The $49 Kindle

This should be free.

KindleTwo days ago, one of my Facebook friends posted a status update that linked to a CNET article titled “Get a Kindle with Special Offers for $49 Shipped.” The article detailed the hoops you’d have to jump through to get a 6″ refurbished Kindle for just $49. The device normally retails for $69.

No Need for a Kindle

I don’t have a Kindle. I never wanted one. I had a NOOK on order when they were first announced, but since B&N took so damn long to deliver and the iPad was announced while I waited, I canceled my NOOK order and bought an iPad. I’ve upgraded it for various reasons ever since.

I love my iPad. I use it for all kinds of things, from monitoring the weather (Weatherbug, Intellicast apps) to planning and tracking long flights in my helicopter (Foreflight app). I also use it as an ebook reader with the iBooks, Kindle, and NOOK apps.

Ironically, it’s the Kindle app that I prefer. Amazon has a good selection of books and can synchronize them between up to 5 devices. There are Kindle readers for iPad, iPhone, and Mac OS — as well as other devices. So I can buy a Kindle ebook and read it on any device at any time — and keep my pages synchronized. No, it doesn’t support the kind of Interactive features available in books created in iBooks Author, but since Apple takes so damn long to approve those books, there aren’t many to choose from. And if there was an Interactive book I wanted, I could look at it in iBooks. If I had just a Kindle device, I couldn’t do that.

In my mind, the Kindle is an extremely limited ebook reading device. While I know some folks think the Kindle Fire is pretty close to an iPad, they’re only fooling themselves.

A Sucker for a Good Deal?

As an ebook author, I always wondered what my books would look like on a real Kindle. So there was a certain desire to get my hands on one — even temporarily — to see what it could do and how it looked. $49 seemed a pretty low price to pay to satisfy my curiosity, especially since I had a $300 credit on my Amazon.com account from selling my iPad 2 to them. So there wouldn’t even be any out-of-pocket cost.

So I jumped through all the hoops — not an easy task on a day when my 3G connection was in full frustration mode — and bought one.

It arrived today.

My Observations

Kindle with Packaging
Smart packaging. Really. (But no, that isn’t a cup of coffee on my Kindle. It’s one of the ads that appear automatically when it powers down.)

Amazon obviously took some cues from Apple on the packaging. They designed a simple cardboard box just the right size for the device and the USB cable that comes with it. Tasteful, simple. Slap a label on it and throw it in the mail. Amazon calls this “frustration-free packaging” — and it is.

When I first pulled out the Kindle, I admit I was somewhat impressed. It was very small and lightweight — like a thin paperback book. I could imagine myself reading a book on the device — throwing it in my purse and pulling it out when I was having lunch or waiting on line somewhere. Of course, I already do that with my iPad — would I take one instead of the other? I doubted it.

I plugged it into a power source to make sure it was fully charged. It came to life, prompting me for my language.

And that’s when the frustration began.

You see, I’m so accustomed to a touch-screen that I couldn’t immediately figure out how to use the buttons. To make matters worse, every time I tried to press the Select button (in the middle of a 5-way controller), I wound up pushing either the up or down button on the controller. Seeing the button I needed to “press” onscreen and not being able to just tap it was driving me bonkers.

But I got past that — at least at first — and got my next surprise: a wifi connection was required to use the device. For some reason, I thought all Kindles had built-in wireless capabilities. Silly me.

So, for a bit more irony, I connected the Kindle to my iPad’s wifi hotspot. That got my account set up so I could start looking at my library.

Around then, I was a bit irked to see that the bottom part of the screen was taken up with a banner advertisement. This 1/2 inch ad appears on the Home screen and changes periodically. I’m not sure where it comes from, because it appears even when wifi is disabled. Right now, it’s advertising an HGTV show called “Design Star.” I don’t think there’s any TV show that could possibly interest me less. Odd that Amazon.com, which knows what I’ve been reading about and buying for the past 5+ years, can’t target an ad toward my interests.

I fumbled around a bit and then realized that I really needed to learn more about how to use the Kindle before trying to read one of my own books. It doesn’t come with any printed documentation — which is really no surprise — and I didn’t have much trouble finding and opening the manual that’s included on the device. I read up about it but before I could do anything else, I got a phone call and stepped away.

