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Kindle First Impressions

February 1, 2008


My Kindle arrived last night, and I’ve had just enough time with it to form some early impressions.

Physical

Yes, the thing is butt ugly. It badly needs a pass through Apple’s industrial design group. Or even Dell’s. But that’s okay, it’s early days, and you buy it to read ebooks, not look cool. That’s why you have the iPhone.

I’m a little more concerned about the build quality — the buttons, particularly the Previous/Next/Back paddle buttons, feel a little fragile. I’m not sure if they are, but I’m a little nervous about how many times I’m going to click them before they stop responding.

Worse, you can’t avoid the things. Between the big navigation buttons, and the keyboard, there is very little room to grab or hold the unit without hitting a button.

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Sprint Treo 650

March 7, 2005

It’s time to break out the insulated underwear; hell has frozen over and I’m once again a Sprint customer… Whodathunkit?

I’ve been jonesing for the Treo 650 for awhile now; pretty much ever since it became clear that it would eventually get wi-fi capability—with or without PalmOne’s help.

My attraction to the device is pretty simple—if I can get one single device to carry around in my pocket that is a decent phone, plus has a screen big enough to read e-books, plus has decent e-mail options, then I’m miles ahead.

The Treo 650 looks like just the ticket.

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Ditching Smartphones?

December 17, 2004

The Bluetooth Weblog is wondering how many of us agree that overly smart phones have negligable value.

Slate’s Paul Boutin says that instead of shelling out over $600 for a Treo smartphone, why not just get a cheap cellphone like the Nokia 6600? His reasoning is that how many of the Treo’s “wonders” will you really use, such as the QWERTY keyboard and fast wireless connection? Plus, Boutin says you can add a number of features to the Nokia without having to spend a bundle of money to do it.

What I want (at the moment) in a phone is pretty simple: let me get rid of carrying both a phone and a PDA, and use it in a pinch for wireless connectivity from my notebook.

From a functional standpoint, this means I want:

  • GPRS and something faster (EDGE, whatever), available both on the device and from my notebook via Bluetooth.
  • Functional mail reader, with at least a prayer of being able to reply (even if it’s hunting and pecking an on-screen keyboard with a stylus.)
  • A web browser that’s at least marginally usable in a pinch.
  • 802.11 (g, preferably, so I don’t slow everything else down) support for the above two items, that can be used to speed things up if it’s available.
  • A screen big enough (in both width and resolution) to make reading e-books comfortable.
  • A version of Mobipocket Reader.
  • Wireless iSync to my address book and calendar (bluetooth or wi-fi).
  • DECENT AUDIO QUALITY!
  • DECENT BATTERY LIFE
  • DECENT FRINGE PHONE SERVICE

Beyond that, I could care less whether it’s Palm, Windows Mobile/Phone, Series 60, or something else entirely.

I want one device that provides me with phone service, mail service, and a good e-book reader (the latter two being 99% of what I do with a PDA, and I use both a lot) for when it’s the only device I’m carrying, and I want it to be able to get at least usable connectivity for my notebook I’m carrying that.

My old 3650 isn’t -that- far off.  Add Edge/EvDO/3G whatever support and a bigger screen, and I could get by with it for a good long while.  It has scads of battery life, gets good reception where most other people’s phones crap out, and syncs via iSync.  Unfortunately, reading mail or e-books on it is a line-at-a-time affair, and sound quality is mediocre.

Ultimately, a phone could replace my iPod too, and I’d be happy.  Perhaps the new Apple / Motorola deal may eventually do that, but it’ll be awhile before we know.

Windows Mobile 2003 SE and the Toshiba e800 — Almost Ready for Primetime

June 10, 2004

I’ve been ignoring the Windows Mobile 2003 SE (what, were they all out of short catchy names? Was Windows Mobile 2004 just too obvious?) update, even though it’s been available for the Toshiba e800/e805 for two or three weeks now. 

When it first came out, it appeared to have too many unresolved issues, and I just didn’t have time to live on the bleeding edge with it.  In real simple terms, it put the e800’s display in VGA mode (640 x 480, or 480 x 640, depending on how you hold it) all the time, but it also made all legacy programs (programs that aren’t SE-aware) run full-screen by quadrupling pixels—in other words, it made 320 x 240 programs 640 x 480 by using 4 pixels for every one.  The net effect of this is that everything ran more or less like the original e800 in quarter-vga (320 x 240) mode.  Which kind of defeats the purpose if your main reason for having the e800 is to run a couple of programs in full VGA mode.

If time doesn’t heal all wounds, it at least manages to scab over a lot of them…

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Break on through to the other side…

April 1, 2004

I’m now essentially working 100% on the Powerbook.  I’ve found workable options for pretty much everything I do on a day-to-day basis, but there are still Windows apps and tools that I’ve yet to find a Mac replacement for.  I’m open for suggestions for anything on this list (other than running VirtualPC).

E-Book Reader—Preferably supporting MobiPocket format (which doesn’t seem likely), or any common format (“formats you can download at blackmask” would be a reasonable guideline) OTHER than Adobe.  A Mac version of ConvertLit would be nice too.

MobiPocket Publisher—To generate MobiPocket format e-books for my PDA and phone.

MP3Gain—A replacement for the PC implementation of MP3Gain that comes as a simple installable app (rather than a “you can download and compile all of this” option).  Integration into iTunes would be a plus.

Update – Found.  iVolume handles this.

Document Manager—A replacement for PaperPort on Windows.

Windows Remote Admin client that does multiple simultaneous sessions.

Google Toolbar for Safari—Safari of course does pop-up blocking and has Google searching built in.  What it’s missing is the Page Info, Page Rank, and Translate options.  Replacements for applets like the Blogrolling and Technorati applets would be nice, too.

Update—Almost solved.  There’s a Google Toolbar plugin for Firefox.  Unfortunately, Firefox 0.9 is a wee bit unstable

I’ll post updates as I find solutions for these things and / or more stuff I’ve missed.

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Free Culture, Free Content

March 25, 2004

Hurray!  Lawrence Lessig‘s new book, Free Culture is not only out, it’s available as a free e-book released under a Creative Commons license.

I’ve just started reading it, but so far it appears to be brilliant (as expected).

Now, if someone could steer me towards a non-PDF’d version suitable for putting on the PDA and hauling around to the places I tend to read e-books, that’d just be icing on the cake.

————

Update—Blackmask now has it up in seven different formats (tip of the hat to Teleread for the link)

Mmmm… Mobipocket goodness—I just love it when stuff moves at ‘net speeds…

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