Reviewing 49 Kindle Keyboard Improvement Suggestions from Roger Knights

Roger Knights has shared his Kindle 3 Improvement Suggestions List which encompasses 54 improvements and additions for Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard). Please do check out the entire document for interesting details. Particularly interesting is the analysis that it would cost Amazon just around $400,000 and less than a year to implement these improvements.

Thanks to Roger for sharing these. It was a lot of fun to go through and look at these. Reminds me of just how well made the Kindle 3 was. Hopefully, at some point of time in the near future, Amazon will revisit Kindle 3 and make a new version of it.

I’m doing a quick review of the 54 suggestions and ideas. My thoughts on each item are in italics. Please feel free to add your own Kindle 3 improvement suggestions and your own thoughts on these 54 suggested Kindle 3 improvements.

Hardware Improvement Suggestions for Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3)

  1. The Lettering on the Keyboard should be Larger, for Readability’s Sake. Very, very true. It’s stupefying that a device that comes with ‘large font sizes’ for better readability uses tiny alphabets on the keyboard.
  2. Numerals should be imprinted about the upper row letters. Yes, or even better – Add back the number buttons row.
  3. Non-letter keys should be visually distinct from the Letter Keys. A no-brainer.
  4. Let the user disable the page-turn buttons on 1 side. This is to reduce accidental page turns. This makes a lot of sense. You can grab one side firmly.
  5. Make the Imprinted Orientation Identifier (which side is up) Prominent on the USB Cable. This problem exists with nearly every USB Cable. And I like this solution a lot.
  6. Provide a ‘Reward If Found’ Sticker. So that users can attach this to their Kindle’s back. Super idea.

Flaws & Rough Edges to Polish - Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3)

  1. Always Display the Notes & Marks’ Page Number. Don’t fully understand this. However page numbers should be always shown.
  2. Fix the Left-Arrow’s Ineffectiveness INSIDE Chapter 1, Article 1, etc. Pressing left arrow on the 5-way should take user to the start of Chapter 1 when inside Chapter 1.
  3. Make the Down-Arrow Highlight the Last Line on the Page. Good to fix this. This is an annoying usability bug.
  4. Treat the Dash as a Word Separator when highlighting. Yes, this is a must fix. Makes it hard to highlight precise portions of the text.
  5. Fix the Flaw in View Downloading Items. There’s little point in having View Downloading Items if it doesn’t work instantly once Wireless is turned on.
  6. Change Upper-Row Letters to Numerals Automatically when ‘Location’ values are entered. This really is a no-brainer.
  7. Save Users a Step when ‘Going To’ a location – Let user ‘enter’ by pressing center of the 5-way. This happens in other places too – Amazon should cut down number of required steps as much as possible.
  8. Perhaps Enable the Delete Key to Remove Content. Since the Press Left Arrow Method is not obvious. Yes, hardly anyone knows you can press Left Arrow to get the ‘Delete Item’ option. Makes more sense to enable the Delete button.
  9. Change  ‘Wake’ to ‘Waken’ in Your Screensaver’s Message Line.

Half Finished Features that ought to be Finished (Kindle Keyboard)

  1. Include a Down-Arrow in the ‘To Wake’ Screensaver Message. This would indicate the power switch position. Interesting idea.
  2. Provide Trial-Mode Password-Testing Before Activation. This is an excellent idea. There should also be Password reminder emails and Password reminder questions to let users reset their password without needing to call up customer service.
  3. Provide an “Exact Match’ Search option. Much needed. And as suggested by Roger, using the Google convention of “exact term search in quotes” to search would be smart.
  4. Add “Go To Index”. Very useful for nonfiction books. This is true. Index is much better than search for some types of books.
  5. Add Two “Go to Highest Page Read” Options. Very badly needed. Amazon uses ‘Most Recent Page Read’ as ‘Last Page Read’. Which isn’t always the best option.
  6. Add a “Back Matter” Marker. Something that lets you set a page as ‘Last Page Read’.

