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.

Kindle 3 – Kindle 3 Insights

It’s clear that the Kindle 3 still has some tricks up its sleeve – We now know there’s a Kindle 3 microphone and that the Kindle 3 supports CJK and Cyrillic fonts. 

Let’s go through these and other Kindle 3 Insights from the official kindle forum, Kindle 3 help pages, and the Kindle 3 User Guide. Instead of taking 5 hours to read through all of those get all the top Kindle 3 insights from this post in 15 minutes.

Kindle 3 – Top 22 Kindle 3 Insights

Here are the things about the Kindle 3 that really stood out –

  1. There’s a microphone on the Kindle 3 that’s currently not being used. It could be used down the line for speech to text, voice commands, and hands free reading. Here’s a full post on Kindle 3 speech to text and other microphone possibilities.
  2. Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi support CJK fonts and Cyrillic fonts. It means that Amazon is getting ready to make a big push in non-English languages.
  3. There’s now an Audible section in the Kindle Store. Audible audiobooks can only be downloaded when you’re using WiFi – else you can download to your PC and transfer to Kindle.
  4. Connecting to WiFi – On Home press Menu and choose Settings. Select ‘View’ next to ‘WiFi Settings’ and you get a list of detected WiFi networks. You can connect to one of these networks, rescan, or enter another WiFi network to connect to. For the last option you can also choose ‘set up network’ from the ‘failed to connect’ message dialog and enter network information.
  5. When entering network information you can choose DHCP or Static connections (for Static connections you need to enter IP Address, Subnet Mask, Router, and DNS). You also choose from WEP, WPA, WPA2, and None for security type. Then enter the network password.
  6. With WiFi you get – faster downloads, free delivery of personal documents, delivery of Audible audiobook purchases. US customers get free downloads of books, periodicals, and personal documents outside the US if they connect via WiFi.
  7. Pressing Alt + any character in the top row gives you a number (Alt+Q = 1 and so on). Numbers are also accessible via the SYM key. Removing the numbers row is a terrible decision.
  8. Auto-disappearing Top Bar. When you open a book there will be a bar at the top with Book Title, network type, whispernet status, and battery status. As soon as you move to the next or previous page the Bar disappears. Press Menu to get it back temporarily (until you press Menu again and it disappears).
  9. The speakers are now on the top left and the top right of the back of your Kindle 3.
  10. The back is now texturized rubber for a better grip.
  11. There’s a new WiFi symbol to indicate when your Kindle 3 is connected to WhisperNet using WiFi. You have to press the Menu button to see type of connection.
  12. There’s a ‘View Downloading Items’ option in the Menu of your Kindle 3 Home Page that will display what items are being downloaded and their download progress. This is pretty cool.
  13. Kindle 3 automatically turns 3G off if you connect using WiFi. If you disconnect or move out of range the 3G is automatically switched on. It’s a little strange that the only way to disable 3G is to turn WhisperNet off.
  14. The Kindle 3 guide talks about an easy way to add multiple items to a Collection. Navigate to a collection, press right to see the options, and choose ‘Add/Remove Items’. You then get a list of all items on your Kindle and can add whatever items you want to the Collection. Items added to the Collection have a checkmark next to them.
  15. You can adjust contrast in PDFs – The options are lightest, lighter, default, darker, and darkest. This is an interesting addition. See the shortcuts section below for how to ‘nudge’ the chosen view when you are zoomed.
  16. Password protected PDFs are now supported. For PDFs white margins of PDFs are automatically cropped – perhaps this was present in Kindle 2.5.
  17. To convert PDF files use the conversion service and include the word ‘convert’ in your email subject line. After conversion you can use Text to Speech with converted PDFs (which are no longer PDFs).
  18. The Kindle 3 Experimental Web Browser supports JavaScript, SSL, and cookies but not Flash or Java Applets. In the guide it shows the Kindle 3 browser displaying ESPN’s home page and Amazon’s home page perfectly. That would be impressive it if works – find it hard to believe.
  19. There’s a new Article Mode in Kindle 3’s web browser – Article Mode shows only the main text on a webpage.
  20. The browser lets you download Kindle format files (.azw, .azw1), unprotected Mobipocket files (.mobi, .prc), and text files.
  21. There’s an option on the Settings Page to set your Kindle’s time. There’s also an option on the Settings Page to turn on the Voice Guide (accessible menus).
  22. Finally, there’s a menu option on the Settings page to ‘Change Primary Dictionary’. Think this is available on Kindle 2.5 too.

That’s quite a few Kindle 3 insights that haven’t been discussed so far.

