October 12, 2009

5 Reasons Why Amazon Kindle is Outdated Device

Last month, Princeton University reported that two weeks after 50 students received the free Kindle DX e-readers, many of them said they were dissatisfied and uncomfortable with the devices. One student said this technology is a poor excuse of an academic tool, and it’s clunky, slow and a real pain to operate.

After reading the article in The Daily Pricetonian, I started thinking what were the reasons that made me dislike Kindle when I used it few weeks ago. These are the five reasons that made me dislike Kindle:
  • Black and White Screen: Actually, I should write gray screen because it’s neither black nor white, it’s 16 shades of gray. I haven’t seen use of black and white technology since I was born, in anything except artistic photography. Everything today including books, newspaper and magazine come in color. For example, reading a textbook with colored diagrams makes it easier and faster to understand. Yes, there is no color e-ink display available, but use of grey screen makes this device less than ideal.
  • Slow Response: It takes forever to turn a page, and if you want to flip though few pages to find something in a book, may god help you. The technology that makes e-ink displays more power efficient also makes them very slow. Amazon claims that the new displays are 20 percent faster, but then also they are very slow, they need to be at least 200 percent faster.
  • Not a Good Replacement for Books: Amazon says that Kindle provides a crisp black and white 6-inch screen with same appearance and readability of printed-paper. However, the screen background is of grey color compared to white of most papers and reading on grey background is not as easy as on white. The resolution of the screen is so bad that it doesn’t come anywhere near a printed-paper. Also most people like to take margin notes and put sticky notes for later reference in a book, which can’t be done on a Kindle.
  • No Desktop Software: Kindle Store purchases are backed up online and can be wirelessly re-downloaded for free, if the need arises. However, it would have been easier and faster had Amazon developed software that would sync and backup Kindle data on your computers. Kindle allows you to read various document formats like PDF, TXT, Word and others, but transferring them to Kindle is a big hassle. You can either use Whispernet for a fee to transfer via email or you can drag and drop each document by connecting Kindle as a USB drive. Just imagine, how easy it would have been to manage your books collection and documents via software designed for the purpose.
  • Design of Device and UI: The new Kindle has a better design than previous generation model, but Kindle won’t win any design awards. And the 5-way controller looks like joystick controller found on gaming systems in 1990s. A touchscreen would have been more usable for navigation and highlighting. One thing we have learned from the iPhone is that user interface is the most important part of any device, and here Kindle falls way behind the curve. The software on Kindle is usable but less than perfect. Everything from Read-to-Me feature to Newspaper layout could have been way better making it easier to use.
The screen technology, design of device, software, UI and overall usability of the device makes Kindle an outdated device. Kindle is neither a good replacement for books nor ideal for any other printed material. One thing that Kindle brings to the table is amount of reading material you can carry with you in a small package, making it a good travel companion and nothing else.
[Via TechzTalk]

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