Over the holidays Dan and I received two “big” technology gifts; both of which we hope will make life and travel easier as expats. The first is a netbook, which I’m writing on right now and which, while not 100% awesome, should make it easier for me to blog on the go. But the dark horse favorite from the holidays is our brand new Amazon Kindle complete with 3G access.
If you are unfamiliar with the Kindle, it is a dedicated eReader for digital books. It uses “eInk” which basically only uses electricity when refreshed and in addition to ebook reading and newspaper subscriptions, includes some basic games and a (truly terrible) web browser. A quick Google will hook you up with more information than you ever wanted, so I’ll move on.
Dan actually was the one who wanted the Kindle. I’ve been resisting a dedicated eReader for a while; feeling that a more multifunctional unit would be a better bang for our buck. But when we finally unwrapped the thing and I got the change to hold the smooth tablet in my hand and use it, I couldn’t stop gushing over how wonderful it is:
Over our 4 week vacation I read 6 novels, three of them on the Kindle.
It’s the ease of access to really sold us on the eReader concept as a whole. English language books are available in Maastricht, but not always in the genres we want to read and when we buy them they are both expensive and add to the “stuff” already overflowing our apartment. We outgrew our bookshelf in our first year and haven’t expanded our shelving space only because there is nowhere to put a second one. I’m hoping the Kindle will let us do more reading without adding to our overall clutter.
The 3G on our Kindle is also a big selling point for us. We received an American version of the Kindle, but that’s ok. We actually get most of our major electronics that way; a concession to our expected return to the United States. But the 3G works globally; basically making the Kindle an easy way to download books anywhere we’re likely to be. We could even use the web browser function without wireless and without extra cost, if we absolutely had to. Like our Android smartphones, I love having this sort of ubiquitous internet access.
There are some downsides to the tablet of course. eInk is a black and light gray-only display, web browsing is awful, PDFs display terribly, and the lack of a touch screen seems weirdly old-fashioned (especially after playing with my mother’s iPad for a week prior). But overall I was shocked that I enjoy the dedicated platform as much as I do. In tandem with the laptops Dan & I already carry for other activities, the Kindle serves a nice little niche function for us very well.
But maybe in a couple of years they’ll update it to be better for comics. I can always hope.