When I returned to the Kindle, it was displaying a fullscreen ad.

Apparently, when you leave it alone, it displays a “screensaver.” In the world of Kindle, screensaver = advertisement. It took me a while to figure out how to make it go away. I had to power it back up. The screensaver remains on screen when the device powers itself off. Repeatedly turning the device on and off displays a different “screensaver” each time it’s powered down.

I realized then that Amazon had gotten me to pay $49 for an advertisement delivery device. That’s downright offensive to me.

I played around with it a little more. I found the page turning buttons unintuitive, requiring me to push down instead of in. That might seem like a minor distinction, but with a device small enough to hold in the palm of my hand, it seems more logical to turn a page by squeezing it instead of using a finger on my other hand to press down while holding it. And, of course, my brain keeps telling me to press the right button on the 5-way controller.

And did I mention the delay when turning pages in the books it’s designed for reading? The current page kind of blurs or darkens out before the other page appears. Like a blink. I thought they’d fixed that problem.

As for the much-touted annotation feature, to enter notes on this Kindle, you have to deal with its keyboard. That opens a whole new world of hurt. The keyboard has tabs for symbols, lowercase, uppercase, and international characters. You need to get to the right tab to type the right character. (God help you if your wifi password is a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols; it could take quite some time to enter those characters.) Then you need to use the 5-way controller and its center button to highlight and select characters. Rather than presenting them in standard QWERTY order, they’re alphabetical. I could imagine myself forgetting what note I wanted to type before I’d typed the first few words.

Even defining words requires you to use the controller to navigate to the beginning of the word you want to define. I’m not sure if I’d care enough to bother.

My Conclusions

Before actually getting my hands on this, I thought, hey what’s $49? Seems like a good deal to me. But in the less than 60 minutes I played with the Kindle, getting more and more frustrated every time I tried to do something, I realized that this device should be free, like razors used to be.

Do people actually like this device? Use all of its features — including the nightmarishly designed keyboard? Tolerate its never-ending stream of uninteresting ads?

I can’t and won’t. I’d lose my sanity trying to use this regularly. I could burn a $50 bill and get more satisfaction for money spent.

This puppy is going back to Amazon. I’m sure there are plenty of other suckers out there who think it’s a good deal. Let them give it a whirl.

35 thoughts on “The $49 Kindle

  1. I also got one for $50, and I can agree with most of your points, except the screen flickering and the keyboard. Yes, the keyboard is awful. But it’s not really meant to be used. This kindle runs the exact same software as the nicer ones that have touch screens and hardware keyboards. The screen flicker is just the way eInk displays work. Without it, you would not get the great readability in direct sunlight and the 30 day battery life.
    You just have to remember that the Kindle is really intended only for consuming plain books linearly, not for reference or research. And for that, it does an excellent job.
    The ads are what get you the $50 price point. You can actually go into your Amazon control panel and pay $30 to have them removed, or order the $30 more version.

    • I agree that the purpose of the Kindle is book consumption, however, I don’t think it’s a very good device for that. And if the keyboard isn’t for use, why include it?

      It just seems like a very poorly designed device. Almost like they threw something together to do a job and then decided to make it cheap by subsidizing it with advertising.

      While I realize that many people don’t have iPads or tablet devices that are so far superior to this Kindle, it still bothers me that companies are designing and selling devices this bad. People who don’t know any better might think that this is the state of technology for ebook readers. In reality, there are so many better options out there — including, I assume, better Kindles.

      Do you plan to keep your $50 Kindle? Someone has offered to buy mine, but I can’t, in good conscience, sell it to him. Instead I’ll return to Amazon.

  2. I’m gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you on pretty much every point you make.

    I bought my Kindle a few months ago for $90 (I bought mine new, kind of a sucker move, but I’ve been burned by refurbished electronics in the past). It is the exact same model you got, just new instead of refurbished, with the complete lack of keyboard and everything, including the advertising feature that you hate so much. When I first heard about this ad-supported Kindle thing, I had much the same reaction you did: I thought it was a terrible money-grubbing scheme by a mega-corporation to try to soak consumers for extra money. Then I thought about it, and, having actually used one for a while, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Honestly, when I read your entry, I couldn’t even remember the banner at the bottom of the home screen and had to go check.

