Top 10 problems with the Amazon Kindle
Amazon ebook reader is great, but not perfect
By Keir Thomas | PC World | Published: 15:40, 03 November 2010
I've have a Kindle 3 for a month or two now and I can confirm that it's a thing of beauty. The ebook revolution might not necessarily start here, but momentum is certainly building.
Alas, the Kindle 3 is not perfect. There are some clever design touches but if the designer had presented the Kindle to, say, Steve Jobs, then it would have been hurtled back in the direction of the designer's head. It's a good product, but it's not a great product. I find myself wishing things were just a little different here and there.
Here are my top 10 Kindle annoyances:
Related Articles on Techworld
1. Only one user
The Kindle is a personal electronic device, just like a cell phone or an iPod. But it's far more sharable than either of those two. For example, my partner wants to read an ebook I'm just finishing off and I intend to lend her my Kindle when I'm done. I'll just switch to a dead tree book until she's finished. But it would be nice if she could have her own account on the Kindle, with her own bookmarks/last page read setting. This way, if she saw the Kindle lying about while I'm not at home, she could pick it up and read any ebooks on the device without messing up my reading.
Yes, Kindles are dirt cheap, but not yet cheap enough for every family member to have one.
2. Where are the apps?
A web browser is built-in, which is about as good as it can be, but I anticipated finding a calculator, a notepad application, maybe a simple calendar and perhaps a to-do list. None are present. None would stretch the Kindle either. The Kindle might have an e-ink display that prefers static rather than dynamic content, but I can easily imagine how these apps would function, even if there was occasional flashing and blanking of the screen. I could live with that.
Of course, the next question is: Where's the app store? I hear there's an SDK toolkit out there, making it easy for programmers to create new stuff, but where's the interface allowing users to put apps onto the Kindle and manage them?
3. Dictionary for single words only
Looking-up words in Kindle's built-in dictionary is stunningly useful for an illiterate such as myself. All the user needs to do is move the cursor to the word and a definition pops up instantly. However, it's impossible to look up phrases of two or more words without manually searching the dictionary, which involves temporarily closing the current book and opening the dictionary app.
For example, looking up the phrase "drawing room" is impossible; Kindle would simply give the definition for "drawing". Even hyphenated words are ignored, despite the fact the cursor jumps past the hyphenated phrase as if it's a single word.
4. Kindle hates covers
Buy an eBook or download your own from Gutenberg and, once you open it, you'll be taken to the first page of the first chapter (or the prologue, if there is one). Great! Or maybe not. I love books. Because of this, I want to see the cover art before getting started on the novel. I want to see who, if anybody, the book's dedicated to. I want to see how many chapters there are. Hell, I even want to take a look at the verso page (i.e. the copyright page).
Don't worry, Amazon, I'll skip through these if I want to. But don't assume I want to ignore them. Of course, I can get to them using the Go To option on the menu, but that's a pain. Show me the full majesty of a book as soon as I open it! And why aren't the covers displayed on the Home screen? Instead, all we get is a dull text list. The Home screen could be so much more beautiful.