Friday, July 30, 2010

Why speakers should take a second look at the new Kindle

Ever since I first tested the Amazon Kindle as a speaking tool,  I knew it had great value in addition to its book-reading capabilities.  But price remained a barrier for many speakers.  This week, Amazon announced new features and far lower prices that make the device the least expensive e-reader out there--and worth a second look if you are a frequent speaker.  Here's how I see the Kindle's uses, through the eyes of a speaker. It's:
  • A note card replacer: Both the new Kindle with wi-fiand the new Kindle with free 3G and wi-fi (which works globally), are close to the size of large-format 5x7 inch index cards that many speakers use for notes, but easier to hold and manipulate.  No shuffling or dropping of pages and cards! You can hold it in one hand and use your thumb to press the tab that will advance pages. Previous battery life was more than enough for even the longest lecture; the new models hold a charge for one month if the wireless is off.  (Speakers, don't use that as an excuse to speak longer!)
  • A vision enhancer:  No need to ask your speechwriter to adjust the type size, or fiddle with your glasses so you can see the text.  Kindle's added more adjustable fonts for a total of eight, and promises 50 percent clearer, crisper text compared to other e-readers.
  • The device that will let you speak outdoors:  There's no backlighting (also great for your eyes), so unlike an iPad, you can read from text on the Kindle while standing out in the sun.  Commencement speakers, park ribbon-cutters and officiants at outdoor weddings all can use it as well as those of us in lecture halls.
  • A speech storage device:  You can email your text or PDF documents directly to the Kindle (you'll get a dedicated email for that purpose), so you can carry many speech texts with you in one 8.7 ounce, 1/3-inch-thick device. (That's 15 percent lighter than the previous versions.) If you're a traveling speaker, this alone is good reason to buy a Kindle. Kindle has doubled the storage space in these new versions, so you can store the equivalent of 3,500 books.
  • A reference/research storage device:  If you comb through books and texts for fodder for your speeches, just download them onto the Kindle and carry them with you--you can even dog-ear pages, highlight text to find it easily, or use the built-in dictionary to check meanings as you read.  You can download or subscribe to newspapers, magazines and blogs as well as books, store and play music and much more--right from the device--so if you need to find and check a text last-minute, it can be done on the spot.
  • A speech practice/review device:  Kindle features include a text-to-speech option for English language text, so your device can read your speech to you, letting you sit back and listen.  (No, it won't include your rhetorical flourishes and vocal stylings, but it's a great way to step back and hear your words in advance.)
You don't pay for the built-in wireless capability--the device price is all you pay, and it comes ready to use.  This time, there are two choices:  Wi-fi dependent Kindles, which will get free wi-fi at AT&T hotspots, at the lower price of $139, and 3G wireless with wi-fi at the $189 price, which also works globally and does not need a hotspot to connect to wireless. You can view a video that reviews all the new features and see the Kindle in use. 

Let me know if you're using a Kindle when you speak, and how it's working for you.