One useful tip is to name your Kindle 3 something that includes your contact email or phone number. That way, if it gets lost, whoever finds your Kindle 3 will know how to contact you. Thanks to someone at the official kindle forum for this brilliant idea.

It’s quite amusing to see that 75% of the Troubleshooting Questions have the same simple solution – Restart your Kindle 3. Try Again.

Kindle Customer Support

Here are the Kindle 3 support numbers –

For U.S. and other countries, Kindle Support can be reached via –

E-mail at kindle-cs-support@amazon.com.
Phone at 1-206-266-0927 (charges will apply).

U.S. customers can reach Kindle Support by phone at 1-866-321-8851 (toll free).

U.K. customers can contact Kindle Support at kindle-support-uk@amazon.co.uk or by phone at: 0800-496-2449 (toll free) or outside the U.K.: +44 (0)800-496-2449 (charges will apply).

Kindle 3 – Shortcuts

These are the shortcuts listed for the Kindle 3. There may be some overlap with the other two sections –

  1. Alt+Top Row of Alphabets to get numbers. 
  2. In most books – Press left or right on 5-way to go to the beginning of the next or previous chapter. This is an interesting one.
  3. Alt+Del to delete everything you’ve typed.  
  4. On Home Page if books are sorted by Title or Author – Press a letter key and then the 5-way to go to the first item starting with that letter. 
  5. Add/remove bookmark – Alt+B. Also, you can press the 5-way twice to bookmark a page.
  6. Press Alt+Enter on a note or highlight to share it via Facebook or Twitter.
  7. PDFs – Nudge the chosen view area by pressing down Shift (Up Arrow key) and then using 5-way controller. Nudge = Pan in small increments.
  8. Shift + SYM to start Text to Speech and Spacebar to pause/resume. Note: You can put your Kindle to sleep when using Text to Speech and it keeps working.
  9. Alt+Spacebar to stop or play music. Alt+F to skip to next track.

Have left out some of the very obvious ones carried over from Kindle 2.

Kindle 3 – Additional Kindle 3 Insights

Here are some more interesting Kindle 3 facts –

  1. Progress Bar now shows you the location at which you started current reading session and the location of various notes and bookmarks.
  2. Kindle WiFi uses 802.11 b and 802.11 g. It automatically remembers and connects to hotspots you have used in the past. It doesn’t connect to enterprise or ad-hoc networks.
  3. There’s something new called International Subscription Service for delivery of periodicals when you are outside the US.
  4. The Volume Control and Power Switch have been moved to the bottom of the Kindle 3. There’s also the headphone jack, a microphone, and a micro-USB power port.
  5. This cryptic phrase – All latest generation Kindle devices have Wi-Fi connectivity built-in. Really? Guess they meant all except the Kindle DX 2.
  6. There are 3 font types – regular, condensed, and sans-serif.  
  7. There are now Line Spacing options – Small, Medium, and Large. No idea if Alt+Shift+Number still works – Well, that’s probably impossible now.
  8. There are now two Kindle 3 dictionaries – The New Oxford American Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionary of English. Guess this is done for the Kindle UK push.
  9. With the Kindle 3 you have to slide and hold the power switch for 7 seconds to turn it off. It’s a bit much. Resetting now requires sliding and holding the switch for 15 seconds.
  10. The charge indicator light is now around/under the power switch.  
  11. To check whether you have Kindle WiFi or Kindle 3 3G+WiFi – On the Home Page press Menu, then choose Settings, and on the Settings Page look under Device Info at the ‘Network Capability’ line.
  12. Apparently, annotations created for any personal documents, blog items, or subscription items older than 7 days are not saved when they are deleted. They will be in the My Clippings File. However, if you re-load the deleted item the annotations won’t be there. Not sure if it was always this way or whether this is a Kindle 3 change.
  13. The music player is still strange – ‘songs will be played in the order they were added to your kindle’ and there’s still no ‘previous track’ button.
  14. To Turn Off the Popular Highlights Feature – On the Home screen press Menu, then choose Settings, and then on the Settings Page click on ‘turn off’ next to Popular Highlights.
  15. When on a Popular Highlight press Enter to show or hide the number of people who highlighted this particular passage.
  16. It was interesting to find out that you can view a list of Popular Highlights for a book and sort them by popularity.
  17. There’s experimental .docx conversion through Amazon’s document conversion service. Zip files sent to Amazon are automatically opened up and any convertible files are converted. 

You can check for additional Kindle 3 tips and insights at the Kindle 3 Help Pages.