Grumpy review: Kindles

I’ve used my Kindle Oasis for several years and thought I’d share my impressions with you.

Let’s start with the negatives.

Cons

Goodreads. Amazon embeds Goodreads in the Kindle. You cannot turn it off, even if you do not have or want a Goodreads account. I almost returned my Kindle when I discovered this ‘feature.’

Why don’t I like Goodreads? The first book reviews I read on Goodreads were politically motivated attacks on books that the reviewer most likely never read. Goodreads wants to be Twitter for book lovers–attacking, trolling, and ‘liking’ one another. I don’t want that.

As with my Twitter and Facebook accounts, I never use my Goodreads account. My posts on Turpentine Diaries are fed to my Twitter and Facebook accounts but I pay scant attention to them. If you respond to my post tweets, I might be very long in responding.

Braindead browser. The built-in web browser is useless. Grayscale is a limitation of course but its poor performance is the most serious problem. Its slowness makes the Kindle browser literally useless.

No speakers. Kindles can output audio, such as Audible books (also owned by Amazon), to Bluetooth devices. The sound quality is acceptable but you need a wireless Bluetooth device to use it. Consequently, I never use this feature. When I use Audible I use my phone because the Samsung Galaxy S9 fits in my pocket.

Version incompatibility. Besides the Kindle device, Amazon provides Kindle apps for computers and phones. Surprisingly, some of the apps are better than the Kindle itself. For instance, the apps handle images, formulas, and graphs better. In addition, I’ve run into a number of documents, such as PDFs, that the apps can handle but the Kindle cannot open. Frustratingly, collections (folders) defined in the Kindle cannot be imported to the apps and vice versa. Without the ability to organize files, the Kindle’s usability drops like a stone.

Slow. The Kindle is slow. Even restricted to grayscale, performance is sluggish compared, say, to an iPad. Overall performance isn’t a show-stopper like the browser’s performance, but it’s a nuisance.

Battery. Amazon brags about the Kindle’s battery life. Claims that a single charge lasts a week or longer are false. While the Kindle’s battery life is better than my Galaxy S9 phone, I still need to charge it every other day.

Pros

There a lot of cons and many of them are serious. More than once I determined to return or sell my Kindle. So why do I use it?

Readability. The primary reason that I continue to use the Kindle is readability. The readability is actually very good. Unlike the richer-featured Kindle apps, my eyes never tire or grow weary with the Kindle. Kindle does this one thing really well.

I can mention other quality-of-life touches that increase usability, such as word definition lookup, audible word pronunciation, note taking, and easy navigation and bookmarking, but without readability, these features are meaningless.

Lightweight. Something Amazon brags about that is true is the Kindle’s lightweight size means it’s easy to use for long periods. I can take it anywhere, and it never strains my hand.

Storage. Finally, with the 32GB Kindle, I can store an immense number of books. I have over 1,000 books, including encyclopedias and large-format audio books, on mine and over two-thirds of the storage remains free.

These positive features keep me using my Kindle. I use it every day. If it wasn’t for the unforgivable decision to force Goodreads on me, I would put the Kindle in my gear hall of fame along with my Nikon D750, Ford F150, and homemade computer.

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