Kindling a Fire

This morning I received an email from Amazon to say that they are launching their new generation of Kindles in the UK soon (25th October, to be precise). They have been available in the US for a while already.

I have now had my Kindle for about 2 years and I’m still finding it to be a very useful tool. It is a 3rd generation device, one of the ones with a built-in keyboard, monochrome screen and wireless connectivity (I decided against paying extra for the 3G-connected version).

The main benefit, for me, of the Kindle is the ability to store many books in a very small space. This is particularly useful when travelling as I no longer have to decide which 2 or 3 books to squeeze into my luggage; instead, I can take an entire library of several hundred books (I’ve lost count how many are now on my Kindle) in roughly the same space as a medium-sized paperback. The E Ink display is much easier to read than a typical computer screen for extended periods and the size is better than my phone, whose display is cramped (battery life is also significantly better on the Kindle). The loss of ability to easily flick through a book is largely compensated by the ability to search and to set up bookmarks and highlights, although I wouldn’t want to completely replace my existing dead tree library with e-books.

The most obvious feature of the new Kindle Fire devices is the colour display. This would be particularly good for viewing graphic novels and photos within books, although would also make the covers look nicer. Apparently these devices can also be used for watching videos and accessing Skype and other internet services, as well as generally being faster and, presumably, having more storage space than the older models.

At some point I’d certainly like to get a Kindle Fire. However, for now I’m quite content to stick with my old Kindle. I have several computers and a phone which I can use for internet access and I don’t have a lot of e-books with colour illustrations that would benefit from the improved display. I suppose my Kindle will eventually wear out or I’ll accumulate enough books with colour pictures to make it worth investing in a new one. By that time, it’s quite possible that the Kindle Fire will have been replaced by something even better.