It’s rare that an accessory to something technological transforms the original thing into something that’s perceived as different. I don’t like being on the cutting edge of technology trends, I’m a late adopter – let others waste their time, I need to attend to living in the moment.
The ebook at a certain price point saves me weight and volume in my travel backpack. It gives me near-instant gratification when I really need to read a book now, and can’t wait to even get to the nearest bookstore. It’s a matter of convenience, and spending money on books is never a waste.
But the nice kindle 3 that I got last month needs to be protected. After fiddling with it, surfing the internet, reading PDFs and yes actually reading books with it, I’ve grown to like but not love it. It’s form factor, naked, out of the box is just about right. In the same sense as the original palm pilot dimensions felt right in your hands, and felt useful out of the box, so too does the kindle 3’s lightness, ability to read one handed, just good enough contrast, and screen size seem right.
It’s not perfect. The fonts and crispness of text is just adequate in my books (ouch). It isn’t a replacement for a crisp white printed page with a perfect font and excellent spacing. The navigations buttons are fine, a bit higher up would be preferable to me, and the back button is just in the wrong place – I keep hitting it accidentally when using the 4-way button at the bottom left. But I like the qwerty keyboardlet which makes typing in text online useful.
The surfing thing is strange. it’s a useful experimental inclusion that I’m of two minds about. I’m glad it’s there, and also it’s inclusion also highlights the limitations of this device like nothing else. It would have been interesting to include a special browser that acts like Arc90’s excellent readability web app – rendering each surfed page up with perfectly (a decent article on how to do this with Google Reader is here: http://www.filterjoe.com/2010/07/23/can-you-read-anything-with-the-kindle-almost-with-google-reader/)
But it’s a single purpose thing, that’s inexpensive and useful. Until you factor in the lighted cover.
After much agonizing over the cover choices, and considering everything from computer game cases to manila envelopes, I finally bit the bullet and bought the red lighted case. I wanted to protect the kindle in my backpack when travelling, have a secondary light in mediocre light situations (which I think makes it generally inferior to an iPad out of the box after 4 PM) wanted it to be visible on a coffee table as I leave start leaving somewhere accidentally. It had to be reasonably cool too. Hey, I’m human.
I figured a subdued flash of red close to the colour of my moleskine planner would be just right. And it is.
With a couple of minor exceptions it feels very similar to my limited edition moleskine planner. The colour is perfect. The elastic band around is very moleskiney and effective. The extra weight of the whole set makes it feel like I’m holding a reasonably meaty book without feeling too heavy (so far anyway).
The attachment mechanism and connection to power is well thought out, clearly from the drawing board up. The materials are nice (dunno why contrasting textures, but whatever) and finally the light works as advertised. In dimmer ambient light it boosts the lighting to just the right amount. In a dark room, I’ll reserve judgement, it *seems* like it would be less eyestrain than my reversed text iPod touch. I’ll amend this post maybe later.
But overall, the effect is transformative. It feels strangely ‘quality book’ like. I don’t have very many leather bonded cover books, but the few I do now will get compared to this kindle. The extra bucks I spent on priority courier seem like money well spent now.
Looking forward to my next airplane trip, the first time in a while I’ve felt that way.