Sunday, August 23, 2009

Amazon Kindle 3

What's my favorite website? There's too many to list, but among my all-time faves is . There are several reasons Amazon has kindled my interest: The Free Song of the Day, The MP3 Daily Deal, the soft suggestive sell on the home page, the fact that they are among the handful of original dotcom start-ups to go the distance. But what cemented it for me is the Amazon Kindle.

Jeff Bezos,'s Founder and CEO, stunned the world with the revolutionary Amazon Kindle on November 19, 2007. I admit I was among Amazon's astonished avid readers who immediately coveted the new technological breakthrough. That being said, I held back from buying the e-book reader/handheld salesperson.


I was impressed by the piece, but having witnessed technological breakthroughs before, ie. Apple's iPod series, I realized there would be advances that soon would render this model obsolete. I noted that the first generation Kindle was somewhat clunky-looking, had a mere 4-shade gray display, stored only 150 or so books internally, and had slow page turns. The $399 price tag was somewhat surprising as well. I thought that since the reader was limited to for purchases that the price would be lower. I wasn't much of a techie, but I predicted that improvements would be made.

The Kindle was sold out for months. It was a far greater success than Amazon had imagined. Units were on back order through April 2008. The 2007 Christmas season saw new and used Kindles selling on eBay for thousands of dollars.

On February 9, 2009 came the introduction of the Kindle 2 along with the advances I'd hoped for and without an increase in price. In fact, soon after the introduction came two price drops: from $399 to $359 and then to $299.


Among the advances were a 16-shade gray screen, 2GB storage capacity (1.4GB user-accessable for an amazing 1,500 books), thinner and more streamlined design (no thicker than a new iPod), easier navagation via a 5-way joystick, and a built-in 250,000 word dictionary. In the main menu three "Experimantal" tabs were added: Basic Web Browser, MP3 Player and Text-to-Speech voice reader. The advances made the Amazon Kindle2 a no-brainer for me. I immediately ordered one with the free two-day shipping.

I took it with me everywhere I went. I found the Basic Web application useful despite its limitations. I didn't use the MP3 player or the Text-to-Speech applications at all. The MP3 player lacked any sort of structure such as track listings or display of any kind. I suppose some users may have found the Text-to-Speech useful, I just didn't. I could update Twitter and Facebook pages, check web-based email, and shop on eBay and many other Internet functions that don't require video.

As something of an afterthought, Amazon introduced the Kindle DX on June 10, 2009. The DX is basically a jumbo-sized Kindle 2 with a 9.7" display to Kindle 2's 6" and a price point of $489. It has not had any reductions in price since its introduction.

With the explosion of Kindle 2 and DX sales, I'm quite sure there has been a sharp focus on improvements for the Kindle3. My predictions for the Kindle 3 are as follows.

-Larger standard screen display like that of the DX.
-Pushbutton keyboard that takes up 1/3 of the front surface gives way to a color touchscreen.
-Advanced web browsing capabilities including video support.
-Increased storage (5GB).
-No MP3 player.
-Voice activation.

The Amazon Kindle is a marvel of technology not only in its advanced design but in its simplicity. It has revolutionized the e-book reader and left the competition in the dust. I'm impressed by the sales aspect (limited to for book selection, now over 300,000 books). I will be among those who cause the Kindle 3 to sell out upon its introduction.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cable vs. Dish

I remember a time when cable was a new and exciting luxury. Today, cable televeison is a staple in nearly every home. Inner-city residents living in housing projects and surviving on public assistance have cable, sometimes with premium channels. When the cable goes out, life stops. Being limited to local channels is primitive and unbearable.

Soon after the advent of cable came the dish. In the beginning, the dish consumed the entire backyard. They were not only a status symbol, they were bigger than a swimming pool. Now smaller and more asthetic, they are seen on rooftops, sides of homes and even on apartment balconies.

Dish television has gotten somewhat of a reputation for being unreliable during inclement weather. During blizzards and thunderstorms, dish customers have been seen on rooftops or balanced on ladders adjusting dishes to restore reception. I've always been grateful that cable has not required any outdoor adjustments during monsoon season.

However, I've become disenchanted with cable. The addition of digital cable and HDTV have proved too much for cable providers. My cable is out as much as it's on. We have the "On Demand" (not to be confused with (In Demand) feature, a service for digital customers in which movies and programs can be started "on demand". In the past year or so, On Demand has been sporatic at best. It works less than half the time.

Which begs the question: Is cable still the premium service it used to be or do its problems now make cable the new dish?

I've wondered how much worse a dish would be. I have also wanted to really stick it to the cable company by cancelling my service. That would show 'em. Right. All of my emails and letters have gone unanswered. I'm close to the switch. I've been a cable customer for so long that the switch seems like entering a strange and distant land. Maybe with a new host of problems I've yet to encounter.

Technology. Who knew?