My Kindle arrived today while I was watching Riley drive his electric Jeep around the cul-de-sac island. Since he refused to park his Jeep to go inside, I tore open the box right there in the driveway, and carried its contents up to the circle to get acquainted.

The Kindle is an electronic book. It has a paperback-sized screen with a small keyboard below, and large buttons on the sides. When the device is on, it reads just like any paperback book except that when you want to turn the page, you just press the button.

Several special features of the Kindle make it a pretty unique product. I admit that this device is going to be a problem for me because it’s just too good.

First off, the e-ink is great. Rather than use an LCD display, which requires constant power to operate, the Kindle uses a technology that allows it to effectively use power to set an image to the screen and then let it sit. As a result, it requires very little power even in constant use. I’ve been using it out of the box since it has arrived, and the power meter still reads full.

Some might say that the look of the e-ink screen is a great improvement over LCD, too. You can read the Kindle screen in very bright light from any angle. The only thing that seems strange when having used these LCDs all along is that there is no backlight or any kind of light on the device. You’ll need a little booklight if you want to read in the dark.

The next really great feature of the Kindle is the whispernet. The Kindle has components in it that allow it to connect to a fast cellular network. You don’t pay an additional fee for this access. This connection allows the Kindle to converse with the Amazon book store and download books.

There is an Amazon store built into the Kindle that lets you preview and purchase books directly using your Amazon account. This is the dangerous part for me. I’ve already bought thee books and a magazine subscription via the Kindle. The first was “just to see how it works” and the rest were “gee, I should have that”. The easy sale is that the digital versions of the dead tree editions are often much cheaper. The books I bought were normally over $20, and I got them both for $10 each.

Another great thing about the Kindle is that it has an SD card slot hidden in the back panel. You can add more storage. More storage is good because apart from books, the Kindle also supports mp3 playback (via the speaker or headphone jack) and Audible.com audio books. This is fantastic for me because now I have a player that’s suitable for the task of “book” - be it reading or listening.

The interface was a little awkward to start off with, but once I figured out where to put my hands, it became second nature. The refresh on the e-ink screen isn’t bad, and you get used to the little flash between pages. Nothing worse than flipping pages of a novel, really.

There are a bunch of other things the Kindle can do, too. You can convert your own files for display on the device, saving you money if you like to read the Gutenburg classics or your own writing. Also, it apparently has a web browser (I haven’t tried it yet) that you can use in a pinch over the whispernet. That’s pretty cool.

As I write this, I’m transferring two Audible novels to the Kindle for playback. I’m anxious to put the Kindle through a more thorough workout, and even to get back into more reading for pleasure.