My previous e-reader having died, I found the pocket-friendly form and market-beating price tag of the kindle irresistible.  If I stick to Project Gutenberg for my books, I’m not sucked in to Amazon’s Orwellian World, but I have the advantages of the latest technology (including notably an e-ink screen that is no longer slow) fronting my library.

But what about the with-keyboard versions?  That’s potentially an even more interesting device, depending on what software I can run on it.  If I can install some basic utilities it becomes truly the ideal portable computer.  How basic?  Just a text editor and it becomes the ideal companion for events like FOSDEM and for real backpacking, with both keyboard and screen being a whole lot better to use than the pocket-puter (aka smartphone), as well as decent battery life.  Add a set of regular smartphone/tablet-like apps (like email, calendar, notebook) and the ability to install apps, and it really begins to look like the device I’m waiting for.

Is that feasible?  A couple of shops where I’ve asked say no chance.  What would I have to do to make it happen?  And is anyone playing with interesting ideas like running Linux or an open-ish Android on a kindle?

Posted on January 24, 2012, in books. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I have a kindle dx – one of the keyboard models. Short of jailbreaking or something similar, you’ll not be installing anything. Not that I think you’d want to – the built in keyboard is pretty close to useless. The kindle dx/keyboard does a great job at displaying books, but that is all it does.

  2. Mads is right … treat the Kindle as a display device, not as a pocket-puter. Apart from the keyboard, the display refresh is not up to prolonged typing – you get visual artifacts, and it’s slow. It’s optimised for occasional slow entire page refreshes, not what you have in mind.

    That said, for the price, it’s an awesome reading device, and *much* more portable and spine-friendly than the alternatives. I recommend carrying it in addition to any mobile computing device (phone, tablet, PDA, …) you may also have. It’s far more friendly on tired eyes.

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