Now that the Kindle 3 is shipping it’s worth looking at Kindle 3’s PDF capabilities.
First, we’ll go over Kindle 3’s PDF capabilities in detail. Next, we’ll look at a lot of Kindle 3 PDF photos and at one Kindle 3 PDF video.
Kindle 3 PDF – New PDF Features in Kindle 3
There are lots of new Kindle 3 PDF features –
- Notes and Highlights – You can now add notes and highlights to a PDF. This is a huge addition.
- ‘Nudge’ added to PDF pan and zoom. Now when you are zoomed into a PDF not only can you pan using the 5-way you can also ‘nudge’ by holding the Shift key and pressing the 5-way – a nudge is a slight pan (a tiny incremental shift).
- Adjust contrast of PDFs. Kindle 3 gives you the choice of 6 contrast options – lightest, lighter, default, darker, and darkest. This is very helpful for PDFs that are too light or have been scanned without enough contrast.
- Support for reading Password protected PDFs.
- The Dictionary now works in PDFs. A nice addition though it didn’t work for one of my PDF files.
These are all good additions with Notes and Highlights being a super useful addition. Kindle 3 PDF support is very solid and, at the moment, it’s the best PDF support you can find on an eReader.
Kindle 3 PDF – Existing PDF Support in Kindle 2 and Kindle DX 2
All these features were present in Kindle 2 and are carried over to Kindle 3 –
- Adding bookmarks.
- Landscape Mode – Flip a PDF’s orientation to see it in larger font size.
- Pan and Zoom. You can zoom into PDFs with zoom options of Fit to Screen, Original Size, 150%, 200%, and 300%. Zoom level stays the same as you flip through the PDF’s pages. Once you are zoomed in you can pan around using the 5-way.
- Search – You can search through PDFs. The search term is highlighted wherever it is found. You can circle through each search result – the page the result is on is shown with the actual search result highlighted.
- Go to a particular page – You can jump to a page by choosing ‘Go To’ from the menu and entering a page number.
- Automatic cropping of white space.
These are a good set of features and the additional PDF features added in Kindle 3 combine with these to make the overall Kindle 3 PDF feature-set very compelling.
Kindle 3 PDF – Things to Know
Here are things that the Kindle 3 handles well –
- Academic PDFs – Tables, diagrams, special formatting, formulae, and two column PDFs all show up well.
- PDFs in general.
- Images and illustrations – These look very good on Kindle 3’s eInk Pearl screen (check out the photos further on in this post).
- Password protected PDFs – Haven’t tested these myself as don’t know exactly where to find such PDFs. However, Amazon says they are supported.
- Embedded Fonts. PDFs that have embedded Chinese characters or other language characters or use any sort of embedded fonts work well. Have tested this on Kindle 2 and there’s no reason it won’t work on Kindle 3.
Add a link to a PDF if you want it tested.
Here are things that the Kindle 3 can’t handle or can’t handle well –
- You can’t edit PDFs.
- You can’t create PDFs.
- You can zoom in but you can’t change Font Size. That means you can’t break a 5 page PDF into 12 pages to fit it better to your Kindle 3’s screen. If it isn’t formatted with the right font size then you have to use Zoom. To work around this format PDFs using your PC or Mac so that they have a larger default font size.
- You cannot use the Text to Speech feature in PDFs. You can get around this limitation by converting PDFs to Kindle format.
- Highlighting is spotty with two column PDFs. Often text in both columns is highlighted instead of the text you select in one column.
- PDFs that are poor quality scans. Kindle can’t improve the scan quality.
- PDFs that have very small text. The text will show up very small and you’ll have to use the zoom option.
- PDFs with DRM Protection – Don’t even know if this exists but Kindle 3 can only handle password protected PDFs.
Perhaps the biggest limitation of Kindle 3 is the 6″ screen. Most PDFs are built/created to be read on A4 size paper or on large computer screens. The Kindle 3’s 6″ screen just isn’t big enough.