    When I made the decision to buy a Kindle, I had a brief internal debate about whether to get the $90 ad-supported version or the $120 non-ad-supported version. To me, $30 is a lot of money (I’m spending a depressing percentage of my paycheck on helicopter training at the moment), and so I went with the ad-supported version. The home screen banner is…there. It definitely is. I noticed it the first time I turned the thing on. And, as I previously stated, promptly forgot about it. I never cared enough to spot it again. But, I can see how it could be kind of annoying. It is taking up space that could probably display an extra book or two and keep you from having to scroll through your library listing. However, the ads that you really hate, the “screen saver” ads that took you so long to get rid of…I hardly notice them any more (also, if you leave the wifi off, after a while a placeholder comes up that exhorts you to connect to wifi to download “…the latest offers…”. I know that’s not an option for you since you sync your books to your Amazon account, but I thought I’d mention it). I usually turn my Kindle off manually when I’m not using it, to keep from accidentally turning pages or something while it’s riding around in my pocket or bag or whatever. Turning it back on takes less time than bringing my phone back up from sleep (no code to punch in), and takes me straight back to the last place I was. I just don’t see a problem here. If the ads themselves were offensive (if they started trying to sell you racist literature or Viagra or something) then I could definitely understand that hatred. I used to have that problem with some of the sites I visited bringing up pop-up ads for all kinds of things my barely-teenage mind wasn’t really prepared to handle. But when the worst thing they sell is shampoo…not a big issue. Also, if $50 is no big deal to you, then an extra $30 on top of that, shouldn’t be either, as a previous poster stated, you can turn them off.

    Comparing the Kindle to the iPad is very difficult. Especially the extreme base model Kindle, as opposed to the Fire or one of the other more expensive models. They’re two very different devices for two very different purposes. The iPad is, effectively, a small, under-powered laptop, and is priced pretty much how you’d expect (for this example I’ll use the $399 base model). The Kindle is a device designed and built to do one thing, and one thing only: display books. The iPad has a perfectly good app that will do the exact same thing. My phone (a Droid) has a very similar app. Unfortunately, they both have the same problem: the screen. For a long time, I used my Droid’s screen to read various books, and absolutely hated it. Getting the screen brightness just right so that it wasn’t sending massive shafts of pain directly into my eyeballs, but the letters were still clearly visible was a constant battle. The Kindle, on the other hand, functions almost the same as a standard book. To demonstrate the problems of the Kindle to a friend of mine, I actually had to hunt for a bad spot that got the glare from a light to be in the exact wrong space. Sometime, try reading anything on the iPad in bright sunlight, almost can’t be done. Finding the right amount of shade to be able to see anything at all is incredibly difficult, and something I struggle with on my phone. With the Kindle, I’ve never had any problems.

    To your point about the “keyboard”. I actually found it less massively annoying than you did, but I grew up playing video games that used a similar “keyboard” setup, so I can definitely understand how annoying it is. I can’t speak from much experience here, since I’ve used the annotation function exactly once (ironically, to note something in the PDF copy of the Rotorcraft Flying Handbook I was reading), found it horrible and don’t bother with it anymore. But then, I didn’t get it to take notes with. There are three, more expensive, versions that would be much simpler if that’s what you’re looking for. The one I would have actually preferred to get (had I the money) is the DX model, which has a physical keyboard in addition to the soft keyboard, which would make it far easier to type whatever you wanted. Then there’s the Touch model, which has a touch-sensitive screen, and is otherwise exactly the same. Then there’s the Fire, but why would you get a Fire when you already have an iPad, since they’re pretty much the same thing?

    Your subsequent question about why they don’t turn off those features on this version is somewhat mystifying to me. Why would they bother? As I said, I have used the annotation feature on my base-model Kindle, found it annoying, but I might use it again. Also, it has a built-in browser (hidden under “Experimental” in the menu, if memory serves), which also requires using the built-in soft keyboard. Again, why bother turning it off? It’s an additional feature, if people don’t like it, they won’t use it. And also, if they turned it off, how would you enter your wifi password? Yes, using the thing to enter a multi-character-set password is horrifically annoying (I know, I did it), but if you only connect to one wifi access point, you only have to do it once. So, it’s annoying once, but then you’re done. And, as previously stated, you can always drop the extra money and get the touch version.

