Friday, July 23, 2010

Wanted: A Kindle DX with tricks, for cheap

Every time I visit Amazon, I see an ad for the 6'' Kindle e-reader for only $189. I confess I want one.

Although I expect I would seldom buy new books, I really like the idea of downloading a library of public domain books or reading PDF journal articles and apparently blog feeds without being tied to my computer. I like the e-ink technology, free access to wikipedia, and email anywhere.

Here's the thing: (1) I have a hard time justifying the purchase of something I can't quite convince myself I need. (One of my friends from college days likes to remind me of the time he gave me a Toonie and forced me to spend it...on candy.) (2) I'd much rather have the larger 9.7'' screen Kindle DX edition, but I don't want to pay $279 for it. (3) I'd also like to have access to a searchable library of original language biblical texts, but the Kindle apparently doesn't work with Hebrew yet. (4) This report from a Reed College pilot project suggests that the Kindle isn't ideal for the sort of reading I need want it for. (5) This "poor man's Ipad" looks like it has what I want (reading capability on a big screen), and is closer to my ideal price range.

All this reminds me that about five years ago I wanted a Palm Tungsten E2 personal data assistant. Remember them? In addition to managing addresses and appointments, the Palm played music, displayed pictures and videos, and came equipped with a PDF viewer and software that could display and edit Microsoft Office documents. Best of all was Bible+, a free add-on for which you could download original language versions of the Bible (Greek and Hebrew), Josephus, Philo, and Homer in Greek and English, the Apostolic Fathers, and so on. All this for $199 (or free, in my case--a long story). On the down side, entering data with a stylus was slow, the 3'' screen was too small for comfortable reading, and with a laptop and a five minute commute to work I simply don't need a personal data assistant.

I still charge up my Palm and take it along to academic conferences because it is nice to have ready access to Greek, Hebrew and English Bibles. During slow moments at graduation ceremonies I pull it out of my gown and drill Hebrew vocab. But most of the time it sits in a drawer as a mute reminder that today's big item will be tomorrow's landfill.

Still, I wouldn't mind playing around with one of those Kindles...


Karen said...

Too funny! I was just comparing the Kindle with the Sony, and the Nook (Barnes & Noble) e-readers yesterday. My first choice would probably be the Sony, and second the Kindle DX, but like you, I can hardly justify the expense-for me. The nice thing about the Kindle seems to be the speech to voice thing that might be good for Belle. But the Sony converts all kinds of files--I think, in my not-so-techy-savvy way. So we can dream--and by the time we get around to getting one, there will be something better out there.

d. miller said...

My impression is that Sony's are currently regarded as over-priced for what they offer. A free program called Calibre ( apparently makes it possible to transfer just about anything into any e-reader format.

Greg J said...

NO, don't buy e-books. I have a thing about having the actual hard copy, and I conjure up images in my mind of e-books turning out like the music industry. What would happen to my book shelf in all it's organized beauty, if all past and future literature only existed in digital form! Sure this new digi-biblioaic age could introduce new readers to the classics, but it could also render the traditional bound volume obsolete.
Say what you want about fancy touch screen LCD's, and slim portable designs holding hundreds of works, but I still love the feel of an old binding, the paper starting to yellow, and a strong musty smell emanating from the words, as if the story itself is giving off hints at what lies within its pages.
Sure the above posting may be slightly tongue in cheek, but I believe I a warranted concern.