It takes a special gadget to capture my wife’s attention but the Amazon Kindle seems to have done quite well. Actually, I think that the Kindle’s success is largely down to the fact that it appeals to non-geeks (the low price helps) but I recently bought Mrs W. one as a present.
It was my first experience of using one of these devices (I’ve only used the Kindle app on iOS or Windows Phone until now) but it really couldn’t have been much simpler to set up. This is the latest incarnation of the Kindle (the Kindle 4 – officially known as “Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display“) and when it arrived, I wasn’t sure whether to open the “frustration free” packaging to find another box inside and wrap it as a gift, It turns out that the brown, wedge-shaped box with the word Kindle on the side and a rip-tab is the actual product packaging (typically functional and no-frills, but substantial enough to prevent damage).
After unboxing, all that was needed was to:
- Plug the Kindle into a computer using the supplied USB cable.
- Select the language.
- Connect to a Wi-Fi network (using the soft keyboard).
- Register (in this case, to an existing Amazon account – more on that in a moment).
That’s all the basics to get going but, in the Manage Your Kindle section of the Amazon website I also:
- Edited the name (not much point my wife having a device that had defaulted to “Mark’s Kindle”).
- Added an email address from which to receive personal documents (if emailed to the Kindle).
At this point it’s probably worth mentioning something about sharing Kindles. Because I’ve been using the Kindle app on my devices, it made sense that we should be able to share publications with one another. Unfortunately, sharing requires the use of a single account (hence why my wife’s new Kindle was automatically named “Mark’s Kindle” and why the welcome note is addressed to me…). In the United States, there are limited options to lend books but it’s not universal, and it’s far from the model that we see in print (walk to shelf; pick up book; give to friend; friend returns book at some stage a few weeks later) – although I did find an interesting analogy on the Amazon website.
- We can select purchases individually but they are charged to one card.
- Purchases using the Kindle will go to the Kindle being used at the time.
- Purchases from the Amazon website can be sent to whichever Kindle is chosen.
- Any purchase made can be also loaded onto other Kindles on the same account.
I’m not sure how easy it would be to damage the E Ink display but I didn’t want to take the chance – we bought a cover for Mrs W.’s Kindle which does have the downside of increasing weight and volume but also looks quite nice. Amazon’s official cover is expensive (the one with a built-in light is even more so) but there are plenty of third-party alternatives available (the one I bought was less than £10 from Amazon.co.uk).
Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the Kindle. Strangely, buying one for my wife has increased my use of the Kindle app on my iPad (partly due to our increased use of our Amazon account) and a Kindle Fire could well be my next tablet, assuming they make it to the UK before the rumoured iPad Mini…