    Just briefly, why would you think all Kindles have built-in “wireless” (I think you mean 3G, if I’m wrong, I apologize)? Having 3G wireless requires a dedicated account with a phone company, including a monthly charge for that access. Also, additional hardware and so on. There is a version of the base Kindle that has 3G access, but the most basic version does not. The iPad has similar limitations, the most basic iPad 2 ($399) does not have 3G capability, that only comes with the upgraded ($529) model. I’m just not sure what you were expecting here, to be honest.

    I actually do agree, to a certain extent about the page-turning buttons. My problem wasn’t as much with the direction of push, it just took a little getting used to. My problem was actually with the page turn direction. The buttons on both sides are exactly the same, the large button turns to the next page, the smaller goes the other way. I would have preferred either putting only a single button on each side, or alternating the large and small buttons, so that the large button on the relevant side would turn the page in that direction. But that’s a personal preference, and once I got used to it, I had no problems.

    I guess, after all that my basic question is, why did you get it? You seemed pre-disposed to not liking the thing, spent only a few minutes playing with it, and didn’t really try to get used to any of its idiosyncracies. If you’re happy with your iPad, and don’t really need an extra book reader, why get it at all? The Kindle has advantages over the iPad as far as reading books goes, but that’s it. The iPad is a much better platform for anything else, since the Kindle is just a bookreader, and that’s it. When reviewing a piece of technology, comparing it to something as completely different as these two products is like the cliche of comparing apples and oranges. Expecting a $50, or even $80 device to be able to live up to the standards set by something 5 times more expensive is just silly. And yes, I realize this is just your opinion, but if your opinion is not informed by facts, then it cannot be relied upon.

    • My comments were about the $49 6″ Kindle. It was not about Kindles in general. This is the only Kindle I’ve had my hands on, the only Kindle I’m qualified to comment on. I cannot imagine anyone actually liking this device. It’s poorly designed and the ads are intrusive and annoying. I can only assume that you have a different Kindle model. The one I bought (and will return today) should not be for sale; it should be given away for free or the cost of shipping as a way to sell Kindle books to people who can’t afford better devices.

      That’s my opinion.

      I’m glad you like your Kindle.

      • Nope, that’s the exact one I have, the only difference being that I bought mine new instead of refurbished. Kindle
        Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display
        http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0051QVESA/ref=sa_menu_kdptqso3

        But, as you say, you’re entitled to your opinion. From what you’re saying, I’d just stick with the iPad, and welcome to it. I don’t have an iPad, but from what I’ve seen I could probably write as long an article as you did about the Kindle about what I don’t like about the iPad, so there you go.

          • That is, in part, correct. But only in part.

            My point is that you are expecting a great deal for $50. From your comments in the article, you were looking for a device with the following:
            -A touch screen
            -3G access
            -A display that refreshes instantly
            -No ads

            Basically, and this is just my opinion, you were expecting a black-and-white version of your iPad. If you’re going to compare any device to the iPad, you should at least give it a fighting chance. Comparing these two is like comparing a Kaman K-Max to your R44, and expecting both to be able to do exactly the same things. You wouldn’t expect the K-MAX to be able to give a comfortable tour of downtown Vegas to three people, but you also wouldn’t expect the R44 to be able to haul a 3-ton long-line load. But, as I said, this is just my opinion, and if I mis-interpreted your article, I apologize.

            • No, I wasn’t expecting a black and white version of my iPad. But yes, I was expecting the things you listed.

              Touchscreen technology is available and it’s widely used. I’ve had a touchscreen device since my old BlackBerry Storm, which I bought FOUR YEARS ago. And that was color. And I know touchscreen devices were widely available before then.

              While it didn’t surprise me too much that it wasn’t touchscreen, what did surprise me is how difficult it was to use when coming from a touchscreen or mouse/trackpad interface. This was a huge step backward for me. Like using MS DOS when you’re limited to arrow keys and an enter button. And the keyboard interface is absolutely dismal.

              I was expecting a device that would make it easy to download, read, and annotate ebooks. Isn’t that what a Kindle is supposed to be?

              I was not comparing it to an iPad — there is no comparison. The iPad is a multipurpose computing device. The Kindle is an ebook reader. Period.

