Monday, October 3, 2011

New Kindle for a New World

Yup, the new Kindles are here and the prices are better than I ever thought. For those in the US you can get a subsidised e-reader for as little as $79. For the same price you get your choice of the new namesake Kindle Touch or the same old Kindle 3. A steep discount up to $40 (already applied in the image above) are available for those who sold their souls agrees to receive and view paid advertising while they are not reading.

The new kindles reminds me strongly of their Sony counterparts with silver-ish covers and minimalistic design. Heck, the touch version does not even come with physical page turning buttons.

While the display quality of the first Kindle left plenty of things to desire for, it is possibly the most ergonomic Kindle to this day. The subsequent Kindles saw a gradual improvement to everything except to the buttons (not including K3's five way controller which I am fond of) with the keyboard on the two Kindle DX models bordering the realm of uselessness. Now with the touch version they completely did away with physical keyboard.

More virtual QWERTY keyboard, you must be kidding

If you ever tried to type anything longer than a short email on any modern tablet you will understand my frustrations: They are simply painful to type on. Qwerty keyboard was designed for physical keys, not glass surfaces with no tactile feedback.

I am already sick of touchscreens which seems to find its way into everything between the space shuttle and the common refrigerator. Before 2007 it would be outrageous to sell something without physical keys, now the reverse seems to be true. 

Rant is over, let's get back to the topic.

Preliminary teardowns suggest that the lowest priced Kindle came with a Cortex-A8 based SoC, beat that Nokia. However the RAM and battery capacity has all been sliced by a half to reduce the overall cost.

Do I have any desire to upgrade my current complement of reading devices(consisting of a Kindle DX International, a Kindle, er, Keyboard 3G not to mention smartphones and computers with Kindle clients)? Well not really. The hardware on the entry level model is rather limiting to be an upgrade; the CPU bump is a nice touch but the halved RAM killed it for me. The smaller battery, while drawing much criticism, should not be a serious issue in this day of age when we have already accustomed to charge our gadgets once per day. I don't see much point in a touch operated e-reader let alone a multimedia tablet. Egadget has summed my opinions rather eloquently in an earlier post that in essence, nobody apart from the tetraplegic really needs a tablet. The current craze for bigger screen size and touch gestures is nothing more than a invention like the bunch of merchants of Edinburgh who invented the myth of Highlander culture in the 18th century.


To its saving grace, Amazon had a sensible grasp on the best use for tablets: an advanced entertainment slate by stripping all the purported productivity features. In any case, everybody agrees that the Kindle Fire is the android twin of RIM's playbook soon to be forgotten.

Like it or not, Amazon is the internet's upcoming Wal-Mart and the more likely entity to change everything again about the way we read. I can already see Kindles being given for free in exchange of a certain amount of book purchases or Amazon Prime subscriptions, wait, I have seen something like this already....

Enters awkward opera, my favourite rendition of Der Hoelle Rache by the venerable Diana Damrau:

P.S. If you own a Kindle 2/DX like myself it is highly recommended that you flash  Yifan Lu's hacked 3.1 firmware. You lose a few unimportant functions such as active content and TTS but get greatly improved reading experience, so check it out. If you don't have access to a K3 to extract the files, tweet me @DillADH and I will help you.