Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The best gadget for 2010......

Folks, I know the iPad has had the reputation of being the best device for 2010.  It's on the wish list of many, but here's a story that may make you go Mmmgh?

I had the opportunity to purchase an iPad earlier this year.  It was a gift actually that was to be given to me some time in August.  I passed on the gift immediately.  I was told about how many wonderful apps that were available for it and how the simple act of buying an app once meant that it could be utilized on an iPhone and an iPad.  I was shown the simplicity of reading books and the running of gadgets from remote controlled apps.   I thought that this was wonderful.

However, I declined the iPad!   Yes, folks, I declined the hottest gadget of the year.  The gadget that is simply the best in its class - that of Tablet Computing.  So I know that you are asking the very question that many of my other friends have asked:  WHY?  And more importantly, what is the best gadget, in your opinion, for 2010?

For me, the gadget of the year is quite simply Amazon's KINDLE.

What I did not tell you in the first paragraph above was that I have a very large library of books.  Books that I never get to carry around with me.  They range from novels to sonnets to medical literature.  I have well over 1,000 journals, which I rarely get the chance to read and therefore am subjected to buying a subscription to a Journal Reviewer, reading in depth the articles that are germaine to me.  I rarely get the opportunity to read novels and when I do, I usually don't have the book with me.   What I needed was an electronic book device.  Something that just did electronic books.  I did not want something with email, twitter, You Tube or any such distractions.  I wanted a serious e-book reader.  No tweeting, beeping, ringing interruptions.  Just words on a page.  I wasn't interested in color or pictures.  Just WORDS.

The Kindle or more importantly, The Kindle 3 is perhaps the best e-book reader ever invented.  As of 2010 of course.  The iPad simply does not compare when it comes to reading a novel on the device for over an hour.  I tried to read on an iPad that was loaned to me and I immediately became fatigued trying to read at night.   Additionally, the iPad, excellent as it may be as a mobile utility device, is much too heavy to be considered a dedicated e-book reader or book replacement. It is too distracting, with its apps, alerts etc., to be considered a serious e-book reader.  Now, I am not putting the iPad down, but simply stating that if you are looking to read books and only books, then the Kindle is the better choice.

So, are there weaknesses to the Kindle?  You bet.  First, you really do need to have the same brightness that you would have to read a regular book available to you.  Otherwise, you will need to buy a cover which has a built in light source or buy another light source.  There is no back light, as seen with the iPad.
Second, if you are into color pictures, the iPad is for you.  The Kindle shows only gray scale images.  Again, it is for reading.  Thus I would not recommend it for Magazine reading.  Nor would I recommend it for PDF books.  The manipulation that needs to go on with trying to read a PDF is just not feasible for long articles.
Third, after playing with the iPhone, any Smart phone or an iPad or iPod Touch, you have this feeling that everything that has a small screen needs to be touched to make the words and images move.  Thus page turns, character enlargement etc., are intuitively managed by Touch Screen -- On An iPad.  But not on a Kindle.  There are still ancient Touch buttons on the side and a relatively antiquated hard key keyboard.

But what beauty there is lies in the Software that Amazon has chosen to use.  Let me first say that Linux is always loved and the OS appears to be a version of this.   You can add books to the Kindle in many different ways.  You can use Amazon's WhisperSync which does over-the-air downloads via 3G or Wifi.  And did I mention that the 3G is free, without registering?   Yes, it's relatively slow if you want to surf the web, but for obtaining books, it's wonderful.  You can also Archive by just erasing a book off your KINDLE.  You can save an entire folder, which contains all of your books from the KINDLE to your PC.  This is great if you want to upgrade a Kindle.  You just download the folder and store it on your hard drive.  This also allows you to save files on the Kindle and use its 4 gig memory as a hard drive.  You can upload Audiobooks via this route also or MP3 files.

One amazing feature that I loved was during an hour of reading a classic.  I couldn't move, but I had to go to the bathroom.  Well, you can let the Kindle read to you.  It will ( in its really nice phonetic voice, which I might add is quite human-like) continue reading where ever you have left off.  Really great for bathroom breaks :).

The Kindle is small enough to keep in your bag or jacket.  It can download updates if you like, in the background.  Additionally, you can turn off the Wifi and save the battery.  I have used it for 22 days straight on a single charge once.  Normally, I will charge it on weekends though.  What is good however is the ability to read anywhere, anytime.  And if I forget the device, well, I can continue the reading on my phone if I wish.

One important feature about the Kindle is the lack of a back light.  I point this out because it is very important.  I can read a Kindle for at least an hour straight, without stopping because I do not have a large back light shining into my eyes.  That back light is okay if you are reading at 7pm.  But at 10pm, this is a strain.  I have tried reading my iPhone at night and I hate it.  It's too bright.

Of note, the 1000 journals will not be archived.  For that I am actually going to use an iPad.  The PDF restriction is an issue there.  Also, for technical reading, I really would not recommend the Kindle, at least for medical technical reading.  If you have to jump back and forth, several times, then an iPad is better.  But luckily, I have found a wonderful niche for my Kindle.  It is now the proud provider of all of my classic novels and since they are free, the list is now well over 100 in size.  I look forward to reading Moby Dick and Brave New World many years later and from a different perspective than I had before.  The non reflective nature of the Kindle makes it a winner anywhere.  And the fact that I will not be distracted by the web when I am reading is just icing on the cake.

This is why I am calling the KINDLE 3 with WIFI & 3G the best Device for 2010.