Peer Review: Amazon's Kindle ignites excitement and anguish

There was one hot gadget that you definitely couldn't find in stores this Black Friday: Amazon's new ebook reader, the Kindle. You couldn't even get one shipped overnight from Amazon. But the company made sure that plenty of journalists got to play with the Kindle before the holiday, "kindling" interest and conversation over the long weekend. They found a lot to like about Amazon's reader. But there are plenty of problems as well— many agonized over whether the $400 price tag could be justified by the presence of free EVDO Internet access. Assorted opinions after the jump.

That is one ugly gadget
"It looks like a piece of medical equipment. I don't want to be sitting on the bus with everyone thinking I'm some kind of techy hypochondriac constantly monitoring my vital signs." , Journalism.co.uk

It does many things wrong, but some things right
"But it's plain wrong to dismiss Amazon's innovation because it is saddled with the inevitable version 1.0 problems… Despite the always-on nature of the device, it seems to have a calmness to it. The lack of color, e-mail, and ads creates a mood that is more conducive to reading than a computer or a smart phone." , The New York Times

The battery is seriously and mysteriously terrible
"Combining a big battery, a display that takes practically no power and a cell phone that doesn't make calls shouldn't result in a device that has less than half the battery life of a cell phone." , The Washington Post

eBooks are the future, says this former non-believer
"The Search function on Kindle is superb as it checks the Web, Wikipedia, New American Oxford Dictionary, Kindle Store and any book/magazine/blog that's on your Kindle… everything else on the market pales in comparison… I can't say enough about the free Internet! Is it worth the $399 price tag? Maybe not, but it could be very soon if the hackers get to it." ,Crunchgear

Too much DRM. We like the Sony Reader better
"While some will love the idea of electronic mail and web browsing on the Kindle, gadget history has taught us that frankendevices more often fail than succeed… If I had to choose a device I would get the Sony Reader." , Gizmodo

It's like the first iPod: not perfect, but better than the competition
"In many ways, the Kindle reminds me of the first-generation iPod, which was not the first portable digital music player and was far less refined than future generations, but had the hardware, software, and store integration done better than any of its predecessors… The Kindle is a pretty remarkable tool. It has the potential to jump-start the electronic book revolution." , PC Magazine

Why should we pay for RSS feeds (most of which don't have ads anyway)?
"It's just too damn expensive. Worse, the $400 premium just to get the Kindle reader isn't the last fee you'll pay… Subscribing to a blog via the Kindle service costs $2 a month. Newspapers run around $15 a month. All for information currently available for free via the web and RSS syndication." , Boing Boing

You're going to apply DRM to my personal files and make me pay for the privilege?
"EVDO is great, but paying a 10-cent per-file fee to sync your own… files to it via email? Which are then converted to a proprietary format?… For $400, format neutrality should be assumed." , Wired

It's nothing like a book
"My test for a potential successor to the book is whether you can read it in the bath. With a Kindle, that is probably not a good idea." , The Times (of London)

What do you think? We'd feel pretty weird breaking out the Kindle on the subway…

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