Further observations on the Kindle


Here are some further observations on the Kindle:

  • Each version of the Kindle (tablet or app) returns a reader to the last page viewed in a title.
  • While the arrow buttons on the tablet make for easy page turning, it can be tedious to use them to turn back more than a few pages to return to a section; you can use the menu to “go to” a location number (numbers for various locations are shown at the bottom of every page). Or, you can sync to the furthest page read, but to do so, you must first have turned your annotations backup on, which can be found in the settings menu. The Kindle must have had Wi-Fi access enabled at the time you last had the book or article open to allow Amazon.com to store that data.
  • In the PC app, you can view the menu of available titles by most recent, title, author and length.
  • The tablet and PC app come with a dictionary, which can come in handy when reading old books with archaic words.
  • The popular highlights feature lets you see what other Kindle readers think are the most interesting passages in a book you have. Highlighted passages will be highlighted in your book.

 

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When a Kindle is not a Kindle – Reading books on another device


My last several blogs have focused on the Kindle e-book reader – but that tablet is not the platform for partaking of the Kindle experience. Amazon.com currently offers several versions of a Kindle app for mobile phones and other devices: the iPhone; Windows personal computers; Mac computers; some models of the Blackberry; the iPad; Android phones; and the Windows Phone 7 operating system. (Click here to view the various Kindle apps and system requirements.)

I have only recently downloaded the Windows PC app; it is the only device I own that supports one of the apps. My Blackberry Curve is not one of the Curve models that are compatible with the Kindle app. I have begun reading “Aesop’s Fables.”

My impressions so far of the Windows PC app: “Page turning” is as easy as using a mouse’s scroll button or hitting forward and back arrows. Additional convenient features include a “Home” button to return to the main menu, the ability to make notes about the material, the ability to change font size and brightness and the ability to read the text in one or two columns. You can navigate easily to your notes or to highlighted sections you have marked in the text. The computer screen makes for a larger reading area than the Kindle tablet. However, this app cannot duplicate the Kindle tablet’s e-ink technology that makes electronic reading similar to reading a printed book (computer screens are back-lit, which can lead to eye strain).

Regardless of which Kindle format you use, Kindle customers have one huge advantage: Amazon.com makes your e-book available for repeated download on multiple devices. So if you lose your Kindle tablet, once you buy a new tablet you can simply re-download your e-books at no additional charge. I have downloaded a couple of the titles from my Kindle tablet to my computer Kindle app. This customer service feature provides a peace of mind for anyone who worries about purchasing a lot of electronic books only to lose the reader.  This feature helps you deal with data storage limitations too, since you can delete titles you have read to clear up room on the device; you can always download the title again in the future if you wish to read it again.

Check soon for the next Kindle blog: Further observations on the Kindle tablet

The Kindle on a budget


I was a holdout for several years on ebooks, including the much-touted Kindle. I’m a journalist and a bookworm, a lover of the printed word, and to me, nothing could compare to the allure of text on paper. Certainly computers and smart phones cannot compare to reading a newspaper or a (paper-print) novel. The price of ebook readers was another factor. But I could no longer ignore the changing nature of print media – even as I finished earning an MBA to stretch my workplace skills, I began forcing myself to upgrade my technical abilities – I bought a Blackberry, and I began blogging and using Twitter.

Cheapness is the feature that finally won me over to the Kindle (I have been called a cheapskate more than once). Amazon.com had dropped the entry-level price to $139. I began researching the Kindle and discovered rave reviews by users on its E Ink technology that allows words and pictures to appear just like ink on paper. (I learned the reviews were true once I started using my Kindle).

Even as Amazon.com was drawing flack for trying to force ebook prices up, I read that many classic books are available for free on the Kindle. And indeed they are. I have downloaded well more than two dozen free classics, ranging from “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne to “The Invisible Man” by H.G. Wells. I just finished reading Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” and have started Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.” Some versions of these books are free, while other electronic versions cost a few dollars and are still a bargain.

I have also downloaded free games – Mine Sweeper and Blackjack.

A final appealing feature of the Kindle is the access to newspapers like the Wall Street Journal. I have subscribed to the WSJ for $14.99 per month, but am enjoying my first two weeks for free. Additional print media options for the Kindle include The New York Times, USA Today, regional papers like The Houston Chronicle, and magazines like Time. Since my Kindle was a Christmas gift, my only expenses associated with it have been a case and the WSJ subscription.

My next Kindle blog will look at how it and other ebook readers fit in with the future of newspapers.

Observations on the Kindle


Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of blogs on the Kindle.

There are two versions of the current Kindle: the Wi-Fi model, for $139, and the 3G/Wi-Fi model, for $189.

While it would be nice to have the model with 3G wireless access, I opted for the cheaper one since I had placed it on my Christmas list. I have access to Wi-Fi at work, so it’s not an inconvenience.

The E Ink technology makes for an amazingly easy read even on what is only a 6-inch screen – much easier than my larger laptop screen with its backlit video screen. It’s much easier to read from the Kindle screen than from my tiny Blackberry screen.

The E Ink makes for a true book-like read which is easy on the eyes, and the size of the text at normal view is large enough for comfort – and it can be adjusted larger. Also, you can read it outside without glare.

 

Books and other orders are downloaded in less than a minute, an amazing feat considering the amount of time it can take to load a simple page on an Internet browser on your computer.

I quickly adapted to navigating through book pages and newspaper sections and stories.  Forward and backward arrow buttons are strategically placed on the left and right sides, making for convenient page turning.  There is a four-way arrow button placed around an Enter button that can be used to change stories in newspaper editions, etc. Other control features include a QWERTY keypad. The Home button takes you from a book to the menu of the media loaded onto your machine. The Menu button gives you such options as accessing the wireless connection, checking for new media orders and viewing notes (You have the ability to highlight and copy text to notes.).

The battery is rated to last up to a month, and after four days of using my Kindle, there’s no sign of the battery dying anytime soon, so I cannot yet rate this claim. The Kindle defaults to sleep mode after a few minutes of no use, showing a mix of screen savers that include portraits of famous authors and drawings from old books.

Cons: Although the Kindle has a built-in Web browser, I have only used it to connect to the Amazon.com Kindle site to set up my device and order some books. Web browsing is not Kindle’s forte, especially with the limited control panel. That’s the only con I have found so far.

Next blog: The Kindle on a budget

Kindling an interest among friends


I received an Amazon Kindle (the Wi-Fi graphite) for Christmas, and I intend to chronicle my experiences on it.

These postings will be rudimentary “of course” knowledge to those who have been fortunate enough to use a Kindle these last few years or those who otherwise have followed the Kindle’s history. But I have already run into a number of people – who of course know about the Kindle but have never laid eyes directly on a Kindle and who have shown a great interest in mine. I will refer them to this blog, and I hope I can provide some insights to a cyber audience seeking basic knowledge about the Kindle.

Here is a link to my model’s full description on Amazon.com.

Next blog entry: Basic observations on the Kindle

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