Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi Review for the IT Professional Seeking Certification Book Replacement

As someone who works with technology all the time, I always try to find ways to keep my skills sharp. Classes are out of the question so most of my focus is on studying from books that focus on certification.

One idea I had recently was to give the Wi-Fi Kindle a shot at replacing my physical books. If you’ve never held an IT book, they all have a few things in common. They’re big. They’re heavy. They go out of date fast. Most of the books I have are Microsoft Press, Cisco Press, or Sybex (Lammle CCNA).

The relevant features for this type of use are that the Kindle Wi-Fi features a 6″ Diagonol screen, is light weight, and offers features such as text-to-speech which was pretty good when I had tested it out. 3GB of storage is more than I’ll ever need.

The Kindle Wi-Fi came pre-customized and linked to my Amazon.com account with the standard USB cable and a nice USB to 115 volt outlet adapter for charging. Battery life is not an issue even with WiFi enabled and the look and feel of the Kindle is nice. It feels solid, not too light, and I’m not afraid of damaging the screen.

But using Kindle to as a book replacement for your IT certification studying? Let’s get to the meat and potatoes.

As far as reading is concerned, how is the quality of the Kindle?
7 out of 10.

When you’re reading in a Kindle friendly format which at this point in time is either a mobipocket (.mobi extension) or Kindle native (.azw extension), it’s perfect. You can only expect so much on such a small screen, and if you rely heavily on images to help you understand what’s going on, there are some limitations due to the image having to be scaled down. From the samples of books I’ve tried from Amazon, I would have no issue what-so-ever buying a Kindle friendly book from Amazon. Just keep in mind you’re typically only going to get a small amount of information on the screen at a time so it may get frustrating as you’re trying to complete labs.

How is PDF support?
4 out of 10.

If you don’t mind squinting, nothing. Due to the size of the screen, the Kindle is capable of showing an entire page out of a book with no problem. The text is just very small. The solutions are either get a larger Kindle, or rotate the PDF and view it widescreen. The only problem with viewing it Widescreen is I personally find it irritating having to scroll down a page and breaking up the book. I can deal with this, but the other problem is that I have not yet found a way to apply specific settings to specific ebooks. For example if I open a PDF, I always have to manually rotate the orientation of the Kindle after opening it. Then I have to rotate it back after I’m finished reading. This could be user error, I can’t believe something so simple would have been left out. Or would it have been?

What about free ebooks for books I already own?
0 out of 10. Because most books I own came with a free PDF version, I certainly cannot find fault with the publishers. Amazons support seems weak on this frontier. You would think they’d want to be stronger with the IT training crowd.

Three examples of books I’ve purchased since 2008.

RHCE Red Hat Certified Engineer Linux Study Guide – No kindle version available nor any kind of PDF other version provided for free with the book. Security+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide Kindle Edition] – Amazon wants $50.39 for the Kindle version! I paid $35 for the book new! The book did come with an e-book – multiple PDF’s (broken into chapters) on a disc. At least there’s that. But it’s not very convenient.

MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-642): Configuring Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure – Again book came with the PDF version. I’ve read you can get access to download the book through Oreilly.com, but I could not confirm this. No Kindle native version available on Amazon.

Long story short, don’t expect to get free ebooks in a kindle friendly format for books you’ve already purchased.

Overall review for IT training
5/10

I really thought this product would be stronger and I would not advise anyone to purchase the standard kindle as a replacement for physical books.

In many situations a Kindle cannot replace a physical book. When trying to follow along while doing a lab, or read or study diagrams, the Kindle fails.

The Kindle may be good for while you’re out and about, but that’s about it. Considering that the only ebook you tend to get for free with these types of books tend to be PDF, it’s not worth the cost of the Kindle and the Kindle friendly version on top of the physical book that you’re already purchasing.

I don’t want to give up on ebook training just yet, but I am fairly dissapointed in the Kindle. I really thought there would be more support for the Kindle with these types of books.