default font size, there are only 20 lines of text per page.  I can, of course, decrease the size, but then I have to wear reading glasses.  Backlighting is an inherent problem with eInk technology as the display is opaque.  The only remedy is good ambient lighting or to use a booklight.  The joystick controller is quite stiff and somewhat difficult to use if your hands are as chronically dry as mine.  Also, the menus don’t wrap – if you’re at the top of the menu and want to go to the bottom, you have to scroll down through every item.  You should be able to scroll up which after the top selection, wraps to the bottom selection.

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth

Okay, I already have my two front teeth.  For today, at least.  That’s another subject for another time.  This is about the Kindle.  Below are some really bad photos:

Actually, all I really wanted for Christmas this past year was Amazon’s Kindle.  A pretty tall order, but my girlfriend, brother & sisters, and mom & dad all chipped in to get me just that.  The Kindle 2 (K2) wasn’t out at the time of the order, so my sister Melinda ordered the old Kindle (K1).  I’d hoped Amazon would be understanding and generous enough to realize (most) everyone would want the new K2 instead of the K1.  They did realize it and this explains exactly why I’m such a huge Amazon fan.  Unless I’m buying individual electronics parts such as inductors and diodes and resistor networks and whatnot, things they’re not likely to have, Step One is to hit Amazon.com.  Even if I don’t buy through them (rarely the case), I use the comments/ratings to get an idea of the product.

I received my K2 just yesterday, 25 February 2009, around 6pm.  It took a few minutes to get the device registered as I ended up having to peruse the User’s Guide to find the underscore character.  Simple deduction *should* have led me immediately to the SYM key as it’s specifically mentioned in the printed Getting Started Guide as to where to find the @ symbol.  However, because the underscore comes before @ in my email address and I’m obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer…

Anyway, I got it registered just fine.  I’ve yet to download anything more than a couple of previews, though.  I have a number of books in mind, but money is tight at the moment and at $9.99 a pop, plus tax (Amazon has a warehouse here in Lexington), it can add up quickly.

It’s a super neat device and super thin.  There’s a built-in 3G radio so you can buy a new book and be reading it in mere seconds.  If you aren’t sure a particular book is worth buying, you can often download a preview, just a chapter or three to let you get a better feel for it.  The display is super crisp and it even has text-to-voice capability so you have somewhat of Books on Tape with the K2, albeit the voice is somewhat similar to Steven Hawking’s – okay, but hardly Sir Peter O’Toole as King Henry II in Lion in Winter

My life, when it is written, will read better than it lived. Henry Fitz-Empress, first Plantagenet, a king at twenty-one, the ablest soldier of an able time. He led men well, he cared for justice when he could and ruled, for thirty years, a state as great as Charlemagne’s. He married out of love, a woman out of legend. Not in Alexandria, or Rome, or Camelot has there been such a queen. She bore him many children. But no sons. King Henry had no sons. He had three whiskered things but he disowned them.

You’re not mine! We’re not connected! I deny you! None of you will get my kingdom, I leave you nothing and I wish you plague! May all your children breach and die!

Funny thing about the text-to-voice capability – not so funny, actually – is that the Author’s Guild is arguing that the feature is illegal as it…  Well, it isn’t quite clear to me the distinction, but they do say it’ll undermine the Books On Tape sales.  Maybe, but I own hundreds of books yet not a single one is on tape.  I considered it back when I was driving all over the US, but could never seem to bring myself to do it.  It always seemed too …  disposable?  I have a lot more respect for books than that.  Plus, at a price point of $360.00, I seriously doubt people will flock to the K2 to any point where books on tape sales decline to anything beyond a mere trend fluctuation.  The vast majority of people on earth cannot even read, nor are they sitting around listening to someone read to them.  Suffice it to say they sure as hell aren’t spending money on a recording of someone reading a book.  And thinking about it for just a moment, the antiquity of the concept is clear from its name, Books on Tape.  Billions in revenue, yet no one can think farther into the future than the next royalty check.  I’d hope the Author’s Guild would at least hire someone that’s a bit more forward thinking than to get stuck in the 70s.  Undoubtedly they’ve have no idea of this little board from Parallax.  The site says “extremely natural female voice” but it’s pretty choppy; not nearly as good as the K2.  But like I said, the K2’s V-to-T isn’t all that great. Books on Parchment… err… Books on TAPE, indeed!

I’ll update when I’ve read a few books.

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