Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Baker v. Kindle

One might expect Nicholson Baker to spend his New Yorker piece on the Kindle rhapsodizing about the last days of bound paper; after all, Baker is the author of a book detailing his efforts to preserve hard copies of old newspapers. Paeans to the joys of reading the old-fashioned way have been almost weekly events since the Kindle's debut, so Baker instead pointedly critiques the machine's design and functionality. Isn't this all going to be moot when Apple's iTablet arrives?

Despite its smoother design, the Kindle 2 is, some say, harder to read than the Kindle 1. “I immediately noticed that the contrast was worse on the K2 than on my K1,” a reviewer named T. Ford wrote. One Kindler, Elizabeth Glass, began an online petition, asking Amazon to fix the contrast. “Like reading a wet newspaper,” according to petition-signer Louise Potter.

There was another problem with the revised Kindle—fading. Some owners (not me, though) found that when they read in the sun the letters began to disappear. Readers had to press Alt-G repeatedly to bring them back. “Today is the first day when we have had bright sunshine, so I took the Kindle out in the sun and was dismayed to see that the text (particularly near the center of the screen) faded within seconds,” one owner, Woody, wrote. Another owner, Mark, said, “I went through 4 kindles til I found a good one that doesn’t fade in the sun. It was a hassle but Amazon has a great CS.” (CS is customer service.)

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