Coem on Kindle, light my fire.
January 8, 2010 7:30 AM   Subscribe

How can I "test drive" a Kindle?

For all Amazon.com is good for, the area where it lacks is obvious: physical touch.

If this were a $50 pair of shoes from Zappos, I could simply return at no charge if it didn't work. But it's not $50... it's $250-450+.

I would love to own a Kindle (2nd Gen. or DX) though I want to ensure that it's best for me when compared to Nook and Sony's e-reader.

I primarily read articles saved to my Instapaper, and the glaring screen of a laptop or my iPhone just isn't easy on the eyes.

It's important for me to be able to make notes and catalog articles.

Maybe I should hold-out due to the list of e-readers debuting at CES this week. I dunno.

Anybody have any suggestions or helpful hints as to how you went about selecting an e-reader? (I live in Seattle, by the way.)
posted by bamassippi to Technology (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Although you are not a fan of reading on a laptop, the Kindle for pc is free, & might be a good way to try out using the Kindle as an e-reader. Kindle for pc seems to do everything a Kindle does except that it does not have the Text-to-Speech feature, unfortunately.
posted by easilyamused at 4:34 AM on January 9, 2010


Does it have to be a Kindle? Barnes and Noble has set up in-store kiosks demonstrating the Nook.
posted by Miko at 7:32 AM on January 8, 2010


See a Kindle in Your Area
posted by acidic at 7:35 AM on January 8, 2010


This is a stretch, but your local library may have one to lend out. I know that my corporate library just purchased several for this purpose.
posted by muddgirl at 7:42 AM on January 8, 2010


Well, first off, you could just order the Kindle and return it if you didn't like it. You can try the nook at B&N, as mentioned above, and Sony has "sony style" stores with their readers on display, too.

Anybody have any suggestions or helpful hints as to how you went about selecting an e-reader?

I just took a leap of faith on the Kindle, but was able to try the Sony Readers and the Nook within the Kindle's return period. For what it's worth, I'd have bought the Kindle even after trying all three first.

To me, the Kindle was the easiest to use, and I rarely have to fight with it. The Sony is okay, and you could probably get used to it fairly quickly. The nook, on the other hand, really isn't ready for prime time. It's unspeakably slow and has a huge problem with letting you know it's recognized your input. I actually had to enlist the salesperson's help to figure out how to work it, and he decided that the model on display was 'defective' and that's why it was so slow and confusing. If you're seriously interested in the nook, you might want to wait a bit before evaluating it.

Good luck!
posted by Garak at 7:44 AM on January 8, 2010


If you'd like to see other e-readers, my local Target had several on display last time I was there.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:45 AM on January 8, 2010


I live in Seattle. I've owned 1st gen, 2nd gen, and DX. The 1st and 2nd gen ones are with my folks, but you can check out the DX. memail me
posted by nomisxid at 7:53 AM on January 8, 2010


I just came in to say that, yeah, if you want the best e-reader out right now just take a leap on the Kindle. If you can't stand it, return it for a full refund (no restocking fee!) and be done with it.

The Nook is neat and all, but by all accounts it seems to be markedly worse at reading books than the Kindle. Which, really, is all I want out of my e-reader.

Disclaimer: I have a Kindle 2 (which I busted yesterday, spent ten minutes on the phone with Amazon and they sent out a replacement that came today. Gratis.)
posted by InsanePenguin at 8:00 AM on January 8, 2010


I have an international K2, almost had buyers remorse when the nook was announced in October. After having used it for 4 months, both my wife and I love the K2, her possibly more than I and she's more gadget phobic than I am. The important thing is that there is no learning curve and it disappears once you start reading.

The new e-readers look interesting, but there will be 6 months before most of them come to market, try the kindle and if you don't like it, you can return it. Contrary to a lot of media reports, the kindle can handle PDFs following an update a couple of months ago.
posted by arcticseal at 8:14 AM on January 8, 2010


Grab an oar and start rowing; we're in the same boat.

I'm holding out until after CES, but I'll probably go with one of the Sony's. I absolutely want to be able to read e-books from the library which eliminates the Kindle. (At least I think so...I can't get a straight answer.) Plus, I'm not all that into supporting proprietary formats, because I'm a rebel like that.
posted by 26.2 at 8:17 AM on January 8, 2010


I absolutely want to be able to read e-books from the library which eliminates the Kindle.

You are correct, sir. I maintain faith that Mr. Bezos, in all his infinite wisdom, will come around and allow ePub files on the Kindle via a software update eventually. Until then...man, this kool-aid is delicious.
posted by InsanePenguin at 8:34 AM on January 8, 2010


I've had a first gen Kindle for quite a while now and I really love it (boyfriend's got a big fancy new one). I played around with the Nook last week at B&N and I wasn't really impressed. I don't particularly care about looking at the book covers in color at the bottom of the screen and I thought the controls were annoying. The e-ink screen is really comfortable to read for long periods of time, which is important to me, and the battery life is fabulous.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:50 AM on January 8, 2010


Sony readers are also available at Best Buy stores.

