New Kindle tips, thoughts

The new Kindle (Kindle 4) is lovable and annoying. Here are some New Kindle tips and thoughts – thanks to various commenters, to Maurine, and to Mike for some of these.

new Kindle tips – things worth knowing

  1. There is no spoon. And by spoon we mean power adapter. There’s a delicious irony in Amazon promoting Kindle with the tagline ‘No Computer Required’ but not shipping a product adapter. The only way to charge it (if you don’t buy an adapter for $10) is via the USB cable – which presumably will be attached to a PC or laptop. No Computer Required – Unless you want to recharge it.
  2. You can get a screenshot by pressing the Menu and Keyboard buttons at the same time. Thanks to Mike at KDL Apps and Nate at The Digital Reader for this shortcut.
  3. Don’t know of a way to refresh the screen.
  4. It really is as good for core reading experience as any other Kindle. Finished The Strain in the last two days without eye strain or wrist strain or any other sort of strain. The eInk Pearl screen continues to do a fine job.
  5. Special Offers might actually save you money. Despite all the (justified) anti-Ad sentiment, some of the Special Offers are straightforward things like $10 for a $20 gift card. You will probably find a few (perhaps even quite a few) money-saving deals. I’ve been very negative about ads but if Amazon uses this for Groupon type 50% off deals then – no complaints whatsoever.
  6. The compactness is very good. As is the light weight. Hadn’t thought it would help with reading since Kindle 3 is already very small and light – However, it does help a bit.
  7. $79 is the price for the new Kindle with Ads included – it’s not clear on the product page unless you look carefully. It’s beginning to stack up – Calling Ads as ‘Special Offers’, Listing ‘Kindle’ for $79 and then the small type indicates $79 is for ‘Kindle with Special Offers’, the Power Adapter being separate but no clear indication that it has to be bought separately. Wonder how many people are going to realize only when their new Kindle arrives that there is no power adapter and that there are special offers instead of screensavers.
  8. It looks quite a bit better than earlier Kindles. It’s also helpful that there is a black border around the eInk screen (which helps bring out the contrast too) and a frame/border around the bezel of the Kindle. ‘Kindle’ has replaced ‘Amazon Kindle’ on the front and back. An improvement and a simplification.
  9. The page turn buttons’ size and placement is going to make some people unhappy.
  10. There are two very interesting metallic contacts/squares at the back. When combined with the mini-slot at the bottom it makes you wonder if Amazon is going to make a stand or dock for new Kindle. Perhaps it’s just that the Reading Light for the new Kindle will be powered differently.
  11. What a lot of people aren’t realizing is that no keyboard also means we lose a lot of shortcuts – Alt+B to bookmark, Alt+G to refresh the screen, etc.

Here are a few things existing Kindle owners will know but first time Kindle owners won’t:

  1. You can press the Menu key to see – page numbers, time (at the top), and connection strength (at the top right). Note: The status bar at the top disappears once you move away from the first page you start reading from. Pressing Menu brings it back – You can see Book Title and battery life in it.
  2. In the Settings section you can set your Kindle’s time. You can also find out various information and choose a WiFi network.
  3. Please read this Kindle Tips post. Most of the tips will apply to Kindle 4 too.
  4. Check this list of the best Kindle sites.

The Kindle Help Guide for new Kindle is just 21 pages. Seems a bit rushed.

new Kindle is the Kindle for Kids

Maurine reviews new Kindle at our Kindle App blog and her conclusion made me realize that Kindle 4 is close to being the Kindle for Kids -

 I highly recommend this as an option for children and teenagers that will not be taking notes on it.  The price is low enough that you can consider it a reasonable investment, they will not spend a lot of time using the keyboard or searching the web on it, and it will allow an e-reader to get into the hands of a young reader who will want to move up in value as they get older. If I am looking at the Kindle 4 from that point of view, I would give it a rating of 4 to 4.5.  It would make an awesome birthday or Christmas gift for the young reader.

If Amazon could – add gorilla glass and make the new Kindle screen crash-proof, make the eReader flexible or capable of taking shocks and falls, add more children’s books and more textbooks – it would turn new Kindle into a near-perfect Kindle for Kids.

Please Note: Some of the points in the earlier section are also based on Maurine’s Review of the New Kindle.

new Kindle as the Economy Kindle

$79 really does make new Kindle a Kindle nearly anyone can afford. It also becomes the Kindle that organizations and schools and companies can hand out to everyone in their ranks.

