Amazon Kindle 2 Review
I got an Amazon Kindle 2 this summer, it has DRM, and I love it (The Kindle). More on that later. The Kindle is a great gadget that has re-kindled (excuse the pun) my love of reading for pleasure.
Kindle 2 Specs
- CPU: Freescale 532 MHz, ARM-11
- OS: Linux-2.6.10
- Display: 6-in diagonal E-Ink screen. 600×800 resolution with 16 shades of gray
- Size: 8-in.x5.3-in.x 0.36-in., 10.2 ounces
- Wireless: Amazon 3G Whispernet using EVDO/CDMA
- Sound: Stereo with Text-to-Speech
- Storage: 2 GB, but no SD card slot
- Battery Life: Appr. 2 weeks with wireless disabled.
- Formats (Text): DRM-Free Mobipocket books (MOBI, PRC), plain text files (TXT), and Amazon’s proprietary, DRM-restricted format (AZW)
- Formats (Audio): MP3 and Audible DRM AAX format.
E-Ink Display: The display is “worth the price of admission”. The E-Ink display is easy to read, and your eyes react well to it. I have read on the Kindle for hours with no eye strain. It is much easier reading from the Kindle than a laptop. It is perfectly visible in bright daylight but is not backlit, so you will need a book light at night.
Battery Life: The battery life is great on the Kindle, since the device only uses power for wireless, or when you change the E-ink display. I get 7+ days of battery life with the wireless on, so the claim of two weeks is believable.
Works on Linux: The Kindle 2 is detected as a hard drive by Linux, making it easy to use with it. Calibre software is installable for most Linux distros, and auto detects the Kindle allowing quick syncing of non-Amazon download books.
Text-to-Speech: While obvious a computer voice, the Text-to-Speech feature in the Kindle 2 is quite usable. The voice is very easy to understand, and does not lull you to sleep by being too monotone. Amazon did give the Author’s guild the right to disable Text-to Speech on certain books, but e-books that are purchased from from third party e-bookstores in mobi, prc, and txt allow Text-to-Speech.
In the “Amazon Irony” department, one word the Kindle has trouble saying is “Kindle”.
Selection: The Amazon Kindle store boasts 300,000 Kindle titles. That is stretch, since many titles are multiple versions of public domain books formatted for the Kindle. On a random search of 30 history and fiction books I have on my bookshelf at home, I found 11 of the newer titles for sale the Kindle store. There are many third party e-bookstores that have DRM-free Kindle formatted books for sale to help expand the selection of books available for the Kindle. If you are a sci-fi nut like me, I would suggest the Webscription store, that sell hundreds of classic sci-fi titles DRM-free.
Storage: The 2GB internal storage give you plenty of room for thousands of e-books. The lack of an external storage slot make the Kindle useless for large amounts of audio or audiobooks. I would preferred the Kindle 2 be a couple of centimeters thicker to add a SD slot.
DRM: Books in the Amazon Kindle store are in the AZW DRM-encumbered format. What can I say about this that has not been said a thousands times before? How can I support DRM and look my look my OSS friends in the eye? Easy, I (mostly) don’t. 90% of the books on my Kindle are free public domain titles or DRM-free titles I purchased from a third party e-bookstore (see above). The only thing you lose by not shopping at the Amazon Kindle store is automatically deliver via WhisperNet, since the Kindle work so easily with Linux via USB, this is not a problem. Every time I purchase a DRM-Free book, I write Amazon to let them know my decision to take my business elsewhere due to DRM.
One thing the Amazon should allow is give authors the choice to use a DRM-free format in the Kindle store for their works. This would give independent authors a prominent selling point for their titles.
Remote Deletion: In July, Amazon remote deleted thousands copies of 1984 (Irony, thy name is Amazon) from Kindles, since they did not really have the e-books rights for that title. This was a poor decision by Amazon. Amazon should have worked a deal out with George Orwell’s heirs, and ate the cost as the price of doing business. While Jeff Bezos apologies for doing this and said it would never happen again, I think action speak louder than words. Amazon should update the Kindle firmware and remove this ability.
While it has some some tarnish, I think the Kindle 2 is a great gadget, which I hope encourages the spread of e-book devices. Hopefully book publishers will learn that DRM is broken, and actually hurts profit margins.
What I’m reading now: “The Art of Community” by Jono Bacon.
Forums Discussion: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=7804319
Posted in Floss, gadgets and tagged Amazon, DRM, Kindle by Mike with 3 comments.