Bookmarks & Chapter Markers Improvements for Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3)

  1. Insert Bookmarks and Chapter Marks in ‘My Clippings’. This would really help.
  2. Add an Advance to Bookmark Feature. This would be interesting – it would let users navigate by bookmarks (which some users already do for books that don’t have a TOC).
  3. Allow Users to Activate Non-active Chapter Titles. Basically, allow users to create a TOC quickly.

Notes & Marks Suggestions for Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3)

  1. Provide Notes & Marks Headings that Differ Typographically by Type. Yes, using shades or icons or different font types to let users easily differentiate between Notes & Bookmarks & Highlights would make things much easier.
  2. Let the User View the Three Types of Notes & Marks Separately. Much needed.
  3. “Flag” Notes & Marks More Helpfully. Such an important point about putting markers in the top left corner of the page and not the top right. And also a great point about having markers for Notes & Highlights.
  4. Let the User View Entire Notes and Highlights in Notes & Marks. Yes, I’ve never understood why it doesn’t have the ENTIRE highlight or note in the list. Why ask the user to jump around to read the highlights and notes?
  5. Make Users’ Notes Available to Notepad-Type Apps. What can I say? This should have been done 3-4 years ago.

Highlighting – Suggestions to improve Highlighting on Kindle Keyboard

  1. Perhaps More Distinctly Underline Popular Highlights. I actually dislike the whole ‘Popular Highlights’ feature. However, having it be a different type of highlight than user highlights is a good idea.
  2. Let the User Highlight Bad Passages Differently. Not sure of this one.
  3. Add a Type-Feedback-To-Authors Feature. This would be worth its weight in gold. This alone would make Kindles sale increase 20%.

That last feature/improvement is a very, very, very big deal. It would GREATLY and MASSIVELY improve the quality of ebooks and the happiness level of readers. If Amazon had to pick ONE thing to add in the next Kindle, this Send-Feedback-To-Author feature is it.

Collection-Related Improvements for Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3)

  1. Place Add/Remove Items FIRST in a Collection’s Right Click Menu. True. The most used function is adding and removing items.
  2. Add a Book-Menu Option to Add/Remove a Book to/from a Collection. This makes a lot of sense. It’s often when in the Book that you want to add it to a Collection and/or remove it from one.
  3. Flag or Dim Already-Collected Items When Adding to a Collection. This would be a huge help. Some visual cues to tell a user that certain items are already in other Collections.
  4. Provide Three Simpler Ways to Add & Remove Collection Items. Splendid Suggestion to have three new ways to Add/Remove - ‘Add Uncollected Items’, ‘Remove Items that are already in this Collection, and ‘Add Items from Another Collection’.
  5. Let Users Dim “Books I’ve Read”. Dim or Hide (I prefer Hide). This would be a super addition.
  6. Let the User Flag on-Kindle Books as ‘Reading’, ‘Hope to Read’, etc. This would also be a super addition. The whole point of having books in digital form should be that they are WAY easier to manage and categorize and work with. The categories suggested are interesting too – Reading, Hope to Read, Stopped Reading, I’ve Read (Already Read?).
  7. Allow the User to Select from Built-In Sets of Collection-Names. Yes, that would speed things up. Certain Names like Science Fiction, Romance, Next 5 Reads, etc. should be available to choose instantly.
  8. Select (Advance to) The Next Line after Adding an Item to a Collection. Yes, this makes sense. Why force the user to make an extra move when 98% of the time, after selecting or de-selecting a book, the user will want to go to the next line.
  9. The Archive should be Collection-Aware. This would be a winning feature for me. Right now the Archive is almost impossible to work through if you have more than a few hundred books.

Quite frankly, I think the way Amazon did Collections is completely wrong. It should have done Folders and allowed multiple levels. It also made a royal hash of how items are added to Collections and how they are removed. However, these suggestions from Roger Knights would greatly improve the Collections feature.