              But I was judging this Kindle based on my expectations of a modern, user-friendly interface. In that respect, it fails miserably. And the presence of a never-ending stream of advertisements really shows me how little respect Amazon.com has for its low-end Kindle buyers.

  3. I bought the Kindle Touch for the buttons issue. I borrowed a friend’s Kindle that I had used before, but I’ve since purchased an Asus EEE Transformer, and once you go touch, well, you find yourself trying to move the page on your laptop by touching the screen and going, “Hey! What’s wrong with the computer?”

    It’s more expensive, but I love it.

    • I think that’s right — and once you go touch, that’s what you expect on a portable computing device. I think I’m amazed that companies are still creating portable devices that don’t use touchscreen technology.

  4. I had a Kindle 2 and when I broke the screen by stepping on it (long story and totally my fault), Amazon was kind enough to replace it with a new Kindle Keyboard 3G for $49. If I had to purchase a new one myself I probably would’ve gone for the Kindle Touch 3G, but I couldn’t pass up the option Amazon gave me at such a reasonable price.

    I love my Kindle for what it is, a device designed to consume books. The flicker during page turns doesn’t annoy me at all, but it could be that I’m just used to it. The screen itself is amazing and I can read on it for hours. I also have an iPhone and an iPad and while they work for reading ebooks, I find my eyes hurting after awhile staring at the backlit screen.

    As for your other complaints, mine has the hardware keyboard, but I can imagine that the basic model would be really annoying to use with the 5-way controller only. I’ve never had an issue with the page turn button, but I did prefer the larger ones on the Kindle 2 over the new Kindle Keyboard. Mine has 3G, but I can also see how WiFi only would be a pain a times.

    Finally, the ads. I actually opted in to the ads, even though the model I have doesn’t require them. I like seeing the special deals, and they are relatively unobtrusive. The banner is only on the home screen and the full-page ads are only on the screensver. I like seeing the special offers, call me weird.

    I guess I’m saying, step up to a better model if you really want a better Kindle experience. I wonder if this cheapo model they are selling now will turn people away from all the Kindles? FWIW, Kindle is great compared with my first Sony Reader that needed a compute connection to do anything beyond read a book already loaded on the device.

    • Fair enough. Although some folks think I’m bashing all Kindles, it’s just the one I bought that I was so unhappy with. I haven’t had any experience with other models. I hear good things about the touch models. As an iPad user, I’m ruined for all devices that aren’t as well designed as most Apple products are. My expectations are set higher than they probably should be. (Perhaps that’s part of Apple’s evil strategy to conquer the world, too?)

      I have to admit that I didn’t know before purchase that the device was ad-subsidized. I bought a “6” Kindle with Special Offers and Screensavers.” I didn’t know that “special offers” would be appearing randomly on the device. I didn’t know the “screensavers” were ads. My fault — I should have done my homework better before buying. But reading “while supplies last” and thinking $49 was a good price rushed me a bit and I made my purchase decision too quickly. No big deal. I’ll pay $2.68 to ship it back and get the rest of my money refunded.

      • I didn’t think you were bashing them all. Honestly the cheap one sounds like more trouble than it is worth. One good thing about Amazon is the easy returns. I bet if you called the Kindle customer service they would even let you return it without paying for shipping charges if you mentioned how disappointed you were in the device.

        I’m also with you on Apple devices ruining you forever. My iPhone had to go in for a new battery and I had to use my old Blackberry Torch for about 10 days. While I like some elements, the interface overall just wasn’t as good.

        • Thanks, Noah. I didn’t mind paying shipping to return it. It was less than $3. Buying it WAS my mistake. I’m glad they took it back. I suspect that they run these deals on refurbished Kindles because they get a lot of them back.

  5. I find it hard to read this as a review. Really, it’s just an article explaining what happens when you buy something without doing any basic research into what you’re getting. It’s not Amazon’s fault you were expecting a touch screen, 3G, no-ads and a sparkly pony. Their product descriptions are very clear and explain the differences between the Kindle products in simple words. So, you spent $49 on something that wasn’t what you wanted. That’s your own fault.

    • That’s not surprising. It wasn’t written as a review. Why would you try to read it as one?

      And yes, I believe I did admit it was my fault that it wasn’t what I expected.

