Thursday 26 July 2012

Kindle Touch 3G Review

I purchased a Kindle Touch 3G, and I'm very happy with it.

  1. The touch screen is good, but not great. The instructions that came with the Kindle say to turn a page by touching the screen on the right hand side, but I found this unreliable. Often a touch doesn't register, and I'd need to touch several times in order to get a page turn. Swiping also turns the page, and I found this much more reliable. Once I started swiping to turn the page instead of touching, I found the Kindle much more enjoyable to use.
  2. The E-Ink screen is very nice to read text on. It feels nice on the eyes, has good resolution, and being able to resize the text using a pinch action is very handy.
  3. You don't need two hands to read like you do with a traditional book. You can easily, for example, sit and eat breakfast while turning the page occasionally by simply touching the screen.
  4. Books are cheap compared to their physical instantiations, particularly since I live in New Zealand and books are expensive here in general.
  5. You don't need to carry a large number of books around.
  6. I don't mind having the "Special Offers", I don't find them intrusive, and it makes the Kindle cheaper.
  7. I battery life is good, even when using the lighted cover, which draws power from the Kindle's battery. Usually I only need to charge my Kindle about once a month.
  8. 3G is worth it, for me at least. I do a lot of traveling, so having 3G is really handy if I want to buy books while in a hotel. It means I don't need to try to get the WiFi to work. I have found it patchy though. For example I took my Kindle on my recent trip to Canada, and 3G connectivity didn't work in Vancouver Airport, but it did work in my hotel room in Toronto.
  9. Amazon's "Get a book in under 60 seconds" is true; books download fast, even over 3G.
  1. Entering text on the touch screen isn't a great experience, and for shopping should really be considered a last resort when you don't have a computer with Internet available. Entering a passcode to unlock the Kindle is annoying too, you need to wait for the keypress to display before continuing, which makes using it laggy. Text input would be better on a Kindle with keyboard (I imagine, I don't own a Kindle with keyboard), but I think that since having a keyboard increases the Kindle's size significantly, I'm glad I purchased the Touch over the keyboarded Kindle. The Kindle Touch is smaller than the Kindle with keyboard, but has exactly the same size screen, and I don't use text input on my Kindle that often. I don't know what text input is like (or if it's even possible) on the entry level Kindle, but I imagine if you only want to buy books on your computer, then you could get by with the standard entry level Kindle.
  2. Technical books don't layout very well, particularly the tables in them, and it seems some of the formatting information can be lost in the process of converting a book to Kindle format.
  3. The range of available books is good, but not all books are available. The most popular books are usually available, but often some older or less common books aren't available. I expect this will improve over time.
  4. It's heavier than most real books. I need two hands to hold it comfortably when reading.
  5. I'm spending more money on books now...
  6. Amazon recommends books that I might like to read. I've found a few books that I've enjoyed this way, but it makes me feel like I'm a consumer.
  7. Region/Zone/country restrictions on content suck. Really.
  8. I'm not interested in audio books, but they keep showing up in the search results. In particular they don't seem to be as region-restricted as text books. I understand that publishers make much more money with audible books, but I'm just not interested in buying them at this stage, and I wish they didn't show up.
I also bought a Kindle Touch Lighted Leather Cover. I'm satisfied with this too, though it was expensive. It does add a bit of bulk to the Kindle however, and it makes it slightly less comfortable to hold. However it feels sturdy, does a good job of protecting my Kindle, and looks stylish.  The light is quite good, and is more than adequate for reading with. The light draws power from the Kindle's battery, and it's a breeze to install your Kindle into the cover. I can't figure out how to get my Kindle out of the cover though!

I'm glad I bought the cover, it makes reading at night and on planes much better, it protects my Kindle, and it doesn't make holding the Kindle too uncomfortable.

In terms of deciding between buying the Kindle Touch, standard Kindle and Kindle with keyboard, it depends... I'm glad that I have the touch screen as a backup keyboard rather than having a physical keyboard which increases the size of my device. However I think you're not worried about the ease of purchasing content directly from your Kindle (i.e. you plan to mostly buy books using your computer via the website) then a standard Kindle would probably be adequate for you.

Overall, I'm happy with my purchase of the Kindle Touch 3G and the Lighted Leather Cover, and I recommend them.

Friday 13 July 2012

Replacing Lenovo optical drive with second hard drive: The Lenovo adapter is disappointing

I recently ordered a Lenovo Serial ATA Hard Drive Bay Adapter III for my Lenovo T510 laptop. This can hold a hard drive, and replaces the DVD/CD-ROM drive in your laptop. This enables your laptop to run a second hard drive.

I've used my optical drive two, maybe three times since getting the laptop, so swapping it for another hard drive seems like a good trade for me.

The Lenovo drive bay itself works fine, but I'm still disappointed in Lenovo's product.

When installed, the drive bay looks like this:
Lenovo Serial ATA Hard Drive Bay Adapter installed in a Lenovo T510
The problem here is that there's a gap of approximately 3mm (~0.12 inches) between the top of the drive bay and the ceiling of the optical disk cavity. This means the drive bay can wobble vertically, so much so that I feel the need to tape it in place to stop it flopping around. This looks ridiculous.

Secondly, in order to install your hard drive inside the Lenovo drive bay, you need a hard drive cover. This is the metal cover that encases the hard drives shipping in Lenovo laptops. The covers normally have rubber bumpers/rails to stop the drive moving around. You need to take the bumpers off to install your drive into the hard drive bay.

The hard drive covers looks like this:

Lenovo hard drive cover

And with a hard drive in it, the hard drive cover looks like this:

Lenovo hard drive cover encasing a hard drive.

Note the screws. The drive bay has notches which the screws snap into, holding the drive securely inside the drive bay. Possibly the screws are the only important bit here; you probably don't actually need the drive cover to install the drive into the bay, just the screws since they're what hold the drive in place inside the drive bay.

The frustrating thing is that nothing on the Lenovo web site tells you that you need a drive cover to install a drive into the drive bay. My drive bay arrived and I had to loot my old laptop's drive cover in order to install a new drive into my current laptop.

And I also couldn't find the drive covers listed on Lenovo's web site. Presumably if you buy a laptop hard drive from Lenovo they come with this cover, and presumably Lenovo use this as a way to force you to buy all your laptop hard drives directly from Lenovo.

That's the sort of behaviour I'd expect from Apple, not Lenovo.

Thankfully Ann at IT was able to figure out how to order the drive covers separately. Thanks Ann!

Overall, the product was easy to install (once I had a drive cover) and works fine (apart from the wobble) but I'm still disappointed. Next time, I'll try one of newmodeus' Lenovo drive caddies:

Update 22 March 2015: This blog post now has a Russian translation;
Пост доступен на сайте Замена оптического дисковода вторым жестким диском на Lenovo.