Other Software Improvement Suggestions for Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3)

  1. Provide One-Letter Passwords for Collections and the Archive. This would really help a lot of users. The idea to have a one letter password is brilliant. Solves a lot of problems in advance.
  2. Add a ‘My Vocabulary’ Document (made from User-Extracts from the Dictionary). This is a must-have. It’s so easy to do and it would add so much value. Just do it Amazon.
  3. Add a Cover Slideshow. Good idea. Also allows for some character.
  4. Let the Cover of the Book-Being-Read Display as a Screensaver. Good suggestion.
  5. Include More Pauses After Paragraphs in Text to Speech. Good suggestion. Allows users more breathing (listening) room. Speaking of TTS why don’t all Kindles ship with TTS?
  6. Let Authors Flag ‘Front Matter’ for Non-Inclusion in the Free Sample. Excellent suggestion. No point in having samples that have just a few pages of the actual writing.
  7. Let users go to a Percentage-Based Location. Again, this all stems from Amazon’s stubbornness in sticking to locations when no one even knows what location means. Just shift to Page Numbers and Percentage read.

There were also 5 suggestions that were fixed in a Software Update.

Closing Thoughts on Kindle 3 Suggested Improvements

Kindle 3 is arguably the best eInk eReader made by any company. It got a lot of things right and really moved things forward in a big way. It’s a bit sad that we had Amazon take the whole ‘touch with no keyboard’ approach. Amazon might have been much better served by focusing on improving Kindle 3.

This (reinventing the software and hardware wheel) is a mistake that companies like Amazon and B&N seem to consistently make. Polish a product and OS for 1-2 years. Then, after 2 years switch to a new design and be forced to redo all the work.

Contrast this approach with how iPhone and iPad have kept the hardware and OS almost exactly the same. That adds stability and allows for really, really polishing the software. Amazon has changed the hardware and software of both eInk Kindles and Kindle Fires multiple times – with little tangible benefit and with the huge downside that it’s never had a really polished software experience. Kindle 3 was close but then Amazon switched to something completely different in Kindle 4.

Let’s hope that Amazon decides to make a new Kindle that is an evolution of the Kindle Keyboard, and that Amazon incorporates a lot of Roger Knights’ Kindle 3 Improvement Suggestions in this new Kindle.

Which Kindle e-reader should you choose?

First – a story…..

I’ve been thinking a lot (which can be really dangerous) about e-Readers since the Amazon press conference announcements happened yesterday. 

I purchased my first Kindle e-reader (my beloved White Kindle 2) about 3 years ago.  It changed my life.  Seriously.  All joking aside. I thought the price was ridiculously expensive at the time but have been hooked on reading as long as I can remember and the thought of carrying only one book on a trip made me somehow justify the expense. 

Just holding that device in my hands, I knew it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Or, since I love to run, the greatest thing since wicking fabric was made for the masses.  It was true love. I could make the fonts larger, smaller, listen to books with the atrocious monotone voices (which has made my life so much easier during two painful eye surgeries and recoveries). 

Those were the good old days.  New books were $9.99 each the day they came out to market.  I could justify buying almost any of my favorite novels because it was so much cheaper than a physical hardback book.  I started getting rid of books because I wanted them only on my Kindle.  Amazon was the main bookstore at that point in time, so my original purchase was easy to do.  I didn’t even look at other e-readers, didn’t consider the Kindle 1 and couldn’t afford Kindle DX.

I was thrilled when the Kindle store came out with its first few apps.  I am not a big game player, but love words and anything to do with word games, so those first apps were word related and I was hooked.  Now I had apps to kill time with when I wasn’t busy reading books (ah – I remember those days when I could read as many books as I wanted to).

Readers are probably thinking….”Get to the point!  How could a Kindle 2 change your life?”

