Kindle Freezing Fix works for one user, 3 Kindle Book Deals

A lot about the Kindle 3 to cover in this post.

Kindle 3 Freezing Issue solved for one user, fix might be arriving soon

Thanks a ton to John for a new update on the Kindle 3 Freezing Bug and news that the fix that’s being tried out worked on his Kindle 3 -

Amazon also contacted me yesterday regarding an earlier conversation on the freezing issue and asked if they could upload an update to the firmware which they did.

I think he mentioned that the update would soon be released to all kindle owners.

My Kindle version software is now 3.0.1 (525120101).

Since the update there have been no “freeze ups”.

This is really good news – It’s working and hopefully it’ll work for all Kindle 3’s.

Contrast Effect due to Graphite Kindle Casing

Courtesy Wikipedia we get a good explanation for why the Kindle 3 Graphite is better for contrast than the white one (thanks to Sawyer for the information) -

Simultaneous contrast identified by Michel Eugène Chevreul refers to the manner in which the colors of two different objects affect each other. The effect is more noticeable when shared between objects of complementary color.

In the image here, the two inner rectangles are exactly the same shade of grey, but the upper one appears to be a lighter grey than the lower one due to the background provided by the outer rectangles.

The image shows two rectangles with outer rectangles framing them. The inner rectangles are both the same color but the one that has a darker rectangle circling it seems lighter.

That’s exactly what’s happening with the Graphite Kindle 3. Its screen seems whiter than the screen of the white Kindle 3 because of the graphite casing.

You could argue it’s perception but it’s more than that – Since there is dark graphite casing around it our eyes can better appreciate the whiteness of the ‘white’ eInk screen and in turn the darkness of the ‘black’ eInk lettering.

So, with the graphite Kindle 3, we start with a dark eInk to white eInk contrast ratio that is 50% better (mostly due to the black being richer and darker) and add on the effect of the Graphite casing – It’s really very powerful.

Kindle 3 Book Deals

Here are 3 Kindle Book Deals -

  1. The Invasion by William Meikle is rated 4.5 stars on 13 reviews and just $1.99.

    It started during a winter storm on the North Eastern Seaboard which brought with it a strange green rain. Where it fell, everything withered, died, and was consumed. The residents of remote outposts in Maritime Canada escaped the worst of the early damage, but that was a blessing in disguise, for they were left to watch as first North America, then the world, was subsumed in the creeping green carpet of terror.

    And that was just the beginning. New life forms began to arise from the ooze, simple organisms at first, but multiplying with ever-increasing complexity. The few human survivors are faced with a full-scale invasion… and only radical measures will guarantee the survival of the human race.

  2. A Death at the North Pole by Joel M. Andre is rated 4 stars on 18 reviews and priced at 70 cents.

    Detective Lauren Bruni has dealt with death for her entire life. She has watched it ruin lives, and brought people closer together. Her job taught her to separate fact from fiction.

    But on a cold December day, all Lauren had believed in would be shattered and tossed aside. Thrust in a world unlike any she has seen before, she investigates a prominent figure’s grisly murder, and searches for answers along a strange new set of people.

    With a killer watching her every move in the background ready to strike again at a moments notice

  3. Where You Belong (None) by Patrick Dilloway is rated 4 stars on 8 reviews and priced at $1. A book inspired by The World according to Garp.

    Frost Devereaux’s odyssey of self-discovery spans three decades and takes him to every corner of America. Guiding him along his journey are the twin loves of his life: Frankie & Frank Maguire. Through his tempestuous relationships with them, he learns who he is and where he belongs.

Getting 34 free books this week is making me wonder whether it’s sustainable – Could we really have an ebook/book world that provides 30-40 free book offers every week?

There was a time when we had a few free book offers a month and any Kindle owner you told she/he would be seeing 34 free book offers in a single week would have laughed at you.

Kindle 3 Freezing minimization, Amazon testing fix

If the Kindle 3 is giving you trouble with automatic restarts or freezing you’ll be glad to know Amazon might be close to a solution. This post will also add some details on how to minimize the freezing.

Please note that these are workarounds that reduce the frequency, not remove the problem. The real solution is for Amazon to release an update that fixes the underlying issue – which Amazon seems to be in the process of doing.

Should you return your Kindle 3?

