Kindle Deal – Kindle 2 for $155 at Woot

Update: Woot has sold out of the $150 Kindle 2. You can get it at Amazon for $189 with free 2 day shipping. 

Amazon bought Woot yesterday – supposedly for $110 million or so – and they are celebrating by running an exclusive Kindle deal on Woot where you can get the Kindle 2 for $150 plus $5 shipping. The deal is usually just for a day and there are limited quantities so do make a decision soon.

At Amazon with free 2 day shipping you get the Kindle for $189. At woot with their ground shipping you get it for $155. That’s a $34 saving. There’s still the 1 year warranty from Amazon and it is the global Kindle 2.

Kindle Deal on Woot = Amazon clearing Kindle 2 stock. Kindle 3 must be really close

It’s rather interesting that Amazon seem to be utilizing every method possible to clear up Kindle 2 US stock and Kindle 2 stock. We have $189 Kindles and a $150 Kindle deal at Woot and a $139 refurbished Kindle 2 US deal at Amazon.

Amazon seem intent on sending out as many Kindles as they can. Combine that with the surprise arrival of the Kindle DX 2 today and all signs point to the imminent arrival of a Kindle 3. We might even see the Kindle 3 arrive before the rumored August Kindle 3 release date.

Today though is for the $150 kindle deal and figuring out whether you or someone you know wants one.

What effect does the availability of larger font sizes have?

The new supersize fonts in Kindle 2.5 have completely thrown me off my choice of favorite font size setting. The first thing is that now it seems that the 3rd sized font (from the bottom) is way too small and the 4th sized font is too big – neither works perfectly. The second thing is having those two huge sized fonts makes you rethink what you thought of the earlier fonts.

Let me explain using two examples -

  1. My roommate in London used to read websites using a pretty large-sized font. After noticing that and using his laptop a few times my own choice of font went up by a size. It was almost as if my eyes and brain realized that larger fonts can be more comfortable or perhaps they just liked the change.
  2. Reading a long article on a site or blog using a larger font instantly makes the font on other blogs and sites seem miniscule and unreadable. The effect persists – it’s not just a 5 minutes to refocus the eyes thing. It makes you realize there are options and that it might be worth exercising them.

The bigger the font size the larger the impact on the small font sizes.

Supersize Fonts make the Smaller Fonts seem too small

The supersize fonts have turned the two smallest font sizes on the Kindle into miniscule ones. The 2nd and 3rd font sizes used to be my favorite settings and now both seem too small. That should have translated into the 4th size font seeming the perfect fit but it doesn’t – the 4th setting still seems to be on the big side.

It’s great for people with low vision that there are now 2 super size fonts. Yet those two fonts do have an effect on the other fonts – it’s the law of unintended consequences.

The knee jerk reaction would be to add new font sizes between font sizes 3 and 4 and between font sizes 4 and 5 – That would probably cause other problems. Perhaps a sliding scale is the solution – However, then you wouldn’t know exactly where on the scale you were.

The 3 largest font sizes are much more readable in low light conditions

It’s probably the combination of the larger sizes, the darker font, the better screen contrast, and whatever new smoothing Amazon does – The 3 largest font sizes are quite readable in low light conditions. Much more so than the largest Kindle font sizes were before Kindle 2.5. Combine it with the slightly faster screen refreshes and the 3rd largest font size becomes a very viable low-light reading font.

Of course, it isn’t a backlit screen. However, it does increase the range of lighting conditions in which you can read on your Kindle.

Is more choice a good thing?

Let’s forget about low vision people for a moment. For them this change is obviously a great one.

What about someone who can read on all settings – Is it better to have 8 font size options (as compared to the earlier 6)?

Don’t really think so. It almost makes you wish the font size setting was on a separate page or was a sliding scale so that those two huge fonts didn’t tower over everything else. It also makes the Aa button dialog huge and hide most of the screen. A few more options and it’ll be taking over the entire Kindle screen.