If you are buying Kindle 3 primarily for reading PDFs do take a look at the Kindle DX 2 PDF post. Kindle 3 is much better value for money but the 6″ screen is pretty limiting. The DX 2’s 9.7″ screen is far more suited to reading PDFs though it doesn’t have some of the Kindle 3’s PDF capabilities (all the features listed in the top section, New PDF Features in Kindle 3, are missing from DX 2).
More Kindle 3 PDF …
After the jump – lots of Kindle 3 PDF photos.
Kindle 3 PDF Photos
Let’s start with this Kindle 3 PDF photo of an image in a scanned book –
Let’s continue with this one of an academic PDF –
If the font size looks too small it’s because most PDFs will have small to tiny font size when viewed on the 6″ Kindle 3 screen.
The first option to make font size more readable is landscape mode, the second is the zoom feature, and the third is to edit the PDF on your PC or Mac to have larger font size.
Let’s start by looking at Kindle 3’s landscape mode for PDFs.
Kindle 3 PDF – Landscape Mode
Here’s our first picture –
Please note that this is a different PDF. The increase in font size from portrait to landscape is not this much.
Here’s another photo of a PDF on Kindle 3 in landscape mode –
This is with the zoom set to 300%. You’ll usually find reading PDFs much easier with Kindle 3 in landscape mode.
Kindle 3 PDF – Zoom Levels
First, we see what one particular PDF looks like in ‘Fit to Screen’ mode (this is a rougher image but the remaining ones are much clearer) –
Hopefully, that gives you an idea of what the original PDF looks like in Fit to Screen mode.
Here’s the same PDF with 150% Zoom setting –
You’ll notice the guide rails along the right edge and the bottom edge of the Kindle 3’s screen. These can be used to see where you are on the page when zoomed in. You pan using the 5-way controller.
Now let’s take a look at that same PDF page on the Kindle 3 with 200% zoom –
Finally, we see that same page with 300% zoom –
From the guide rails we see that we now have a 4 by 4 grid (narrowly missing 4 by 3) so each individual page is split into 16 pages when zoomed in 300%. You can simplify things by editing the PDF on your PC to have a much larger default font size (if the PDF allows editing). Then the PDF’s pages would be readable on the Kindle 3 in their original size and you wouldn’t need to zoom and pan quite so much.
Kindle 3 PDF – Academic PDFs
Most of the PDF photos are already of Academic PDFs. However, let’s jump into people’s specific concerns i.e. tables, formulae, diagrams.
First, we get this photo showing equations in PDFs working well on Kindle 3 –
Next, we have a close-up. We zoomed to 300% (or perhaps it was 200%) and then shot a close-up –
Next, let’s look at some Tables in Kindle 3 PDFs –
This is a close-up – Tables work perfectly.
Finally, we have some diagrams in PDFs. First the full page shot –
Next, a close-up of a diagram to show that all the details show up well –
Please note that this is a Macro Mode shot of the PDF without zooming the PDF.
It’s a classic example of a PDF being created with text size that is way too small. Even on A4 paper the text in the diagram would be indecipherable.
Here’s a Macro Mode shot of a diagram in a PDF after 300% zoom –
Even at this mix of 300% zoom and macro mode the Kindle 3 does a good job with the PDF.
Kindle 3 PDF – Images
Lots of books are available in PDF format. Let’s look at some PDF book images on the Kindle 3.
First, we have this impressive image –
Next, we have another, perhaps prettier, image –
We’ve now looked at 16 Kindle 3 PDF photos and hopefully that gave you a good idea of what PDFs look like on the Kindle 3.
Next, let’s look at a Kindle 3 PDF video.
Kindle 3 PDF Video
Have absolutely no idea how to set the correct focus on this thing so included some portions in macro mode. This video covers some of the holes in the Kindle 3 PDF photos above by showing the option to change PDF contrast and showing highlighting and search in PDFs.
Hopefully, this Kindle 3 PDF post helped illustrate Kindle 3’s PDF capabilities. You can buy a Kindle 3 at Amazon.