No, all signs point to a software issue that’s fixable and Amazon is already working on a fix and testing it. Two users left comments that they have the new firmware for testing, one left a photo showing the new firmware version, and another user was told by Amazon customer service that a fix would be out in 10 days.

Additionally, Amazon is offering a free replacement Kindle 3 if you’re running into freezing issues.

If you’re thinking about getting the Kindle 3 please note that this Kindle 3 freezing issue isn’t happening for everyone – From the responses on the Kindle forum it seems that there are more Kindle 3 owners not experiencing the Kindle 3 freezing issue than there are Kindle 3 owners experiencing it.

Keep in mind Mike deMaria’s advice -

To those of you who are second guessing your purchase/being sad/etc –> DON’T BE (smile) All that is most likely wrong is a bug that can be found and fixed without you doing much – other than connecting to Whispernet Via 3G or WiFi when the fix is released.

Should it have been caught before shipment? Maybe. But I do know from all my experience on the other side of things (being the programmer), sometimes bugs like these escape even the best testing. It happens.

A fix should be out soon and even in the rare case it’s an unfixable problem you can get a free replacement Kindle 3.

Possible firmware upgrade on the way to fix Kindle 3 Freezing Issues

Here’s a comment from BobLenx -

Hey gang, I got an email back from Amazon support today – good news I think. The email was as follows:

“I have heard back from the development team on our issue. It appears this problem will be addressed in an upcoming software update for the Kindle which will be sent wirelessly to you in approximately ten days or so.

In the meantime for a temporary fix you can slide the power button to the right for about 15 seconds to reset the Kindle.”

That would certainly be a good thing. Hopefully, that’s a reliable customer service representative.

K. Scarpelli even wrote to say the new firmware is being testing on his Kindle -

Good news people. I just received a call from tech support about a half hour ago and they pushed the new firmware to my Kindle. I’m running 3.0.1 (525120101).

That’s really good news. He’s even put up a picture and it clearly shows he has a different firmware version. Another user, CLS10, also got the new firmware.

In the meantime let’s figure out how to minimize Kindle 3 freezing.

What seems to work best to minimize Kindle 3 Freezing?

Here’s a rough list of things that seem to decrease the probability of restarts and freezing -

  1. A hard reset (hold down power button for 15 to 20 seconds) seems to often fix the issue. The reset via the settings page isn’t effective – you have to use the power switch reset.
  2. Let Kindle 3 charge for 3 to 6 hours before using it.  
  3. Don’t download hundreds of books at the same time.  
  4. If you’ve just downloaded books and they’re indexing (Kindle is preparing them for searches) don’t do lots of intensive things. If possible even hold off for a few hours and let Kindle index. Do a search for ‘xqwe’ and it’ll show a list of books (if any) that haven’t been indexed – Wait for that list to go to zero.
  5. Don’t visit lots of complex websites one after the other. The web browser seems to be causing a lot of crashes so if you can avoid it that’d be best.
  6. Don’t load up lots of PDFs from strange places. If you’re having problems with PDFs delete a few of them and then try reading the remaining PDFs.
  7. Don’t add tons and tons of highlights quickly.
  8. WiFi might play a part so if you have the option of either work with 3G. Using 3G solved the freezing issue for some Kindle 3 owners.
  9. Importing Collections is causing a problem often enough that it might not be a bad idea to hold off on it for a bit.

Some users are taking up Amazon Customer Service’s offer of a replacement Kindle. Will update this post if they report back that the replacement fixes the issues – since lots of people aren’t seeing the freezing there’s a high chance the replacement Kindle 3 will be free of the freezing issue.

Kindle 3 Freezing – Possible Causes

Let’s look at the various situations which seem to cause freezing or reboots. We’ll also look at what people found worked. Most of these are from the official kindle forum.

Freezing right in the beginning -

  • It’s recommended to let your Kindle 3 charge for 3 hours before using it. There are claims that if you don’t do this it’s likely to cause more crashing – No idea whether these claims are valid but it certainly doesn’t hurt to let Kindle 3 charge fully.

Freezing and Restarts when Indexing a large number of books -

  • For some people the problems occur only when they are downloading/adding a lot of books at once. This suggests it might be an indexing issue.
  • The solution here is to not load up lots and lots of books at once.

