My wife bought me a Kindle (or I guess Kindle Keyboard, now) this spring; I’m back in college for graduate classes, and I imagined that it might make an ideal gadget for a student, but I didn’t have a chance to test that theory until the Fall semester. The EM course I’m taking has a textbook (Brenda Phillips’ Disaster Recovery) and a book report/presentation for grad students (mine is on the Triangle: The Fire That Changed America); both books are available as Kindle books, so I’ve had a chance to give this experiment a solid effort. Both books were slightly less in Kindle format than in hardback, and even though I can’t resell them now, I think the ebook format is the better value.
What I like the most so far is the ability to annotate the books in line. It’s a little tedious to use the keyboard, so the notes are generally short, but you get a nice summary of all your notes that allows you to jump to that spot. I’ll be interested to see how the upcoming touch keyboard Kindles work out; that might be a great solution to this problem. In fact, I would rate the keyboard as the Kindle Keyboard’s greatest weakness.
Another boon is that the Kindle makes a decent PDF viewer. I have a fair amount of documents to read, such as FEMA guides, that I can copy over to the Kindle. The formatting’s not always the best, and moving around the screen is a little awkward, but it works, and the search features work in the PDF’s!
There are a handful of other Kindle features I really liked. The dictionary feature has also been handy; you highlight a word and get a definition. Another powerful feature is the ability to search within the books. I didn’t get a chance to use it much, but I also like the text-to-speech capabilities. Another feature I didn’t get to use much, yet, but like is the Kindle Cloud/Kindle Android app; the ability to get at these books from other sources, if necesssary, is a handy boon. The form factor is nice, too; I might wish for a bigger screen (I’m no spring chicken), but at least I can adjust the font size up, and it’s much easier to carry around the Kindle than 2 textbooks and an armful of printouts. I’m only a little over 1/3 of the way through the semester at this point, so perhaps a follow up later on will be appropriate.