What’s New in the Kindle 3?

September 30, 2010

New Amazon Kindle 3 Wifi Wireless

Everyone’s excited about Amazon’s new Kindle 3. It’s smaller, lighter, and cheaper, and its battery seems to last forever. (According to Amazon, it runs without a recharge for up to a month if you turn off the wireless receiver.)

But what’s new about it? What can you actually do with a Kindle 3 that you couldn’t do before? Here’s a handy list.

1. The new Kindle feels different. Not only is it lighter and thinner. It’s now got a textured back which Amazon describes as “soft touch”.

2. There’s a new screen, which Amazon boasts offers a “50% better contrast.”

3. There’s been several changes to the font menu. There’s now eight font sizes to choose from — more than the six that were available on the original Kindle — but now there’s even a choice of font styles, according to Amazon’s Kindle page. (There’s “our standard Caecilia font, a condensed version of Caecilia, and a sans serif option.”) The new Kindle even supports different kinds of letters. It can now display Cyrillic (Russian) characters, as well as Japanese, Korean, and Chinese characters (both traditional and simplified) — along with Latin and Greek script.

4. Amazon claims the new pages display 20% faster.

5. The newest font menu also lets you change the line spacing — small, medium, or large. (Though last month the “KindleLove” blog reported this was also available as a special hidden feature on the Kindle 2. Just type a number between 1 and 9 while holding down both the Shift and Alt keys!)

5. The web browser has been improved on the Kindle 3, and now includes a special capability called “Article Mode,” according to Wired News. Complicated web pages with lots of graphics can be simplified, so that “Instantly the web page will be laid out in an easy-to-read text column…”

6. Amazon beefed up the PDF reader, and its native support even lets you zoom in (up to 300%) and then pan across the page. It’s also possible to adjust the contrast on PDF files, with five settings from “lightest” to “darkest”. And of course, there’s an easy way to convert your PDF files into the native Kindle format (which then allows you to change font sizes using the Kindle’s menus, or use other Kindle features like text-to-speech or annotation). Just e-mail the PDF to your Kindle e-mail address with the word “convert” as the subject line.

7. Text-to-speech capability has been added to the menus. It’s always been fun using Amazon’s text-to-speech features, but they only worked for the actual ebooks, and not when when trying to navigate around the Kindle. This got Amazon in trouble with the Department of Justice, which worried that the Kindle wasn’t fully accessible to blind students who might want to use the Kindle at a university. Fortunately, the Kindle 3 now extends its text-to-speech features to the navigation menus. (This “Voice Guide” feature is located on page two of the “Settings” page.)

8. There’s now password protection. If James Bond lost his Kindle in the desert, would his enemies be able to read all his ebooks? Not if he was using a Kindle 3, since it’s now possible to “lock” a Kindle with your own personal password. This is more important than it seems, since many people also carry personal files on their Kindle – so it’s possible that a Kindle could be storing documents that are highly confidential.

Finally, a blog called “Kindle Minds” offers another tip that changes the sorting on the home page. He’d wanted his collections to appear at the top of the home page, before all of the individual books. To accomplish this, he re-named every collection so they started with a high-priority character — like ~ or the number 0 or a hyphen.

“Now my collections sort to the top again,” he wrote, “and life is good… now I’m using the hyphen plus a space, which gives them a sort of bullet-list look.”

Click here for Amazon’s page about the new Kindle 3

Or click here to buy Kindle Shortcuts, Hidden Features, Kindle-Friendly Websites, Free eBooks & Email From Kindle: Concise User Guide


I didn’t know this was possible, but Google offers an interactive map of the world which shows the location of other Kindle users. Sort of…

A computer consultant in Croatia created the “Kindler’s Pincushion,” a collaborative version of Google Maps where other Kindle users can add a blue pin to show where they’re located. Nearly 600 proud Kindle owners have come forward so far, some adding funny extra comments.

      “A five-Kindle family!”
      “love mysteries and chocolate cake.”
      “Me and my Kindle and my cat live here!”
      “Tengo un Kindle DX”

The fun began in January of 2010, when a young man named Dragi Raos entered Amazon’s Kindle forum and announced his project’s humble beginning. (“We have four pins on three continents…”) But soon other Kindle owners had caught his enthusiasm, and were leaving comments of support.

