Amazon Kindle? To e-read or not to e-read?

I am a huge book fan. I love the thrill of buying books, I love the smell (don’t pretend like I am the only one), I love reading the blurb and the first chapter and getting excited about the next in a series. So if books “work” why go electronic? Kindles…what’s the fascination?

Kindle_PW

They are convenient, they are small, slim and have the capacity to store over 1000 books (you’d look nuts trying to haul its physical counterpart around the train station in rush hour!) Some people have complained about not being able to expand the memory (no slot available for a memory card), but, seriously who needs more than one thousand books in one sitting! You can always remove the ones you don’t want and put on new ones. For people that aren’t familiar, you don’t lose what you don’t have on your Kindle at any given time either. Amazon stores them for you like your very own library all accessible at any computer connected up the internet and the great thing about this library is you can be as loud as you want – no one can here you scream!

Anyone that loves a book knows this feeling: you buy a book, you think “ohhh psychological thriller, well this should be pleasingly gory”, you read 4 or 5 chapters no one has so much as grazed their knee and you’re not sure if Susan is actually as psycho as the blurb and reviews make out. Got a Kindle? Skip it and move on to the next book! Bored of a genre? Choose another! Want to read a comic? Read one! Of course you would have needed to have previously downloaded these to the device, but, Amazon has a function called Whispernet and you can get a new book effortlessly in seconds, so there isn’t really an excuse not to have another option. If you were holding a real book you’d be stuck on the train tediously trying to avoid eye contact with everyone whilst flicking between the book and staring at the ad you’ve read a thousand times before!

The main selling point of the Kindle is that the books are cheaper than the physical version. The most expensive thing about the Kindle is the kindle itself. A kindle Paperwhite, the newer version of the original Kindle is £109 off of Amazon. Not an overly expensive purchase in the grand scheme of things.

I did a bit of research to show why financially I think it’s worth having a Kindle – I am going to be comparing the prices of the paper versions and e-versions of The Gone Series by Michael Grant (yes, it is a children’s series, but I love it and we’ll have no judgments here!).

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The above table shows the prices of the e-books bought from Amazon in the left column and the prices of the real books bought from Waterstones in the right. With a saving of £28.50 on the entire series we have claimed back just over 31% of our initial £109 layout for the kindle. So if you are a heavy reader the savings that you could make over 3 or 4 series of books would have rendered the initial price for the kindle void and then from there it’s just total savings! Thank you technology.

Also, Amazon does have a massive library of free, yes FREE, books that are readily available and pleasingly are treated much the same as the best sellers in that they rank in order of downloads and the list in constantly changing. Also www.archive.org stores over 2.5 million books completely free! A huge library and I am confident that there is something to suit everyone. There are other sites out there see http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=2245146011 for a more extensive list.
Below are a few of the specifications on the Kindle Paperwhite taken from the Amazon websight. I’ve put the link below just in case I have inspired you to take a look.

Patented built-in light evenly illuminates the screen to provide the perfect reading experience in all lighting conditions (This light is amazing at first I was sceptical thinking that it would be uncomfortable looking into a light, but it is great. I think this is a fabulous idea for a person who likes to read a lot and has a partner who likes to sleep a lot. Its just a soft glow of light that only surrounds the Kindle and it beats having to get up and switch the light off). Even in bright sunlight, Paperwhite delivers clear, crisp text and images with no glare. (I tested this in the Cypriot sun. It’s true! I was also sceptical about this… But alas there was no glare!).

Kindle-Paperwhite

New hand-tuned fonts – 6 font styles, 8 adjustable sizes (This is very helpful for those of us less blessed in the eye department, the sizes are a good range and I am sure the sight challenged can make a selection suited to their needs).

8-week battery life, even with the light on (This is a pro and a con. Real books never run out of battery, they can go on for centuries but all in all the battery life on them is not bad at all. I have had mine going strong for 3 weeks and not charged it once, be aware that the 8 weeks above is when you have the light at its lowest and aren’t connected to WiFi etc.).

Built-in Wi-Fi lets you download books in under 60 seconds (It also lets you surf the net, it’s not great and by no means does it stand up next to a tablet or computer when it comes to this, but, this is an e-reader not a tablet or a computer and it works fine enough. Just using the internet connection to view and use the Kindle store is suited very well to the device).

The new Time to Read feature uses your reading speed to let you know when you’ll finish your chapter. This is a new addition on the Paperwhite and is not something on the Kindle Original, I think this bring back a bit of the anticipation that is an enjoyable thing with real books seeing how far away you are from the end and eagerly awaiting that final page, for me personally I think this is a great feature as I can time how long I have on say a train or plane journey and know how far I can get before I have to stop reading, it’s a great feature.

