KindleKitArsTechnica The wrong guy working for the Washington Post Company wrote up the Kindle for Newsweek; Steve Levy filled his cover story with hype.

But at the company’s flagship newspaper, WaPost “Faster Forward” columnist Rob Pegoraro went strictly by hands-on results in his review and related observations.

He does note positives, such as the ease of downloading books. At the same time, however, he refuses to gloss over the negatives and might actually be a little tougher than an Ars Technica review. Excerpt from the WaPo evaluation:

“…you can get lost in a compelling book on the Kindle. You can start to forget the plastic around the words—so long as the Kindle doesn’t crash.

Froze on a page

“The review unit loaned by Amazon froze on a page I was reading several nights ago, then stayed stuck through the next morning. Nothing would clear the screen and wake the thing up—not pressing the reset switch beneath the back cover, not removing the battery.

“Amazon’s tech support answered almost immediately but could only suggest replacing the Kindle. Finally, I tried plugging it in.

“That somehow revived the device.”

Rob’s not the only one with a Kindle lockup problem, alas, though the cure for occasional difficulties could be simple–also see David Berlind’s info (via Kindle News).

A lemon?

In fairness to Amazon, maybe Rob got a lemon, but then David, too, encountered difficulties. I also find it dismaying that Amazon could only suggest a replacement for Rob. Hearing the reply from tech support, most customers would have groaned and sent the Kindle back—their faith in E lessened. Since when has you p-book frozen up?

Let’s hope freeze-ups really aren’t that common. I’d love to hear from other Kindle owners. Anyone else experiencing problems of any kind? Tips to share? My issue is with the machine, not the owners, toward whom I intend to be highly supportive.

More hassles for Rob Pegoraro

On top of everything else, Rob among other things:

–Finds that the current E Ink has contrast issues and others, an observation with which I thoroughly agree based on my Sony Reader. Look, I’m glad E Ink is around, and I know it’ll get much better. But right now it’s a long way from paper.

–Wonders about the number of titles in the Kindle library, 90,000, just a fraction of Amazon’s millions of books, although of course Kindledom will be growing.

–Says the books have price issues—thinks discounts should be steeper. Actually on this detail, Rob might want to check out Humayun’s price analysis.

–Complains that Kindle books “come wrapped in “digital rights management” software that prevents you from printing them, reading them on another device or loaning them to friends.”

–Says the “Sprint-supplied ‘Whispernet’ service,” used for transmitting books, “has major gaps in rural areas, starting as close as 30 miles from the District. Users in the country may need to download books to their computers, then copy them to a Kindle.” In a related vein, see this link kindly supplied by TeleBlog contributor Paul Biba—on the difficulties of using the Whispernet in Montana and other states with no coverage or spotty coverage. Bait-and-switch advertising for their residents? Or are they not reading fine print?

Close to home

Yeah, I know: Amazon has not sent me a Kindle. But believe me, rather than hoping to trash the machine, I’d love to be able to be more charitable about the interface than Rob was, despite the obnoxious DRM. As an e-book booster thrilled by the Kindle’s having made Newsweek (even if the story read more like a press release), I’d like to recommend the Kindle for newbies on the basis of a hands-on by me and my smart but somewhat technophobic sister—if the facts justify it. Alas, the more I read about the Kindle, the more questions I have.

Related: Nick Carr’s Kindle- and Web 2.0-related commentary inspired by the Post review (via Peter Brantley).