I had been following the blog at ireaderreview.com for a few months.  I happened  to read a blog post by some guy called Switch11 who was looking for beta testers for some Kindle apps his team was creating. I happened to love Kindle apps, had done a lot of testing in my career, and thought I would volunteer to get some free apps.  Too late! He had already filled all the slots.  But, since I had some decent credentials, he thought he would try to get an extra slot and give me a try. Within a day or two, I had several beta apps to test.  Jumped in a little gung-ho and sent off all sorts of issues.  Asked Switch11 if I was doing any good and he replied that I had found a pretty decent amount of issues. Jokingly – I said that maybe I should ask for a raise.  Seriously – he asked me to be head of Quality.

One e-mail – in which I crawled out of my shell to volunteer for a project led to a whole new exciting career that I have been following for going on 2 years.  See – an e-reader can change your life.

<——>

Now that you know the decision of which e-reader to purchase has monumental implications, let me give you some insights into which of the current slate of Kindle e-readers you might want to consider:

Kindle Keyboard 3G - For $139 with special offers (ads) or $159 without special offers (ad free) (please note: this often goes on sale around the holidays) – if you have the money and need to use apps or take notes and such and will be typing a lot – please choose this device.  I have had 4 Kindle e-readers and this is BY FAR the best e-reader Amazon ever made.  The keyboard is awesome (once you forgive them for removing the row of numbers), the 5 way controller is great, and the page forward and page back keys are wonderful.  The device is a good size and comfortable to hold. I think 100% of the Kindle apps also work on this device. 

By the way – if you wonder if it is a pain to have the Special Offers….I pretty well ignore them.  I actually find them a pleasant change from the boring, stock screensavers that Amazon forces on Kindle owners.  Some of the special offers are pretty good.  Save the $20 to buy apps or books.

Kindle - (Known by some as Kindle for Kids, Mindle, Cardboard Kindle) – Price just dropped to $69 (with special offers).  This price is a steal.  I think this is 1/3 of what I paid for my first Kindle.  It still has the 5 way controller.  It has physical page forward and page back buttons.  About 85% of Kindle apps work on this device.  Yes, there is an on-screen keyboard.  This will slow you down some if you need to type a lot.  However, if you are rough on Kindles, needing an inexpensive (but excellent) Kindle, or starting a young book lover on their e-reader journey, this is the device for you. 

Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Paperwhite 3G  - $119 and $179 respectively (with special offers).  The newest additions to the Kindle family are replacing the Kindle Touch of late 2011 (or is that the Late Kindle Touch of Late 2011?). Note: I was not impressed with the Kindle Touch, but found it liveable.  My biggest disappointments – no physical page turn buttons and no requirements to make apps available for the device.  I live alone, so reading all night with a light on is not a big concern, but I am excited at the idea of the backlight in the app.  Sharper fonts and cleaner screens – all sound like positives to me.  More pixels, better contrast….better and better.  If I happen to get one passing through my mailbox, it might not ever reach its intended destination.  Add $20-$40 to the cost of the older Kindles in order to add in an attachable light and this price looks great.  I would particularly recommend this for someone who likes to read in bed at night (and actually has to share their room with someone else), travelers who read a lot on airplanes (why do they always turn down the lights?), reading to children in the dark and on car rides, etc.  If you have a smart phone, you won’t need to use the keyboard as much and that might help make a decision.

When to go for 3G?  If you do not have WiFi in your home and don’t live in the Hundred Acre Woods, then I recommend getting 3G.  This will make it easier to download purchases without travelling to the nearest Starbucks all the time.

My one concern on the Kindle Paperwhite? No word yet from the folks at Amazon if any of the Kindle apps for Kindle Touch will work on this device.  If apps are important to you, I’d hold off until a little more information has been released so that you can make an educated decision.