I beta tested a Kindle DX for the academic program last semester and hated it. I've played with Kindle 1 and 2 as well and didn't like them. I purchased the Sony Touch, which I give a B to--I find the Pocket reader far too small but the Touch has a bit more glare due to the touchscreen coating. I would have liked one of the older models, but couldn't find any to purchase locally during the week I was looking.

What I like best about the Sony is that, unlike the Nook or Kindle, it's not a proprietary system and there's no chance of Big Brother making note of what I'm reading or being able to yank stuff off my device or anything else. A chart I found useful is here: Is your eReader spying on you?
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:05 AM on January 8, 2010


I have been told that, with a little finagling, it is possible to read library e-books in Mobipocket format (there are some!) on the Kindle. Mostly this requires obtaining the Kindle's Mobipocket PID (derived from its serial number via some algorithm or other) to give to the library. (I haven't tried it.)

I have a Kindle 2, and I love it so so so much. I'm disabled, but I can read comfortably with the Kindle in one hand and it doesn't hurt at all. At all! I can read for hours again! This puts it way above paper books, for me, and means I qualify for Baen Books' program of making their entire e-book line free to disabled readers. Well, I mean, I qualified anyway, but it's less fun without an e-book reader. (Baen also runs the Baen Free Library, which provides certain of their e-books free to everyone, and their entire catalog is DRM-free. They are good people.) Hooray for science fiction!

I picked the K2 because, at the time, there was no Nook and I had been told the Sony line was not Mac-compatible. Having tried a Nook now, I still like the Kindle better. It's faster, and I like having the web browser; sure, it's a slow and lousy browser, but free is way cheaper than a data plan for my phone, and it is convenient to be able to check Google or Wikipedia while reading. (I ruled out the DX, as it looks too large to carry/hold comfortably, and has no left-hand page turn buttons, which makes it a definite no.) But I recognize that these points are all very specific to me.
posted by sineala at 9:15 AM on January 8, 2010


Isn't Apple rumored to unveil something on Jan. 27? Might be worth waiting a big longer.
posted by naju at 9:44 AM on January 8, 2010


Oh and I totally forgot about Savory! It sits in your Kindle's brain and when it detects .epub files it automagically converts them into a readable format. If you're uncomfortable modding your Kindle, Calibre does it from your computer, very simple. It's what I use.

Also, I totally don't care about Amazon watching what I read. And if you're worried about them remotely pulling books, just keep the wireless off until you're through with the book.

In any case, the reason they pulled that one book (1984, was it?) was because they discovered that the publisher did not actually possess the rights to publish the book. Everyone was refunded their money.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:51 AM on January 8, 2010


Isn't Apple rumored to unveil something on Jan. 27? Might be worth waiting a big longer.

Yes, but not with an e-ink screen. Reading books on a laptop/tablet/screen is akin to purposefully lighting your eyes on fire. With sticky, sticky napalm.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:52 AM on January 8, 2010


I would wait a few more months. There's a small avalanche of book readers about to fall on us.
posted by chairface at 9:59 AM on January 8, 2010


We borrowed one from our public library, after listening to a five minute lecture on how not to spill coffee on it.*


*Do not pour coffee directly on the Kindle.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:58 AM on January 8, 2010


I tend to read my Kindle in bars and have no problem showing it to people who are curious to give it a whirl. I suspect many other Kindle users are like me, so if you see one in the wild, it probably wouldn't hurt to ask about it!

Also, as mentioned, try your library. I started a Kindle program at my library and it's been a success. Several borrowers have gone on to buy their own!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:36 AM on January 8, 2010


It sounds like there are mods to the kindle to read ePub. Are there mods to the Sony (or others) to read Amazon and B&N?
posted by 26.2 at 12:02 PM on January 8, 2010


I am waiting for Apple's tablet [or whatever they will call it]. Their products seem to always surpass existing products. The resolution of their iPhone is fantastic and I believe their tablet will be a delight for reading and may even read out load to you [like their computers do].
posted by edaphon at 2:30 PM on January 8, 2010


Isn't Apple rumored to unveil something on Jan. 27? Might be worth waiting a big longer.

Yes, but not with an e-ink screen.


We don't know the specs yet. Some people with inside sources claim that Apple is directly taking on the e-reader market.
posted by naju at 2:40 PM on January 8, 2010


It sounds like there are mods to the kindle to read ePub. Are there mods to the Sony (or others) to read Amazon and B&N?

I'm not aware of a bit of software that runs directly on the sony devices, like Savory, but calibre works with the sony readers; whatever ebook reader you get, calibre is essential for converting between formats.
posted by nomisxid at 3:40 PM on January 8, 2010


I am waiting for Apple's tablet [or whatever they will call it]. Their products seem to always surpass existing products. The resolution of their iPhone is fantastic and I believe their tablet will be a delight for reading and may even read out load to you [like their computers do].

The Kindle will read to you! Some publishers have opted out of the text-to-speech feature, but for most books it's available.

I tried a Kindle 1 from my local library (I had about a 6 month wait to get one), and I had played with my girlfriend's Kindle 2 (of course) before buying one for myself a couple of weeks ago. I tried the Nook at B&N and found its interface incredibly unintuitive and slow, and with that, went with the K2.
posted by lysimache at 8:04 AM on January 9, 2010


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