I've been noticing something very curious during my daily commute between North York and Downtown Toronto. The subway crowd is getting very intellectual. What I mean is that everyone seems to be reading an electronic device. I've seen a lot less newspapers over the last 3 years and a lot more electronic gadgets of all sorts. I've even seen a few people carrying open laptops (!) to read their digital content.
I've been following the mobile revolution for several years now and have been a proud owner of an iPod Touch (my first mobile digital device), a Blackberry Curve 8250 and now a Kindle 3 (6" version). They are truly all different devices for very different kind of people I think. And before you buy a mobile device you really should understand what exactly you plan to do with it.
On my iPod Touch, I loaded it up with podcasts and video podcasts of all sorts and realized that I'd never really get to watch and listen to all that content. My pictures and songs mostly went unwatched and untended too, since I rarely used the device for anything but checking email and checking a few social networks. Ask yourself this question "How often do you really look at your picture archives or listen to your MP3 files on your iPhone or iPod Touch?" I can understand listening to music on an iPod - that's what it is for. But to be honest I never really took advantage of all that multimedia power my iPod Touch gave me. And when TweetDeck keeps crashing when launching an external link, I plain gave up.
When I got a free Blackberry Curve 8250 from Fido, I thought well, "I used a Blackberry for work, why not try for personal?" And I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is it a great phone, that is easy to use but it is terrific for communicating. As much as the software keyboard on the iPhone is a marvel, I can be much more productive and accurate on the Blackberry's keyboard. The Blackberry is truly a communication device. And while it's not AWESOME at media, the Podcast app called Podtrapper does something my iPod Touch never did -- Podtrapper updates my podcast subscriptions over Wifi or 3G in the background. And I was able to use my bluetooth headset to listen to my podcasts without wires, something I was not able to do with my iPod Touch either. And yes it can sync with your contacts in Outlook as well as Gmail contacts. I have my Google Contacts connected to my Blackberry contacts and changes I make in one are reflected in the other pretty quickly. Same for Google calenader using Google Sync.
Yah, it's probably possible to do all of this on an iPhone 4, I hear you. But still, I'm not interested in shelling out hundreds of dollars for a data/voice plan. I am cheap and want to squeeze out as much as possible out of my smart phone. I want my telecom to be smart AND cheap, and my Blackberry is now used effectively for everything my iPod Touch was used for and more. So I don't store backups of my pictures or music on my Blackberry Curve, big deal. I have plenty of pictures loaded and can take a few pix on the road with my Blackberry and share via UberTwitter or Foursquare just fine. I guess my point is this -- the important apps are available on the Blackberry and they work really, really well. The only thing I don't like about my Blackberry is the delay I encounter sometimes when lots of Apps are running. That's annoying, but a battery pull usually solves that problem with a restart.
So finally what I was missing was a device I could actually read newspapers on as well as large PDFs. I wanted to stop printing a bunch of paper at work and at home and have a delightful reading experience on the subway where I could load up a bunch of content and read to my heart's content. That's where the Kindle 3 came in. With a $50 gift certificate from Amazon.com I bought the latest incarnation of the Kindle 6" for $139. I bought the white version with a beautiful red leather cover that includes a funky extendable LED light. I didn't even read the reviews. I just took the pulse of the subway reader and saw Kindles, everywhere.
I visited amazon.com/kindle and was delighted to see the 3rd generation Kindle with a superior screen, terrific navigation and built in WiFi and 3G support. Oh yah, did I tell you the 3G support is free internationally? And the Kindle has a built in WebKit based Web browser and Twitter/Facebook sharing support?
The Kindle is not made for video and high resolution graphics. But it *is* made for reading newspapers, books and magazines. I am subscribing to a 2 month free subscription to the New York Times right now. The Canada Kindle Store has less books than the US store but you can set your location to the US and use the Kindle in Canada just fine and get access to the latest books from the US Store. And there is even a Kindle Development Kit in beta for "active" content. The Kindle has a bright future.
My instapaper integration from ubertwitter now works wonders as I can bookmark stuff to read later from twitter and download a free instapaper Kindle publication with all my content. I hook up the Kindle via USB or send myself the instapaper download via email and the Kindle gets loaded up with stuff to read. Since the subway has no access, it's a must to have an offline reading device like the Kindle. It's a perfect complement to a Blackberry and for me, I think it's a much more pragmatic and cheaper combination than an iPad. Your mileage may vary, but I cannot say enough about the Kindle 3. If you are a reader, and want to enjoy words on a simple, paper like page again, try the Kindle 3.