Saturday, June 25, 2011

8 reasons NOT to buy the Kindle

Of course everyone says that the Kindle is the best e-reader you can get. Also, Amazon has some amazing support. You are probably reading this article as someone who is looking to get an e-book reader, which is probably a Kindle. I am using my Kindle since the end of January 2011. Here are a few areas the Kindle is bad in. This article is written as a short Kindle shopping advice, and you might as well take these things with a pinch of salt.

Just so you know I am using a black, 3G version of the 3rd generation Kindle (not the DX).

PDF Reading

The PDF reader in a Kindle is a really useful feature. However, on the other hand, it can be hard to actually read a PDF on it depending on your document(s). I’ve had a passable experience with fairly-complex PDFs on the Kindle. But because the screen is so small, the text is usually very hard to read. When you zoom in, you will need to pan around to focus on text and other parts you need to focus at. That is also fine. If you have a document with lots of images and other complicated elements in it, every time you pan around, you will waste a couple seconds waiting for the screen to refresh.

I don’t know about other e-readers because I haven’t used anything other than the Kindle yet. You might have to look at reviews. If you are planning to read lots of PDFs, you might consider getting a tablet or something.

Talking about PDFs on the Kindle, I have a little tip that I can insert here: If you are reading a PDF with small text, try flipping the screen to landscape. It really helps and makes life so much easier.

Page Numbers and Locations

This is a huge one. The Kindle, until a while back, did not have real page numbers. This led to problems with students (and other people) not being able to cite Kindle versions of books in their work.

The Kindle has ‘Locations’. And these things are pretty weird. Even Amazon doesn’t seem to have a guide on understanding them. What I think is that the text in a book is divided up on every couple of lines and each is called a Location. So, the ‘page number substitutes’ work across devices with differently size screens. Thus, it is also easy to talk with other Kindle readers about certain parts of a book, as the (really large) numbers are universal in the Kindle ecosystem.

Recently, with an update, the Kindle was able to display real page numbers, but only to an extent. Amazon is adding real page numbers to the books on the Kindle Store. They’re done with thousands of them (especially bestsellers), but then obviously not all books will have them.

Web Browser

While some people will be attracted by the free 3G service all over the world, note that the Kindle is not an Internet device. It’s an e-reader. It has an ‘experimental’ web browser and an e-ink display. That simply means that the Internet experience is really bad.

The browser is pretty slow and sluggish, and it might be good to look a few things up while you are reading. It might be good to check Facebook (mobile version only; desktop version makes it crash horribly) or read Reddit while you are traveling abroad. But you cannot go about surfing the whole wide web with it. It does support HTML5 to an extent, but it does not have Flash (of course) and it will slow down when you try to read large websites with lots of flashy stuff on it.

Network Features

I have pointed out that the web browsing is poor to mediocre on the Kindle. But if you are planning to get the Wi-Fi only version and use it to connect to your school or work network, bear a few things in mind. The Kindle does not support proxy settings. If your workplace or school uses a proxy server to filter content through, you will not be able to use your Kindle on it.

The Kindle will only connect to infrastructure networks. It does not support ad-hoc. It means that if you want to use Wi-Fi anyways, you need a wireless router and a full network. You can’t use a computer-to-computer network and expect a Kindle to connect to it.

No Custom Fonts and Screensavers

The Kindle comes with three different fonts: a serif, a sans-serif and a ‘condensed’ version of the serif font. You can change the size of the text, and not a lot more than that. You are not able to add any new, custom fonts to your device. The NOOK seems to have a lot more fonts and settings for text than the Kindle.

There is no official way to get new screensavers onto the Kindle. Screensavers are images that are displayed on the screen when the device is sleeping. The Kindle comes with several photos, which has some old artworks, photos of authors and the like. They soon get boring.

While Amazon doesn’t have a problem with people jailbreaking the device (software is open-source, based on Linux) and changing these things, and the process itself is really easy and reversible, some people might refrain from doing so.

No ePub Support

Before getting the Kindle, I never read any e-books from other online stores. I did not have a library of lots of ePub format titles anywhere. If this is the case with you also, you won’t have to worry about anything.

The Kindle doesn’t support the widely supported ePub format for e-books (at least at the time of this writing). Amazon uses its own .azw format for books. If you do have lots of ePub books already, you won’t be able to read it on your new Kindle unless you go out and use a program like Calibre to convert all of them. You might consider getting the Barnes & Noble NOOK.

If you do get a Kindle and start purchasing titles from the Amazon Store, you will get trapped into the Kindle ecosystem. I don’t think that’s a problem for me, personally, as there are Kindle apps available for so many other platforms, but it may depend on your preferences too.

Few International Limitations

If you are living outside the US, there might be certain limitations on your Kindle experience. A few books and magazines might not be available in your country. Amazon charges a $1-$2 surcharge on several books (especially free ones) to international customers. Also, lending won’t work for you. With a certain limitations, people in America can lend several books to other Kindle users for a short period of time. While you can, in most cases borrow a book, you cannot lend one unless you live in the US.

Some people use fake American addresses to get around this, I do not do it myself and I don’t recommend you to do so either.

Keyboard Quality

This is what a lot of people are complaining about. The keyboard has pretty thin and faint markings on it. If you use it a lot, it seems to wear out quickly. The directional keys will wear out first, which isn’t a problem, and then gradually the commonly used other buttons will start to wear out.

Actually, this isn’t always the keys wearing out. While it may seem that they are wearing out, usually it is the dirt from your fingers getting deposited onto the keys. You can, in most cases, clean it out with a damp cloth or soap solution. But it still doesn’t generally appear to have fixed the problem entirely.


These are just a few things that the Kindle is bad at. You might want to add your own opinions in the comments below. That said, the Kindle is also a wonderful device. I love mine, and reading is a pleasure on its screen. And in my opinion, the benefits of using the Kindle far outweigh the things mentioned above. One of them is the expansive library of all kinds of titles available through Amazon, unlike most other e-book stores.

Have I made your mind up? Get the Kindle here.

Have fun with your new e-reader (no matter what you choose to get) and remember to comment below.