The friction in the path of buying new Kindle is minimal. At $79 its perfect for a world facing a global recession.

new Kindle book review

The Strain by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro. A poor man’s The Passage. A very poor man’s The Old Man and the Wasteland (4.5 stars on 244 reviews, indie author in the Top 100).

There are parts where the authors get all emotional in their writing and then get emotional trying to convey they are getting emotional. It’s also the most difficult-to-emphathize-with group of characters since Real Housewives of New York.

Here’s an example -

Life doesn’t go at all the way you think it will.

Eph nodded. “After what my parents went through, what they put me through, I always told myself, never, never, never, never.”

“I know.”

He folded in the spout on the milk carton. “So forget who did what. What we need to do now is make it up to him.”

“We do.”

Kelly nodded. Eph nodded. He swirled the milk around in the carton, feeling the coldness brush up against his palm.

“Christ, what a day.” he said.

The story itself is amazing. It’s just that the writing doesn’t match and at times is laughably bad. If you’ve seen Tropic Thunder – Imagine someone making that exact movie after having started out with the intention of making Platoon or Apocalypse Now.

Perhaps it’s appropriate that the Vampire/Apocalypse hybrid book read on the $79 Kindle doesn’t live up to the Vampire/Apocalypse hybrid books read on the $189 Kindle 3. Perhaps it’s just what has to be done to reach the lowest common denominator.

Law of Unintended Consequences

Highlighting on Kindle 4 is awkward and note-taking is painful. What that will probably lead to is people highlighting far less and reading straight through. Not bad for Amazon but it might take away from your personal experience if you tend to like highlighting or taking notes.

After the first 3-4 highlights – I just stopped highlighting. Probably because the process is -

  1. Move to the start of the passage (same as on Kindle 3).
  2. Press on 5-way (same as on Kindle 3).
  3. Get Menu where sometimes first option is ‘Detailed Definition’ and sometimes first option is ‘Start Highlight’. Definitely differently from Kindle 3. Click ‘Start Highlight’. Screen Flashes (a flash that isn’t present on Kindle 3).
  4. Move cursor to end of highlight (same as on Kindle 3).
  5. Press down on 5-way (same as on Kindle 3).
  6. Choose ‘End Highlight’ from a Menu – always the first option. Press down and get screen Flash. Kindle 3 also has one screen flash here – at the end of doing a highlight.

You have to admire the infinite skill of the person who designed it such that you have to click the 5-way 4 times, get two screen flashes, and choose Start/End Highlight from a Menu twice – all just to be able to highlight a passage.

Perhaps its a good thing – unless some passage transforms your life you’ll decide it just isn’t worth the effort to highlight it.

Amazon’s continued persecution of the Keyboard

It would be remiss to not point out the backwards evolution of the Kindle keyboard -

  1. Kindle 1 – Reasonably large keyboard. Number Keys. Clunky but usable.
  2. Kindle 2 – Smaller keys making it harder to use. Slightly less usable but still usable. Number keys still present.
  3. Kindle 3 – Tinier keys so that Tom Thumb feels at home. No Number Keys. Tougher to use.
  4. new Kindle – No keyboard.

It almost seems as if Amazon made a conscious decision to slowly kill off the keyboard. Decided that rather than wasting time writing notes people should finish the book.

new Kindle really is a new sort of Kindle

It hasn’t all fallen into place yet. However, there’s something more to this than no keyboard and $79 and Special Offers. There’s a very definite attempt by Amazon to do something significant. If there were a way to put all the improvements and all the negatives in the proper context – my suspicion is they would all end up being part of a very well-defined blueprint that morphs the Kindle into a new sort of Kindle.

new Kindle is a very significant shift. Kindles to this point have been primarily for dedicated readers and new Kindle is for casual readers. Kindles were meant to replace published books and new Kindle is an attempt to replace more than just books.

The shift isn’t complete yet. We aren’t yet at the stage where the pain of memories of home tears at our hearts. It’s just an inflection point. Kindle has gone from a device meant for people who love books to a device meant for everyone.

14 Responses

  1. The screen shot isn’t working consistently for you because you have the buttons wrong.

    It’s actually KB + Menu.

  2. “Kindles were meant to replace published books and new Kindle is an attempt to replace more than just books.”