Kindle 3 + eReader updates for Sunday morning

A lot of Kindle 3 related updates this morning -

  1. At the official Kindle forum a suggestion to add ‘Kindle Review’ to the review title when reviewing books you’ve read on the Kindle. It’s a good suggestion and it would be a good way to help other Kindle owners.  
  2. Kindle Update 3.0.2 is available. Well, don’t understand all these dot-dot updates. Will we get 3.0.2.5 next?
  3. Every Word is back from detention.
  4. Someone built a reflector so that they could get around the fact that the Lighted Cover is on the top left of the screen and light the screen of the Kindle 3 evenly. It’s basically reflective photo paper on the left and bottom edges of the eInk screen held up by rubber bands.
  5. A question on how people manage to press Shift+Alt+G at the same time (it’s the shortcut to take a screenshot). Well, the buttons are too small for my fingers and the only thing that works is laying my thumb on both Alt + Shift at the same time and then using another finger to press G. Here’s another good solution which is actually easier -

    1) Lay Kindle on a solid flat surface.
    2) Use index fingers of both hands (fingernails pointing to each other) to hold down Alt and Shift
    3) While holding those keys down, use the middle finger of the right hand to reach out and touch the g.

  6. Cagey at the official kindle forum claims that Amazon is aware that page turns are slower when it’s hot (when Kindle is in direct sunlight) and that the developers are working on a fix. All of it sounds rather unbelievable – How could you fix what sounds like a temperature related issue? Have heard a few people mention this – Apparently in bright sunlight page turns get slower and take a second or so.
  7. NY Times has an article with a photo of a prototype color eReader display from eInk. Check my 2009 post for a color eInk screen photo that PVI/eInk was showing off in 2005. It’s 5 years and PVI still only has prototypes to show.
  8. Lots of drama in UK as Hachette pushes the Agency Model and Amazon pushes super low prices.
  9. David Morrell, author of First Blood and The Brotherhood of the Rose, has decided to do a Kindle ebook exclusive and it’s causing much consternation amongst non-Kindle eReader owners. This exclusive stuff is rather strange.  
  10. A claim that clicking the ‘Request a Kindle version of this Book’ button worked for a Kindle owner. Thought it was just there for show but apparently there’s an email or something sent to Publishers. Update: Actually the books clicked on are written by David Morrell – so it might just be a happy coincidence or it might be what caused David Morrell to do a Kindle exclusive.
  11. PsychCentral is having a Kindle 3 Contest and giving away a Kindle a week to people who subscribe to their weekly newsletter.

Nothing is unconditional these days – even for free things you have to prostitute your email address.   

Lab 126 does some interesting hiring

Quick on the heels of Amazon hiring a Xbox executive we get news from Tech Flash that Amazon is hiring a Pixar and TiVo veteran.

The list of recent Lab 126 and Amazon hires now includes -

  1. VP of consumer applications at Linden Labs (which runs Second Life). In the past he’s worked at Pixar and TiVo. 
  2. 2 former Real Networks executives. 
  3. Director of gaming etc. at Xbox.

That sounds more like hiring for the iPad than for the Kindle. Perhaps there really is a Kindle Phone or Kindle Tablet in the works.

Kindle in Education – an entire high school gets Kindle 3s

With the Kindle 3 now at $189 and the Kindle WiFi at $139 it becomes much easier to promote the Kindle as a viable alternative to paper textbooks.

There have been a few half-hearted attempts in the past and Governor Schwarzenegger and other people have suggested using Kindles in schools – However, we now have the first full-scale roll-out of Kindles in a school.

2,100 Clearwater High School students get the Kindle 3

As a pilot for the Pinellas County school system all 2,100 students at Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Florida got a Kindle 3. A lot of credit to the principal Keith Mastorides for making it happen. Here’s a snippet from the St. Petersburg Times -

When the idea was first proffered by principal Keith Mastorides last year, some students were skeptical it would actually happen.

“Especially not this school,” said senior Matt Jonson, 17.

“Maybe a nicer school,” added Adams.

Voices such as these are part of the reason Mastorides said he pushed to make the project a reality — to give students a more level playing field and prepare them for a more networked world.

There are a few reasons this is a great move and much better than the college trials -

  1. The entire high school got them – not just 50 or 100 students. You get to see the impact on students in various grades and we can study the impact over a period of years.
  2. It makes a lot more sense to get Kindles to students when they’re young and haven’t already given up on reading.
  3. It makes sense to give everyone a chance early – students with dyslexia or reading problems will benefit much more in high school or middle school than in college. They probably might not even make it to college.
  4. There are far fewer distractions in high school than in college and there’s a much higher chance students will read their textbooks and read in general. 
  5. From the students’ responses it’s clear that these high school students are approaching the Kindle with a very refreshing attitude. 

