I think I must be getting old...
I don’t usually do this. In fact, I usually shy away from exactly this. But yes, I’m actually going to do a blog post about someone being stupid on the internet. Actually, several people. Specifically, in the customer reviews section of the new keyboard-less Kindle on the Amazon UK website.
The newest addition to the Kindle family has caught my interest because it’s a cheaper, stripped down version of the e-reader I have been in love with since last Christmas, when I got mine (a keyboard-ed 3G version, currently retailing at £149). My thinking is that the £89 version, lacking the keyboard, would be perfect for a number of loved ones come the festive period.
So, naturally, I’ve been doing research. I started out with the reviews posted on the Amazon site itself, though I’d point out that they alone would by no means sway my opinion. I went for the 1-star reviews first, thinking I’d see what the drawbacks were. Except, all I learnt from reading them was that there are an awful lot of particularly stupid people with internet connections and too much free time on their hands.
The majority of the complaints were all along the same lines; it’s too expensive. Now, since I strongly suspect few, if any, of them had actually bought (and thus used) the damn thing, they seemed to largely be basing their shrill, harpy-like objections on one thing: the price on the US site.
See, in the US (as the denizens of the 1-star reviews section will gladly tell you), customers can buy the basic level Kindle for $79. At current exchange rates, this would be £50. Which, as the reviewers correctly point out, is less than £89.
However, what they appear to have missed is that the $79 version on the US site has an extra feature: adverts. Yes, when you turn the $79 Kindle off, instead of the pictures of assorted authors which you see on any other Kindle, you see paid-for advertisements. From what I can see, the UK £89 version doesn’t have this feature, so it would be more comparable to the $109 advert-free version.
Now, converted directly this would be equivalent to £69, which is still about £20 in difference, but seems fairly acceptable given that a) Amazon needs to make a profit, and b) prices are never directly equivalent on anything. Ever.
But the review that takes the biscuit comes from a certain D. Bentley. Mr Bentley manages to construct a more detailed argument than the wallet-clutching “too expensive” brigade, and trip himself up on said detail. His first complaint is the lack of a physical manual. For an e-reader. I’m not precisely sure what he bought the Kindle for, but I guess we can assume it wasn’t reading. My own, more expensive Kindle, didn’t come with a paper manual either, and you didn’t see me climbing the walls. Why? Because the manual is preloaded onto the bloody thing!
His second complaint is that he couldn’t get it to connect to his wireless router. He says:
“…when I tried to connect it to my router – nothing! A vicious circle of connect – try again – connection failed. Finally, I don’t know how, another screen came up telling me to enter my password for the router. What password!! I don’t have one and never had that I remember.”
Can you see what the problem here was? His wireless network was quite obviously secured with a password, which his computer had saved to more conveniently connect him to the internet. Hence he had forgotten the password, which rather than being his fault for not writing it down somewhere, was Amazon’s fault. Of course.
Perhaps I’m being a little harsh, but I’m genuinely astounded at just how incapable some people are. Quite how he expected that his Kindle would come out of the box ready connected to his wireless network is mystifying.
The result of all of this is that I’ve learnt pretty much nothing about the new Kindle, other than the fact that it will confound anyone without the slightest idea of how technology works. I’ve also learnt that a healthy section of the people who post reviews on Amazon are idiots, and should not be listened to at all. Which is a worthwhile, if stroke-inducing, lesson I suppose.