I ask this question because I have got my hands on an Amazon Kindle to play with over the last week what the Kindle is for those who don’t know is an eBook reader which imitate a traditional book by displaying digital book on a screen of electronic ink. Follow link Unlike the iPhone and iPad which I have both tested and reviewed the kindle is a dedicated book reader with a couple of frills rather than a mobile operating system with a book reader built into it. So will this kindle be able to stand out on its own feet without any other features that will encourage people to buy it over real books or spending the extra money and going for a full fledged iPad (or equivalent)
As a Learning Technologist my first thoughts are how thus device fits in with its competitors and how it can provide a platform for enchasing teaching and learning for teachers and students. And these thought are not necessarily what the device was originally intended. Let me first cover the kindle as it was indented as a consumer product and then continue with my experience with it in a learning environment.
As a reading platform, Amazon has spent a lot of time getting this device to do everything that a book does and more. What do I mean? Looking at a book you can take it with you everywhere you go it is not constrained by batteries or sun glare to be able to read it, which to be honest is the downfall of all electrical devices. So with the Kindle they have designed it with an LCD screen which has been branded as e-Ink. Effectively the screen has no backlight and only uses electricity when the crystals within the display have to be moved.(much like digital watches) This means that it only needs charging once every month and looks as it there is ink on a page so much in fact that I found myself running my hands over the screen expecting to feel the texture of paper with raised ink on it.
The best way to compare the Kindle for the average consumer to see its capabilities in comparison with alternative that the market has to offer.
|Amazon Kindle||A Book||iPad|
|Price of device only||£109/£149||£0- N/A||£429-£699|
|Price of book from Amazon1(examples picked at random)||£2.98
|Kindle store also on iPad so prices identical|
|Number of books that fit in the space of the device||2,500||1||50,000+4|
|Ability to resize text for accessibility||Yes||No||Yes|
|Battery life (without connectivity)||30days||N/a||10hrs|
|Ability to buy any time any place||£109 model requires Wi-Fi connection
3G works worldwide (for free)5
|No||Wi-Fi model requires Wi-Fi connection
3G only in the country of purchase
|Ease of reading and other factors||Screen smaller than a standard book, but you will never lose your page||Have to hold the pages apart when reading||Is back light therefore may cause the same eye strain experienced on a computer screen (has cool page turning effects )|
1. There is no way for me to measure this accurately so I have taken a random sample of equivalent books available in both formats.
2. price of paperback without delivery
3. price of hardback without delivery
4. Number of books is almost irrelevant as no one would ever have this many
5. See kindle terms and conditions
As a consumer product people will fall into three categories, first the people who devour books who should defiantly get one (but probably already have). The second who love technology (like me) who should fork out the extra money and get a mobile/tablet with an eBook reader and the third which is everyone else who should continues to read real books and wait for someone to buy them one for Christmas.
The Kindle as an means to aid Teaching and Learning
I have had complaint that lectures do not like marking onscreen, the bright screen hurts there eye after a while. To be honest if I had to read reams of black text on a white background than my eyes would ache as well. When I first came across the kindle I thought to myself that this screen has all the benefits of a screen (ability to turn pixels on and of to display different images and text) but none of the drawbacks (high contrast on a backlight screen).
I thought it appropriate that I take the device around with me and allow academics to have a play to see what they thought of the device. Generally as a marking tool no was the answer they liked the fact that it wise-ink which made it easier to read but the screen size was too small to be able to mark on the device. The keyboard was far to small and fiddly to be able to make extended notes and most tutor would prefer to write on the work with a stylus rather than type.
So all bad reviews? No, not really the one positive comment that they did come back to me was its potential usefulness as a tool for students as a place to store all of their academic journals. When I tested this I found that the text can be highlighted relatively easily and is automatically bookmarked for later viewing. But anything further such as annotations the same difficulties arise. I can defiantly see the potential on the amount of money and paper would be saved. And all of the journals can be organised into folders and much less likely to get lost.
This may seem like a relatively negative review any you would never hear a technologist advocating something as archaic as a book over a new shinny toy. I just don’t think this device is quite there yet. You may think that my review is unfair in that I have brought things that it was not designed to do into the equation and comparing it to an iPad. With this technology it really need to be doing so much more than bring a book and a store together, especially when I have to pay £109 before you even get a single book (that is a lot of books I could buy). In the case of the iPad Amazon has placed on their website “the kindle compared to tablets” so personally I think comparing it to the iPad is fair game. Generally I would say there is no point in getting one as most people will expect it to do more than just read books and for that reason they will be greatly disappointed and should not get one.