After being indecisive for few months now, I decided to buy my first e-book reader last month. I went with Amazon KindleDX – the model prior to the newly released Kindle Wi-Fi (which got released few weeks after I bought KindleDX). I didn’t go with Apple iPad – it doesn’t have e-ink and so not easy on the eye, heavier than KindleDX (iPad is 700 grams and KindleDX is 535 Grams) and is a first generation device compared to KindleDX. I didn’t go with the competition like Nook or the Sony Reader because of my loyalty to Amazon – I am always impressed by their excellent customer service, world class self-service website and above all I believe they will surely survive and continue to grow in the expected churn in this industry. Above all an e-book reader is all about the choice of titles and ease of purchase. And I am not a fan of reading long chapters in any LCD/LED displays.

I ordered the device from Amazon website with my India Credit Card and had it shipped to my Chennai address. I got the device on July 13th (3rd business day from 8th July when I ordered)) – unbelievable. I was charged in total $530.70 (Device was $379, Shipping $13.49, Import Fees Deposit $138.21) for the device & shipping.

My observations of using the device for last few weeks:

  • Out of the box, the device came preconfigured with my Profile (username and password) stored. So nice of Amazon team. I am sure no other OEM does this, even though they know everything about us when we order it on their site. The device came in a minimalist eco-friendly, easy to open packaging
  • Amazon has published clear and easy to understand instructions for customers from outside USA, including India. Every other American e-commerce firm I know of, is focussed only with USA and for them customers from outside USA will be treated as “Aliens”
  • The Text to Speech feature where by it reads out a book – though I was sceptical of it, I found it to be very usable
  • The in-built dictionary (Oxford English) is a great feature. Many a times, I am lazy to pick up a dictionary (Even though my firm LIFCO publishes one for last 50 years) and refer for the word I didn’t understand. With Kindle, I just need to move my cursor to any word and the full meaning is shown at the bottom of the screen.
  • The device, the feel of it and ease of reading is better than I imagined. I wish the device had touch, the buttons were Car Friendly (especially Text to Speech Pause/Play, Volume), a little bit lighter. I didn’t miss Colour display as the sharpness of the e-ink was as good as printed paper
  • The auto-sync feature with the other devices for my account. I got the Kindle App for PC and iPhone installed and I was thrilled by the feature where in the pages I have read to are automatically synchronized between the devices
  • The other day I was in a local book store and I liked a book, I could easily browse the same on my iPhone Kindle App (we won’t be carrying our Kindle device everywhere). Then I bought it from iPhone and had it shipped with 1-click to my Kindle device at home. Before I reached home, using Whispernet I found the book already downloaded and ready in the Kindle Device
  • NewsPapers and Magazine are priced too high for an Indian customer. Selection of Indian Authors and titles are currently very limited
  • Ability to back load (copy) any PDF file from your PC to Kindle using USB. I loaded all my unread issues of IEEE Spectrum and actually read few of them over the weeks
  • No native support (Especially in Web browser) for Indian Languages. Indic Unicode displays fine in files saved as PDF (Adobe Acrobat)
  • Nil charges for Whispernet Data Transfer for browsing the catalogue, buying and downloading of books in 100 countries including India
  • KindleDX doesn’t have a Wi-Fi connection, having it would have made downloading of books and casual browsing faster when I am in a Wi-Fi zone like my office or home (The newly announced model has Wi-Fi feature, but a smaller display)
  • The device charges through its MicroUSB Port using any standard USB charger

kindledx

Update (9/Sep/2010) : I was pleasantly surprised today to receive a refund of $41.38 out of the $138.21 paid as Import Fees Deposit. With this cost for Customs Duty to import my KindleDX to India is about Rs.4551. Amazon, you are impressing me continuously!