The original Kindle was very unattractive. In my personal opinion, it is still not as sleek-looking as a Sony Reader. But the design improved significantly. And the navigation changed. Now you have a 5 positin joystick. Using the joystick, you can navigate the cursor to any word on the page and a dictionary definition will show at the bottom. But it still takes a while to get there. I wish they had a track ball or something similar.
I wish the screen had a better contrast, I wish it was in color. Some people wish it had a backlight. Lack of the backlight does not bother me in the least. If necessary, you can always attach a book light to your device. I wish the navigation was better for the periodicals – at least as good as for books.
The advantage over books is that you can make your text larger. It is cool that you can buy and download a book from Amazon store in seconds over Amazon’s wi-fi. It is not cool that they still use proprietary document format and you cannot just transfer a text or a PDF file from your computer to your Kindle. You still need to send a document to a Kindle email address to get converted. And it will cost you too. With Sony it is way easier to transfer a document to a Reader.
Now, Kindle added text-to-speech capability. After a huge debate with Writers Guild who did not like that, Amazon allows the writers to turn off that capability on their books, if they wish. Silly. The computer-generated voice is never going to run audio books out of business. But be aware, that not all the books will be read to you.
Another handy feature is that if you have an iPhone, there is a free Kindle app available which will allow you to read any book you purchased through a Kindle store. You don’t even need to have a Kindle. But if you do, iPhone will get synchronized with your Kindle. So, if you are in the middle of reading a book on your Kindle, and then switched to iPhone to continue to read it, the iPhone will move to the spot where you left off. There is also a way to make annotations on it and save them to your web Kindle account as notes. Sweet!
A bigger, more expensive Kindle is available: Kindle DX: Amazon’s 9.7″ Wireless Reading Device. But really, why get this one? I think, it is too much money for what you are getting.