We also have lots and lots of things to choose from – 8 font sizes, 3 words per line settings, and 4 screen rotation settings. Add-on 10 line spacing settings and it becomes very – well, very un-Kindle like.

How about a Simple Mode?

Could Amazon just add a ‘Simple Mode’ button that hid most of this stuff?

4 font sizes instead of 8. No words per line settings. Only a keyboard short-cut for Text to Speech and no options. None of the screen rotation options – if you must have them then add-on an accelerometer and a rotation-off button.

The fancy new super size fonts should be chosen on a special page – Why muddle up the choosing process and simplicity for 95% of users to cater to the 5% that need super size fonts?

Basically this is how Kindle 2.5 is shaping up for me -

  1. Folders/Collections – Good to have feature. Still have only ‘currently reading’ books on my Kindle but they’re neatly organized into Folders.
  2. Supersize Fonts – Appreciate that they help people. They just bother me and threw me off my favorite font settings.  
  3. Twitter and Facebook – Who cares. Thankfully they are very non-intrusive.
  4. Popular Highlights – A bit intrusive but interesting to see what people liked.
  5. Sharper Fonts and darker fonts (better contrast) – Excellent and the best part of the update.
  6. Slightly faster screen refreshes – Good. 
  7. PDF pan and zoom – Don’t read PDFs so don’t care. It does prove very valuable with PDFs so it’s good for all the PDF lovers.

After all is said and done Kindle 2.5 is a pretty good update and the surprising downside is that it takes away from the simplicity of the Kindle. We really do need a simple mode that just nukes all the newer options and removes all the social sharing stuff.

Kindle 2.5 – Tips + Guide for Kindle 2.5

Please check our Tips for Kindle App for 133 Kindle 2 tips (also tips for other Kindles). It’s just $1 and has lots of neat features like a slideshow mode and option to add your own tip.

My Kindle 2 and Kindle DX finally got the Kindle 2.5 update today. This post will go through all the additions and provide you tips and a guide to get the most out of Kindle 2.5.

Kindle 2.5 Fonts – Larger Font Sizes, Better Contrast, and Sharper Fonts

The most visually striking change in Kindle 2.5 is the new font sharpness and contrast and the addition of two supersize fonts.

Screen Contrast is Much Better (for some Kindles a Little Better)

The text is darker and the contrast with the background is much better. On the Kindle 2 Global it’s absolutely striking – it seems as if the text has been bolded and the darkest dark chosen for text color. On the Kindle 2 US it’s better – However, it doesn’t seem as if the text is bolded and the background isn’t as clear. This might be due to the Kindle 2 US being from Feb 2009 and the Kindle 2 Global from March of this year.

What’s puzzling is that on the Kindle DX global the change is not as good on the Kindle 2 Global although that’s been bought this year too. Perhaps its differences in individual Kindles which would explain why some people aren’t finding a huge difference.

The net result of Kindle 2.5 font improvements on the Kindle 2 (International) is that the screen contrast is now marvellous.

Great font smoothing leading to very sharp fonts

To go with the better screen contrast we have much sharper fonts with some sort of font smoothing being used to make the Font really sharp and smooth. To see just how much work the font sharpening does change from the largest font size to the next largest – you’ll see that first the rougher font is displayed and then it’s made smooth – it all happens in a fraction of a second but you can clearly see the huge difference due to font smoothing.

30 and 40 Size SuperSize Fonts

To go with this excellent screen contrast and sharpness we have two supersized fonts. This isn’t just marketing – these fonts really are ‘supersized’. The largest font displays just 5 to 7 words per page and corresponds to Size 40 Arial in Microsoft Word. The second largest font is huge too with 8-12 words per page and is about the same as Size 30 Arial Font in Word.

Earlier the Kindle’s largest Font Size corresponded to around 20 to 22 Arial Font in Word. So this is a huge improvement and great for low vision readers.

