Kindle, yes. Chocadoobies, certainly not

Today, Amazon launched their new product: Kindle. And what a bag of bollocks it appears to be.

First, a summary. Kindle is a portable device that allows you to download the text of books and read them on the go. It is capable of storing over 200 books, weighs in at 292 grams—compared to an iPhone’s 135 grams—and measures 19cm by 13.5cm, very similar dimensions to your standard paperback fiction book. And it’s a mere 1.8cm thick. The cost: $399 (£195 and falling, not that it’ll be available in the UK).

So, it’s small in size, relatively big in storage, and light. It’s not cheap, but not crazily expensive.

Now to its drawbacks.

The first obvious one is that it’s about as proprietary as you can get.

The screen is not backlit which allows the battery to last for 30 hours; but not having the option for backlighting is a big weakness. Its screen has a good resolution enabling beautiful font display, but don’t expect a reaction when you touch it. A touch-screen it ain’t, despite this becoming an expectation of portable devices during the three years since Kindle was on the drawing board.

This is primarily a reading device, so why it has a fully-functioning QWERTY keyboard I have no idea. (Further, why the keys are angled to suit the few true touch-typists among us beggars belief.) It would have been much more appealing to save the space (or make the screen bigger), and incorporate a touch-screen keyboard into its, er, touch-screen. And even the keyboard itself is bespoke. Its only symbols seem to be forward slash, @ and the full-stop/period.

And get this: it’s black and white. Actually, it’s capable of four shades of grey, 15,999,996 fewer colours than the iPhone.

All in all, it’s weak. Maybe it’s competing in an entirely different market to that in which other portable devices sit—aiming at the book reader rather than the technophile—but nonetheless, these people are likely to be familiar with mobile devices and functionally-rich keyboards. It’s the equivalent of Nintento unveiling the Atari 2600 in 2006 instead of the Wii.

Amazon itself admits it’s a technology company, not a retailer. It’s had a go here, but it’s missed the mark by a mile. Maybe I’m also way off the mark with this, but my first impressions are not good. You may have gathered.

(BTW, if you’re still reading, the title of this post was inspired by a 1980s TV advert for Kinder Eggs. I know nothing of the advert itself other than the line Kinder; Chocadoobies. I googled chocadoobies to do some research, and am pleased to announce that no reference has yet been made to them, whatever they may be. So here’s the first, along with second and third. Does anyone else remember the ad.?)

Comments

3 Responses to “Kindle, yes. Chocadoobies, certainly not”

  1. Jon Willis on November 19th, 2007 17:00

    Dan,

    Some feedback for you – it’s about time you got off the fence and said what you really think, instead of giving us a wishy-washy review that leaves us wondering whether to get one or not…

    And did you mean to say “Amazon itself admits it’s a retailer, not a technology company”?

  2. Dan on November 19th, 2007 17:43

    Nope—Amazon puts itself firmly in the technology business, not the retail business…

  3. Rob on November 20th, 2007 06:51

    Dan, Dan, Dan… you have completely missed the point.

    The Kindle is a wonderful device for what it was designed for – a paperback book replacement. It’s not a PDA or a phone or a mobile Internet device or a music player.

    It is designed for ease of use away from a PC by non-geeks. Looks perfect for that if you ask me!

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