The New Yorker Knocks The Kindle

It’s not often that The New York­er does the gad­get review. But here we have one — Nichol­son Bak­er break­ing down the Kin­dle. The upshot? He’s not a big fan. Why? Let me give you some of the mon­ey quotes. And also note the iPhone/iPod Touch rec­om­men­da­tions at the end (where I added some use­ful links):

“The prob­lem was not that the screen was in black-and-white; if it had real­ly been black-and-white, that would have been fine. The prob­lem was that the screen was gray. And it wasn’t just gray; it was a green­ish, sick­ly gray. A post­mortem gray. The resiz­able type­face, Mono­type Cae­cil­ia, appeared as a dark­er gray. Dark gray on paler green­ish gray was the palette of the Ama­zon Kin­dle [DC note: This is why I returned my Kin­dle].”

“Despite its smoother design, the Kin­dle 2 is, some say, hard­er to read than the Kin­dle 1. “I imme­di­ate­ly noticed that the con­trast was worse on the K2 than on my K1,” a review­er named T. Ford wrote. One Kindler, Eliz­a­beth Glass, began an online peti­tion, ask­ing Ama­zon to fix the con­trast. “Like read­ing a wet news­pa­per,” accord­ing to peti­tion-sign­er Louise Pot­ter.”

“Ama­zon, with its list­ma­nia lists and its some­times inspired rec­om­men­da­tions and its innu­mer­able fas­ci­nat­ing reviews, is very good at sell­ing things. It isn’t so good, to date any­way, at mak­ing things. But, for­tu­nate­ly, if you want to read elec­tron­ic books there’s anoth­er way to go. Here’s what you do. Buy an iPod Touch (it costs sev­en­ty dol­lars less than the Kin­dle 2, even after the Kindle’s price was recent­ly cut), or buy an iPhone, and load the free “Kin­dle for iPod” appli­ca­tion onto it.”

“There are oth­er ways to read books on the iPod, too. My favorite is the Euca­lyp­tus appli­ca­tion, by a Scot­tish soft­ware devel­op­er named James Mont­gomerie: for $9.99, you get more than twen­ty thou­sand pub­lic-domain books whose pages turn with a volup­tuous grace. There’s also the Ice­berg Read­er, by Scroll­Mo­tion, with fixed page num­bers, and a very pop­u­lar app called Stan­za. In Stan­za, you can choose the col­ors of the words and of the page, and you can adjust the bright­ness with a ver­ti­cal thumb swipe as you read… Forty mil­lion iPod Touch­es and iPhones are in cir­cu­la­tion, and most peo­ple aren’t read­ing books on them. But some are. The nice thing about this machine is (a) it’s beau­ti­ful, and (b) it’s not imi­tat­ing any­thing. It’s not try­ing to be ink on paper. It serves a night-read­ing need, which the light­less Kin­dle doesn’t.”

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • ster says:

    Why is every­one so obsessed with back­light?

    How many of their books has it? Is this real­ly the cru­cial fea­ture? C’m­mon!

    And noone critizes the page­turn “flash”. Which should be more prob­lem­at­ic for fast read­ers.

    Or the prob­lem of device and ebbok pric­ing.

  • JK says:

    How on earth do peo­ple read books on an iPhone? I still have the first gen­er­a­tion, so I can’t get the appli­ca­tions the crit­ic men­tioned. While the con­trast is great, the screen-size is pro­hib­i­tive­ly small, if you want­ed to do any seri­ous read­ing.

    I’m wait­ing to see how Sony responds with its next gen­er­a­tion eRead­er.

  • Richard Prince says:

    I agree with Bak­er com­plete­ly about the black and white screen. Odd­ly, Ama­zon claims they are try­ing to imi­tate the visu­al qual­i­ty of a book. Bad mis­take. In no way can this screen approx­i­mate ink print­ed on paper.

    There are a lot of mechan­i­cal design flaws with the Kin­dle. Key­board sucks and it is stu­pid hav­ing a key­board on pri­ma­ry a view­ing device. Do you hear peo­ple com­plain­ing because there isn’t a QWERTY key­board embed­ded in every hard cov­er book they buy? So much of the valu­able view­ing real estate on the form fac­tor is con­sumed by a use­less QWERTY key­board.

    The screen is poor qual­i­ty, aside from the lack of col­or, it goes with­out say­ing this is out­dat­ed tech­nol­o­gy. Soooo 1975.

    The but­tons to force page turns are poor imple­ment­ed and SLOW. When I test­ed the Kin­dle, I kept think­ing the sys­tem had crashed or did not receive the sig­nal I want­ed it to move the the next page. That’s bad when the hard­ware and refresh are so slow you think it is bro­ken.

    You can’t enlarge the font size by zoom­ing in or out and adjust it to your sit­u­a­tion or vision, you must use only a few sizes in the set­tings.

    One thing I did like about the Kin­dle is that when you could­n’t read the screen (for instance when the light­ing isn’t exact­ly right for the bad mon­i­tor) you could ask it to be read to you in a few dif­fer­ent voic­es. And the voice is much bet­ter than nor­mal elec­tron­ic voic­es in PCs (altho it still had trou­ble with acronyms) The draw­back is that the voice read­er fea­ture is NOT avail­able on all books. Ama­zon failed to con­sid­er the user expe­ri­ence and caved to pub­lish­ers who want to sell audio ver­sions of their books sep­a­rate­ly.

    There are a long list of prob­lems with the Kin­dle and I think in a years time we’ll look back and say, “Wow, peo­ple actu­al­ly bought that thing? Now the Kin­dle so dat­ed and use­less.”

    And I think this is also true of Sony eRead­ers and Nook. They are all devices designed to sat­is­fy greedy pub­lish­ers and overzeal­ous lawyers and NOT the con­sumer. Soon, some­one will come out with a eRead­er that takes the con­sumers needs into con­sid­er­a­tion and puts us as read­ers first.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.