Freezing and restarts when doing things very quickly one after the other -

  1. If you go into the photo viewer and do lots of changes at the same time sometimes the Kindle 3 freezes.
  2. The solution for this would be to not change settings multiple times in rapid succession.

For some people Every Word is causing problems – Well, Kindle Apps do freeze up on Kindle 3 and didn’t on Kindle 2. Kindle Apps presumably take up a lot of memory and processing power so if the crashing is related to processor overload or Kindle running out of free memory it would make sense that games crash more often.

Freezing and restarting due to WiFi -

  1. Quite a few people have had freezing when they were using WiFi. 
  2. A few people have had freezing disappear when they stopped using WiFi. It probably means the WiFi feature’s code is doing whatever causes the freezing more often than other features’ code.  

It seems more and more likely that there’s a single bug underlying all these freezing problems.

A common thread of a Memory Leak or a Processor Overload

If you look at all the things that might be causing freezing and restarts it seems that whenever you do memory intensive or processor intensive tasks on the Kindle 3 it crashes or freezes. We get errors more frequently when -

  1. Indexing lots of books.
  2. Doing lots of changes one after the other.
  3. Loading complex websites in a row.
  4. Loading lots of PDFs.
  5. Highlighting frequently.

It definitely suggests that either there is a memory leak or the processor is getting overloaded and is unable to cope.

Here’s a comment from Mike that suggests the same thing -

Being the good programmer that I am, to me it appears we are all having a memory leak issue.

The other day I could see things getting slower and slower until finally the K3 locked up and needed a hard reset. It would also explain the random reboots if something is eating program space.

A memory leak would make the most sense as it would be something that just gradually builds up and then suddenly when you do something that needs additional memory – it causes a crash. A problem related to a memory leak would also be be triggered more frequently when doing memory intensive tasks like web browsing or loading PDFs – which is exactly what we’re seeing.

the PDF restart issue 

There’s a particular, rare bug that causes a Kindle 3 restart every single time you open a PDF. There are two things found to work for this -

  1. This is sometimes fixed by a hard reset of the Kindle. Slide and hold the power switch for 15 seconds.
  2. Another solution is to delete a few of the PDFs you have. This suggests certain PDFs might be causing an issue or that PDFs aren’t cleared out from the memory properly until they are deleted. If PDFs aren’t properly removed from memory it would make sense that all PDFs cause a restart – PDFs and the PDF reader probably need a lot of memory and the PDFs left behind in memory would reduce available memory and the PDF reader wouldn’t have enough memory to load.

This will probably also be fixed by the new firmware. It’s good to know there’s a possible Kindle 3 freezing fix being tested and everyone will soon get back to enjoying the Kindle 3.

Kindle 3 Browser Photos, Video

The Kindle 3 is shipping already and the major reviews are out but one of the features the generally effusive reviews have neglected to cover is the Kindle 3’s new WebKit Browser.

It’s surprising because the new Kindle 3 Browser and its Article Mode are amazing. This post covers the Kindle 3 browser and has loads of photos.

2 sentence summary –  The Kindle 3 Browser is great for reading things, especially news sites and blogs. It’s not usable as a full browser and can’t handle Flash and Java and, as far as my experience goes, Ajax doesn’t work either.  

Kindle 3 Browser – What Sites Work

The new Kindle 3 Browser can handle complex websites easily. You don’t have to use the mobile sites – the actual sites load up fine.

Here are the websites that work fine 90% to 100% of the time -

  1. Gutenberg.org, ManyBooks.net, and Archive.org all work fine and you can download books straight from them. Choose Kindle or .Mobi format files.
  2. ESPN.com.  
  3. BBC and New York Times. 
  4. Hotmail works fine. Update: Yahoo Mail works most of the time. Be sure to choose ‘Classic Mail’ option when it fails to load the new version.
  5. Unsurprisingly, Amazon.com works great. The entire structure and all the links and menus including scroll over menus.   
  6. The Bookseller and Teleread.  
  7. Most WordPress Blogs.
  8. Most of the websites tried worked.
  9. Don’t have a Facebook account but touch.facebook.com is supposed to work (courtesy Joe).

Nearly every website tried worked just fine. Even things like signing up for accounts work fine (Hotmail, GMail).

Kindle 3 Browser – Sites that don’t work

Update: The main versions of some Google sites don’t work but the mobile versions work -

  1. Gmail – http://mail.google.com/mail/x/
  2. Google Reader – http://www.google.com/reader/m/view/ works. The main Google Reader site also works if you give it a few tries.
  3. Google Maps – doesn’t seem to be working.

