My First Kindle: I Finally Stopped Multitasking And Got Lost In A Novel

My First Kindle: I Finally Stopped Multitasking and Got Lost in a Novel

Still don't have an ereader? I can respect that. Physical books just feel better. Print is sacred. I'm with you — or at least I was, until our reviews editor thrust a Kindle in my hand and made me use it.

Gizmodo loves technology. Our product reviews are presented thanks to Dick Smith.

  • Screen Size: 6-inch
  • Screen Type: Carta e-paper (touchscreen)
  • Resolution: 167dpi
  • Battery: Up to four weeks
  • Storage: 4GB
  • Charging: yes (microUSB 2.0)

Amazon has just updated its bare-bones, entry-level Kindle to finally include touchscreen navigation like phones and tablets, and we figured it might just be cheap enough for ye holdouts to finally give ereaders a try. And so with a reluctant mix of analogue nostalgia and gadget snobbery, I turned on my first Kindle.

Right away I noticed that the display's dull lighting and grayish tint — the Kindle's Pearl e-ink display — is indeed a very welcome break from the constant headache-y glow of laptop and smartphone screens. It mimics the traditional ink-on-paper look better than I'd expected.

The screen was easy to read in the (rare) shine of bright sun, but the lack of built-in light also means you won't be reading at night unless you're shining a lamp on the device. Even trying to make out the screen text in Gawker's dark cave of an office was a strain — I immediately found myself searching for how to adjust the brightness level, which of course you can't.

My First Kindle: I Finally Stopped Multitasking and Got Lost in a Novel

[Ed: Pricier ereaders come with built-in lights, like the Kindle Paperwhite, which also feels superior to this model in most every other way.]

That's no love lost for bookworms already used to squinting at a printed page. Navigating around the Kindle's features, however — even with a touchscreen — took some getting used to. Granted, I was lazy and didn't bother to read the beginner's guide the gadget so handily comes loaded up with, and actually got stuck in a book flipping through pages like a dope before figuring out you tap the top left corner to get back to the home screen. (Tip: read the guide.)

My First Kindle: I Finally Stopped Multitasking and Got Lost in a Novel

Make fun, but the point is, navigation isn't exactly intuitive — especially if you've been locked in Apple's ecosystem for the last decade. It took me several hours to shake the instinct to scroll down for more text instead of tapping to turn the page.

The latency was considerably more frustrating. The updated basic Kindle boasts 20% faster processing speeds than its predecessor, but it was suuuper slow compared to my phone. I finally gave up searching for books on the device itself and opted to shop on Amazon's much more user-friendly website from my computer. Then I just transferred books to the reader over Wi-Fi.

The good news is the lightweight device is real easy to transport. Margaret Atwood traveled with me to the bar, the concert, and the yoga class without a hitch. I shoved in my tiny bag without a care. Since the display isn't glass, I could read it while walking down a busy sidewalk, balancing it precariously with my coffee and muffin, stress-free. And unlike the five novels you were ambitiously planning to finish next vacation, it's easy to tuck into an overpacked suitcase or even a large pocket, plus it stays charged for weeks so no need to cart along the cord too.

My First Kindle: I Finally Stopped Multitasking and Got Lost in a Novel

If you're a voracious reader, there are plenty of other benefits to taking your literary prowess into the 21st century. The built-in dictionary is handy for those re-cher-ché words you encounter, social media integration if social reading is your thing, annotations to scribble notes in the digital margins, instant gratification through one-click purchases and speedy downloads, and thousands of books packed into 190g.

I didn't use any of these bells and whistles beyond some basic experimentation. But then, I'm not a voracious reader. If I'm being honest, I haven't read an entire book in months. A neverending stream of news stories, magazines and social media content yeah, but not a book. And for those of us used to being glued to the latest, fastest, shiniest, app-packed gadget, this no-frills reader is going to feel like a time warp into the past. It's worth considering that for just a little bit more you could get Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD 6 and get a tablet that doubles as an ereader.

My First Kindle: I Finally Stopped Multitasking and Got Lost in a Novel

Kindle Fire HD 6 is on the left.

Amazon Kindle

Price: $119

  • Removes multitasking urges.
  • Super-portable.
  • Built-in dictionary, social media.
Don't Like
  • Slightly archaic.
  • Unnecessary bells and whistles.
  • Lag on page turns.

But that's missing the point. You're not going to buy the basic Kindle because it's the best ereader out there. You're not going to buy it instead of a tablet. You're going to buy it because you love to read. If that's the case, now's a good time to take the plunge.

Would I get one? I really expected the answer to be no — I've got a backlog of Pocket reads doing a perfectly fine job of filling up my commute. But I realised the greatest value of the Kindle and its ilk is that it's not possible to surf the web or really do anything at all except immerse yourself in the text. This perfectly decent if somewhat archaic ereader managed to force me to stop multitasking and totally lose myself in a novel again, and that's probably worth 80 bucks to me.

But not for everyone. Here's my colleague Michael Hession's perspective on why phones still make the best readers.

Pictures: Nick Stango



    Nice piece and mostly spot-on. Whilst it is definitely noticeable, I don't find the lag in page turn annoying, it is just a thing that you quickly accept as what it is. If there is one thing that annoys me with my Kindle it is the lack of responsiveness to touch. I often have to press 2 or 3 times to get a page to turn and it can get annoying. I often do a bit of reading on my phone or tablet but neither can match the Kindle for extended reading sessions.

    I bought a Kobo mini about 2 years ago and have been reading at least an hour and a half every work day since. Easily the best 50 bucks I ever spent. I've read around 40 books in that time.

    I don't know what I'd do without my e-reader now, I'd be completely lost.

    I had an e-reader a while ago, but I sat on it and it didn't recover as well as an actual book. I should definitely get another, it was infinitely better than using my tablet.

    I prefer to use my tablet or, as needed, my phone. I have one or both devices on me wherever I go and lately, when reading for pleasure, it's dependent on available time and what's available to me at that moment.

    Definitely worth paying the extra for the Paperwhite, aside from reading in the dark the best bit is not having to turn the "book" to get good lighting on the text, just sit/ lay where ever you like and still have good clear readable text.
    LCD devices suck big time for prolonged reading sessions.

    My favourite feature about my kindle really is its ability to let me focus on the book at hand.

    I sometimes wonder if Gizmodo journalists worked in the advertising industry at some point.
    Lets be honest here Meg, most journalists nowadays have all the integrity of used car salesmen.
    Sell outs the lot of you.

    Last edited 08/11/14 9:25 am

    You make me laugh I can imagine that I'm not the only one who got drag of this Kindle reading. Anyway, I have a question for you guys, does anyone here use for organizing book notes? Just wondered how anyone else was managing their notes?

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