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) -
Kindle PDF Capabilities added to Kindle 2.
Amazon has taken a big step forward by adding significant features -
- PDFs work on the Kindle.
- PDFs in different languages work on the Kindle.
- You can search through a PDF. You can also circle through the results easily.
- Tables, Formulae, Charts – everything just displays well.
- 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.
- The rotation feature lets you view PDFs slightly better – the text is bigger.
- 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 -
- No changeable font sizes.
- No zooming or panning.
- No highlights.
- No notes.
There are two workarounds -
- 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.
- 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 –
There’s a lot of misinformation so it’s worth noting a few things -
- 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).
- That means for technical documents you’re always switching between views.
- You can add notes and highlights and that’s a good feature.
- You can also zoom in to any part of the PDF and pan around and that’s a good feature too.
- 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.