New Kindle tips, thoughts

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

new Kindle tips – things worth knowing

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

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

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

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

new Kindle is the Kindle for Kids

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

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

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

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

new Kindle as the Economy Kindle

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

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

new Kindle book review

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

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

Here’s an example –

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

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

“I know.”

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

“We do.”

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

“Christ, what a day.” he said.

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

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

Law of Unintended Consequences

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon’s continued persecution of the Keyboard

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

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

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

new Kindle really is a new sort of Kindle

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

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

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

What are new Kindle owners going to do on Christmas?

The Kindle has probably been a very popular gift this year. Amazon has talked about selling ‘millions of Kindles’, and analysts are speculating that Amazon might have sold 8 million Kindles in 2010.

All of that adds up to – Perhaps a million or more people getting Kindles for Christmas.

What are all those new Kindle owners going to do?

Speculating on what new Kindle Owners will do

Here are the things they are likely to do, based on what new Kindle owners have done in the past –

  1. Look for Kindle books they can get without paying money i.e. public domain books, offers, and such. 
  2. Look for Kindle versions of books they have wanted to buy.
  3. Download and buy way more books than they’ll be able to read in the coming weeks.
  4. Read a book or two.
  5. Go through the Kindle bestseller lists, and grab things they find interesting.
  6. Spend more on books than they realize.
  7. Get stuck and ask for help, or search the Internet for help.
  8. Call up customer service.
  9. Subscribe to a newspaper or two.
  10. A smaller portion will subscribe to a blog.
  11. Some will buy games, and will also download the free Kindle games that are available.
  12. Quite a few will search for forums and blogs and sites that they can join and use.
  13. They’ll be looking for tools – ways to add features they want (custom screensavers), and tools to convert PDF to Kindle format.
  14. Kindle WiFi owners will be struggling with WiFi issues.
  15. New Kindle owners will be looking for Kindle Tips and Tricks.
  16. Quite a few will be searching for PDF related tips.

That probably covers at least half of what they’ll be doing. The interesting thing is, they’ll be doing this in a very random, disjointed manner. Plus they’ll be lost quite often – Where do they go for books? Where do they go to find out Kindle tips? How do they get text to speech working?

It makes you wonder – What could be done to create a better first-use experience for Kindle owners?

What could be done to make it a smoother ride for new Kindle owners?

Well, that’s a hard question to answer.

There’s something to be said for discovering things on your own. There are also a lot of benefits to starting off with a blank slate – no books, no subscriptions, nothing except the Kindle and a link to the Kindle Store.

But is that really what most Kindle owners want?

Perhaps what we need is a Starter Button.

Kindle Owners start off with the ‘Starter’ button. And a page that says –

If you would like to figure out everything on your own – Do nothing. This button will disappear in 15 seconds.

If, on the other hand, you’d like a starter pack, and a walk-through experience, click on the big black button.

Users who pressed the Starter Button would look on as a progress bar started off, and the Kindle unpacked a whole treasure trove of goodies for them.

Kindle Starter Pack – Start new Kindle owners off on the right foot

The Starter Pack could include –

  1. The top 500 public domain books. Also, links to every single public domain book available in the Kindle Store – arranged by author and genre.
  2. 200 books from best-selling authors who want to create a fan base – For no charge.
  3. Links to book deals in the Kindle Store – arranged by Genre.
  4. A list of the best Kindle links. The sites, blogs, forums, and tools that Kindle owners could and should use
  5. A document on the Top 100 Kindle Tips and Tricks. Not a whole book – just short snippets.
  6. The 5 Apps that Amazon currently gives away for no charge.
  7. A default set of folders. With a nice folder structure.
  8. Links to all the public domain books at Gutenberg and Internet Archive – arranged by author, genre, year. It’d just be a listing of links in categories.

Call it the Kindle Starter Pack. It provides all the information a new Kindle owner needs, to confidently step into Kindle World.

All of this would be included with the Kindle. Press the Starter Button, and the Kindle Starter Pack is unwrapped and installed. Don’t press the button, and it’s deleted so you have all the Kindle’s free space for yourself.

What else could we do for new Kindle Owners?

Let’s start with Kindle Help. We need a help option that integrates with Kindle Help Pages, Kindle Forums, Help Sites, Customer Service, and Kindle owners who volunteer to help.

Provide better Kindle Help

The new Kindle Help could include –

  1. A full video guide, video walkthroughs, and videos with answers for the most common questions. Accessible from the PC and Mac, and from devices that can support video.
  2. The option to contact customer service and current Kindle owners for help – right from the Kindle itself.
  3. Paid Coaching/Help from companies providing help as a service. This would be in case you can’t get an answer from current owners and customer service. It would also cover special things like setting up tools and services for you.
  4. All the Kindle Help Pages at Amazon re-formatted to be accessible from the Kindle.
  5. Kindle forums reworked to be accessible from the Kindle.

You move as much of help as possible, to services that are Kindle-accessible. The browser, the phone, and the PC should be the fallback option – not the primary one.