Thanks to Joe for the update.

Interestingly enough you can go through and sign up for a GMail account from the main site but not use the main GMail site. The mobile version works fine.

Updated: Yahoo Mail breaks down when you try to log-in and offers you Classic Mode – that works fine and is quite easy to use though moving around is a bit of a pain.  

Let me know if you have a particular site you want tried out on the Kindle 3 Browser.

Kindle 3 Browser – Article Mode

On nearly every article or blog post page, and on most other pages, you can go into ‘Article Mode’. If it’s not an article page you get a warning message but you can still go ahead – it works most of the time.

In Article Mode all the banners and extrinsics like drop down menus and non-article graphics are stripped out. All you get is the text and occasionally the main image. Basically it works like Readability (a desktop browser plug-in that strips away everything except the main Article) and converts web articles and blog posts into little book chapters.

It’s a killer feature all by itself.

Kindle 3 Browser – Zooming in, Other Features 

Whenever a page loads the Kindle 3 Browser recommends a default zoom level – It does this by showing a box outline with a magnifying glass icon in it. In fact you can’t click on anything until you zoom in.

Once you zoom in you can move around and use the cursor to get to whatever you want to click on. The experience varies from being easy on some sites to incredibly painful on other sites.

You get lots of zoom options – Fit to Screen, Actual Size, 150%, 200%, and 300%. You’ll usually be using the Kindle 3 Browser’s recommended zoom level or 300%.

There are some other useful features -

  1. You can disable JavaScript if you like.  
  2. Browse through your History and delete it if you like.
  3. Delete cookies.
  4. Bookmark Websites.  

Overall, the Kindle 3 Browser is a big improvement over the older Kindle 2 browser and the Article Mode makes it better than the Nook’s impressive browser.

However, it’s nothing like a real browser. There are some important sites that don’t work (Google Maps) or work sporadically (Yahoo Mail).

Moving on …

After the jump – Lots of Kindle 3 Browser Photos and a Kindle 3 Video (more soon).

Continue reading

new Kindle 3 owner advice

Your friend gets a new Kindle 3 and asks you your advice for a new Kindle 3 owner – What would your advice be?

Just writing down my thoughts – Please do add what you think are the top 3-5 things a new Kindle 3 owner should know.

Taking Care of your Kindle 3

  1. Be careful when handling Kindle 3 and carrying it as the screen is delicate – drop it and it’s likely to break. Consider getting a cover or case. It’s great for keeping the Kindle 3 safe.  
  2. If you have a cover that uses side notches to lock-in your Kindle 3 remember to not hold Kindle by just its case and to be gentle when attaching and detaching it.
  3. When carrying it put it in a case and not next to sharp or hard things. When packing it don’t pack it into baggage unless it’s in a hard box. Even hand baggage might not be safe as turbulence might bounce your Kindle 3 around.  
  4. Keep it as far away from water as possible. Kindle 3 is not water-resistant.
  5. Charge your Kindle when the battery charge gets low – don’t wait for it to drain out completely. It’s best for the battery if you charge it when 1/4th of the battery charge is left.  

A replacement Kindle will probably cost nearly as much as a new Kindle 3 – being careful will help new Kindle 3 owners to avoid the cost of a replacement.

How to use WiFi

On the Kindle Home Page press Menu and then choose Settings. On the Settings Page click the ‘View’ button next to WiFi Settings. This brings up a list of detected WiFi networks.

Identify the one that corresponds to your home WiFi (or if outside your home, choose the one you have access to). Enter the password (if needed). If it connects great else try another WiFi network or check for the correct name and password.

You might have to set up the WiFi network details yourself. If the Kindle fails to connect to a network then choose ‘Set up Network’ from the failure message box and enter the details. If you need help call the company that set-up your home wireless network or ask the cafe/shop/airport attendant for details of the WiFi settings.

Kindle switches to 3G automatically when it detects the WiFi is missing and reconnects to WiFi when it’s available. Kindle WiFi can only connect via WiFi so it’s entirely dependent on the availability of a WiFi network. Note: You can read books even without WiFi or 3G.

