Amazon Kindle? No Thanks.

If you pay any attention to the local (Seattle) tech industry, or did any shopping on recently, you are well aware of Amazon’s first foray into manufacturing and selling hardware, the Amazon Kindle, an eBook, which the company breathlessly described as:

a revolutionary portable reader that wirelessly downloads books, blogs, magazines and newspapers to a crisp, high-resolution electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight.

However, when reading customer reviews of the Kindle (and here you have to at least give props to Amazon for allowing the customer reviews just as they do for every other product on their site), one is reminded of the notorious Zune review Andy Ihnatko wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times upon that product’s launch.

Microsoft’s new Zune digital music player is just plain dreadful.

I’ve spent a week setting this thing up and using it, and the overall experience is about as pleasant as having an airbag deploy in your face.

The Zune is a square wheel, a product that’s so absurd and so obviously immune to success that it evokes something akin to a sense of pity.

The Zune is a complete, humiliating failure.

OK, maybe the Kindle reviews aren’t that bad, but here’s a quick aggregate of some of the complaints found in Kindle reviews:

The $400 price far exceeds Kindle’s value
EBooks are $9.99 which is more expensive that most paperback copies of the same book
No PDF support
No Wi-Fi
Small Screen
No Backlight
Unnecessary Buttons
Big & Clunky
Hard to hold without hitting next page
No page numbers available in the display
Inferior e-ink technology (fewer shades of gray compared to the older & cheaper SONY)

Now to be sure, there are plenty of people who have given the Kindle positive reviews so it must be meeting some expectations. But regardless of Kindle’s pros or cons, there’s one con that so significant, I can’t see myself ever using one. That is, the inability to operate the Kindle when departing or arriving on a flight. As we all know, electronic devices are absolutely verboten during the departure and arrival portions of flights, which means your Kindle is extinguished exactly at the time when reading a good book or magazine is one of the few activities available to you.


As I type this, I’m in flight to San Francisco. After boarding the plane and being ordered to power down all electronic devices we sat, and sat, and sat. It was nearly 50 minutes before we took off and hit the 10,000 foot level where it’s safe to power up again. I didn’t particularly mind. I was reading my book, Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins. Frankly reading time is so hard to come by sometimes, I relished it.

And, I wondered what those poor schmucks with Kindles were doing to pass the time.


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