Let’s start by looking at the benefits Kindle 3 provides to students.

Kindle 3 benefits for students

All of these Kindle 3 benefits are culled from the various articles written about the Kindle high school trial. The definite benefits -

  1. No more heavy backpacks.
  2. It gets students excited about reading and schoolwork – Multiple students mention this aspect. Here’s a comment from one of the students, Desmond King, -

    “It’s fun to have electronics to learn,”

    “I think it makes us want to study more without realizing it.”

  3. Students get the books required for their coursework pre-loaded on their Kindle. At least some of them do.
  4. There’s an in-built dictionary so students can get word meanings instantly.  
  5. Students are loving the text to speech capability. That feature also really helps auditory learners (thanks to FLGRLinATL for that point).
  6. There’s not really much of a learning curve.
  7. The English Department managed to afford all the books on its wishlist -

    John Just, Pinellas County’s assistant superintendent for management information systems, said that because of savings on books, the school’s English department’s wish list was completely fulfilled.

    “The English department wish list is always that — a wish list,” Just said. “Now they’re all downloaded.”

  8. A lot of the recommended reading titles are in the public domain and thus free.
  9. Long Battery life and quick recharging.
  10. eTextbooks are cheaper than physical textbooks. The claims are 10% less for textbooks and 40% less for novels. That 10% number is depressing – there ought to be far greater savings.
  11. It’s light – The articles say 10 ounces but it’s just 8.7 ounces.
  12. Free 3G Internet means students can check things on the Internet without going to the library or to their PC (if they have one at home). 20% of students don’t have Internet access at home so it really helps.

It reminds me of a study that pointed out that most of the separation between kids from high-income families and kids from low-income families happened during the holidays and when students were outside of school. With the Kindle 3 students get a better shot at continuing to read and study outside of school.

Here are some more potential benefits -

  1. Students read more. Reading more leads to smarter students.
  2. Textbook purchases become more cost-effective. Note that we mentioned one case (English) where this has already happened. The price difference between textbooks and etextbooks will increase over time as Textbook Publishers’ monopoly gradually disintegrates.  
  3. It helps level the playing field. If your school is giving you a Kindle and you have access to millions of free public domain books that’s a lot better than not having money to buy books.

Sources used for compiling these lists include WTSP’s article about the Kindle 3 high school trial and the other two articles linked to in this post.

Fighting off Expensive Textbooks

Here’s a comment from Bucnright talking about textbook prices -

The average math text book in Pasco was $63. each high school student averages 6-7 text books which can also be damage or misplaced. Thats is $378 given to a student every year.

The kindle can stay with the student and update with subjects.

On the surface it seems like a $139 Kindle WiFi or a $189 Kindle 3 is expensive – However, textbooks really add up.

Here’s a comment from a college student (EquinsuOcha) -

Why can’t colleges like mine (Eckerd) embrace the same technology?

I pay $120 for a text book that is out of date by the time the next semester rolls around, and is completely useless within a year.

Textbook prices really are a big problem. Get enough students a Kindle and textbook publishers’ hold over distribution gets destroyed.

Note-taking isn’t a problem – It’s just like texting

Here’s an example of high school students having great attitude -

“It’s just like texting,” said senior Gabrielle Adams, 17, about inputting notes.

“And everybody knows how to text,” Niles said.

Whether the students end up liking the eReaders or not we at least know they are going in with an open mind.

Contrast that with college students in the Kindle trials who were complaining about not being able to scribble in the margins. The expectation level when you run a Kindle trial in Princeton is completely different and in some ways it defeats the purpose - With college students you get students who are already in college and usually quite privileged.

