Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Kindle Effect: Why we need single-use devices

I spend a lot of time spitting in the face of technological convergence. We've spent the last decade developing technology towards the smartphone, and every day, I disregard it. Instead of my smartphone, or the three tablets I own, I spend a lot of time each day reading on my Kindle.

Why stick with a device with only one real purpose? It's a great tool. That's not to mean that it's something used for work. It has a purpose, and its purpose is to make sure that I have a book in front of my eyes. I can use those other devices, but the Kindle is just better.

My weapon of choice, the Kindle Voyage

For one, that you can use a smartphone or tablet to read a book is an accident. They are capable of displaying text, which means that they can show a book. They also have hundreds of other uses, so they're made to do anything decently well. Anyone given that problem will make a device with a lot of general choices, to fit many different things.

A Kindle is made only for reading. It's possible to do other things with it, but it's difficult. Try unlocking a Kindle and not have a book show up in front of your face. They traded a high refresh rate for avoiding the glare and fatigue that other screens have. Except for text justification, the Kindle feels like my perfect device for reading.

I hinted at the other big reason: it's difficult to do other things on a Kindle. There is a web browser that barely works, but other than that, it's pretty much all books. This helps me avoid scrolling up and down the app screen repeatedly, forgetting what I meant to do. While that says a lot about my attention span, it also shows how the Kindle helps avoid that problem.

While I like some single purpose devices, I do draw a line. I don't own a dedicated camera, instead doing well enough with my smartphone. I know that there are many great cameras out there, but it's not my thing. I don't care about photography enough to have a reason to spend that money.

There are also cases where there aren't better devices. I listen to a lot of podcasts, making it a perfect candidate for a dedicated device. Nothing out there is better than a smartphone app for podcast listening, so that's what I use.

I'm not saying everyone should own a Kindle. It's all up to you what you spend your money and time on. This is just why I own a Kindle but not an expensive camera. What I am saying is that there's good in questioning the convergence of technology, and embracing devices with just a single purpose. They all still exist for a reason.

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