To put the price issue into perspective though, I see the same thing in the music market. Often when I’m browsing CDs online, the physical CD is actually cheaper than the MP3 download, despite the fact that you can buy the CD and then rip it to your MP3 player anyway!
The Kindle model resembles digital music in another respect too, or at least Apple’s original incarnation of digital music. You see if you buy a Kindle, you will only be able to read books purchased from Amazon, despite the fact that there is a plethora of free eBook content out there. Of course, this is the whole point – the Kindle is basically a seeding device for Amazon’s Kindle store, in much the same way that the iPod was a seeding device for the iTunes store.
You can read PDF files on the Kindle with varying degrees of success, but you’re going to have to load them from your PC via the USB connector. You can email documents to your Kindle, but you’ll be charged a fee for the data transfer, so doing things the old fashioned way (with a cable) is preferable. That said, there aren’t too many PDFs that I’d be desperate to read on an eBook anyway.
There’s no denying that the Kindle hardware is very good indeed, and while the 6in screen may not be as large as that seen on the Sony readers, it’s still a beauty. Text looks razor sharp, and there’s no hint of reflection no matter what the lighting conditions. Also, images look truly superb, which makes the lack of illustrations in newspapers and magazines all the more lamentable.
The keypad beneath the screen makes searching for books on the Kindle store a breeze. It also lends itself well to typing in URLs on the built-in web browser, or at least it would if that service was available in the UK. Unfortunately, despite the hardware supporting web browsing, Amazon has disabled the service outside of the US – another attempt to keep down data costs, no doubt.
Another reminder that you’re getting American hardware is the US power adapter that comes in the box – it’s a two prong affair that won’t work in the UK without a plug adapter. That said, it’s a USB adapter, so you can simply plug the supplied USB cable into your computer or any UK USB adapter that you have handy.
The Kindle comes with about 1.4GB of user accessible internal storage for your library of books, magazines and newspapers. According to Amazon, this equates to around 1,500 books, which is a decent amount of words by anyone’s standards. Even so, I still would have liked to have seen a memory card slot on the Kindle, especially since memory cards are so cheap these days.