Kindle 3 Basics

At the bottom of the Kindle 3 is a power switch and a volume control. Slide the power switch to put the Kindle into sleep mode or to get it out of sleep mode. The bottom also has a slot for headphones, a microphone (which at the moment isn’t used), and a USB slot that can be used to charge the Kindle or to connect it to a computer.

If you connect the USB cable that comes with your Kindle 3 to the Kindle 3 and then to the power plug (that also comes with the Kindle 3) you can plug it into a wall socket and charge it. You can also use the USB cable to connect the Kindle 3 to a computer. Kindle will charge and also show up as a drive named ‘Kindle’ and you can drag and drop files to it.

Book files and PDFs go in the ‘Documents’ Folder. MP3 files go in the ‘music folder’.

When you bring the Kindle out of sleep mode you start on the Kindle Home Page or if you were reading a book you start on the page you were last at. If you turn on the Kindle (slide and hold for 5 seconds) or reset it (slide and hold for 15 seconds) you always start on the Kindle Home Page.

On the Kindle Home Page click on a book or item using the 5-way to open it. You can move up and down on the home page using the 5-way and change pages using the Previous Page and Next Page buttons.

In a book the Previous Page and Next Page buttons are used to turn the pages. Pressing Home will take you to the Kindle Home Page and pressing Menu will bring up the Menu. When you turn the pages there will be a 0.5 to 0.8 second delay as the eInk screen refreshes.

Kindle 3 Tips & Tricks

All the top Kindle 2 tips ought to work on Kindle 3 – except the Line Spacing tip.

Press Alt+Spacebar to start or stop background music. You have to load mp3 files (Apple format files don’t work, mp3 files with DRM don’t work) into the ‘music’ folder of your Kindle. They are played in the order they were added. Press Alt+F to skip ahead to the next track.

You can type out numbers by using Alt+Q for 1 and so forth (Alt + qwerty row =  1 through 0). You can also type out numbers and special characters via the SYM key.

You can change fonts via the Aa key. You can try out the Browser and Text to Speech by going to the Experimental Section (On Kindle Home Page press Menu and choose Experimental).

First 5 Kindle 3 Things to try out

Perhaps -

  1. Click on a book and read it and see how you like the experience.
  2. Go through all the free book offers and public domain books at Amazon’s Kindle Store (on Amazon.com). For public domain books simply search for ‘public’ and Sort by Price Low to High. For free books search for ‘-public -breakthrough’ and again Sort by Price Low to High.
  3. Try out the Kindle Store and the free Internet. Press Menu on Home Page and choose ‘Shop in Kindle Store’. Press Menu on Home page and choose ‘Experimental’ and then on Experimental page choose ‘Web Browser’.
  4. Try out the Text to Speech. Press Aa button when in a book and then in the Font options menu press ‘turn on’ next to Text to Speech (Read to Me).
  5. Play around with the font settings. Again, press Aa button when in a book.  

Best Features?

Some of the more interesting Kindle 3 features are -

  1. Built-in dictionary. When reading a page press 5-way up or down to get a cursor. Move it to the beginning of a word to get the word meaning. Click on the 5-way to go to a page with the full word meaning and usage. 
  2. Alt+ B – Bookmark a page. You can also bookmark a page by bringing up the cursor and pressing the 5-way twice.  
  3. Move the cursor to a spot and start typing using the keyboard to add notes. To add highlights press the cursor once to start the highlight, move the cursor using the 5-way to select text, and then press the 5-way again to end the highlight.
  4. Font Options – Press Aa to get various font options. You can change the font between 8 font sizes. There are also 3 Font types to choose from and options for words per line and line spacing. You can change the screen orientation between portrait and landscape. You can start and stop Text to Speech, change the speed at which text is read out, and also choose between male and female reading voices.
  5. Try out the Voice Guide feature. You can turn it on in the Settings Page and it reads out Menus and Book Lists to you.
  6. Try out the experimental WebKit based browser. Try out some complex websites like espn.com to see how it handles them.
  7. In the browser go to a blog and try Article Mode which strips away everything except the main text. 

There are lots more features to try out – To get a better understanding of how to access the various Kindle 3 features check out the manual or this post on Kindle 3 insights.

Where to get Books?

