I don’t know how I feel about those new e-ink Kindle designs. The loss of a keyboard: I guess it’s back to index cards for taking notes on books in the future, which is kind of strange since I’ve been taking digital notes now since the late '90s, all the way back to spinach green screen Palm Pilots. Hmm, pretty much everything about the new e-ink Kindles fails to excite me. Touchscreen on e-ink seems… pointless, especially if you remove the hardware buttons. The touchscreen is my #1 complaint against the iPad as a reading device. It just limits to a great degree how much you can use it since you have a huge percentage of the device’s surface area that you have to avoid at all postures, and the compromise between padding the device sides so as to allow your thumb a place to sit means it’s hard to read on your side. It’s just not a good interface for reading in my experience. I know there are lots out there that like it, but frankly I just don’t get it. A nice big button and a text change, that’s all I need to read, and it works hanging off of a tire swing, if that’s how I feel about the day. So, putting such a (in my opinion) crippling interface design on a device that doesn’t even do real-time graphical feedback, which is arguably the whole point of multi-touch screen use, is just bizarre. I must be missing something.
Meanwhile the standard Kindle’s hardware buttons look awkward, like Sony’s were. Small and located on the sides facing outward. I always felt the Kindle’s top-facing buttons were superior to that design since your fingers/thumb are already facing that direction while holding the device, and making them broad and something you press down on rather than in on, again increases how many postures you can use to read. Could be okay though; it’s just hard to say from the pictures. Looks like more design trumping usability to me though. No reason to remove a keyboard except that it is supposedly “ugly” at this point in industrial fashion design history, no reason at all. I thought Amazon had more spine than that, oh well, I guess you can still buy the keyboard models; maybe they aren’t phasing it out.
Basically, everything I worried about the iPad’s introduction. Not that it would kill the Kindle, I never really worried about that, but that it would dumb down the Kindle’s design ultimately. I don’t mean to say the iPad has a “dumb” interface, but that it is appealing enough to cause customers & pundits to raise a stink over how many visible buttons something has, even if it is not a relevant argument to make since the devices are so radically different.
Otherwise, not to entirely be a grouch, I’m curious to see how the Fire performs. Budget tablets haven’t done so well as of yet, as the technology to make the experience a good one doesn’t come cheap on the manufacturing side. Amazon is one to sell hardware at a loss though. On paper it looks good; so maybe it isn’t a budget tablet and is just priced like one. Certainly has some interesting qualities. I like its focus. I hope it (sigh ) lights a fire under Apple’s design teams, because the iPad2 was a very “slim” upgrade. They haven’t had enough incentive to throw a bunch of brains at fixing the original concept’s flaws, such as weight.
Nah, tech companies never screw over the U.K. Must be an optical illusion.