Tag Archives: reviews

Kindle 2: Usability Review

kindle 2Amazon.com’s latest version of its ebook reader, Kindle 2 has been making headlines around the world since it’s public release last month. The new version of Kindle has many improvements in its interface and design. However, there are still some usability issues with the product.

I recently read usability review of Kindle 2 by Jakob Nielsen and I agree with most of his arguments about some usability failures of the device.

It is really exciting to see how much potential this devices has in transforming the publishing industry and book readers in coming years. When I tested Kindle 2 I really liked certain aspects of the device and dissapointed with some its design & usability issues.

My suggestion for Kindle engineers is to make the screen touchable just like an iPhone, which will dramatically improve the navigation and usability of the device.

Here are some of things that I liked and disliked about Kindle 2.

The Good:

  • Form: Light Weight and Thin
  • Readability: Screen is readable on any angle
  • Navigation: Easy to Read & Turn book pages
  • Legibility: Adjust Text Size to small to large
  • Ergonomics: Anti-reflective & black and white screen reduces eye strain

The Bad:

  • Form: Mouse (aka four-way joystick) is very difficult to use
  • Readability: Screen area is small, keyboard takes up too much space
  • Navigation: Navigating links or table of contents in blogs, newspapers and magazines is not intuitive
  • Form: Power On and Off button is clunky, not sure when it is on or off
  • Design: The design of the device is not cutting edge

The Wall-Mart Effect

Wal-Mart’s tagline is “Always Low Prices” and they actually live up to this and have low prices all the time.

Everyone is always curious, “How do they do that?” That’s exactly what I wanted to know.

The Wall-Mart Effect { book cover }So, a week ago I finished reading one of the best books on Wal-Mart, The Wall-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman.

The book explores the impact of Wal-Mart’s ‘Always Low Prices’ in depth on employees, customers, suppliers and even competitors. Each chapter covers case studies from real life experiences of people who have been directly or indirectly affected by Wal-Mart. The book also tries to answer questions, such as: Is Wal-Mart good or bad for us? How does Wal-Mart always get low prices? How does Wal-Mart affect you even if you did not shop there? How do businesses cope with the low prices on their premium products at Wal-Mart? How does Wal-Mart impact US inflation? These are just some of the questions Fishman tries to answer.

The book also does an excellent job in covering the history, mission and vision of Sam Walton and his stores. Sam Walton emphasized ‘efficiency’ and always having low prices even if it hurt the business in short-term. Eventually the stores made profits from repeat customers, because customers loved these low prices. What about Wal-Mart’s efficiency? The efficiency of Wal-Mart is no much to its competitors. Wal-Mart knows ‘efficiency’ better than any other company. You either match up to their speed of business efficiency, or else you will be left in the dust bleeding to death.

Wal-Mart trivia: How much does Wal-Mart make in a month (gross profit)? Take a guess…

Answer: $20,000 per minute. That’s right, per minute. So let’s do a little math, $20,000X(24 hours*60 minutes) = $28,800,000/per day. Per Week = $28,800,000X7 days=$201,600,000. Per month=$201,600,000X4 weeks=$864,000,000.

So, Wal-Mart makes roughly $864 million a month. Is that good or bad for us? Is that good for Wal-Mart? These are some of the questions that you will come across in this book.

You can read some excerpts from the book at Fishman’s web site. For example, there is a book excerpt: “Chilean Salmon for $4.84 a pound?” or “The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart” which you might want to read before spending any money on buying the book.

I highly recommend it, if you are interested in getting to know the largest and the most powerful company in the world history (in 2006 they fell to #2 because of ExxonMobile’s profits from rising oil prices) and the largest employer in the US after the U.S. government — Wal-Mart.

Note: My previous calculation of Wal-Mart’s monthly gross profit was screwed up. Thanks to Mr. Fishman for pointing this out. The correct figures are now incorporated to this post. Note to self: gotta freshen up on math. :) { 8/17/2006 }

What is Campfire?

Campfire LogoCampfire is a new web application that lets multiple users connect online in one place to chat and share files. This is the latest tool from 37 Signals, who also have developed Basecamp, Writeboard, Backpack and Ta-Da List.

This tool could be useful in many different type of setting. For example, if you are an Admissions Counselor at a University and you need to conduct an information session online, you could use Campfire to create a chatroom for all Prospective students and walk them through the Admissions process by chatting, sharing files and slides with the users.

If you are a Sales Manager and you have many employees in different geographic location, but you would like to connect and talk with all of them at the same time and share slides, sales spreadsheet or numbers in one location on the web (without spending money for all salespeople to travel all the way to your headquarters), then you can use Campfire.

Take a tour of this web application online and see for yourself!