31 December, 2010

Top 5 Tech Purchases For 2010—#1

Amazon Kindle.

Ok, this was a birthday present, not a purchase.

Best birthday present ever.

I have the 3G+WiFi model, but I almost never use the WiFi. Unfortunately, they don’t make a 3G only model anymore, just a WiFi only model.

I wasn’t sure I wanted one of these for the longest time. It irked me (and still does) that it’s black and white. The original one irked me with its limited support for other formats, like PDF.

What doesn’t irk me is how well it works, and how easy it is to use and to read. I also got the Lighted Leather Cover. It’s very nice, much nicer than typical book lights. Whether you get the lighted one or not, I do recommend a cover of some kind, just for protection.

Readers like me whose eyes aren’t as good as they used to be will love the crisp clean display and love the fact that you can resize the fonts as big as you like.


  • Size. Fits comfortably in your hands. It’s about the size of a paperback book.
  • Display. Unlike a tablet computer such as an iPad, the digital ink display is easily readable in bright sunlight. In fact, it looks like reading a book in bright sunlight.
  • Cost. Yes, you spend the $150-$200 up front to get the thing, but if you read much at all it pays for itself quickly. Kindle books are much cheaper than regular books.
  • Convenience. There are Kindle readers now for just about every device you can imagine, from phones to personal computers. You can download the book you’re reading to any Kindle reader on any device you own, and it knows where you stopped reading. Then if you go back to the Kindle, it will again know where you stopped reading.
  • Weight. I don’t travel as much as I used to, but I used to get on a lot of planes. And I always carried books to read with me. Often this would be two or three or more books, depending on the length of the trip. And I’d guess about half of them or more were hardback books. That adds a lot of weight to your carry on luggage. The Kindle weighs about the same as one paperback book and yet can hold thousands of books.


  • Black & White. Amazon wants you to be able to read magazines, RSS feeds, and technical books on your Kindle. Quite a few of these have color pictures and charts. Those don’t come over very well. If you’re just using it to read books by the pool for enjoyment, you’ll never notice this.
  • Proprietary format. Actually, I don’t know if this is a con for me or not, but I am sure it would be for some people. Barnes & Noble has pretty much lost me as a customer. I can’t go to B&N and buy a book for my Kindle. Amazon has me locked into their service. If it wasn’t so cheap, that might bother me, but it doesn’t.

    Actually, the format is well known and other publishers could publish to it, but I don’t believe anyone does. Eventually, this is something that’s going to have to get ironed out in the e-reader market. There will be one standard format, and all e-readers will be able to handle it. We’ll get there eventually, but don’t hold your breath. Look at all the different music formats we have out there.

Anyway, this is my favorite gadget of 2010, ahead even of the laptop and the phone. Worth every penny. Frankly, it’d be worth every penny at twice the price.

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