Why, when the Kindle (Kindle Touch is it’s US name) has only just been brought out, did I decide on the Kindle Keyboard (or Wi-Fi non 3G)? It wasn’t price – £20 isn’t worth compromising on features. If some of my Top Five are important to you too, you need to check if the Kindle you want to get does them. I have not considered the Kindle Wi-Fi as I don’t see the point in paying nearly £50 more to do something I can do for free at home.
There is one more point I would like to make. The Kindle Keyboard is only available as a refurbished item on Amazon (co.uk) – only the new Kindle and Kindle Wi-Fi 3G are sold new. I bought mine through Tesco Direct and had it delivered to my nearest store. Prices seem to be the same wherever you go.
Just to summarise: here in the UK we have the Kindle, Kindle Wi-Fi and Kindle 3G. In the USA they have the Kindle Touch, Kindle 3G and Kindle Fire as well. In the USA some of these are sold with advertising to keep the prices down – but I understand these cannot be used in the UK. Please be careful and check before you buy from abroad, wherever you may live.
No, definitely features not price were more important to me, so here are my top five for my Kindle Keyboard personal review.
1. Having a keyboard. 2. Audio playback. 3. Size. 4. Better battery life. 5. Greater storage capacity.
1. Having a keyboard was of utmost importance as I have dislike of virtual keypads. My phone lets me slide words, the Kindle can’t to do that, so a proper keyboard/pad, poor as it may be, is infinitely better for me than the Kindle option. Nevertheless, even the keyboard has its drawbacks. The buttons are very clunky and the menu options don’t let you hit a letter to get to them, nor does it cycle round: you must use the ‘5-way controller’ to navigate the menus. Perhaps future software updates will be able to address this (currently on version 3.3).
2. Audio playback (please see Steve’s comment and my reply on the right – I have been into shops to closely examine the Kindle Touch: no speakers and no headphone socket!) is something I wanted to have available, even if I may not use it very much and I cannot see that the Kindle Touch has a headphone socket nor does it have speakers. It’s one of the experimental options called Text-To-SPeech. The male and female voices are quite robotic, but they are bearable and can be slowed down. It’s quite interesting how they interpret full stops and commas, and of course their inflections may be somewhat out of place, but not bad considering. [Update March 2012: The Kindle Touch is he US-only version and does indeed have speakers and a headphone socket. Here in the UK we have what is now called the Kindle (no speakers etc), and Kindle 3G. Some shops still sell the Kindle Keyboard WiFi, which is the one I have.]
It is also possible to listen to music MP3s, and audio books which I already have can be installed into the audio folder, music files to the music folder. All quite obvious once the Kindle Keyboard is connected to my pc. Music playback is only experimental at the moment, but serves a great purpose for me as I can surf on my laptop where I don’t want sound and listen to music from the Kindle with headphones or it’s in-built speakers (yes, 2 of them!). You cannot use the text-to-speech option with PDFs, but it’s OK with most books.
So far I have discovered that you cannot send MP3s to your Kindle via email, you need to connect it to your computer and transfer them that way. Quality of sound from the built-in speakers is not bad considering, and of course headphones can be used instead.
When you register your Kindle with Amazon (if you bought it from somewhere else) then you will be given an email address which is the before the @ part of the email address you use with Amazon email @kindle.com. So for example, firstname.lastname@example.org. This will result in email@example.com and you can send documents etc to your Kindle via email. The email address you send from must be the same as your full Amazon email. The system is clever enough to let you know if you get it wrong!
3. Size is important. When I saw the Kindle side-by-side with the Kindle Keyboard, I actually felt that it was a bit too small to hold comfortably. Then when trying to navigate the menus, it was fiddlier. (I wasn’t checking for a headphone socket at the time, by the way.) To be honest, I do find that the page forward and back buttons on the Keyboard aren’t ideally placed for my thumbs – I’d like to see them higher up, nearer the top – but they are on both sides, which is good for lefties. It looks to me as if the buttons are in the middle on both, so as the Touch is a bit smaller, they might be even worse for me.
4. Battery life is twice as much on the Keyboard as it is for the Touch. Not quite sure why that should be, but that’s what the specs imply. Not too big a deal to be honest, but added to the others it’s relevant.
5. Greater storage capacity is only going to be relevant if I collect thousands of ebooks, but if I’m adding audio files then it becomes more important. Of course, I can archive all the books I have read by removing them from my Kindle Keyboard, and retrieve them in future as they will be quite safe on Amazon’s Kindle servers.
And the niggles?
1. Having to work up and down menus, ie not being able to cycle from bottom to top.
2. Clunky buttons – surely the action could be improved.
3. PDFs are a bit of a nightmare to read, they are almost too small in normal mode, but when rotating the screen to landscape then lots of scrolling from side-to-side. However, all these formats can be used properly on the Kindle:
Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx)
Rich Text Format (.rtf)
HTML (.htm, .html)
Text (.txt) documents
Archived documents (zip , x-zip) and compressed archived documents
Mobi book (so if I can find them, I can send my MobiPocket books over to it)
Images that are of type JPEGs (.jpg), GIFs (.gif), Bitmaps (.bmp), and PNG images (.png).
Adobe PDF (.pdf) documents are delivered without conversion to Kindle DX, Second Generation and Latest Generation Kindles.
Adobe PDF (.pdf) can be converted to Kindle format and delivered on an experimental basis.
Well, I hope that you have found my Kindle Keyboard personal review useful. I’m really pleased with it and have gone back to reading more books – many are free ones too. It’s great being able to nip among them – a chapter here, another chapter there – and all from one device. Quality of the screen is excellent, but it does need a light on it when the room is dark. I have also bought a colourful Gelaskin to brighten it up.
Do leave me a comment or question and I will endeavour to reply as quickly as possible.