What do the Nokia 6310i and the Palm Vx have in common? Is it that they’ve both been consigned to a distant corner of a drawer in my office? Is it that my daughter turned her nose up at both of them? Well, I did (jokingly) offer the 6130i to her a couple of years ago when she wanted her first mobile phone, but she politely declined. The answer I’m looking for is that they both have monochrome displays, and as such would now most likely be regarded as technology that Noah’s dad would have used. With the plethora of tablets on the market boasting high-resolution colour displays, surely the days of monochrome displays are well in our past. Maybe not…

I’ve never agreed with the idea of ‘one device to rule them all’. While many people see the iPad as the must-have, I have a few issues with it. It’s expensive for what it offers, it’s quite heavy (I’m thinking of the weight added to an already-heavy bag full of stuff), and it doesn’t fulfil some of my requirements (like the Archos 605’s ability to record from Sky Plus). A few months ago I had the Lotus team iPad at home for a couple of weeks and hardly ever picked it up – in fact, it was something else cluttering up my desk.

Rewind a few months… remember Christmas? Rather a lot has happened since then. On Christmas Day I was admiring Rob Hayden’s Kindle and started to warm to the idea. I love reading, but generally only ever do it on holiday, although I made an effort to put time aside to read some of the books I got for my birthday right after Christmas. However, I’d never take anything more than a paperback on the train or on a plane because of the extra weight. Mrs A picked up on the fact that I often looked at Kindles if we happened to pass Currys (or looked at the other e-readers on offer in other shops), and bought me one as a wedding anniversary / new job celebration gift.

Now, there are people who would say “you could have bought an iPad and used the Kindle application”. But let’s look at the Kindle advantages:

  • It costs £400 less than an iPad
  • It’s ridiculously light, even with the added protective case
  • The power consumption is amazingly frugal – twelve days of use (with WiFi switched on) and the battery meter is showing two-thirds full
  • The display doesn’t suffer in direct sunlight
  • It doesn’t have a touch-screen, instead it uses a rocker switch to navigate – if you don’t think that’s an advantage just take a look at an average iPad screen caked in finger-grease and think about reading through that
  • It offers text-to-speech, which means you can pop in some headphones, close your eyes and imagine that Stephen Hawking is your personal narrator
  • It does what it does – it’s designed to be a reading device and doesn’t compromise on anything around that core capability

There are some great things about the Kindle which are true of any supported device (e.g. Mac, iPod touch)  – the book opens to the page you were last on, and your books are stored with your Amazon account (which means that if you lose the device everything is backed-up).

As I have some time on my hands over the next couple of weeks, the Kindle will be getting some extended use (I wonder when I’ll have to charge it for a second time). In July I’ll be heading to Denver, and the Kindle will be going into my bag alongside the Archos 605. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get back to reading 1000 Years of Annoying the French.

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