Well,

  1. For simplicity and for new books – Kindle Store.
  2. For public domain books – Gutenberg and Many Books.
  3. For DRM free books – Tor, O’Reilly, and Smashwords (independent books).
  4. For free book offers – Kindle Store.
  5. For Library Books – These are not supported on Kindle 3 unless you strip away the DRM.

Compare Kindle 3 against other reading options

Convince yourself it’s the best option –  

Contrast the eInk Pearl screen with a plain sheet of paper. Compare and contrast with a paperback and a hardcover. 

Compare size and screen with an iPhone or iPad. Check out B&N and Sony Store and compare with Nook and Sony Reader. 

How to get Photos on your Kindle 3

Connect your Kindle 3 to your PC and in the Kindle’s main folder (the one that has music and Documents folders) create a folder called Pictures. Within that folder create other Folders that will become your ‘Photo Albums’.

Put photos into these Photo Albums. So in your Pictures Folder you might have three folders – Family Photos, Book Covers, and Trip Photos. Only the images within these folders will show up – none of the pictures saved in the ‘Pictures’ folder of your Kindle will show up.

Now unplug your Kindle and on the Kindle Home Page press Alt+Z. Each of the Folders within the Pictures Folder will show up as a separate entry. So you will get three items – Family Photos, Book Covers, and Trip Photos.

You can click on any of these to see a slideshow and there are various options – please see the Kindle 2 Tips post, linked to above, for details.

In Closing

The Kindle 3 Product Page has a lot of details on Kindle 3 features. The Kindle at a Glance section and the ‘Features’ section spell out what features you can look forward to. The Kindle 3 Product Guide provides a detailed explanation of how to use these features.

You also have the Kindle Forum – Click on the tiny ‘Discussions’ link on the top right of any Kindle Store page on Amazon.com (it’s a little below the search bar). There you can ask fellow Kindle owners for help with your problems. To the right of the ‘Discussions’ link is a link to ‘Kindle Support’ which is also a good resource.

Overall, the Kindle 3 has a ton of very good features and a lot of help options (especially the Kindle 3 guide) to help you get the best of them.

Kindle 3 killer features for Kindle 2

Take a look at the Kindle 3 and it’s hard not to notice that a lot of the improvements are software based. In fact, we can make a rather bold claim about Kindle 3.

50% of the killer Kindle 3 features are software based

It’s not at all contentious if you dig in. Here are the 12 killer Kindle 3 features in my opinion (the ones that are mostly likely software based are in italics) -

  1. Kindle WiFi – This is obviously out of the question for Kindle 2.  Please note that we’re keeping Kindle WiFi and its $139 price point out of this particular discussion.
  2. eInk Pearl Screen and Graphite Casing – Out of the Question.
  3. 3 Font Choices - All software and will probably translate. 
  4. Improved Fonts and 20% faster page turns (Perhaps) – These Kindle 3 improvements are due to waveform tuning, custom fonts, and font-hinting. Amazon says it tuned the Kindle 3’s waveform and controller mechanism and wrote code for better fonts – That definitely sounds like some/all of it could work with Kindle 2.
  5. Lighter and More Compact Kindle 3 – This isn’t possible as it’s a hardware change.
  6. 1 Month Battery Life with wireless off (Perhaps) - May or may not be possible for Kindle 2.
  7. WebKit Browser and Article Mode (beginnings of a killer feature) - Should translate perfectly from Kindle 3 to Kindle 2.
  8. PDF Improvements - All the PDF improvements should be movable to Kindle 2.
  9. Support for Cyrillic Fonts and CJK fonts (killer feature for people in China, Japan, Russia, etc.) - Should transfer fine.
  10. Voice Guide (Killer feature for blind and low vision readers) - Should transfer from Kindle 3 to Kindle 2. 
  11. All the usability enhancements – A few of these are software based (disappearing auto-scroll bar, set time manually) and could make their way to Kindle 2.
  12. Better placed and better/quieter buttons. This is Kindle 3 only.

That’s quite a realization – 5 out of 12 killer Kindle 3 features are software based and there’s no reason Kindle 2 couldn’t have them. 

Another 2 are perhaps software based with 1 in particular (1 month battery life) quite likely to be software based.

