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Kindle 3 - Web Browser and other features

Part 4/5 of my Kindle 3 Review

Web Browser

When I first looked at Kindle 3's spec, it was the web browser with unlimited 3G that trips me to order it immediately. Kindle has a much larger screen than my smart phone. Maybe it can replace the smart phone as the mobile browser for me! And 3G is free too!

Unfortunately, once I started to use it, it becomes immediately clear that Kindle's web browser is a lot inferior to smart phone's. I am not expecting to watch Flash video or run Ajax web applications. All I want to do is to zoom into a part of the article and have it formatted at readable font size and line length. In many case Kindle's browser failed to do that. The zooming is set at a 50% increment, meaning it is either too large or too small in most cases. Scrolling using the direction pad is slow and inconvenient. And the lack of touch screen is another deficiency for general web browsing. Kindle is pretty much a last resort choice for web browsing. The good thing is it has a Article mode that strip off all the unnecessary stuff and shows the main content in a readable format. I always use Article when possible.

It does not mean the web browser is a superfluous feature. One thing that distinguish e-Reader from paper book is that it can have live link to the web. I am the kind of person who often follows footnote for some extra information. URL is the footnote of web era. In the short time of using Kindle I have already benefited a lot from this capability.

I think the main issue of Kindle's web browser is a software one. It needs better zooming and text flowing to take advantage of the screen. Perhaps an Opera mini for Kindle can do this better?

Note taking

I am really desperate to find a good mobile and writing and note taking device. So that every time I see a handheld device with a keyboard, I see it as the note taking device I'm looking for. But every time I'm disappointed. It seems such a basic function but few device can really do it well.

First of all Kindle does not have a note taking app at all. The closet thing is you can attach a note to a book, which appear as a number on a page. But it is conceivable that Kindle might ship a note taking app someday. However my experience with the device says the hardware does not lend itself to a good typing device.

First of all Kindle has all the sin of bad keyboard layout I have found in other mobile device. In addition, its third row of alphabet keys lack a shift key on the left. So Kindle designer just shift the whole row of keys to the left to fill its place. Unfortunately this makes the third row offset by one key compare to regular keyboard. For example, my finger is trained that the 'N' key is directly below the 'U' key. On Kindle, I got the 'M' instead. This causes whole lot of mistyping.

The Kindle's bigger screen have so much promises. Yet it is another disappointment to use it as a writing device. Sadly for me the best note taking device is still the first generation Sidekick.

Next » Pricing and DRM

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