      “First Dane on the map!”
      “Kansas on the map now.”
      “It will be fun to watch the pins overtake the world…!”

There’s now pushpins marking Kindle owners in Europe and Australia, as well Africa, Asia, and both North and South America. There’s pushpins in Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, and Canada, as well as Alaska, Hawaii, and most of the states in America. I even recognized the names of two of the Kindle users — Bufo Calvin and Mrs. Wizard — who are both authors of blogs about the Kindle. “It’s a fun visual,” Calvin wrote when the project was announced, “and you can add your own pin!”

Ironically, I can’t view the map on my Kindle! (I’m still using my original Kindle 1, and it’s always had trouble with Google Maps.) To test it, I converted its complicated web URL into an “alias” that was easier to type — http://tinyurl.com/kindlemap. Fortunately, that URL is also easier to remember, if you want to test the “Kindler’s Pincushion” in a PC-based web browser. If you’ve set up a “Google Account,” you can even log into the map as an editor.

And then you can even add in a pincushion for your own location — along with your own funny comments!

Number five on a billiards ball
I went looking for more Kindle tips and tricks — and discovered the mother lode. When the Kindle was first released, a hacker named Igor Skochinsky poked around through the Kindle’s hardware, and discovered some undocumented features. For example, he posted instructions on how to create a book on your home page which is actually a set of your favorite pictures. (When you e-mail pictures to your Kindle, each picture appears as a separate ebook, but Skochinsky appears to have found an unsupported way to pull up a special “Picture Viewer,” which can also re-size pictures to fit the Kindle screen, adjust their dithering, and even select one of them as the Kindle’s screen saver.)

Confession: I didn’t actually try that tip, because I was afraid it might void my Kindle’s warranty. But I can pass along five of the other tricks which worked great on my Kindle 1.


1. Automatic Page-Turning with “Slideshow” Mode

You can teach your Kindle to turn the pages for you! When you’re reading an ebook, just press Alt-0 to “enable” the special slideshow mode. Then pressing Alt-1 will start the automatic page-turning — and Alt-2 will stop it. It seems to have only one speed, but it’s easy to keep up with if you increase your text’s font size, which reduces the number of words on each page. And pressing Alt-0 again will “toggle off” this special functionality.

“Slideshow mode” can also be used like one of those educational tools that they use to teach speed readers to read faster…

2. Display the Current Time

If you’re reading an ebook, pressing Alt-T will actually spell out the current time, in letters, in the lower-left corner of the screen (where the Kindle usually displays your current location in the ebook).

If you’re on your Kindle’s home page, pressing Alt-T will display the current time, in numbers, in the same lower-left corner.

And entering @time as a search will also display the complete time, including the month and day!

3. Switch to a Different Song

If you’re playing an mp3, pressing Alt-P will stop (and re-start) the Kindle’s music player. But if you want to continue playing music, and just switch over to a different song, then press Alt-F to go Forward to the next song in your Kindle directory.

4. Find Out How Many Hours You’ve Used Your Kindle

On a phone you’d dial 411 to call information. On the “Settings,” screen, you type 411 to get information about your Kindle. It’s a diagnostics page, with mostly cryptic technical information like “Kindle Version: Linux version 2.6.10-lab126.”

But it’s kind of fun to see your Kindle’s “awake time” and “sleep time” statistics.

5. Find Nearby Restaurants on Google Maps

If you’re using the web browser, try typing Alt-3. This automatically brings up Google Maps with a page listing restaurants near your current location. (And Alt-2 brings up nearby gas stations, while Alt-1 shows your current location.)

Note: I’ve had some erratic results using this feature. It seems like now, Google simply displays “Not Avail, Not Avail” for my city and state — and then performs the search using the last city that I’d accessed through Google Maps. But that’s still a pretty handy feature….

Click here for an earlier article, My 10 Best Kindle Tips and Tricks.

