Thursday, March 12, 2009

My First Kindle - My First Day

Yesterday my kindle arrived. I read quite a bit by some standards, about 1 hour a night in bed. I dont read fast, but if you add the hours up it ads up, so I go through maybe 25-30 books a year.

I have read about e-readers for years but always thought they werent for me, even though I'm an admited tech-addict. But the kindle started to catch my eye. I still wasnt sure until a friend of mine told me he has the Kindle 1 and loves it. The kindle 2 came out last month and decided to take the plunge. The "excuse" is you'd actually save money. In a years time I may buy 30 books avaraging $20 each. If I bought them as ebooks they would be $10 each. That savings would pay for a kindle in a year.

But of course you dont buy a new tech toy to save money. In my case its a combination of convenience, and tech nerdism. I'm simply tired of ordering books and having to wait for them to get here, paying huge amounts of shipping (often more then the cost of the book) then stacking them on my desk or bookcase to read them once. I dont reread books ever. So then I have a pile of "read" books I have to find a home for. I end up sending them to my sister but I Have to put them in a box and mail them. The whole book buying and getting rid of is really a pain. Then there's the form factor. I read in bed typically and I dont like to have to use both hands. But with a paper book I have to to keep it open or it slams shut, or I have to use that squeeze in the spine trick to hold it open then hope my reading lamp on my chest doesnt slide down then I lose my place.

Finally I'm getting old and my eyes are suffering. I need mild (1x) reading glasses or I cant read a typical paperback for long.
So eyeing the kindle seems like it might solve all those problems!
I wont go into the list of features, just google for "Kindle". But the main ones that I thought would be great are

1) instant delivery, with no shipping costs no books piling up to get rid of, no packing, boxes etc.
2) Adjustable fonts! maybe I could read without glasses
3) Hold in one hand.

So I finally went ahead and ordered the kindle 2 ... Here's my first experiences.

The text/screen/font quality is awsome. Its hard to explain without reading it, but if you've never seen "e ink" you cant imagine it. Its not like a computer monitor or a PDA. The text is sharp, clear and stands out. Its by far easier to read then ink on paper (especially tiny print on cheap paperback paper). With the font set to second-to-largest I can read easily without strain without glasses. Its a joy to read

The downloading and book buying experience is great. You can buy books from the kindle itself (it comes with a web browser) but its a bit sluggish. I just went to from my dekstop and bought a few books (free and otherwise). They appeared on the kindle within a minute. I didnt belive they would because I'm in an "Edge" area not "3G" but sure enough there they were. I love the "try" option where you can download the first chapter for free before you commit. I love the integration with the iphone kindle reader. I can read the same book on both iphone and kindle and it knows where I left off on either.

The form factor is nice. DO get a case (I got the leather case), because the screen is known to be easily scratched. It feels good in my hands. A little heavier then a paperback but lighter then a hardcover. The text-to-speach is fun but I doubt I'll use it.

Now for the negatives. There's a tad of an annoying black flash when you change pages. I am getting used to it but for the first bit I had to blink to avoid getting annoyed.
Performance on anything except reading is sluggish. If your used to a desktop or even a good PDA you'l be thinking "what is taking so long" ... But for me this isnt a big deal. This isnt a general purpose computer. Its a BOOK. And for a book its awsome.

The PDF to ebook translation is dismal. Some of my PDF's didnt translate at all readable and some were just "OK". But then its not claimed to be able to handle them well. Word documents transfered very well. The web browser is very sluggish but then I'm on an edge network (not 3G), and the fact it can do web at ALL is amazing.

The screen is smaller then it should be, considering the formfactor of the full kindle. Its obvious they started with a e-ink display and built the box around it to make up for its small size. But its bigger then an iphone and reads much better. Its not bad. I'd like the screen bigger and would give up on the keyboard for a bigger screen. The only real disadvantage of the screen size is at the font size I like I have to change pages quickly but not overly annoyingly so.

Overall, my first experience is that this works well for me and is worth it. I havent read a full book yet so I will see how it goes and post back after a month.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Last straw for Tivo

I consider myself one of Tivo's greatest fans. for 6 years I've really enjoyed my Tivo and prostelitize it at every opportunity. Even got one for my parent-in laws for Christmas. I am sad to say that I'm about ready to throw mine off the roof.

Last Nov my trusty Series 2 tivo died ... after about 5 years. Not bad, I think the HD crashed and I didnt want to muck with replacing it. At that same time my Cable company, Insight, came out with HD on Cable. Tivo now has a HD capable Tivo so I figured OK I'll upgrade to it. The Tivo HD (Series 3) is really a nice box ... "on paper". It uses Cable Cards to decode the HD cable signal so you dont have to use a Cable box. It has HDMI and Dolby digital outputs and can record and play HD quality signals. I was so excited I had to get my brown pants out.

My new tivo arrived in Dec and I was soooo happy. I even had to upgrade my Home Audio system to handle DVI. I should have seen the writing then though ... it took the cable guy 8 hours over 2 trips to finally get it working. First my cables were all old and had signal problems, my splitter/amp was degrading the signal and I couldnt get HD. Eventually the cable guy got it all working and everything was great ...

THen 1 month later my tivo started having "hicups" then crashes. Within a week it would reboot contstantly. 2 hours on the phone with several techs and the results were in ... a HD crash ... Great.

So ok a new tivo on its way. A week later a different cable guy came (have to call Insight every time to "pair" the new cable cards, you cant read the numbers on the phone to them). He knew nothing about Tivos and was very frustrated. I printed out all the directions but he didnt want to follow them instead he just got madder and madder and was about to give up when eventually magically the cards "paired" and it started working ... YEA !!!!

Ok now fast forward 1 month and THIS (2nd) Tivo starts having the same symptoms, glitches and crashes ... so I called up tivo ... and this time I knew exactly what to say to get them to agree it was bad. So ... a NEW tivo in the mail ....

The Third tivo arrived 2 weeks ago. After a 2 day process of getting it fully reloaded and synced I had the cable guy come out *again* to pair the cards. Should only take 10 minutes. 6 hours later they still wouldnt pair. He even ran a new cable across my lawn directly into the living room, and also plugged in a Insight DVR to prove I could get the channels. But on the Tivo I couldnt get all the channels. The diagnostics said the cards wouldnt "pair" with the cable company.
He even came back the next day for 2 hours and tried 3 new pairs of cards. No go.
Finally another call to Tivo and an hour later while they have me read off diagnostics and try the same things I've tried over and over and they admiteed its "probably a bad box". Great.

So my FORTH tivo in 3 months. Due to arrive today.
I noticed on the "return" paperwork they listed the replacement Tivo's as "Refurbished". I asked the tivo guy, "Can you send me a NEW one this time?"
He told me "No, we dont make that model anymore, they are all refurbished".
That is very strange as I see them for sale on as new, and its the latest high end Series 3 HD Tivo ...

I'm holding my breath one more time. If this tivo doesnt work perfectly within 1 hour I'm gonna toss it and get a Cable Company DVR ...
I really hope I dont have to because for some insane reason I LOVE MY TIVO !!!
I love the new video streaming, Netflix integration, web integration, Picture and Audio streaming. Its really a great system ... if only the damn thing worked !!!