      It’s hard to read what you posted here as a comment. It seems as if you’re trolling for a fight. Won’t get one here. Move along now. There are other bloggers for you to attack.

  6. I started with my first eReader (a Kindle Fire) late last year and so far this year I have read 109 books in the following formats:
    28 paper
    41 Kindle
    11 Sony prs-t1
    10 on PC
    19 audio books
    So I read quite a bit. I bought the $49 Kindle for two simple reasons: it’s lighter than the Fire so easier to take to lunch counters & such and it’s so cheap it won’t break my heart if I drop/lose it.

    I think it’s a nice little device (though not nearly as nice as the Sony) and eInk is much easier on my eyes than the Fire’s display. Still, for the price I think it’s a very good deal & I’m generally quite pleased with it.

    • It’s definitely light. I think I liked that most about it.

      I suppose if I weren’t spoiled by a good touch-screen tablet experience — and if there weren’t those damn ads — I’d like it a lot better. I sent it back today. I assume it’ll make someone else happy.

  7. I really like the Kindle Touch. It has none of the flaws you wrote about, and all of the things you want (minus the 3G, I bought the $99 version). I’m going back and forth between new books and free classics. I’m currently enjoying Little Women, something I always meant to read but never got around to, and absolutely loved The Secret Garden. It’s definitely gotten me to read more, and it’s light and easy to carry around. I have yet to recharge, and I’ve read three books on it so far. Still have about half the battery left.

    Spend a few more bucks, Maria. You’ll like it better.

    • I really don’t need one. Im very happy with the Kindle reader on my iPad. The only reason I bought the Kindle at all was to satisfy my curiosity and have one around as a testing device. Curiosity satisfied and I’ll stick to the desktop app for testing.

  8. I bought a Kindle Keyboard 3G for fifty bucks (spotless condition,no ads, original cords, an envelope sleeve, and a thirty day moneyback guarantee) at a pawn shop before going on an extended vacation earlier this year. I tend to take two or three books on trips and to be honest, I was getting tired of the added weight and extra hassle of carrying that many books with me and wanted to simplify the process. Before I decided on a Kindle Keyboard I went to Target and fiddled with a few of the different models to see if used was the way to go. I’ll admit I’m spoiled by iPhones and Macs (I only bought my new iPad two weeks ago) but I, like you, was shocked by how – well, primitive – the standard Kindle interface is. I think at the time the Kindle was $99. For that price I expected a bit more. I found the controller awkward and less than intuitive. I had thought that Kindles – with the exception of possibly the Fire – were a bit overpriced for what the are and the lowest priced Kindle confirmed it for me. I left Target, bought the pristine one at the pawn shop, and haven’t regretted it. I know the limits of my Kindle and I still use it to read – I went to the beach last week and used it almost the entire time I was there to both avoid headaches from reading the backlit screen and possible damage to or loss of my more expensive iPad. Fifty bucks seemed reasonable to me (I think the keyboard, no ad, 3G version was pushing $200) and if it lives a year, I’ll be happy. (For the record, I buy my iPods refurbed off the Apple website; I’ve got a Nano for running and a Classic in my car, both two years old and both doing just fine. I would’ve bought a refurbed iPad but I’ll admit I didn’t want to wait around for one with the retina display as this is my first iPad.) My cheapie Kindle serves its purpose. Would I have bought a new one? Heck no. But I’m thrilled with the one I have. If you ever find yourself needing an eInk reader, I’d suggest a pawn shop or Craigslist. You pay less, help out someone else, possibly support a small local business and even help the environment a little bit.

    By the way, I thought your op-ed type post was spot on and completely transparent; you gave an opinion, no more and no less.

    • Thanks, Katherine. Apparently there’s been some negative buzz about this piece. Whatever. I don’t lose sleep over Internet bull.

      I think one of the best things that ebook readers — of any type — have done for us is making it possible to take multiple books with us anywhere. I’m a fast reader and can buzz through a novel in a day or two. A week-long relaxation vacation was impossible to pack enough reading material for. But not anymore. Not only can we bring all the books we want to, but we can buy new books on the go without having to worry about packing them.