Or click here to buy Kindle Shortcuts, Hidden Features, Kindle-Friendly Websites, Free eBooks & Email From Kindle: Concise User Guide

The Count of Monte Cristo original illustration
My girlfriend just finished reading a massive novel on the Kindle, and wanted to share what she’d learned from the experience.

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So a couple of weeks ago I mentioned reading The Count of Monte Cristo at a tender young age, and then there, before my eyes, in the Kindle Top 100 Free section, is the book itself! I remembered the basic plot line. A young man with a bright future gets taken down by jealousy and political maneuvering. He plots his revenge against the three men who caused his torturous imprisonment, then returns incognito as a count, wealthy beyond all imagining (how convenient).

I wondered if I would have a richer reading experience now that I’m a adult. Boy! The things I missed the first time around.

And the things I learned reading this book on the Kindle…

This is a two-part post; this week I’ll talk about the things I learned using the Kindle. Later, I’ll talk about the book itself and the surprise lesbian storyline. (She’s the daughter of one of the bad guys…. But I digress).

The first thing I learned is that The Count of Monte Cristo is llllloooooonnnnnnggggg. Like a-real-novel-that-you-check-out-of-the-library long. The end came at location 24681. (The Malacca Conspiracy, the free action thriller I reviewed here previously, is 6554 locations and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is 4274 locations by comparison). Obviously back in 1844, when the book was written there was no TV, no radio, no electric lights, and no Wii — so there was lots of time to read a good book. The novel as an art form was still pretty new at that time and Dumas is a master of the craft. The book moved along briskly, and kept me intrigued at every step.

I found the “Locations” tracking at the bottom of our original Kindle’s screen, in the dark gray area, to the left of the Menu button and the battery life and signal strength indicators. (As you probably already know, the numbers change as you read, allowing you to track where you are in the book.) But the trick is playing with the line directly above that gray bar — the one with all the dots. If you move your cursor one click above the Menu button, it’s placed directly across from this line of dots. When you press the scroll button, the bar highlights and you see little boxes with numbers. These are almost like the chapters in a printed book, and allow you to move through the book without using the “Go To Location” function on the Menu screen.

The next thing I learned is that I’m completely addicted to the Lookup Function! I yearned for this capability while I was growing up, reading voraciously. (You can even use Lookup if you don’t know what “voraciously” means — sooooo easy!). I knew that when I ran across a word I didn’t know, I should get up, go get the dictionary to find its meaning, and fully understand the novelist’s intention. Did I do this? Hardly ever. Yet, now, at my fingertips, I have that ability — and I rejoice!

However, there are two important caveats. The first caveat is that the Kindle doesn’t always provide definitions for foreign phrases or words. For example, “rouleau” was defined, but several other words of French origin were not. Being as Dumas wrote in French, this was a slight drawback for me with this specific novel. Still, it was a fun gamble using the Look Up feature during reading The Count of Monte Cristo. My other caveat is the Lookup Function provides you with every single word in the sentence. Every. Single. Word. I want to Look Up “rouleau” and get the definitions for “eye,” “hundred,” “hand,” and “rose” as well.

The third thing is I became adept as using the Highlight feature (just below LookUp on the menu that pops up when you scroll to a specific row. And you can use the same technique to add a note to yourself just by picking “Add Note” instead of “Add Highlight.”) Magic, indeed, to a reader who spent years thumbing through books looking for favorite passages!

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We love my Kindle, and she loved The Count of Monte Cristo. Click here to read it as a free ebook!

10 Kindle Tips and Tricks
This week I’ve been writing more about my favorite authors — instead of about the Kindle itself. So here’s the 10 best tricks I’ve learned so far for enjoying the Kindle…


MY FAVORITE TIPS


1. Instantly Clear a Note or Search

I discovered this tip by accident. If you hold down the Alt key while hitting the backspace button, your Kindle automatically erases everything you’ve typed into a note or search field!

And it’s also possible to simply change the cursor’s position. (I discovered this while playing Minesweeper on the Kindle, which uses similar navigation keys.) Typing Alt-H will always move your cursor back one space, positioning you to backspace over characters that you’ve already typed earlier (or to insert new letters). Typing Alt-J then moves your cursor forward, if you want to return towards the end of the line.

