Kindle Update Guide – Kindle's Better Now

The Kindle Update has made the Kindle much better value for money. Wanted to walk through all the new features and mini-features added.

This covers Kindle Update 2.3 that adds PDF support, screen rotation and more.

Here’s a video discussing features added (it misses the Words Per Line feature) – [wpvideo bcjeUPEf]

Details on the Kindle Update

The big Features –

  1. Kindle PDF Support.  
  2. 85% longer battery life when wireless is on – supposedly only for Kindle Global.
  3. Screen Rotation, including on the Home Page.  

The cool features –

  1. PDFs in other languages work.
  2. Status Indicator pages that let you know a file is being opened up and also prevent ghosting. 
  3. New, improved Search – Found terms are shown in the book itself. You can circle through results. 
  4. Everything’s Faster. Definitely loading of books and perhaps even screen refreshes.  
  5. 5 way cursor seems to move faster.

Also showing –

  1. Words Per Line. Find it in the Fonts Menu (Aa key).  It lets you change the number of words per line – both in portrait and landscape mode.
  2. Status Messages in certain situations. 

Did this make it in? Rumored Features

  1. Better screen contrast and darker fonts. Some  people think so. 
  2. Better Power Management with wireless on for Kindle US. I feel my Kindle 2 US now does better with its battery, as do other people. Wishful thinking?

Lots of these updates were discovered and shared at the official kindle forum – thanks to the people who did.

How to get the Kindle Update – Manual and Automatic Updates

You can find details at this Kindle Update Page at Amazon.

  • You should normally get the update for your kindle wirelessly – automatically.
  • It should all happen automatically – you get a progress bar saying the update is happening, then your Kindle will restart, and you have a new updated Kindle.

In case you need to do a manual update –

  1. Go to the Kindle Update page – it always has the newest update file. It also has instructions.
  2. Figure out what Kindle you have – Kindle 1 is the one with an SD card slot. Kindle DX is the one with a large screen (8.9″).
  3. To figure out Kindle US Vs Kindle Global – Go to your Settings Page (Home Page > Menu > Settings) and check on the bottom right.

    Kindle (U.S. Wireless) devices begin with: 2.0, 2.0.1, 2.0.2, 2.0.3, and 2.0.4.
    Kindle (Global Wireless) devices begin with: 2.2, 2.2.1, and 2.2.2.
    Kindle DX devices begin with: 2.1 and 2.1.1.

  4. Then at the Kindle Update page select the update appropriate for your Kindle. 
  5. Download it to your PC and transfer the file via USB to your Kindle.
  6. It’s important to transfer it to the main Kindle folder – the one in which the Documents Folder and other folders are.
  7. Wait for the file to transfer completely – give it 2-3 minutes.
  8. Unplug the Kindle and go to the Settings Page again.
  9. Click Menu and select the option to ‘Update Your Kindle’.
  10. Choose ‘OK’ to continue and then let the update happen – Please do NOT restart or fiddle with the power button during an update.
  11. Congrats – You have updated your Kindle to the latest version.

It’s fair to say that with this update – via big features like PDF support, screen rotation, speed improvements, and better battery life – the Kindle is much better. 

Amazon Kindle has jumped from Kindle 1.5 to Kindle 2.3.

It does make the Kindle the best option for Christmas – edging out the Nook.

Kindle PDF feature, Kindle Vs Sony PDF

Amazon has added native Kindle PDF support. This Kindle PDF Feature Guide walks you through what you can and cannot do with your Kindle and PDF files. 

After that it adds on a Kindle Vs Sony PDF support comparison.

Here’s a video discussing the PDF capabilities of the Kindle (it misses out Search which is pretty cool) –

[wpvideo FF9mSQrX]

Kindle PDF Capabilities added to Kindle 2.

Amazon has taken a big step forward by adding significant features –

  1. PDFs work on the Kindle.  
  2. PDFs in different languages work on the Kindle. 
  3. You can search through a PDF. You can also circle through the results easily.
  4. Tables, Formulae, Charts – everything just displays well. 
  5. The default font setting of the PDF is used which means very small text size – imagine a sheet of paper scrunched to the Kindle screen.
  6. The rotation feature lets you view PDFs slightly better – the text is bigger.
  7. You can add bookmarks and quickly go to a page or a bookmark.