      As for the New iPad — I didn’t think the retina display was enough to upgrade for. Hell, I can’t even tell the difference unless I put reading glasses on! I upgraded primarily for the 4G hotspot because I’m often away from home and need a reliable, affordable Internet connection. This isn’t perfect, but it does the job. The dictation feature is also great, although I don’t use it as much as I’d like to. Buying refurbished equipment is a great way to save money, especially if it has a good warranty, just in case.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! Enjoy your Kindle!

  9. Pardon me, Maria, for chuckling at your experience. Perhaps two years ago I purchased the 3G version with protective case directly from Amazon, new. The Kindle alone was roughly $180.
    I can’t recall ever being SO frustrated by a device as I am with what this one does. To this day, I’m not certain if there is a malfunction, or they ALL do this, but right in the middle of reading it will shut down and leisurely restart itself. I did find out that IF
    I leave the WiFi turned on, turning off the device will still rapidly drain the battery in a three days or less. Beware of that one. When it works, it works.

    • I hope Amazon has resolved those issues since your purchase. They apparently sell lots of Kindles and it’s difficult to believe that folks would put up with that kind of problem.

      But then again, everyone has different standards and expectations. After reading some of the other comments here, I realize that I have higher expectations for design and performance than a lot of other people.

    • I’m sure you contacted Amazon because it sounds as though you have a lemon. Even the secondhand one I have has a standby life of about a week or more. Usually more. That stinks.

  10. Comment #2: Ms Daniels suggests a pawn shop or Craigslist as a less expensive place to buy. News items in the Chicagoland area mention that SOME items are low priced because they are HOT, as in stolen. Beware!

    • It’s pretty well established that a lot of the merchandise at pawn shops may be stolen. But it would be silly to steal a Kindle, since it could always be traced back to the original owner.

      Or maybe it would be silly to buy a stolen Kindle for that same reason. Which was probably your point.

      • There’s the other kicker. Right after I bought it – standing right in the store – I changed the Kindle to be associated with my account. If I’d lost my Kindle or it was stolen, I’d be sure to deregister it and notify Amazon. The Kindle never came up as stolen and I’ve had it long enough now that I feel fairly certain I would have been notified. And if I am – then it goes back to its rightful owner.

    • I buy stuff from Craigslist. I’ve bought stuff from pawn shops. I’ve bought stuff from yard sales. And plenty of times I’ve bought stuff in the shops right off the shelf. I’d hope that anyone “with it” enough to read a column like this would also be “with it” enough to embrace CAVEAT EMPTOR…. :) If a deal is too good to be true it probably is. If you see an iPod advertised on Craigslist for ten bucks and it’s a recent model, either something’s wrong with it or it’s hot. I got the Kindle super cheap mainly because the guy behind the counter was savvy enough to know that the keyboard model was about to be discontinued and was therefore worth less from the start. He threw in the case after a bit of haggling (the other fun pawn shop thing!). It almost sounds as though I’m being perceived as a bit of a scrub because I scrounged pawn shops for a good deal. As an active duty USAF officer I can assure all I’m anything but… :) I had my less than one year old iPhone 4 stolen just three weeks ago and though I was certain to send a “wipe” message and my SIM was pass code locked I’m sure it ended up on craigslist or in a pawn shop somewhere. Not much I can do about that except file a police report (I did), put a reward listing on Craigslist (I did), and be more careful with my new one (I am). It’s all one big risk….

        • Oh man – they’re creepy as hell (lol) but it’s amazing what you see in there…I actually bought DVDs of my two favorite movies there for two bucks each in great condition. I don’t make a habit of going in there but it makes a slow Saturday afternoon a bit more interesting – sort of like a really weird thrift store!!

          • The creepy factor is what holds me back. Most of the pawn shops I’ve seen aren’t exactly in the best part of town. But I’ll make a point of browsing one this summer. I’ll probably blog about it, too.

  11. I found out the hard way you do NOT want to turn the Kindle completely off, before also turning off the WiFi connection, as the Amazon trouble shooting site addresses that. Also, if and when it refuses to turn on at all, holding the power switch for 20 seconds or more will bring it back to life, where I got the LOW battery warning. Battery life is the same in both sleep and off modes. I also found it won’t synch to furthest page read without the WiFi being on. If all else fails, read the instructions! A slow reader, I am falling behind my purchases. Overall, I am happy with it.