Folders – Kindle 2.5 Collections

The star of the Kindle 2.5 update is Folders. Let’s start with the 10 key things and then drill into various Folders tips.

Top 10 Folders Tips

  1. To add a book to a Collection (Folder) press right on the 5-way when you are on the book. You’ll arrive at a page that has the book’s cover and some options. The first option will be ‘Add to Collection’. Click on it and you will be shown a page with all existing Collections and a link to Create a New Collection. You can add the book to any of the existing folders or create a new collection for it.
  2. A book can be in multiple collections. As can PDFs, documents, and audiobooks.
  3. Periodicals cannot be put into a collection. Neither can the link to your Archive. The Dictionary and the My Clippings file can be put into Collections.
  4. On the Kindle Home Page you can scroll up all the way to the top and Choose to Sort Items by a new criteria – Collections. This will show all collections you have created first and all books and documents that have not been put into a collection afterwards.
  5. When you click on a Collection you get a list of all Books and documents in the Collection. You can sort them by Title, Author, or Most Recent First. Pressing Left on the 5-way when on a book lets you delete the book from this collection. This will NOT delete the book. Pressing right shows you all the details including the ‘Add to Collection’ option.
  6. On the main page Collections are always sorted by Most Recent First.
  7. You can create a Collection on the Kindle Home Page by pressing Menu and choosing ‘Create New Collection’ from the Menu.
  8. If you move your Cursor to a collection and then press right on the 5-way you get the Collection Details Page. You can rename and delete the collection on this page. You can also add/remove items.
  9. It’s much easier to add and remove items from a collection from the Collection Details page – You can get to this page by scrolling to the Collection and pressing right on the 5-way.
  10. You can transfer Collections across Kindles. To do this from the Kindle (let’s call it the new Kindle) you want to transfer the Collections to – First go to the Archive, then click on ‘Add Collections from Other Devices’ and then click on the Kindle or Device whose Collections you want to transfer (old Kindle). Your Collections will be synchronized. Only items that are on this new Kindle will be organized. However, other items that are associated with those collections on the old Kindle will be automatically associated with the correct Collection if they are added to the new Kindle.
  11. If you associate a book with a Collection, delete it from the Kindle, then add it back – It’ll magically be associated with the same Collection.
  12. If there is a new, unread book in a collection the collection will have ‘new’ next to it.

Folders is a pretty cool feature. You can find out more about it by exploring the official Kindle forum and the Kindle Help Pages.

Various Folders related Tricks and Tips

These are all from the official Kindle forum.

First, we have Edward Boyhan’s trick for seeing Collections Alphabetically -

From anywhere you have a list of book titles displayed, use the 5-way to select one and push the five way to the right. This will bring up a detail page for that title with a book cover (if avail) on the right, and some menu options on the left. The first menu item is add to collection; select that. This will take you to a page displaying all your collections with check marks on the right which tell you which collections that particular book is a member of. You can scroll up and down; for any collection in which the book is a member, you are offered the option to remove it; for any collection in which the book is not a member, you are offered the option to add it to that collection.

Now if you look at the top line on this page, it will show something like: “Showing all 7 collections” on the left, and “By Most recent First” on the right. Scroll your 5-way to this top line, and then move the 5-way cursor to the right. You will be presented with the option to display your collections by Title as well as most recent first. If you select title, the collections will be displayed sorted by title.

You can also use the page Edward talks about to add a book to Multiple Collections in one go.

Next, we have Patti D and Fool for Books suggesting a way to see a list of Collections sorted according to your personal preference -

Put AAA, AAB, AAC, etc. at the front of Collections based on which Collections are most important to you.

You can also use special symbols like { and so forth.