The update has also made loading files and searching through a book (or PDF) noticeably faster.

It’s only half the battle though.

Kindle PDF limitations – Kindle’s PDF support is still a work in progress

There’s a significant part of the Kindle PDF feature missing.

The Kindle Vs Sony PDF comparison (next section) will show that re-flowing PDFs is tough so it’s not like Amazon is being lazy.

However, here’s what’s missing –

  1. No changeable font sizes. 
  2. No zooming or panning. 
  3. No highlights.
  4. No notes.  

There are two workarounds –

  1. To get over the font size problem, re-format PDFs to have larger font sizes. PDFs that have larger font sizes work well on Kindle 2, especially in landscape mode. 
  2. Alternately, convert PDFs to Kindle format. Check my Kindle PDF conversion post.

Once the converted PDFs are in Kindle format you can change font sizes and add highlights and notes.

Which brings us to odious comparisons.

Kindle Vs Sony – PDF Capabilities

Sony wins. Here’s a video showing exactly what each can do – [wpvideo mmYLDNdi]

There’s a lot of misinformation so it’s worth noting a few things –

  1. Sony has changeable font sizes. However, anything other than the smallest size does not preserve formulas, tables and pictures consistently (70% of the time formatting and tables and pictures disappear or the PDF resets to the smallest font size).
  2. That means for technical documents you’re always switching between views.
  3. You can add notes and highlights and that’s a good feature.
  4. You can also zoom in to any part of the PDF and pan around and that’s a good feature too.
  5. The default font size for PDFs is better on Kindle in both portrait  and landscape mode by a bit – However, 30-40% of PDFs are still going to be unreadable on Kindle as they’re formatted for A4 size paper.

Sony supports PDF better. Hopefully Amazon keep improving the PDF feature on the Kindle and catch up.

Amazon do deserve kudos for adding in PDF support and screen rotation and for continuing to improve the Kindle.

Kindle has its best month ever – thanks Nook, Sony

Amazon just announced that the Kindle had its best month of sales ever – even before Cyber Monday (yeah, like one day is going to make a difference).

Not sure why Amazon felt compelled to release a Press Release. Here’s what Amazon has been saying (in press releases and Amazon.com ads) –

  1. November was best month ever. 
  2. Kindle is #1 best-selling.  
  3. Kindle is #1 gifted.
  4. Kindle is #1 most  wished for. 
  5. It’s selling faster than any other product. 

Ian Freed of Amazon adds

“We’re seeing lots of people buying from one to a handful of Kindles as gifts for friends or family, as well as many businesses and other organizations buying Kindles in large quantities for their employees or customers.”

How about giving some credit where credit is due?

To Barnes & Noble –

We could not have done this without you.  

First, you announced your product 1.5 months in advance so we could add PDF support, Kindle for PC, screen rotation and basically edge ahead of you.

Next, you didn’t have enough stock so excited readers only have the Kindle to buy.

A shout out to Sony –

For selling out of the Reader Daily Edition even before it was available to order (that is the real definition of best-selling ever).

For running ads that make zero sense – Do you really think people who read books are going to be impressed by Peyton Manning playing Whack-A-Mole?

Finally, thanks to the mainstream press –

Thanks to you, Kindle managed to beat Paris Hilton and win the ‘Person/Device the press loves to hate the most’ award.

All publicity is good publicity.

You have, as a bonus, talked up the Nook so much it couldn’t possibly meet expectations. Not to mention you’ve thoroughly confused people about it being a ‘color eReader’ and allowing ‘sharing of books’.

Will things get better for the Kindle or worse?

You have the obvious upside i.e.

People have been promised so much about the Nook that it can’t really live up to the great expectations. Wonder how people will react –

  1. When they figure out they can lend an ebook a grand total of 1 time.
  2. When they figure out B&N ebooks are more expensive than Kindle Store books.

There’s also the obvious downside –

  1. There’s always the chance that Nook meets expectations.
  2. The press will continue to fawn over it. It’s not like they are going to wait to actually use it and write an actual review.

Overall, Amazon have to be happy that B&N’s stock issues killed the Nook’s chances.

The Kindle gets to run away with the Holiday season and the press continue to give Amazon free publicity.