Kindle: Colour me still unconvinced

So Amazon has launched the Kindle, its e-book reader, with a press release and an event with CEO Jeff Bezos, which TechCrunch is live-blogging. Several sites have hands-on details, including Engadget (which I would be happy to pay for, Ryan, just not via a monthly fee).

If anything, my skepticism about the Kindle — some of which I allowed to escape in this post yesterday about the paying for blogs option — has increased. And not just because it looks (as someone said) like a giant version of a Handspring PDA from 1997, although I think that’s going to reduce the demand more than Amazon might like to think.

The thing that I’m really torn about is the wireless connectability. On the one hand, it’s great to have a device that can download books (although it reportedly takes a while), and it’s nice that Amazon has built that into the price. But then you have to pay to access the RSS feeds of blogs, which makes no sense — especially if, as Boing Boing notes, you can go to the blog directly with the built-in “experimental” browser. At this point, I feel compelled to use the phrase “WTF?” again.

The wireless also isn’t Wi-Fi, but a specially configured version of EVDO, so you can’t do all kinds of things with it. In other words, the wireless connection is sort of crippled, just as a whole series of other things about the device are crippled — and that would include the inability to put certain kinds of content on there because of the proprietary or restricted formats that Amazon is using.

I’m with Rex Hammock on this one: I would much rather have a larger version of the iPod Touch (assuming we could hack it, of course). Saul Hansell thinks we might get something like that in the future. Fred Wilson — who was approached about including his blog on the Kindle — says he thinks the whole idea of a dedicated e-book reader is ridiculous, and Kevin Kelly says he sees e-books as just one possible app on the Cloudbook of the future.


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