Ex:
~SERIES: Authors L-Z
‘DEATH SERIES: JD Robb
“COOKBOOKS
“MISC
AAA Queue
AAB Mystery
AAC Fiction

A simpler version is courtesy BobLenx -

I used only one symbol – asterisk. I start the Collection name with *** for ones I want at the top, ** for the next level down and * for the bottom level. Then sort the Kindle by TITLE and voila – Collections appear before all the books and in the order you want.

And it is very simple to edit the name of a collection and change the number of asterisks in the front to change its order in the list. As you indicated, much easier than trying to remember which symbol sorts in what order in relation to the other symbols.

Another trick (this has been mentioned before) is that you can categorize books in your archive. Download them, classify them into collections, and then delete them. Whenever you re-download them they will automatically get associated with the Collection you had chosen earlier.

Password Protection in Kindle 2.5

Kindle 2.5 takes a step in the right direction by adding password protection.

Turn on Password Protection and Set Your Password

It’s quite straightforward to turn on the feature -

  1. On your Kindle home page press Menu to bring up the Menu and then choose Settings.
  2. On the Settings Page scroll down to the bottom and click ‘turn on’ next to Device Password.
  3. You will have to enter your password twice and also have to enter a reminder clue.
  4. Please choose a password that you will not forget. Write it down somewhere and email it to yourself if possible.
  5. Now the feature is enabled.

How the feature works

Whenever your Kindle goes into screensaver mode you have to enter your password to unlock it.

When the screensaver is on the screen slide the power switch to wake the Kindle. Instead of waking the Kindle you’ll get an Enter Password message. Type in your password and press Enter to unlock your Kindle.

If you forget your password press down direction on the 5-way to bring up your password hint and the Kindle Customer Service number. If the hint reminds you of your password – Great. If not, Kindle customer service will help you to reset your Kindle. Restarting the Kindle doesn’t work – it still asks for your password.

Pros and Cons of Password Protection on the Kindle

There are some obvious advantages – No one can access your Kindle unless they figure out the password. They can’t buy any books using your account. They can’t resell your Kindle unless they get it reset through customer service – which would be pretty difficult. They would have to figure out a way to hack your Kindle to resell it or use it themselves.

It’s also cool that you can’t disable the feature unless you enter the password – It means that even if someone finds or steals your kindle when it’s in reading mode they will have to deal with the password issue sooner or later.

There are also some obvious disadvantages – People don’t really know how to contact you unless you set your password hint to your number and email. You have to enter in your password every single time you go into screensaver mode or turn off the Kindle or restart it – It gets a bit annoying.

This is definitely a good feature and hopefully it evolves over time.

PDF Pan and Zoom

Kindle 2.5 adds PDF panning and zooming to the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX’s PDF Support.

How PDF Pan and Zoom works

When in a PDF press the Aa button to bring up the Font Size Menu. There will be a row at the top that will let you choose between – fit to screen, 150%, 200%, 300%, and actual size. The ‘actual size’ setting is surprisingly useful and a good setting to have.

Click on anything other than ‘fit to screen’ and the Kindle will show a block illustrating how much of the PDF you will be zooming into. Press the 5-way to zoom in. When you are zoomed in you can pan around using the 5-way. You can use the page turn buttons and they will take you to the next page with the zoom settings as they were. This is very useful.

There are two scales (on the bottom and right) showing where in the PDF page you are when zoomed in. There are little breaks along the scales indicating how much you would move if you pressed one of right/left/up/down on the 5-way. It’s very useful and a big help as you move around in the PDF – a well thought out feature. While the zoom setting is carried over during page turns your panning choices aren’t. This is a bit of a negative.

PDFs that are made to be read on huge computer screens or printed on A4 size paper will still be awkward. However, the Pan and Zoom feature, especially when combined with landscape mode, makes it possible to read small font PDFs and to view images and tables in detail.

Kindle 2.5 introduces Popular Highlights

A new feature Amazon has introduced is Popular Highlights.

