The Kindle 2 is vastly improved over the first Kindle, I said some pretty harsh things about the first version of the Kindle, but really I saw that as a prototype, not a real production device. It is amazing that Amazon sold 300,000 versions of that device. The second one is much better than the first, but it still isn’t worth $360 dollars. That being said, I do love it. The longest reading session I have had with it has been about 6 hours, without any eye fatigue.
By contrast, I can hardly read for more than 30 minutes on my laptop, or my iPhone without my eyes becoming tired. The device isn’t perfect however. The buttons while better as far as accidental page turns, are still somewhat prone to accidental page turns, however with the faster screen refresh the penalty for an accidental page turn is less. The screen flash is annoying, especially for how often you have to change pages, and the click of the button could be aggravating for anyone near you at night when reading.
The wireless is good, I have great signal wherever I go, and do get most books within a minute. I wish I could send annotated sections of books to other people, but that functionality is missing, I did send over some feedback, requesting that feature, and I got back what appears to be an actual email from a person, not a form letter, although it is hard to tell.
The Kindle 2 experience is definitely premium, and Amazon is targeting a certain class of people, anyone else would just question why in the world anyone would pay $360 for a book, even with all of the features that the Kindle has. The packaging was very well done, with little waste, they took a page from Apple’s playbook on that.
The main reason I wanted the Kindle 2 was because of the sheer waste involved in getting programming books. Not only is the cost ridiculous as far as the shipping and transport of the books, the fact that they are obsolete so quickly makes them very wasteful and heavy. With the Kindle, I can just load up the device with the books, and instead of carrying 10 pounds of books, I can carry 10 ounces. It is a vast improvement. With access to wikipedia, and the ability to search within the book, it makes finding specific reference material a breeze. I would recommend it to any programmer.
The Kindle has come a long way since the first version. If it weren’t for this recession I’m sure that Amazon would sell a lot more of them. Unfortunately, the only way to really sell this device is in person. It is difficult to appreciate how nice reading on it is when looking at a picture or reading a description. I don’t know of any service that will allow you to rent Kindles, but Amazon should do this at airports if they really want to sell them.
Back to the price. Is it really worth $360? The question isn’t easy to answer. It really depends on how you use your Kindle. If you use it mainly as a recreational device, to read your average new york times best sellers, and you are looking for a way to save money on books, then you will be waiting for a long time to recoup your investment.
If you, however are the same sort of individual, except that you have a very strong green bent, then yes, it is worth it. If you normally buy books right when they come out and are their most expensive, or you are a software or other professional engineer, and you buy very expensive and large books, as I said above, it is definitely worth the money.
Other people to whom I believe it would be worth it are business and legal professionals, since you can send various electronic formatted documents to your Kindle, including Microsoft’s DOC format, then some of those lengthy documents can be sent to your Kindle for you to peruse at your leisure. Actually, for those sorts, I see it as being somewhat indispensable, since they travel and read so much.
The bottom line is its complicated. My reasons for buying it were for the weight savings, as I am frequently mobile, in that I don’t have to carry the books any more, and I can search the books. I do indeed have a slight green bent, at least on the side of conservation, so I see a benefit in the lack of world destroying transport and logging around the Kindle experience, so for me as an early adopter, I see it as subsidizing a better future. I don’t think it will become mainstream until they get the price down around $149. I think that would be the sweet spot for the Kindle. For me, it is indeed worth the $360.