2. Justify Your Kindle’s Text

This appears to be a hidden feature on the original Kindle 1 that was secretly added into the Kindle’s font menu. Press the font key, and the Kindle displays its usual six choices for your font size. But if you then type the letter J, the Kindle suddenly presents you with two more choices. There’s “Full Justification” and “Left Justification,” and it dramatically changes the way your ebooks will look!

3. Skim Faster

On the original Kindle, holding down the Alt Key while pressing the “Next Page” or “Previous Page” bar also lets you skip forward much more quickly, jumping past several pages each time you press the key.

 
4. View Your Own Photos on the Kindle

I only recently discovered you can send your own pictures to your Kindle. The file name appears as a separate entry among the ebook titles on your home page. (Just click on the file name, and that picture magically appears!) The pictures are displayed in black-and-white, of course, but it’s still fun to see a familiar image that’s all your own.

Amazon can support almost every format for image files, including .gif, .png., .bmp, .jpeg, and .jpg.The secret is e-mailing the image to your Kindle’s e-mail address, as an attachment. (If you’ve never done this before, just remember that your Kindle’s e-mail address appears on Amazon’s “Manage Your Kindle” page, which has a URL that’s very easy to remember.)

               Amazon.com/manageyourkindle

On my original Kindle, I also finally discovered that it was possible to zoom in on any image. Using the scrollbar, I could always scroll up and click to “select” an image — which would expand it to fill the entire screen!


FUN ON YOUR HOME PAGE


5. Skip Instantly To a Different Page of Titles

I’ve always been jealous of people who could jump to a title by typing its first letter. (This is only possible if you’ve sorted your titles alphabetically, which allows skipping instantly through the list to arrive at “the first item that begins with that letter”.)

But it turns out there’s also a skipping trick for people who haven’t sorted their titles alphabetically. Even if your titles are sorted by Author (or by which title is “Most Recently Read”), it’s still possible to skip quickly from one page of titles to the next. Type in the number of your desired page of titles, and the Home Page will automatically refresh to display the titles appearing on that page!

6. Only Show Periodicals and Blogs

This is handy if you’re one of those people who’s actually reading lots of magazines or blogs on your Kindle. The “Show and Sort” menu at the top of the home page will let you zoom in to a smaller listing that shows just your books (without blogs and magazines cluttering up the list) — or, to show only the periodicals and blogs, without clogging the listings with books!

7. View Your Own Documents On Your Kindle

Besides pictures, it’s also possible to send text documents to your Kindle. (It’s something I didn’t even think about for several months, because I was so excited to be reading digital ebooks!) But Amazon’s “approved file types” for e-mailing include all the basic file formats for documents, including Microsoft Word’s .doc format and .rtf , as well as .html and .htm, and recently, even .pdf

8. See Your Reading Progress on the Home Page

Here’s something I didn’t know until I read the Kindle User’s Guide. I actually thought Amazon was just displaying a decorative dotted line below the titles of my books — until I realized it was those heavy dots at the beginning of the line that were indicating how much of the book I’d read! (“Your place in the book is indicated by the progress indicator beneath the book title,” Amazon explains in the user’s guide…)


GETTING WHAT YOU WANT


9. Edit Your Highlights

I’d always get annoyed when I’d try to highlight a single sentence, and Amazon insisted on including a few words from the previous sentence, or the sentence that came after it. But after syncing the Kindle to my PC, I realized Amazon stored them all in a single text file called “My Clippings” in the “Documents” folder. All I had to do was pull them up in a text editor, and I could chop out the extraneous words!

When highlighting a clipping, you can also highlight more words on a single page — just by selecting a smaller font size!

10. Searching Has Shortcuts

By default Amazon searches through the documents on your Kindle, and also offers to run a search on the same words in its Kindle store. But if you prefix your search with special codewords, Amazon will conduct the search in a different location. @store searches the Kindle store, while @web runs the search words through Google. But the most useful code is probably @wiki, which will automatically take you to your search term’s page on Wikipedia!

UPDATE: It turns out I’m now Google’s #1 match for the phrase “Kindle tips and Tricks”. So be sure to click here for “Five MORE of My Best Kindle Tips and Tricks.”

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