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Can A Kindle Be An SMB Tool?

Considering its long battery life, its portability, its legibility, and the fact that it can display PDFs from a PC, it really looks like it ought to have some business use.

Lamont Wood

January 6, 2011

2 Min Read

Considering its long battery life, its portability, its legibility, and the fact that it can display PDFs from a PC, it really looks like it ought to have some business use.It's long been said that, whatever business you think you're in, you're also in the printing business, since you need to print so many things to do business. This could include documentation for your primary product, and instructions for your technicians.

That said, could the Amazon Kindle replace paper in your business?

The Kindle can display a number of e-book formats, plus PDF. (The makers included caveats about not all PDFs displaying correctly, but that can be true with any device-there's always a PDF that won't work.) For SMB purposes, the point is that the latest word processors will let you print your documents to PDF format. Meanwhile, if you attach your Kindle to a USB port on your computer, you can drag and drop files to the Kindle.

So it will easily replace paper. The display uses "electronic paper," in which either black or white particles are pushed against the screen, allowing 16 shades of gray. The result is fine for text and high-contrast illustrations, such as black and white diagrams. For low-contrast or color art, things get, literally, muddy, and you're lucky to make out what the subject was. On the other hand, the display does not draw a lot of battery power--I have been using one for two weeks on a charge, and the battery icon is only down third.

However, the screen is not a touch screen, and the keyboard and cursor control button is just usable enough to run searches and occasionally input a note. You can zoom in to examine graphic material, but is process is clumsy.

All that being said, do you need to replace paper with a $120 device? Well, you can do searches with the Kindle. If you have hundreds of pages of documentation in play, so that searching is an issue, the Kindle will also be a lot more portable than those binders that you need for the paper version of the material. But it there are a lot of big diagrams in those binders, the user may be happier with paper.

Basically, the Kindle is a fine replacement for a paperback book. You can download the next novel by your favorite author and read it without killing any trees, or (assuming Internet access) even going to the bookstore. Battery life will not get in the way. If you depend on some business process that that superficially resembles the act of reading a paperwork book, then the Kindle may facilitate that process.

Otherwise, you are probably better off with something more interactive, such as a laptop or a smartphone.

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