Check out the link below for the full specifications.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B007OZO03M/ref=fs_cl

Do I think Kindles will replace real books like mp3s have taken over CD’s? No. They aren’t great for reference books or studying. It’s hard to find a page quickly or to go to the index and find a subject. It’s difficult to flick through and refer to the blurb and the cover. There is a search option available but it just isn’t the same. Textbooks and study guides I think will always be better in the physical format. Kindle books seem to have more errors in than real books and although this can be fixed it just doesn’t seem to be a big issue with the sellers. I have found a few too many in a couple of books I have read. Most of us can work out the error, mentally correct it and move on, but I guess I like my books without the errors.

One thing that I really dislike about Kindles, you can’t borrow out a book after you have finished with it. If someone recommends a book they have finished on a Kindle they can’t lend it to you, I suppose you could always buy it from Amazon but it just isn’t the same. Also not all books are available on Kindles so you have to have that in mind when you are looking through for a specific one.

Kindles are great for people who travel a lot, like technology and people that read a lot. They aren’t fantastic for students and they certainly don’t beat the cosiness of a real book. Financially it’s worth investing in a Kindle and as much as some of us won’t like this, they are the future and if we didn’t move forward we’d still be listening to music on gramophones and reading our paper books by candle light.

Give them a go, you’ll be pleasantly surprised

So is Windows Phone 8 any good?

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It was with a feeling of trepidation that I decided to ditch Apple’s iOS after having been an avid iPhone fanboy since the beginning. I loved the simplicity, wealth of apps and the solid design. So why change?

I found myself in the Apple trap, where you feel compelled to get the latest and greatest just because it’s new. However, each edition tended to only bring small improvements and change, and after upgrading from a 4 to 4s I started to feel a little jaded by the whole thing.

So having seen Windows Phone 8 arrive, I decided to make the jump and try something new. Having used Windows 8 on my desktop , I figured it would make sense to try for a more seamless experience. At the time the HTC 8X was an o2 exclusive and the Nokia (https://www.o2.co.uk/shop/phones/nokia/lumia-920/) was a Vodafone exclusive so on a wet and cold December evening, I tromped off to the o2 store and bought a shiny new HTC 8X (https://www.o2.co.uk/shop/phones/htc/windows-phone-8x/). Everyone said I’d hate it and would be back to my iPhone in less than a week!

Now, as an aside, the guy in the o2 shop was amazing! I was determined to change phone, but he also managed to switch me on to a more appropriate tariff as well (saving £25 per month!).

So first thoughts – the Interface is simple and friendly. Windows Phone uses “Tiles” on the home screen – these can be dynamic and show you bits of content (such as the weather, or News for instance). Applications not on the home screen are all grouped together in a list (which can get quite long) but you can click on the Search item and lookup). Typically you’ll put your most useful or favourite Apps on the home screen in any case.Windows 8 Home Screen

Setting it up was easy – as it’s essentially Outlook on the phone, setting up my Exchange email account was a breeze, as was getting it connected to my SkyDrive (if you use Office 365 that’s equally easy to set up). Apps are installed via the “Store” App (and you’ll see a distinct lack of Apps compared to Android and Apple – more on that later) and is a fairly simple and straightforward exercise. I’ll admit to not having purchased any Apps so I cannot comment on what that experience is like.

Apps

Anyway, to ensure my commitment to this new phone, I cleaned up my iPhone 4s and gave it to my mum (who promptly fell in love with it – but that’s another story!) and off I went in to this brave new world.

And you know what? It was ok. Some things took a bit of getting used to, and I missed some Apps (most notably the Barclays banking App) but after a week, it was starting to fit quite nicely in to my life. As a fairly simple user, my demands were not high, but it pretty much did what I needed it to and in a very easy and simple way. No fuss, no bother. It just worked. The limited choice of Apps did initially bother me, but new ones are arriving all the time, and it’s altogether possible that there is too much choice on the other platforms. It’s worth being aware that certain Apps are unlikely to appear any time soon, such as Banking and perhaps other manufacturers (such as BMW) will probably not find the investment in creating Apps for Windows Phone worthwhile.

And so time passed by, and the recent announcement of iOS 7 and (invariably) another evolution of the iPhone prompted me to think about my phone and write this little piece about it. Will I go back to an Apple iPhone? Possibly, although it would need to be pretty compelling considering the high cost of the phone and most likely very minor changes from the 5. The Nokia Lumia 925 (https://www.o2.co.uk/shop/phones/nokia/lumia-925/) is a very nice looking Windows phone (the camera in the HTC is rubbish – The Nokia camera is significantly better) and if I was in the market for a new phone that’s what I’d be getting.

With the imminent release of 8.1 it’ll be interesting to see what that brings although I suppose Windows Mobile 8.5 or 9 will bring the more significant change (and perhaps I’ll be bored of it by then and ready to jump into Android)!