Thanks to ShirleyKat for the ‘Kindle 3 killer features to Kindle 2′ idea

ShirleyKat at the official Kindle forum wrote this list of Kindle 3 improvements that are software based and that, at least in theory, should be transferrable to Kindle 2 – 

Additional fonts (change typeface and change line spacing in the Aa menu)
PDF improvements (dictionary lookup, add notes and highlights, open password-protected PDFs, adjust the contrast)

Read to me menus (already promised as an update)
Two dictionaries
Monitor download progress

Browser enhancements (zoom in and out, switch to article mode)
Set time manually

Additional Kindle file type supported (azw2). Maybe it’s for another enhancement that allows you to set bookmarks in personal documents
Start location in the progress indicator shows how far you’ve read in the current session
Even the longer battery life seemed to indicate that at least some of it was done via software.

We’ve already seen that at least 5, and perhaps 7, of the top 12 killer Kindle 3 features are software based. Let’s go through all the Kindle 3 software improvements we know of and see which would add value to Kindle 2.

Kindle 3 Improvements for Kindle 2 – Top 7

We actually end up with a huge list of Kindle 3 software improvements -

  1. The choice of 3 font types – We don’t need new hardware to support font types. The sans serif font in particular would be a good addition.  
  2. PDF improvements – All the PDF improvements ought to make their way to Kindle 2 eventually. We have the dictionary, ability to add highlights and notes, ability to open password protected PDFs, the option to change the contrast of the PDF, and the ability to incrementally pan when zoomed (Amazon calls it ‘nudge’).  
  3. Voice Guide (Accessible Menus) – Amazon promised this by mid of 2010 so we ought to see this in Kindle 2 soon. 
  4. WebKit Browser – If the Kindle 3 help is accurate and the browser can display complicated websites perfectly then this is a must have.
  5. Article Mode in Browser – This is such a cool feature it gets its own bullet point. In Article Mode everything except the main text on a page is stripped away and you can focus on reading. 
  6. Support for CJK fonts and Cyrillic Fonts in Kindle 3. It’s hard to imagine you need hardware for this.
  7. Usability Improvements in Kindle 3 – Auto-Disappearing Top Bar to allow more reading space, press left or right on the 5-way to jump to previous or next chapter, etc. 

Each one of these would fit right in with the Kindle 2’s feature-set.

Important Kindle 3 Improvements that might be Software Tweaks

There are 3 Kindle 3 improvements that might be software tweaks -

  1. Improved Fonts – There are font related improvements in Kindle 3 that are software based. Amazon says it used waveform tuning combined with new hand-built custom fonts and font hinting to make alphabets crisper, clearer, and more accurate. That ought to be transferrable from Kindle 3 to Kindle 2. 
  2. 20% Faster Page Turns – The speed improvement is due to waveform tuning and the tuning might be via software or hardware.
  3. 1 Month Battery Life – Given that the Kindle 3 is smaller and thinner than Kindle 2 it’s unlikely a bigger battery was added. That strongly indicates part or even most of the improvement in battery life is due to more efficient use. Surely, that can be transferred over from Kindle 3. 

Note that these are the things we know about. There might be other improvements in Kindle 3 that are software tweaks.

Kindle 3 Improvements for Kindle 2 – The Rest 

There are a few things that don’t hold as much appeal but could nevertheless be transferred from Kindle 3 to Kindle 2 –  

  1. View Downloads Progress – This is a cool sounding Kindle 3 feature but you have to question how often people will be checking status when it’s mostly 60 second book downloads.
  2. Set Time Manually – Perhaps this is necessitated by Kindle WiFi but it’s a good feature to have.  
  3. Improved Progress Bar – Progress Bar in the book now shows the starting point of your current reading session and notes and highlights you’ve made.
  4. Additional Dictionary – The addition of a dictionary for British English isn’t necessarily a most requested feature.  
  5. Line Spacing in the Menu – Kindle 2 actually has more flexiblity as by using Alt+Shift+ (number between 0 and 9) you can choose 1 out of 10 line spacing increments. Kindle 3 offers only three choices. 

All this discussion of Kindle 3 software improvements leads to an interesting question – Why not release the software based killer Kindle 3 features for Kindle 2 at the same time?

Well, that would make the jump from Kindle 2 to Kindle 3 not quite as marvellous. 

Amazon is probably going to wait 1 or 2 months and then add a few (hopefully more than a few) of these killer Kindle 3 software features to the Kindle 2. Kindle 2 owners can take solace in the fact that Kindle 3 owners don’t get to play with all these features until end of August when the new Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi are released.

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