  1. When in a book press Menu and the last option in the Menu will be ‘View Popular Highlights’. This will bring up a list of the most popular highlights in the book.
  2. Only highlights chosen by 3 or more readers will be shown. No personal information is revealed – so you can’t tell which three people these highlights are from and you can’t (as far as I’m aware) figure out what a person is highlighting.
  3. You can go to the Kindle’s Home Page, then press Menu, then choose Settings – On the Settings Page you could choose to turn off this feature (it’s called Popular Highlights). In case you have privacy worries or don’t find the feature useful just turn it off.

You can also view Most Popular Highlights online and see other things like most highlighted books, recently most highlighted books, and recently popular highlights. It’s an endlessly fascinating feature and it’s a lot of fun going through and seeing what books and passages people loved.

Facebook + Twitter Posts from your Kindle

Am totally the wrong person to be talking about this. Closed my Facebook account a month ago and Twitter to me is something birds do – usually way earlier in the morning than suits my sleeping habits.

Did try out Twitter and it’s sort of cool. There are currently lots of Kindle owners trying it out and sharing some rather interesting passages.

Setting up Sharing on Facebook and Twitter

From the Kindle Home Page go to the Menu and choose Settings. On the Settings Page scroll to the third option, Social Networks, and click on ‘Manage’. You’ll be taken to the browser and asked to enter user information for your Facebook account and to click on a link that takes you to a Twitter page where you enter your Twitter login information. You will then have to confirm that you do want to allow Kindle access to your account by pressing the ‘Allow’ button.

It’s a rather elaborate process – It’s just Twitter. Perhaps they should stop behaving as if we’re tweeting gold bars from Fort Knox. After you sign up you will be taken back to the browser page with Twitter and Facebook shown and you will have the option to ‘unlink’ your Kindle from your account.

It’s quite interesting that messages you share are linked back to kindle.amazon.com – Free Marketing for Amazon.

Using the Social Sharing Feature

When you highlight a passage you get a tiny strip of text at the bottom that says -

Click to end highlight, Press Alt+Enter to tweet/share, Press Back to Cancel.

If you press Alt+Enter instead of pressing the 5-way you get the option to enter a message that along with a link to the highlight you chose makes up your tweet/shared message. It’s not a bad way to set things up. Once you press Submit the Kindle goes back to the text without any indication of whether the ‘Tweet/Facebook message’ went through or not.

It does show up though. The link to kindle.amazon.com is there as is a #kindle tag.

The link in the tweet takes users to a page that shows the book cover, the passage you highlighted, your note/tweet, and links to your Twitter account and to the book on Amazon. Quite well done.

You can also tweet/share an existing highlight by going to it, placing the cursor on it, and then pressing Alt+Enter. You can also save and share a highlight+note combination. To do this choose ‘Save and Share’ after entering your note.

Anyways, that’s Kindle 2.5 in a giant nutshell. It’s a huge update – wonder why Amazon would add so many features all in one go and wonder what’s next.

Kindle 2.5 update available for manual download

Kindle 2.5 update file is now available at Amazon. Hat tip to Andrys at Kindle World for catching it. If you can’t wait to get it via wireless you can download Kindle 2.5 manually. Here are the steps -

  1. Figure out the type of Kindle you have -

    Turn your Kindle around and look at the serial number below the FCC sign.

    B002 – Kindle 2 US.
    B003 – Kindle 2 International.
    B004 – Kindle DX US.
    B005 – Kindle DX International.

  2. Plug your Kindle into your Computer. 
  3. Navigate to the Kindle Software Updates Page. On this Page scroll down till you see the images with the FCC symbols and the serial numbers. Download the File corresponding to the type of Kindle you have. It’s a good idea to check again. For me it’s B002 for Kindle US Wireless and B005 for Kindle DX Global.

