Weekend with Kindle 2

After watching the FedEx's tracking page like a hawk last week, my Kindle 2 arrived on Thursday just in time for me to take it with me for the Alt.NET weekend in Seattle. The flights between Seattle and Newark allowed me to spend hours reading on the new Kindle. Instead of giving a full hands-on review (plenty can be found on the interweb), I'll give some comparisons with the original Kindle.

Build
Nothing really was wrong with the build quality of the original Kindle. It is light and feel solid, despite the plastic body. But once I laid my hands on the new Kindle, there is really no comparison. The non-wedge shape and the thinness combines with the metal back cover gives Kindle 2 a much higher build quality, much like the original iPhone vs. iPhone 3G. And even though Kindle 2 is lighter than Kindle 1, I feel the new version is much more solidly built. The uniform thickness makes the new Kindle so much easier to hold. The wedge shape of the original almost forces one to hold it in about two ways that don't hurt or tiring. Now I can hold it anyway I want.
Screen
You can see the huge difference in refresh speed between the old and new here. It makes reading on the new Kindle even better experience. There is no more the need to click Next Page just a few seconds before I finish the page to compensate for the slow refresh. Of course, the quicker refresh speed allows the use of the new 5-ways controller. The increased level of grey levels (16 vs. 4) really makes illustrations becomes a viable of the eBook. Previously it depends on how much effort the publishers put it to cater for the 4 levels of grey. Some makes it readable while others make it impossible to decipher.
Buttons
One of the main complain about the original Kindle is the placement of the buttons around the edge. The location makes it almost impossible to not activate a button when picking up the Kindle. The buttons in the new version are now much smaller and rock inward instead of the traditional outward. This means I can pick up or hold the new Kindle without fearing pushing a button by mistake.
UI & Navigation
The new 5-ways controller makes navigating the menu system (which is also re-designed) so much easier than the roller of the original. This also allows highlighting text to work on word by word basis, verses the line only in the original. Another thing is that the new controller is much less noisy to push than the roller. Not a huge deal normally but makes a big difference when reading in bed, next to a sleeping wife!
Battery & Charger
The new battery definitely last longer than the original. Compare to the original Kindle review which also happened during a weekend trip to Seattle, the new Kindle used only 1/3 of the charge vs. 3/4 with similar usage. Lots of people have issue of the non-removable battery in Kindle 2 but I don't feel it would be a problem. May be that's because I rarely have to replace a battery in any of my electronic gadgets. I do like the new charging mechanism though. Instead of a separate charger, the new Kindle uses a USB cable for charging from the computer, or with an adaptor from the main power. And the adaptor is very slight and easy to pack, it reminds me of the design the iPhone 3G adaptor.

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

iPhone Developer’s Cookbook review

When learning a new language/platform/framework, sometimes learning from a book is a good approach. But that depends heavily on picking the 'right' book. What I mean is that the book contains the 'right' amount of content for the reader's skill level. So when I looked for book to learn more about iPhone development, I have something specific in my mind already.

With Apple's original rather restrictive NDA placed on iPhone developers, all the iPhone development books were placed on hold until Apple changed of mind a few months back. One of the book that I received good recommendation from fellow ThoughtWorkers who were also interested in iPhone development was Erica Sudan's iPhone Developer's Cookbook. I bought it earlier this month along with Christmas presents so I can read it during the holiday vacation.

The book is not thick at all, coming just under 340 pages, and took me couple of afternoons to read through. It is written half in traditional cover-to-cover manner and half in 'recipe' manner where developers can find solutions to problem quickly. Perhaps because I've been part of the iPhone SDK program since the beginning and had seen the evolution from the first beta, most of the book content (I'd say 90%) is not new to me. Particularly the sections on table, advanced table, and UI controls are areas that I am already very familiar with after poking around the SDK for over 6 months. I did learn some valuable tips on media and animation, which I've not spent any time on yet.
I'm kind of disappointed by the book because I was hoping I would learn how to create great iPhone app. Particular I was looking for code examples of common application requirements (e.g. how to implement options screen) with in-depth discussion on the limitations imposed by the public API, alternative ways to work around them using legitimate means, as well as undocumented API. I am also hoping to see some mention of unit testing with OCUnit or Google's unit testing framework, profiling using Instrument, and other libraries that would fill in the API gaps. Instead, the book only provides isolated information on each topic and spends to my mind, a disproportion amount of time on undocumented API thus giving it an implicit approval. (On the topic of private/undocumented API, I am in the camp of John Gruber of Daring Fireball)
In the end, I would give this book 3 out of 5 because it provides a lot of valuable information for any one starting out with iPhone development. But it does not provide any insight into building great iPhone application, which I think is sorely missing in this area.

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

Website Built with WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: