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
5. This is progress?
Kindle displays two toolbars. The one on the top shows the name of the book, along with the battery life and wifi/3G signal strength. The one at the bottom shows the progress through the page, as a percentage and as a "Location" figure (equivalent to page numbers). The top toolbar disappears as soon as you advance the page. The bottom one never disappears. It's showing important information, for sure, but its inclusion reminds me that I'm glaring at a computer-based ebook reader. I'd like to forget about all that and immerse myself in the book.
There's no way to turn off the progress display. In fact, taken as a whole, the Kindle 3 has remarkably few configuration options.
6. Only two fonts?
You can choose between sans serif and serif fonts and both are very readable. But why aren't more fonts built-in? I imagine this is a frustration for ebook creators too, especially those who design textbooks. I'd like the freedom to be able to choose between, say, five different serif fonts to find the one that works best with my eyes.
7. The free 3G that isn't free
"Free 3G Wireless!" boasts Amazon in its Kindle advertising. This would be wonderful if true. The delivery of books over 3G is free if you buy books from the Amazon Kindle store. They're beamed to you wherever you are via Amazon's Whispernet service. If you send your own books to the Kindle via Whispernet, you'll be charged 15 cents per megabyte. Sending files is done by sending the ebook as an email attachment to a special email address Amazon gives you.
Yes, you can transfer books for free using the USB cable, and yes, you can send the book to an alternative email address Amazon give you that will only send the file when you're using wifi (and therefore for free). But the fact remains that the "Free 3G" isn't actually free. If you intend to use your Kindle to do little more than read Gutenberg titles, and rarely if ever buy anything via the Kindle store, then the 3G model is a waste of money.
8. Global font choices
If I'm reading a book that has an odd layout, perhaps one with pictures, I might choose to alter the size or spacing of the text to make things more readable. This is done easily using the text size controls. However, any changes in font settings are applied globally, to all books.
Why can't each book have its own settings? I might choose to read a textbook with a small font size, for example, but choose to read a novel with larger text to make it easier on my eyes.
9. Take me home
The important "back to base" Home button, which brings up a display of your ebook titles, should be at the top of the keyboard, so it's nice and accessible. Instead, it's buried on the bottom row of keys, to the left of the Back key and to the right of the text size key.
The primo top right position on the mini keyboard is occupied with the Menu key. This is undoubtedly important, but switching the Home and Menu keys would make a lot more sense.
10. I've lost my page!
Unless you're missing a few fingers or have a Harry Potter ability to Accio! inanimate objects towards you, every time you pick up the Kindle you're going to hit the page turn buttons. They're right in the middle of the Kindle, duplicated on both sides of the unit, exactly where your fingers want to grip the device. Fitting a flip cover to the Kindle helps avoid this somewhat but perhaps surprisingly the Kindle doesn't come with one out of the box.
I've yet to find a way of comfortably holding the Kindle so that I can tap the page turn buttons comfortably. After a few hours' use my fingers begin to ache. Again, a flip cover helps give some additional purchase, but those buttons are just in the wrong place.