As you may be aware from elsewhere on these pages, I carry a large box of books from office to office; the collection has recently outgrown its box, and I’ve been wondering about Going Digital.
I’ve tried a couple of eReaders at conferences and in the office, without being convinced – the small screen size has just never seemed big enough for technical books. However, the Kindle DX did catch my eye as being a possible device. But, oh my, the price. US$360 + shipping + import taxes.
And then. Thanksgiving.
I was suckered by Amazon’s “Black Friday” sale, and got the Kindle DX at significant money off. Still not cheap, though. It arrived today (very quick – can’t imagine ParcelForce managing to ship anything fragile unharmed several thousand miles over a holiday weekend). I spent a few minutes downloading all the books I could get my hands on from the Red Gate bookstore, and I also dropped a few bucks in the Apress pot during their sale of eBooks, and picked up those books named in the SQL Server MCM reading list, as recommended by Gavin Payne (blog|twitter) and Mark Broadbent (blog|twitter).
First impressions: this is good. The DX arrived pre-registered to my Amazon account. Unfortunately, my Amazon.com account rather than the .co.uk one, but that took all of a minute to fix, and at that point, it picked up my Kindle archive (from when I had been trying out the software on my Android phone…)
Plugging the Kindle in to charge wasn’t quite so impressive – the cable feels a bit flimsy; it’s a standard USB cable, so don’t bother buying the separate charger. But that’s the only gripe from the quality / feel perspective. There is other weirdness when you change page, where there seems to be a couple of inversions – black becoming white, and vice versa – before the new page settles down. It only takes a moment, and isn’t limited to page changes in PDFs – it seems to happen whenever there’s a full-page refresh, such as moving between pages of the book index, or navigating the settings.
The Kindle appears on the PC as another external hard drive, with about 3.3GB free space. Should be enough for a few books… And, while you can set up categories within your Kindle library, it doesn’t appear to be possible to drop new documents straight into the category. (Note that I haven’t yet tried dropping documents into a separate directory within the documents directory, but the Kindle documentation isn’t encouraging – I guess that’s the flip side of being able to maintain collections across multiple devices.)
So you can see a very bad comparison, check page 8 of Schmeling’s “SQL Server Statistics”, from the Red Gate bookstore. This is very easy to read on the DX’s screen (but the photo doesn’t do it justice – cheapo camera on the phone…). The only slight problems I have is reading all of the code samples, such as on p7, where the magenta & red colours don’t survive the translation to grey shades very well. It is readable, but you wouldn’t want to copy-type at speed.
In summary: The Kindle DX experience is almost all good – so far. Big screen makes for readable diagrams within the body of the text. Easy to use. Now all I have to do is keep it away from a certain small boy’s sticky fingers…