    I’m not following you. Why is this the case? The lack of a keyboard? I’ve owned every generation of the Kindle and read literally hundreds of books a year and I will not miss a dedicated keyboard at all.

    The price? Broader appeal? That seems kind of Apple-ish, if that is what you mean.

    The “Kindle 4,” is, if anything, less apt to replace “more than just books.” It’s only good for reading. If by this you mean the entire Kindle line, I get your point: Amazon is leveraging the Kindle name to create a line of products one of which is designed to sell folks digital media and other stuff. The rest of the line, though, is for reading.

    As I previously wrote here, my concern was that the tablet wouldn’t be good for reading AND that Amazon would neglect the e-ink Kindle. I’m happy that I was wrong on the last score.

    • Roberto,

      I’m guessing that “more than just books” refers to the fact that the new Kindle gives much wider access to magazines as well as to newspapers. The Kindle will still be used for reading only you’ll be reading “more than just books.”

  3. Screen refresh is KB + Back. I discovered it while looking for the screen shot.

  4. So the ads aren’t ultra annoying? Hm. I’ve been thinking about getting the touch, and $99 is very tempting.Though the idea of ads annoys me, but if they’re just groupon stuff then it might not be so bad. What do you think?

    • Firstly, they are mostly Groupon type stuff. At least some of them are – $5 for $10 of household goods, $1 for this book, etc.
      Secondly, they show up as – screensavers, a strip at the bottom of the home page.

      Not really annoying.

      Note: This is based on what people are telling me and screenshots etc. I’ve seen and my history of running into posts at Kindle forums about offers. You can’t get Special Offers in Canada so I don’t have one. However, the opinion of people using these is almost always netural or positive towards the ads/offers.

  5. I’m happy to hear you say my instincts may have been right. You see, I have an 8yo daughter who reads like a fiend and loves my K2. I thought the $79 Kindle might be just right for her. She’s not going to be annotating anything, and she’s fairly good about caring for mine when she borrows it. With library support, it seems a better option than one more toy…

    • Anything that will make it more convenient for a kid to read is a good thing. Too bad that they didn’t have them when I was a kid who was hauling paper grocery sacks full of books to and from school as other bookworms and I loaned our books to each other.

      btw I’m 58 and still read like a fiend. I got my kindle in July and have read 63 books. Fifty years from now, your daughter will still be an avid reader.

  6. Re 10. There are two very interesting metallic contacts/squares at the back …

    It would seem those metal contacts are for powering the lighted cover.

    The documentation for the lighted cover at Kindle Cover Help says:

    “Ensure your Kindle is secured within the encasing. The metal pins on the inside of the cover will touch the metal contacts on the underside of the Kindle.”

    The illustration shows the lighted cover has two contacts near the bottom.

    • I wish I knew more about where to source hardware etc. from. A stand for Kindle with charging ability for Kindle would be awesome.

      • While it’s possible that they designed the contact to be able to output (for the lighted cover) as well as input (to charge), the K3’s contacts don’t have that possibility, so it seems unlikely — especially for the utterly barebones K4.

  7. A Kindle can be recharged by the USB cable without using a computer. A while back, I bought a fan powered by the cigarette lighter (a/c isn’t working in my 27 year old car). I recently found a hub-like device that plugged into the lighter. It has three ports for cigarette lighter plugs and one USB port. Since I had not tried charging anything, I decided to test it first.

    This morning while I was running errands, I had my Kindle plugged into the USB port on that hub. I unplugged it whenever the car was turned off. By the time I got home, the Kindle was fully charged.

    I got that hub at Walmart, but I couldn’t find them there today. I did look over in the computer section and found that there are cables with a cigarette lighter plug at one end and a USB hub at the other. They cost around $13.

    Of course, the cables are slightly more expensive than the power adapter, but they do offer another option for charging Kindles, cell phones, or other devices that use USB ports for re-charging.

    • Might help to take a look at the following:

      http://www.dealextreme.com/c/cigarette-power-sources-706?page=1&pagesize=52&pagesort=price

      [All other links point to Deal Extreme - Please do a search there. Not going to add 10 links to them in one comment]

      Best to find one with 1000 mA capacity instead of USB standard 500 mA, even if the Kindle doesn’t use it (I’m not entirely sure) your next mobile phone might.

      Extra micro-USB cords.

      As far as power bricks go, I use a euro version of one of these.

      Works a treat, but they are made by many manufacturers (cloning the iPhone brick).

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