Connect Kindle owners with other Kindle owners

There are lots of things that Kindle owners can help each other with –

  1. Tips and tricks.
  2. Offers and deals.
  3. Book recommendations.
  4. Lending when it becomes available.
  5. Basic Help.

Instead of ‘social’ features like tweeting what book you’re reading, it makes a lot more sense to let new Kindle owners connect with other new Kindle owners, and with current Kindle owners.

Let Kindle Owners easily find books suited to them

Create a tool for new Kindle owners that helps them find books they’d love to read.

Kindle owners click on ‘Kindle Book Recommendations Tool’ in the Kindle Menu. They get a Kindle Book Recommendation Wizard which has a few pages –

  1. A page where they choose whether or not to include information from their Amazon purchases.
  2. A page where they choose whether or not to include information from their book reviews.
  3. A page where they can enter favorite genres.
  4. A page where they can enter favorite authors.
  5. A page where they can, optionally, list all their favorite books.
  6. A page where they can, if they so choose, list books they didn’t like.
  7. A page where they can assign weight to each of the preceding items.

Then the Kindle Book Recommendation Wizard sends all this information to the Cloud, a server in the Cloud figures out the best 100 paid books, and the best 100 public domain books, based on the information the user has entered, and the Cloud delivers these book recommendations to the user’s Kindle.

Amazon has the opportunity to greatly improve the Kindle first-use experience

When a new Kindle owner gets a Kindle, there’s a ‘what’s next’ moment.

Currently, there’s just a Kindle Guide, and a link to the Kindle Store. It’s probably why so many new Kindle owners turn to their PCs, and to the search engines. For a device whose tagline includes ‘No Computer Required’, it’s time to add features that make it a smooth ride for new Kindle owners – Kindle Starter Pack, extensive Kindle Help through the Kindle itself, Kindle to Kindle social network (perhaps with a mentor), Kindle Book Recommendation Wizard.

The Kindle has the capacity to gently transition Kindle owners into the Kindle ownership experience. It’d be a good thing if Amazon took advantage of it.

new kindle – new kindle review

This new kindle review will cover the new Kindle (Kindle 3) which Amazon will ship on August 27th. The new Kindle 3 is available in graphite or white for $189.

This is a review of features and is rather detailed – Please check my Kindle 3 Review for a shorter review of the new kindle. If you’d rather read up on the new Kindle WiFi (just $139) please check my Kindle WiFi review.

New Kindle – What are the best 5 features of the New Kindle 3?

Here are the 5 best features of the new Kindle in my opinion –

The eInk Pearl Screen on the new Kindle

The Kindle DX 2 Video page will give you an idea of the eInk Pearl screen and its excellent contrast.

For its new kindle Amazon has added some software improvements (tweaking waveform algorithms to change how eInk gets painted – yup, I don’t understand that either) and made the fonts sharper and the blacks darker so the new Kindle screen is supposed to be even better than the Kindle DX 2.

The difference between the new Kindle 3 screen and the Kindle 2 screen did seem to be larger than the difference between Kindle DX 2 and Kindle 2 screens.

eInk is very close to paper – It doesn’t tire the eyes, it’s readable in sunlight and bright light without glare, and it has great battery life (now up to a month when wireless is off).

The low price of the new Kindle 3 and value for money

At $189, the new Kindle provides you a LOT of value for money –

  1. The great eInk screen.
  2. Book downloads in 60 seconds.
  3. Choice of using WiFi or 3G.
  4. Lots of features built around reading like text to speech, sharing passages with friends via Twitter and Facebook, in-built dictionary, free Internet access for reference, free Wikipedia access.
  5. Free 3G – Your store browsing and book downloads are free. Internet browsing is free.
  6. Free 3G in 100+ countries (for US kindle 3 owners). Also, book downloads are free in all these countries for US Kindle owners.
  7. A ‘worry-free’ archive where your books are stored – download them any time.
  8. Kindle Apps – You can read your books on PC, Mac, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and iPad.
  9. Whispernet to synchronize your reading across devices – your position in the book, notes, and highlights are all transferred as you switch the device you’re reading on.

There are a lot more features but hopefully you get the idea – The new Kindle is very solid value for money.

If you don’t need 3G or have WiFi within easy reach whenever you want to download books then consider the new Kindle WiFi which, at $139, is a steal.

new kindle’s uncompromised focus on reading

Mr. Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, mentioned this on the Charlie Rose show last night – Amazon’s new kindle has an uncompromised focus on reading.

While other devices treat reading like an afterthought the new kindle is built from the ground up for reading. If you love to read there’s nothing that’s as well targeted at reading as the new kindle 3.

All the features center around reading. This is apparent in a lot of ways –

  1. To ensure readability in direct sunlight and to remove glare from bright lights the new Kindle chooses eInk instead of LCD.
  2. To help focus on reading the new Kindle is free from distractions like video and tv shows (the eInk means you couldn’t get them to work on Kindle 3 anyways). 
  3. All the features are related to reading – text to speech, in-built dictionary, changeable font sizes, line spacing options, and more.  

The new Kindle is even more of a readers’ device than the Kindle 2.  

