Amazon’s Kindle, introduced in 2007, is an electronic book reader. It is used to search for and download books, and display pages on its six-inch screen. It is very lightweight and is therefore portable. Holding it is like holding a thin magazine, and reading its crisp, clear, black-and-white text makes for an easy, very comfortable reading experience.

Over the years, the gadget has undergone a few modifications. The latest version, called the Kindle DX, now has a bigger 9.7-inch display, and can hold more books. It can store about 3,500 books, compared to the 1,500 that can be packed into the original Kindle. The Kindle DX also uses 3G in addition to wi-fi to download books. This means that in any place where there is cell phone coverage, one can download books on the Kindle device. Downloading is very speedy, typically taking no more than a minute for one book. What’s great about the Kindle DX is a new feature called “Read to Me.” This allows the user to listen to an audio reading of a book through headphones plugged into a jack on the device.

Amazon’s Kindle can download not just books, but also journals, newspapers, magazines and blogs. Dailies are automatically downloaded to the device on a free two-week trial basis, and then the user can choose to continue the service for a fee, or stop it. The Amazon Kindle store carries some 630,000 book titles in various genres: bestsellers, classics, children’s books, fiction and non-fiction, autobiographies, textbooks, hard-to-find books, and many more. One can search through the vast collection by book title or author. Before actually purchasing a book, one can even read a few sample pages or a review of the book. There are also recommendations based on what many users are downloading, and based on the user’s previous selections.

Once books are downloaded in the Kindle, the user can read as he pleases, continuously or intermittently, without having to recharge the device often. The battery lasts for about two weeks when the wireless mode is turned off, and for about five days when this feature is on. Even with continuous reading, the Kindle does not heat up as other devices tend to, thus never distracting the reader in any way.

What the user pays for is only the books he purchases. Searching online through the Kindle bookstore incurs no subscription fees or service plans. Kindle books are also much cheaper than their physical counterparts. One makes a savings of about 60 to 70% when downloading a book compared to buying an actual copy.

Among the many features and advantages of the Kindle device, what keeps customers happiest is perhaps the crisp black-and-white display that looks very much like an actual page from a book. It simulates very well the real experience of holding a book and flicking through the pages. The display is easy on the eyes, and many users do read on the Kindle for extended periods without tiring. The ambient lighting hardly affects the clarity of the display. One can comfortably read indoors or outside under bright sunlight.

It goes without saying that the Kindle is a very portable device. Having it is like carrying a large collection of one’s favorite books, all within its slight 10-ounce frame. Avid readers therefore always have their trusty Kindle device with them, especially when travelling.

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