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24 Days of Gadgets – Day 6

December 8, 2009 - Dave Hecei
Do you have a bookworm on your gift list? If they are also a gadget geek, then the Amazon Kindle would be the perfect gift. The Kindle, now on its second generation, is the portable electronic book reader that grew in popularity after Oprah gave it a big thumbs up.

E-Book readers use a special technology called E-Ink. This is a special low-power display, which once the text is on the screen it requires no additional power to keep it there. This allows for a very small and thin device to last for days on a battery charge. Power is only used when turning a page or using the wireless or wired connection.

The Amazon Kindle has competition from other sources like the Sony Reader, IREX, and even laptop computers and the iPhone/iPod Touch. What makes this $249 e-book reader special?

First, it is from Amazon, one of the most popular online retailers – books, magazines, etc. Second is the improvements made to the Kindle 2. The designers of the original Kindle really listened to those who purchased the first one. Simple design changes and button placements made a big improvement on the usability. The shape, fit, and finish of the Kindle 2 is beautiful compared to the clunky original.

Then there are the new features on the Kindle 2. The display has been improved with the ability to show more shades of gray, 16 instead of 4. There is also a text-to-speech option that can read a book to you. Unfortunately this caused some problems with certain organizations that control copyrights and some books are not able to be read aloud. Wouldn’t want to deny some poor actor out of the business of performing for a book on tape. The reader does work and is very legible.

The biggest reason to choose the Kindle over other readers is the free cellular wireless access for life. This network access is mainly for the use of purchasing more books, newspapers, and magazines, but it can be used for limited web surfing. Since a data plan for an iPhone or a laptop can run somewhere in the $60/month range, having a small device that can access the web at no additional cost is a nice bonus.


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