Amazon is constantly improving and new kindle 3 owners will benefit

Amazon recently introduced a huge free software update for Kindle 2 owners – The Kindle 2.5 upgrade had Collections (Folders, although a single level), supersized fonts, sharper fonts, PDF pan and zoom, and some social features.

With the new Kindle 3 Amazon has again shown how quickly it improves – We get sharper fonts, faster page turns, double the memory, up to 1 month battery life, better PDF support, and half a dozen more improvements.

As a new kindle owner you’ll benefit from this constant focus on improvement.

A lot of the big features you see now are additions over the last 9 months – PDF support, free Internet browsing worldwide (for US kindle owners), Collections, faster page turns. Over the course of the next year you’ll probably see a Kindle App Store, further improvements in PDF support, and lots of improvements that add up to a great reading experience.

new Kindle – most portable and easy reading device

 The 5th huge benefit is the ease of using and carrying the new Kindle –

  1. At 8.7 ounces it’s really light and one-handed reading and reading are comfortable.
  2. It’s very compact and thin at 7.5″ x 4.8″ x 0.335″. It’ll fit into your purse and it’s easy to hold.
  3. It can store up to 3,500 books. There’s 3GB of memory available so you can carry your entire library with you.
  4. The battery life is up to a month with wireless off and 10 days with wireless on. An entire vacation without needing a charger.
  5. The buttons are placed very sensibly and a lot of thought has been put in to make the new Kindle easy to use.

The new Kindle 3 continues Amazon’s focus on making Kindles very easy to use. You don’t need a computer to use it and there’s no learning curve – Your turn on the new Kindle, click on a book, and read.

New Kindle – the drawbacks of Kindle 3

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing the benefits of the new Kindle. There are also certain disadvantages. The Kindle 3 might be the best eReader overall – However, the new Kindle has specific disadvantages you ought to factor in.

  1. Kindle 3 is great for reading and terrible at everything else – no video, no 3D games, and it’s not good for wasting time.
  2. Kindle 3 does not support library books.  
  3. It does not support ePub. 
  4. New Kindle does not have color. If you need color in your books or for your diagrams the new Kindle will not work for you.
  5. There is no touchscreen. This is because the touchscreen layer adds glare and reduces readability – It’s a trade-off made to ensure better readability.
  6. New Kindle is for $189 for the 3G model which might be outside your budget.
  7. The new Kindle uses the Kindle Store and Kindle Store books only work on Kindles and Kindle Apps.
  8. You might have a philosophical issue against the use of DRM on Kindle Store books.
  9. There is no SD card slot. The new kindle’s 3GB of memory is a lot but you might want to carry more than 3,500 books or documents that are really big.
  10. The Nook has a LendMe feature that lets you lend out some books (when Publishers allow it) a single time to one friend for 14 days. It’s just once – however, it is a plus. Kindle does not allow this.  

In my opinion the new Kindle more than makes up for these drawbacks with all its improvements – the new kindle page at Amazon discusses most of these and you can also refer to my Kindle 3 Review for an easy to understand list of pros and cons.

New Kindle really benefits from Kindle Store and Kindle ecosystem

A big positive for the new Kindle 3 is that it’s tied to the Kindle Store with its 630,000 books –

  1. More new books than any other ebook store.
  2. Great prices – 510,000 of the 630,000 books are at $9.99 or less.
  3. There are sites that have 1.8 million free public domain books in Kindle Format. These include Internet Archive, Gutenberg, and ManyBooks.
  4. You can download a book as many times as you like. You can download it on up to a maximum of 5 to 6 different devices and read it on all of them at the same time.
  5. Multiple Kindle 3s can be linked to 1 Amazon account and can share books (the ‘one book can be downloaded to a maximum of 5 to 6 different devices’ limitation comes into play again).  
  6. Kindle Store has more magazines, newspapers, and blogs than any other store. Newspapers and Magazines will be delivered wirelessly to your new Kindle each morning.
  7. You can return a Kindle book up to a week after purchase. If you buy a book by mistake there’s an ‘instant return’ button. If you decide later, you can contact Amazon and they refund your purchase up to a week after.

Basically, the Kindle Store goes very well with your new Kindle and lets you make the most of it.

new Kindle – Does it meet your needs?

There are lots of pros and cons to consider –

  1. New Kindle Pros include – Kindle Store, free 3G (Internet and downloads), great eInk screen, solid PDF support, compactness, lightness, focus on reading, simplicity, ease of use, Collections feature, changeable fonts, accessible menus, text to speech feature, 3GB of available memory, up to a month battery life (with wireless off).  
  2. Kindle 3 Cons include – you can’t do ‘more than just read’, no color, no touchscreen, lack of ePub support, no support for library books, no SD card, and no lending of ebooks.

Depending on which eReader qualities you value the most the new kindle is either a spectacular ereader or merely a good one.

In my opinion, the new Kindle is the best eReader currently available. However, whether it’s right for you depends on what you would like from an eReader and it’s worth considering – Does the new Kindle meet your needs? Does the new Kindle 3 meet your needs better than any other eReader?