Amazon Kindle International review
These flaws are made all the more infuriating because the Kindle’s hardware is so staggeringly good we’d marry it on the spot if this was Alabama. The keyboard offers a handy way to search and add notes to books, and the little joystick can be used to highlight text, navigate menus and bring up definitions of words from the inbuilt Oxford American Dictionary.
We’re particularly amused by the controversial text-to-speech feature, which veers from being mildly useful one minute, to doing impressions of HAL having a heart attack the next. Quite what the Author’s Guild objected to is beyond us – it can’t even correctly pronounce the word Kindle.
More relevant is the 1.4GB of usable storage and a 532Mhz ARM processor that ensures the Kindle moves faster than a cheetah being shot out of a cannon, though it tends to get bogged down when dealing with image-heavy PDFs.
However, the pick of the technological litter is undoubtedly the 6in E Ink screen, which renders in 16 shades of grey, rather than the eight of the Sony. It’s hard to explain the difference this makes without seeing it in action, but it softens and deepens the picture immeasurably, offering the reading equivalent of wrapping your eyes in silk while having your corneas caressed by Scarlett Johansson. Almost.
Ironically, the screen’s ample charms would have been most apparent when displaying pictures in newspapers and magazines, but unfortunately the Kindle won’t actually download these because we live outside of the US.
Amazon informed us this was to keep the price of subscriptions down, but we suspect it has more to do with the company avoiding excessive data charges until it can sign a deal with a UK network provider. This would certainly explain why we can’t access the inbuilt web browser, unlike our US cousins. Either way, it hobbles a huge part of the Kindle’s potential.
Which sums up our feelings towards the Kindle as a whole. Where the Sony Reader Touch is a device whose ambition had been thwarted by the hardware on which it relies, the Kindle is a device whose brilliant hardware has been short-changed by Amazon’s thwarted ambition.
Had the store offered a wider selection of titles, or the device not been so totally dependent on it, we’d have given the Kindle a Performance rating right up there with that of its Features & design. As it stands, we find ourselves waiting on Amazon once again, and we can only hope it doesn’t take another two years to iron out the problems.
|Resolution||600 x 800|
|Dimensions||135 x 9 x 203mm (WDH)|
File format support