    To be sure confirm the file names -

    B002 – Kindle 2 US. File name: Update_kindle2_2.5.2.bin
    B003 – Kindle 2 Global. File Name: Update_kindle2_gw_2.5.2.bin
    B004 – Kindle DX US. File Name: Update_kindle_dx_2.5.2.bin
    B005 – Kindle DX Global. File Name: Update_kindle_dx_gw_2.5.2.bin

  4. Click on the download link and save the file in the main folder of your Kindle – where Documents etc. are. This is called the root directory and it has folders like Documents and Audible and Music.
  5. Make sure the file has downloaded. You can do this by looking at your Kindle’s root folder and seeing there is a Kindle 2.5.2 bin file there.
  6. Disconnect your Kindle from your computer. 
  7. Go to the Home Screen of your Kindle, press the Menu key, choose Settings, and press the Menu key again. The ‘Update Your Kindle’ option will be available (it’s usually greyed out). Click on this to start the upgrade. Confirm that you do want to upgrade your Kindle.

Please do not restart your Kindle during this process. It’s a large update and it takes 5 to 10 minutes to finish on the Kindle 2 US.

If you run into any problems (it worked for my Kindle US and failed on Kindle DX Global) you can contact Kindle Support -

You can also reach us by calling one of these numbers:

  • Inside the United States: 1-866-321-8851
  • Outside the United States: 1-206-266-0927

Now it’s time for me to get all my Folders set-up ;) .

Refurbished Kindle $169, Refurbished Kindle 2 $119

Amazon has made a major move and introduced two new refurbished kindle options -

  1. Refurbished Kindle (Kindle 2 International) for $119. Might be mistaken – however, haven’t seen a refurbished Kindle 2 International offered before.
  2. Refurbished Kindle US (Kindle 2 US) for just $139.99. This is a $50 price cut from its earlier price.

The second option in particular is very interesting as you get a $139 Kindle 2 US that will get the Kindle 2.5 update and also get the Kindle App Store when it arrives. That’s pretty compelling at $139 – especially for Kindle 1 owners who don’t travel outside the US much.

Does it make sense to get a refurbished Kindle for $169?

Tough question since the Refurbished Kindle is just $20 cheaper than the new Kindle. You save $20 but you also get a refurbished kindle instead of a new one. My recommendation would be to scrape up the extra $20 and buy the new Kindle 2 instead.

Looking at prices of the used Kindle 2 we see that they are selling for $200+ (they ought to drop below the new $189 price soon) – So it’s not like you lose much money if you buy a new Kindle 2 and then sell it 6-12 months later. With a refurbished Kindle 2 you might find that less people are open to buying a used Kindle 2 that was refurbished to begin with – it’s like buying a third hand car.

So the $20 that you supposedly save might end up leaving you with a used, refurbished Kindle that is really hard to sell.

Does it make sense to get a refurbished Kindle 2 US for $139?

This is a clearer decision. What you get with a refurbished Kindle 2 US -

  1. Kindle 2 software. All the updates including PDF support.
  2. Kindle 2 hardware. 
  3. Kindle 2.5 software update when it comes out.
  4. Kindle App Store when it comes out.
  5. Free Kindle WhisperNet and Free Internet Access. 

What you don’t get – WhisperNet outside the US, free Internet and book downloads outside the US, one or two updates like better battery management (it’s only for kindle 2 international). If you don’t travel much then it’s an easy decision. Also at $139 you’re saving $50 over the price of a new Kindle 2.

Strong Sign that Kindle 3 is near?

It’s hard to say. You could take Amazon selling Kindle 2 (Kindle 2 International) in Target and now offering refurbished Kindle 2s as proof that Kindle 3 is imminent. It could also just mean that Amazon want to compete with Nook and Nook WiFi and cover the $139, $169, and $189 price points.

So, by itself it’s not really a strong sign that a Kindle 3 is about to be released. However, you add in all the rumors of a thinner, faster, better screen-contrast Kindle (there have been more and more of them lately) and you have to wonder if Amazon selling the refurbished Kindle for $169 indicates that we will indeed see a Kindle 3 release in August.

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