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.

18 thoughts on “Kindle PDF feature, Kindle Vs Sony PDF”

  1. Thanks for the great overview of the PDF capabilities!

    I was wondering if you have ever tried accessing PDFs of Newspaper pages (my local newspaper provides a PDF version of the paper, but no Kindle version). I’m curious to see how a larger page format would display in landscape and portrait views.

    One example can be found by accessing the demo section of the Redlands Daily Facts and clicking the “PDF” link at the top-right of the page.

    Thanks again for the videos!

  2. So for me, I download a lot of my ebooks pirated off the net in pdf format (I know it’s not good). So if I get an ebook reader its primarily to read these ebooks.

    It seems that Sony wins on the ability to read pdfs.
    The main difference being that you can change font sizes without having to convert the file into a different format.

    That said, converting it into a different format isn’t that big of a deal. So for me, I think the main difference would be actually that it seems that on the sony you can switch back and forth between the original formatting and the converted style formatting, whereas on the kindle you wouldn’t be able to. This is a benefit because you can read it in the larger text but when you get to a table or picture that has lost its formatting you can switch back to look at it. In the Kindle, it sounds like you wouldn’t be able to do that.

    Would you concur with this assessment?

  3. just wondering seeing all the many reviews of the kindle.
    how easy is it to read pdfs on the kindle 2 especially with the new pan and zoom and text size? and compared to the sony prs pocket or touch?

    and is it better to convert it first to something else from pdf then put on the kindle or leave it alone?
    also does changing the font size of the document on the computer make a diference on the kindle

    1. Changing font size on computer is reflected.
      Pan and Zoom works decently. The Kindle has a 6″ screen so do keep that in mind.

      Sony Touch Edition has got good zoom – but the zoom goes away on turning pages which hinders smooth reading. On Kindle it stays across page turns.

      If you convert PDF to a Kindle format you can do additional things – add notes and highlights, have the text read to you, etc. so if you want those features it is definitely a good idea to convert.

      1. thanks for the response,
        so if i edit the pdf and make all the fonts bigger it will also be bigger on the readers:)
        and its easy to read something like a text book on the kindle right. also if i convert the file type whats lost?

        1. Yes, it’s easy – however, in PDF mode you can’t highlight or add notes. And if you convert the formatting might be lost.
          Add a link to a typical PDF textbook file that you would want to read on the Kindle and I’ll test it out for you.

    1. File 1 – Binder PDF file works perfectly. In landscape mode you could probably get by without having to zoom. In portrait mode you would have to zoom as text is very tiny. Figures and tables translate perfectly.

      File 2 – Cisco Document. All the formatting and diagrams are fine. The PDF shows up as a tiny file. You have to zoom in 20% and then each page translates into 4 pages and is readable. You could also rotate and read the PDF in landscape mode. You can always zoom more (to 300% if needed).
      The combination of landscape mode and zoom works very well and you can get quite a large font size.

      Images, the in-pdf shading of certain text, bold, tables, formatting all look fine. All 15 pages look fine.

      Basically, it’s very readable if you don’t mind zooming in (zoom level is saved when you turn pages) and panning around (panning isn’t saved as you turn pages). You could also change PDF’s to larger font size (less words per page) and then your 15 page document would be a 60 page document that you could read one page at a time without zooming or panning.

      Have emailed you some photos of the PDFs on Kindle.

  4. thanks for looking at them i guess now the kindle is better because of saving the zoom:) ill probably chose this now

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