Time – 00:00
Here is Mike, sat at a table.
Mike is a bespectacled, somewhat vague and dishevelled looking man of indeterminate age . He’s in front of his laptop – and frankly, they both look like they’ve seen better years.
From the half-open doorway comes a shout.
“This thing is amazing.”
With a grimace, Mike stands up. His brain is awhirl with Firmly-Held Opinions.
E-book readers? Do me a lemon. Yes, I’ve seen them in Borders – great hulking grey slabs looking like props from The Ten Commandments, almost none of the convenience of reading a book for 700 times the price. I’ll tell you what I want from an e-book reader: I want it to be like a book. The fact they never are is bewildering, given the name. Is the “e” bit code for “not”? And books are always, always going to be nicer to read than screens. Only an idiot would argue otherwise. And the day I can sit down in full sunlight, pull a device out my bag and start reading immediately is the day that…
Mike walks into the other room. And the clock starts.
Time – 00:10
Mike’s housemate A—— is playing with his new Kindle 3.
Mike immediately becomes aware of a few things.
The screen is incredible. It ain’t LCD. Ah, liquid crystals – you’re a wondrous thing. Liquid crystals go darker depending on the voltage running through them (hence “refresh rate), so to keep an image on a LCD you need to constantly feed energy into it. However, this power expenditure is dwarfed by the juice required to back-light an LCD. If you have any kind of gadget with a backlit display, power-saving tip number 1 is always “turn the brightness down”.
The Kindle doesn’t bother with any of that malarkey. It doesn’t use liquid crystals – it uses slimy bubbles, better known as electronic ink. The effect is astonishing, like a semi-transparent label stuck onto the screen. When he first unpacked his Kindle, Mike’s housemate hunted unsuccessfully for a corner to peel the ‘label’ off. Because it just doesn’t look like a screen.
It also doesn’t refresh, because once the ink-bubbles move around, they stay moved. And it doesn’t need to be backlit – it needs to be front-lit. Yes, like a real book. You have to read it in daylight, or get a clip-on light for the top. This means you can sit by the window with the sun washing over you, and read an electronic book. You can sit on the beach, getting a tan, reading your e-book. You don’t have to hide indoors. You don’t have to be reclusive anymore. Geeks never need be pasty-faced ever again.
Mike tries to hide the fact he’s impressed.
Time – 02:15
“Yeah, I’ll admit it looks nice. And the screen is amazing. But getting books on there is a hassle, isn’t it? I don’t mean the uploading, I’m presuming it’s all USB-driven – I mean the format. The Kindle book format. You’d have to convert things. What a pain.”
To demonstrate which end of the stick Mike has got hold of, A——- shows Mike how easy it is to get a book onto a Kindle.
“Yes, you can upload manually, but why bother when you can just e-mail it to yourself? A Kindle comes bundled with an Kindle account at Amazon, and your Kindle e-mail is your username with “@kindle.com” on the end. You e-mail your file to this addy – and the file automatically uploads to the Kindle, via its Wifi connection. Blink and you miss it. Or you can e-mail the file to Amazon, and they convert it into the easy-reading Kindle format and then mail it back…”
“Sorry sorry, back up. What do you mean ‘convert it’? What other formats will it read?”
“It reads PDFs?”
Mike has lots and lots of PDFs, from years of hoarding free ebooks. And he knows about Project Gutenberg and ManyBooks and other such sites, and tons of PDF-creation freeware, and he knows he can convert his CD collection of the 100-year archives of National Geographic into PDFs. He can read old National Geographics on his Kindle!
He realises he just said “his Kindle” to himself, and bites his lip.
Time – 03:15
“Bet it eats battery-power.”
“Lasts about a month.”
“Hahah, yeah, I thought….it what?”
“If it’s on standby, it’ll stay charged for a month. If you’re using it heavily, expect a couple of days before you have to juice it up again. Enough for a day or so’s travel, anyway. Oh, and check this out.”
“It plays audiobooks too?”
Time – 05:30
“Mike, you don’t look very well all of a sudden.”
I must haz I must haz I must haz I must haz “I’m absolutely fine, I’m just feeling slightly Kindled. Tired. Yes. Tired. Long day at ebook – at work. It’s amazing, and I’ve been itching to get back into reading again, and it’s wonderful to read books on the Precious. Uh. Did….did I just call it…? GET A GRIP, MAN. It’s an e-book reader, not a Thing Of Power.
“Oh, and lastly….there’s the connection thing.”
“Well, it’s Wi-Fi. I know.”
“Yes and no, Mike. The lower-priced model is Wi-Fi only, so you need to use home broadband or a Wi-Fi hotspot. However, the other model uses 3G connectivity, like mobile phones. You can download your books anywhere, for free. And…you can do this.”
“What? You….you PDF’d my blog? Well, that’s very flattering, but…”
“No, Mike. This is a web-browser. I’m accessing your blog on my Kindle. For free. It’s filed under Experimental so there’s probably a lot it’ll struggle with, but for webmail it’s absolutely….”
Worldwide, free e-mail access when you’re travelling. Forever.
It’s a Thing of Power.
Time – 06:55
“Want a cup of coffee, Mike? Wait…are you…..are you….”
“Yes I’m buying one from Amazon What of it After all YOU bought one Why shouldn’t I eh I feel no shame And it’s not as if I had anything important to do with this money I was putting aside for dire emergencies I mean it’s just sitting there in the bank isn’t it Nasty little bankses wants to takes our Kindles aways from ussses…”
Time – 07:00
A——- is on the phone to the local hospital, asking if this is a common reaction and if there’s anything he should do. Meanwhile, Mike is staring intently at his laptop screen, a little tear of joy rolling down his cheek…
>>Delivery estimate: 27 Oct 2010 – 29 Oct 2010
>>Dispatch estimate for these items: 25 Oct 2010
|>>||1||“Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, 6″ Display, Graphite – Latest Generation”
E-book readers? Oh, marvellous, aren’t they? Just like books! Only an idiot would argue otherwise. Well, as I’ve always said – die paper, die.