The Kindle just doesn’t work for me


KindleSince picking up a Kindle when they first went on sale I have tried so hard to use it for my only ebook reading solution.  I love ebooks and have read them almost exclusively for years so I have been so wanting to make the Kindle my ebook reading solution.  There is no question that it couldn’t be easier to buy content on the Kindle with the WhisperNet that Amazon has integrated right into the device but that’s not enough for me.  I have used it long enough that I’ve even gotten used to the horrible button design that makes accidentally turning pages far too easy to do.  Once I trained myself how to hold it that hasn’t been a major issue for me.  The problem I have reading ebooks on the Kindle is not really even the Kindle’s fault.  It has more to do with the eInk technology that it uses that makes it difficult to use.

Kindle_vs_advantageTrying to use it for so long has led me to realize that the places in my house where I normally read ebooks are just too darkly lit.  The relatively low contrast ratio of the eInk technology combined with the lack of a backlight means you need to be in a well-lit area to read ebooks on the Kindle or other eInk devices.  The few places where I sit comfortably to read are not well-lit areas and the Kindle just doesn’t work for that reason alone.  I have tried so hard to make it work but I don’t want to change my reading routine just so I can use the Kindle so I have given up.  I know that the eInk technology is cool but the contrast ratio of the Kindle is far worse than a real paper book for example.  The page is not white enough and the ink is not dark enough to make it work for me given the lighting I have to work with.  I can read regular books fine in this lighting but the Kindle makes me constantly strain to do the same and I just don’t want to continue trying.  A backlit solution like the HTC Advantage has both the ability to read ebooks in poor (or absent) lighting and also a very high contrast ratio with the page being totally white and the ink very black.  So I have shelved the Kindle for now until some advancement in the future makes it more practical for me.


Alan Pozner

Being an older user, I second James low-light low-contrast issues. I increasingly find it difficult to read magazines that have low contrast (black text on a blue background) except in bright light.

I often read in an easy chair or in bed. While a reading light is fine for paper books, I enjoy being able to use ambient light, my UMPC and Mobipocket more. Certianly a laptop makes a crummy eReader (too heavy!) but a UMPC is pretty cool indoors.

Lorenz Szabo

I also like the fact, that the Sony is a non-wireless device. No network to deactivate, no roaming costs, etc.

Actually, I would have taken a Kindle model without wireless module.

Lorenz Szabo

I’m a user of e-books since the Newton MP130. Half a year ago I switched from eReader to Mobipocket and recently to the Sony eReader PRS-505.

I still have Mobipocket installed on my Treo 750, but I’m using the PRS-505 more and more even for business documents. (The PDF update will change this even more!) I slightly agree with the missing back-light issue, but it teally works wonderful in planes and trains.


Librie Gen 1
500 Gen 2
Kindle Gen 2.5 (low ghost technology)
505 Gen 3

James, you didn’t mention working with the font size and your photo shows the Kindle using a smaller size. You’ll find the eye strain is reduced by increasing the font size in lower light. For myself, one of the nicer points about the Kindle has been its support for six font sizes.

I’ve also found that all of the e-Ink panels prefer high-noon color light. I personally do most of my reading using a 110V screw in LED light bulb employing Cree’s micro laser array technology in their high-noon “Day Light White” color. Makes a noticeable difference to my eyes.


Thank you for putting the Kindle down…
Are you sending it back to Amazon? That’s where my Kindle was sent. I seem to remember that on my returns page at Amazon there was a 1-year return window for the Kindle.


Oliver, devices like kindle are not small usually they try to ‘books sized’. For a while now I’ve been reading on my cell phone. Since you just add books to the phone it’s a kind of infinite portability. I find that reading sucks charge much much less than speaking, I don’t notice myself wanting to charge the phone more. I get books from they package their books with a neat little reader that runs on my middle of the road phone, oh and they give away the books.

Charles Wilkes

I am so delighted to avoid the eyestrain that back-lite devices has inflicted upon me, plus forcing me to avoid well lighted areas where my laptop screen is totally unusable. And this is besides the fact that my laptop battery only works for about two hours whereas my Kindle will go ten days without wireless, or three days with it.

I know the writer wants to read in the dark, but I challenge him to do that with the paperback that the Kindle is designed to replace. Me, I love to read outdoors, preferably in bright sunshine. I have to read and use my laptop in a much darker environment than I prefer.

Charles Wilkes, San Jose, Calif.


Woadan, convergence devices are useful if they are good at what people want from them, and don’t require too many compromises. I don’t want to read ebooks on my laptop (ThinkPad X60 Tablet) as it’s way too big/heavy. I also don’t want to read ebooks on my Treo (or for that matter, any cellphone convergence device) because either the screen is too small or I am running down the battery that I desperately need for other purposes.

Isn’t the iPod an example of a non-convergence device that is successful, too? I don’t know many people who carry around a PDA or mobile phone for the sake of listening to music. My Treo can play MP3s just fine, but again I don’t want to run down the battery on my six-hour flight tomorrow and not be able to make a call upon arrival. A small MP3 player (no iPod here) dedicated to entertainment doesn’t take up a lot of space and does the job fine.


I still keep coming back to the question of why? (As in: Why a tech device that does only one thing?)

Isn’t the rage to have a converged device? Isn’t that why the iPhone is such a hit?

(shaking my head in wonder)



I was pleasently surprised to find that uBook ( turns my WiBrain into a great ebook reader. It supports screen rotation (and the mouse works properly!). I use it in portrait mode.

Mike Cane

No, the Kindle is DEFINITELY using the older FIRST-GEN eInk. It is NOT using the Sony’s VizPlex 2nd-gen eInk. This has been confirmed over and over.

I’ve seen the original PRS-500 and 505 next to one another at SonyStyle. The difference between 1st & 2nd-gen eInk is dramatic. No, it’s still not paper white, but it is more reflective and brighter — dramatically and noticeably so.

Matthew Miller (aka palmsolo)

Funny, I find I am reading more than ever before on the Sony Reader 505 that I have. I also have Mobipocket on my devices, but find it is very nice to hold the slim Sony Reader on the train and read to my heart’s desire. I get too swept up in checking email and RSS feeds on my devices and like having a separate dedicated ebook reader like the Sony.

Mike Cane

A reminder: the Kindle uses FIRST GENERATION eInk. The rev 2 Sony Reader — PRS-505 — uses 2nd-gen VizPlex eInk which has a higher contrast.


It looked like that might be a concern.

As for the walk readers, I haven’t done that in years, but I did an awful lot of homework on the way to class having seen a friend do it between work and classes. Works if you’re studying literature (as we were); not sure about sciences or math.

Ricky B.

I use my N810 to read, and used a Dell Axim before that. I was thinking about a Kindle, so — thank you. This was one of my concerns with it as well.

It’s great to hear that someone else does the Walk-And-Read bit, Doug. :D I do this with the N810 some days and paperback books (I still like them more) all the time and always thought I was weird! It’s not just good exercise, the walking also helps me think while reading.

Doug Carmichael

One advantage of the Kindle over say the Samsung q1 is being able to walk and read. I’ve got a pretty good county road, and the ability to get out, get exercise, occasionally look around, and read, is meaning more ereading AND more walking.

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