Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kindle Sopresa

I've been busy with a few things recently.

As I got my credit card, one of the first things I did, was to go on and see about ordering a book about RenderMan, to help me with the development of RibTools.
Instead I've been seduced by the announcement of the upcoming "Kindle International" (Kindle 2 sold abroad) and I ended up buying that and no books, hoping that I'd get them eventually on the Kindle.
The Kindle started shipping on the 19th of this month, and I got it the 23rd morning, after some apparent misunderstanding with UPS (they left me a voice message saying they didn't have my address, though eventually they clearly found me 8).

Recently I haven't been reading graphics papers, so my purchase was not to read PDF files. There are ways to convert PDF to the Kindle format. One being mailing an Amazon system that will mail you back the kindle version for free at your home mail, or for a charge directly on the Kindle.
Anyhow, forget PDF 8) ..some people hacked the Kindle to run a PDF->PNG conversion on the hardware itself. I'm not sure how it works, but I don't see it working well for a large number of pages.. and PNG clearly excludes highlighting of text, resizing of fonts, etc etc.

Kindle DX will natively deal with PDF files.. however it still doesn't allow one to take notes, plus the DX costs A LOT of money and isn't even shipped outside the US.

The Kindle 2 itself is cool, small, and it came with 3G cell network out of the box. It has a list of common sites, such as Google and Wikipedia, the mobile editions. It can also go to normal websites.. though the browser is rather limited (no JavaScript and such) and is really meant to more for mobile edition of sites.
I'm not sure, but I've read that browsing of web sites may not be possible in other countries.. ..myself I could connect without any tangible restriction so far.
Overall, it's really nice that I could unbox the reader and be connected right away.

One thing that disappointed me so far is the limited quantity of books available in Kindle edition.
Connecting from the US, one has a selection of about 350,000 books. Here from Japan the selection is down to "over 290,000". From what I've seen, it's actually more than 298,000..
..still, that's 50,000 less books.. quite possibly a superset of all the books that I would like to read on the Kindle but that I have to buy on paper ;)
Even if I could choose from all the 350,000 , most of those books are novels, fiction, all that crap that I really don't care about !

Suddenly, as my Kindle was landing in Japan, Barnes & Noble came out with some really cool next gen book reader.. and Apple is now clearly ready to make a super iPhone/iPod for books (e-ink displays are really nice, but being able to flip pages quickly is probably nicer..).

Still, I'm glad that I bought the Kindle. I've been waiting long enough already ! To me it's a bit like buying the Aibo.. only much cheaper 8)
My hope is that more books will become available, or proper PDF support so that I can download by means of P2P what I can't buy because of lame distribution issues ;)