One of the strange things was multiple mentions of being able to add notes on the Kindle. Perhaps students are currently getting textbooks from the school that they aren’t allowed to make notes in. Here’s a snippet from MyFox Tamba Bay’s coverage of Kindles for students at Clearwater High School -

“It’s a lot lighter, it’s easier to read, and you can make notes, which you can’t do in a regular textbook,” Bennie Miles observed. “I think that’s pretty cool.”

It’s good to see a lot of enthusiasm. With the college trials you had students voicing a lot of concerns. At some level they were comparing eReaders against notebook computers even before starting.

These high school students are very positive and hopefully that translates into them benefitting a lot from their Kindles.

Student Insurance Policy

This was interesting – For a $20 or $25 fee students can insure their Kindle 3. If they lose it they pay a $50 deductible and get a Kindle 3. If they lose the new Kindle too then they have to buy a new one themselves or go back to textbooks.

That insurance policy sounds a lot better than anything available commercially – at least that’s my understanding.

Quick Note on Price

At $177.78 per Kindle 3 and with free 3G Internet included the only eReader that comes close is the Nook. Even Nook doesn’t have free Internet. Free Internet is a factor because students can refer to the Internet right from class and 20% of them don’t have Internet at home.

The Sony 650 at $225 is 26% more expensive and doesn’t have text to speech or good ebook prices.

The iPad at $499 is way too expensive. There will definitely be a few people claiming the iPad would be much better. Well, before we can have that argument we need to have an affordability argument and the iPad loses that badly.

Downsides of the Clearwater High School Kindle 3 trial

Well, there are obviously people who are coming up with a laundry list of negatives (it wouldn’t be very Kindle like if there weren’t super negative people attacking it) -

  1. Kindles will break far more easily than books which are pretty much unbreakable.  
  2. The insurance is a cost.  
  3. You can’t read books from non-Amazon sources unless they are DRM free.
  4. A lot of people claimed that the Kindle college trials failed – That’s not exactly correct. The overzealous National Federation for the Blind had them shut down because the Kindles weren’t accessible.  
  5. You can’t scribble in the margins. Would be good to know whether students were allowed to do this in the textbooks they got from their schools.
  6. The cost – supposedly $177.66 each.

The list isn’t very long because most of the negative people have never seen a Kindle. In contrast to the students who are very positive there are quite a few negative comments from people at the St. Petersburg Times site.

This comment from a Clearwater High School student (kread96) is super appropriate -

Ok now everyone needs to stop, saying stuff about the Kindle’s !

because you know nothing about them! yes i go to CHS, and I have one.

They are so much easier than text books. Cheaper too. Dont say anything about them, until you have actually used them….

It’s infinitely amusing that, yet again, we have people criticizing the Kindle 3 without ever having used one. Ever since the first Kindle came out the biggest detractors have always been people who’ve never used a Kindle.

Potential Kindle 3 freezing fix available via Kindle 3 update

The latest update for the Kindle 3 is now available for download. It’s called 3.0.1 and there are three different versions.

This update seems to fix the Kindle 3 freezing issue for some/most people. People who were having the Kindle 3 freezing issue are mostly seeing the issue disappear after their Kindle 3 gets this update.

Warning: Very small sample size and anecdotal evidence.  

What is the new Kindle Upgrade? Should you get it?

An early preview release of the Kindle 3.0.1 software update is available at Amazon’s website. It’s an ‘early preview’ of a Kindle 3 update which Amazon is releasing to gather more customer information.

It’s an upgrade that is defined as -

This software update adds the ability to create a new Amazon.com account directly from your Kindle, as well as additional performance improvements.

It’s probably better defined as -

This is our best fix for the freezing issue and we’re hoping you’ll test it out and let us know. We can fix it for 80% of people who’re seeing it. We need more data to figure out how to fix it for everyone.

Note: This is just my opinion.

There’s no other explanation for why Amazon would release an ‘early preview’ and ask for feedback. It’s also puzzling that there are two sets of Kindle 3s marked out (Serial Numbers starting with B00A and Serial Numbers starting with B006) with separate fixes for each.

