Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

Following in Sony’s footsteps, Amazon has just launched their “Kindle” device.

Like the Sony Reader, the Amazon Kindle uses an electronic paper display.

Here’s a comparison of the two:

  Sony Reader Amazon Kindle
Price $299.99 $399.00
Screen 6″ 8-grayscale 600×800 E-ink 6″ 4-grayscale 600×800 E-ink
Storage 256MB? 256MB
Expansion SD card SD card
Native Formats BBeB Book, TXT, RTF, PDF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, MP3, AAC Kindle (AZW), TXT, Audible, MP3
Weight 9 oz. 10.3 oz.

6.9″ x 4.8″ x 0.3″ 7.5″ x 5.3″ x 0.7″
Inputs 0-9 keys, page next/back, 4-way d-pad keyboard, page next/back, scroll wheel
Wireless none EVDO (free access)
Text Sizes 3 6

At first glance, the Sony Reader looks better, with a $100 cheaper price, a newer version of the E-ink screen, a sleeker design, and support for more file types natively. However, by adding free EVDO wireless and a keyboard, the Amazon Kindle lets you buy books and download content from the reader itself. Plus Amazon may have the weight to get more publishers on-board with the idea of eBooks than Sony can.

Either way, some competition is a good thing, and will hopefully drive the price down and the quality up. $300 and $400 are still too pricey for the average user.

Amazon MP3s – Initial Experience

I decided to try out the new Amazon MP3 service before going to bed.

The first thing I noticed was that for previews, Amazon uses RealPlayer. I’m not a big fan of RealPlayer, as in the past it was an invasive app that had all sorts of control panels and took over all media playing functions. Maybe it’s not like that anymore, but I didn’t really want to install RealPlayer. So instead, I opened iTunes. The albums I was looking at were available in both Amazon and iTunes, so I used iTunes to listen to previews.

After listening to a few clips, I decided on an album to download:

The Sunset Tree, by The Mountain Goats

It is $9.99 on iTunes, and $8.99 on Amazon.

When I click to buy the album, Amazon alerts me that I have to download and install their “tiny app” to complete the sale. Uh-oh. I am suspicious. Is this a tracking app, or controlling my usage, or just bloatware?

I download an install the app. It *is* pretty tiny (under 600k), and seems to be just a file download queue system. I set it to not automatically add the downloaded songs to iTunes (I’ll put them on the media server and link to them from there).

I complete the checkout, and it prompts me to download a .amz file, apparently a download queue list for the downloader app. The files start downloading. The process is quick.

Once they are done, I copy the files from that directory to the media server downstairs, and add links to them to the iTunes library.

I listen to the album as I sync the songs onto my iPod.

Overall, the whole process was quick and pretty easy. I’ll have to install RealPlayer if I want to hear preview clips, not something I’m happy about, but other than that, they have a better product than Apple.

Amazon has a higher bitrate (256 on Amazon vs. 128 on iTunes), more universal file format (MP3 vs. Apple’s AAC), no DRM, and cheaper prices than Apple! I may never buy from iTunes again.