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Kindle wishlist

When Amazon came out with the Kindle 2, they did away with a couple of things that had been present in the Kindle 1, specifically an SD card, and a user changeable battery. I do wish Kindle batteries could be changed by the user, but I suspect the sale of Kindles at Best Buy and Target could also mean batteries can be replaced there, at some future date when they start to go bad. As for the SD card, it was actually a pain to have to worry about whether a book was on the SD card or in the Kindle memory, which was small and filled up on me once or twice. So long as storage is adequate and my Amazon archive is readily available, I'm fine with no SD card.

When they went from the K2 to the K3, the biggest loss was the number row, which is now gone from the keyboard; you have to type numbers with the Symbol panel or with Alt+a letter. We also lost the title of the book as a header; which gives a bigger reading area, but I liked having the book title (and the battery strength) in the header while I was reading. I can make it show temporarily by pressing menu but I can't make it stay.

Aside from what's different, there are some things that are exactly the same on the Kindle 3 as they were on the Kindle 2, that I was hoping would be better. Most of them have to do with the robot voice in the text-to-speech feature. This function is really handy; it upset publishers when Kindle 2 came out with it (although for some reason I have not heard a peep of protest about it being in iBooks), but I don't see why they're worried. The robot voice reading is so not a real audiobook! Unless you have no other way to "read" a book, you probably wouldn't want to listen to a whole book read aloud in this way. The male voice sounds a tad like Stephen Hawking and the woman sounds like an automated teller ("your account has ... thirty-seven dollars-and . . . twenty-two cents.").

Some of the limitations are understandable. English is full of hertonyms, so I can see where it would be nearly impossible for the robot to know whether to say bowed (as when a person bends at the waist) or bowed (as when someone ran a bow across a violin).

Likewise I can where Roman numerals in text are problematic. Henry V is read as Henry Vee, not Henry the Fifth. Making it not do that would be tricky, and unless you're reading European history, it's not going to come up that much. Ditto encountering sounds rather than words, like "mmm" (read as M M M) and "Shhh!" (read as S H H H).

But I don't understand why the Kindle robot can't figure out that it needs to pause after a question mark or exclamation mark. When it reads a sentence that ends in a period (a full stop, for you Brits), it pauses, but when it reads a sentence that ends in a question mark, it doesn't, so:

"Are you hungry?"

Comes out as: Are you hungry no

And this is in spite of the fact that the robot actually does have a bit of rising inflection when it encounters a question mark, so the question does sound like a question. It also doesn't pause for em dashes, although it does for two hyphens.

Also, the default reading speed is about right, and the slower setting is understandable, but the faster setting is comically fast (imagine Stephen Hawking on speed!). I don't see why there can't be more than three settings.

And finally, although they added social networking, so I can what other folks highlight, or tweet my highlights (like I needed that!) there is still no easy way to let Amazon know when a book has bad formatting. It would be nice if that was a menu option!

So, officially, my Kindle wishlist is:

1) Restore the number row or at least print the numbers on or above the Alt+letter keys
2) Make the batter user-changeable, or at least give me a place to get it changed while I wait, like a watch
3) Provide a toggle key to show/hide the book title in the header
4) Provide an easy interface to report problems with the book
5) Make the robot voice better about punctuation
6) Offer a sliding scale of reading speeds

Oh, did I leave out the part where it only cost $49? -) (I'm sure the day will come but don't hold your breath)

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 14th, 2010 09:07 am (UTC)
I agree with your wishlist. I would add that one of the reasons I dislike being in a wholly owned environment like amazon's, is that the owners of the environment can be prescriptive.

For example, if this reading device were made by Google, you would have a choice to display a header or not. To display battery life or not etc.
Sep. 14th, 2010 11:53 am (UTC)
I dunno about that. After the whole Google Books thing, I am beginning to think Google is every bit as monopolistic as Microsoft. I think, actually, that the problem is Jeff Bezos wants to be Steve Jobs. One of the biggest complaints about the Kindle 1 was that it was ugly, and not at all sleek, like an Apple product. Apple are master of the walled garden approach; it's a pretty garden, but they decide what to plant. Bezos seems to be taking that to heart.
Sep. 14th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC)
I'm not saying google=good. I'm saying that google believe they make more money out of things being open.

The whole walled garden approach was summed up by a story I heard:

When Apple are thinking of putting out a new phone they have teams working on all different prototypes: a six inch one; a four inch one; a colour one; a white one etc...

Steve Jobs walks into the room with all the prototypes and picks out the one that he thinks is best for the market.

The process is similar with android (google) phones, except that all the prototypes are released and you, the consumer, are the one who gets to decide which one you want.
Sep. 14th, 2010 01:25 pm (UTC)
>you, the consumer, are the one who gets to decide which one you want.

I get to be Steve Jobs? Fantastic!
Sep. 14th, 2010 01:25 pm (UTC)
with all the money and special hotdogs!
Sep. 14th, 2010 12:03 pm (UTC)
Actually, I left one thing off, mostly because I don't think there is a chance in hell it would happen any time soon, and that is, I wish the Kindle worked for library ebooks!
Sep. 14th, 2010 01:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that would be nice. The Sony reader already does that, for example.
Sep. 14th, 2010 01:26 pm (UTC)
Yeah, and so does the Nook, which I thought was more interesting. Sony didn't sell books before they started making the Reader, but B&N have always been book sellers not lenders.
Sep. 14th, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the Nook might be a good one, but not here in Ireland. Not that it matters. In terms of sheer getting the books I want, when I want them, the Kindle is the best choice for me at present. It's a great device with a few flaws that I can easily live with.
Sep. 14th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC)
When people ask me what eReader to buy, I tell them to look at who has the books they want (including library books if that's important). What use is an eReader if you can't get books for it?

Although some folks just love the touch screen idea, which, for e-ink pretty much means Sony.
Sep. 14th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's funny how used I gotten to touch screens since I got my android phone. On the kindle, I sometimes still reach with my finger to click on something :) But it's a reading device and if you can do that to your heart's content, the touch screen really doesn't matter.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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