  1. If you aren’t having the freezing issue – Please don’t download the new update. It’s much better to wait until it’s well understood and Amazon sends it out to everyone.
  2. If you are having the freezing issue but can live with it or can’t take a chance on a ‘preview release’ – Again, please don’t download the update. It’s better to wait until the brave souls have tested it out for you.
  3. If you are experiencing the freezing issue and you’re willing to try out the Kindle 3.0.1 update – Well, check out the next section.

 Once more time just to be sure -

Warning: If you don’t have the freezing issue or aren’t willing to risk an ‘early preview’ release then please DO NOT install the fix.

How do you install the new Kindle Upgrade?

The Help Page has good instructions. However, will quickly walk you through the steps -

Go to Help and Read Instructions

Go to the Amazon Help Page linked above (Kindle 3.0.1 software upgrade). Read the instructions.

Find out which Kindle you have

Figure out whether you have Kindle WiFi or a B006 Kindle 3 or a B00A Kindle 3. 

To do this press Menu on the Kindle Home Page and choose Settings. On the Settings Page scroll down to the bottom and look at the Device Info section.

  1. Kindle WiFi – The network capability will say ‘Wi-Fi’ and serial number will start with B008.  
  2. Kindle 3G Group B006 - The network capability will say ‘Wi-Fi and 3G’ and serial number will start with B006.
  3. Kindle 3G Group B00A - The network capability will say ‘Wi-Fi and 3G’ and serial number will start with B00A.

After figuring this out go back to the help page and choose the appropriate download link.

Download Kindle 3 Update and move to Kindle 3

Choose the appropriate download link and click on it. Choose ‘Save’ in the File Download dialog and save to a Folder like Documents which will be easy to remember and easy to access.

The various file names are (these might change if Amazon changes the files) -

  1. Kindle WiFi - Update_kindle_3.0.1_B008.bin .
  2. Kindle 3G Serial Number B00A group – Update_kindle_3.0.1_B00A.bin .
  3. Kindle 3G Serial Number B006 group – Update_kindle_3.0.1_B006.bin .

Now plug your Kindle 3 or Kindle WiFi into your computer and drag (or copy) the downloaded file into the main Folder of your Kindle. This is the folder that has ‘Documents’ and ‘Music’ and other folders in it.

Update your Kindle 3

Unplug your Kindle 3 from the computer. This is important. Don’t just eject it – unplug it. Go to the Settings Page again (On the Kindle Home Page press Menu and choose Settings).

On Settings Page press Menu and you should see the ‘Update Your Kindle’ link available in the Menu. You won’t see this if you didn’t move the file correctly or downloaded the wrong file. Press this link and the Kindle will start upgrading.

Please don’t turn off the Kindle 3 or try to restart it – just let it upgrade. It takes 5 to 10 minutes (sometimes a bit longer). It goes through two restarts so don’t interrupt it if you see the second restart.

After that your Kindle 3 will be up to date. To confirm you have the latest version go to the Settings Page and at the bottom right check the Version. It should say Kindle 3.0.1.

What are Kindle 3 owners seeing with the latest update?

Well, here’s what people are reporting -

  1. Page turns seem to be faster. Not sure in my case as page turns were pretty fast and didn’t remember to time them before upgrading. 
  2. If you have a Mac you might see an issue where you get a zip file instead of a .bin file. Call up customer support. The fix (untested) might be deleting ‘.bin’ from the end of the file name.
  3. A few people were seeing Kindle 3 freezing when using the Browser and are no longer seeing that problem.
  4. Don’t see the ‘ability to create a new Amazon account’ that’s listed on the update page. Not even sure of how to check for it.
  5. Quite a few people are reporting that they are seeing no problems at all after the Kindle 3 update. There is also one person (on another forum thread) who reports that the fix didn’t work for her.

It’s pretty cool to see a potential fix done and available. It seems to be working for most people and if you’re having the Kindle 3 freezing issue – hopefully, it works for you.

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