There is another way in which Amazon is “veering away from supporting educational uses.” The Kindle 2 actually makes it harder to manage the settings of the device. How? Most importantly, the Kindle 2 pushes the wifi “on/off” setting into a menu and removes the button from the exterior of the device. Stylish, yes. Helpful, no.
OK, I am an admitted battery life freak. So maybe I am overreacting to the fact that I would have to open up a menu on the device to toggle the wifi on and off. And I also admit that my whining on this topic sounds remarkably like the whining about “new new” things that I deplore when others do it. BUT, this innovation of removing the wifi switch from the exterior of the device encourages the user to keep the wifi ON (all the easier to buy books with, my dear).
For me, I watch that switch on the back of my Kindle 1 like a hawk, and even audibly sigh when I notice that I left the darned thing on for hours without realizing it. Because of that switch, I can check and adjust the wifi setting when the Kindle is 1) in display mode, 2) off, and 3) in sleep mode. The user of the Kindle 2 can perform that check when the Kindle is 1) in display mode, 2) um, oh yeah, that’s it.
Now one of the great advantages of my Kindle over my iPhone is battery life. A key feature that gives the Kindle (and other e-ink readers) promise in the educational space is the low power requirement. That advantage is eroded by anything that fails to optimize power management. Clearly, the Kindle 2 makes it harder to manage battery life. (Plus, I’m thinking that 3G network chews power even more than the old-style Whispernet, even if I stipulate that the Kindle 2 has better battery life than the Kindle 1.)
Next: Why Educators Should Mourn the Departure of the SD Chip Slot from the Kindle 2