Sunday, January 8, 2012

Kindle 5

I've owned a Kindle Touch 3G now for over a month. I bought the one with the offers and sponsored screensavers because I'd figured it wasn't going to be a big deal, and it hasn't been. Overall, I'm really happy with my purchase. The touch screen makes the reading and annotating experience a whole lot better (more intuitive and a lot faster), which is why I didn't mind paying $150 for the upgrade from the Kindle 3.

I'm already thinking about the next one. This is how I am with technology. Part of me wants to work in the field. But the other part realizes I don't have the credentials. Nevertheless, here are some things I'd like to see in the Kindle 5 (that is, the sucessor of the Kindle Touch, not the Kindle Fire) that would make me want to buy:

  • Color - This is obvious, right? I love the e-ink technology. I love that I can protect my eyes and avoid the tiring annoyance of eye strain for hours. However, a color e-ink display would really make the images come alive and make the reading feel more natural. Bezos (you know, the CEO?) has said that such technology is in the future for Amazon. However, such technology already exists. Doesn't Bezos and Amazon have spies? WTF?
  • Smooth, intuitive image zooming - We are already limited in color with regards to the Kindle's e-ink display. And without such zooming, reading magazines, PDFs, newspapers are all just not feasible on the device. It makes the pictures or charts or tables in a book almost worthless. Which makes the Kindle Touch a bad investment if you have e-books with such images.

  • Integration with Instapaper (and other such services) - I use and love Instapaper: it's very useful, allowing me to collect and catalogue tons of articles and stories I don't have time to read but know I definitely want to. I love that I can create my own folders, adjust font and background colors, read at night (on my iPad), and have it all synced up between my other devices. Problem is: while I'm using my Kindle Touch, I can't read my Instapaper articles. This really limits the Kindle as an e-reader. The Kindle should be expanding its horizons; it's a great e-reader, but I want to be able to read as many different media as I can to get the most of the device, which dedicated to reading (so much so that it limits itself as a tablet). Frankly, I prefer reading on the Kindle than actual book. Mostly because of the light weight, ease of annotating and searching, and the fact that it backs up all my annotations. So, Bezos needs to expand the Kindle horizon by making it compatible with services such as Instapaper and Read It Later. (I should note that several services make this unnecessary: There are several Google Chrome apps that allow you to send articles and Web pages directly to your Kindle, and there is, of course, the relatively recent upgrade for the Kindle for iPad app, that allows you to send documents directly to your Kindle via a address, which I definitely like and use to read drafts of my stories. However, they're not Instapaper. Period. Seriously, though, they don't have the folders, the customizations, and seamless convenience Instapaper offers.)

  •  Smoother scrolling - The scrolling when surfing the Web (if you can call it that) on the Kindle Touch is just slow, robotic. Faster than previous gens, to be sure, but just jumpy. It should feel natural. You shouldn't have to remember: Oh, yeah; I'm using a Kindle. (I love the free 3G, though, Bezos, so keep it up!)
  • Night reading - There needs to be a simple option to read your Kindle at night in bed. I usually use the iPad Kindle app for that, which is great. But it's a weakness of the Kindle Touch and other e-ink display e-readers. I don't know if glow-in-the-dark ink is possible, but it would be a simple, simple solution and would hardly cost anything. Perhaps there can be a very minimal backlit screen that can optionally be turned on. However, I don't think this will be as efficient as with the iPad app because, with the app, one may choose to have a black background (with white font), which is a not less straining on the eye in the dark. The Kindle e-ink screen doesn't seem to have this capability. (Unless it uses the ink as the background and absence of ink as the font.)

Also, since I made a prediction before about when the Kindle 4 was coming out and since I was only off by two months (I predicted it was going to come out in August), I'll make such a prediction for the Kindle 5. This is just for fun and it's super early, so I'll probably be super wrong (not to mention I did some research last time). However, if I'm right, people will praise me. If I'm wrong, people will likely forget. So my prediction is that the Kindle 5 will come out in August of 2012. Probably two versions: a tablet (like Kindle Fire) and an e-ink e-reader (like the Kindle Touch). The latter will likely not have color. Definitely a touch screen. And slightly better specs. I probably won't buy either. The next iPad, though, maybe.

Jeff "Like a Boss" Bezos via Wikipedia

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