Sunday, August 10, 2008

Improving Kindle's Lookup Feature

One of the many things I love about the Kindle is that I can quickly look up a word whose meaning I might not know. It doesn't matter what I'm reading (book, magazine, etc.), I press a couple of buttons and get the definition from Kindle's built-in dictionary. What's not to like?

First off, I'd love to see this expanded to offer a Wikipedia lookup option as well. Yes, that requires an Internet connection but why not take advantage of the Whispernet service that already exists on every Kindle? I sometimes turn the wireless switch off to conserve battery life (or because I'm on a plane) but 95% of the time it's on and ready for use. The other reason why Amazon probably didn't include this initially is an agreement with Sprint on the likely amount of data going back and forth over Sprint's wireless system. This feature would increase that load but probably not by much. It would be so great to have one-click access to a Wikipedia lookup within every book, magazine, and newspaper, on the Kindle...heck, if it's really a financial/load issue, maybe Amazon could consider offering it as a paid service for something like $2/month. I'd sign up and pay for this convenience. (Btw, yes, I realize you can get to the Wikipedia on your Kindle. I'm talking about Amazon creating a more effective and direct lookup function within the content, not through the browser.)

Secondly, can the existing dictionary lookup be any slower or awkward? Seriously, the first few times I tried this I thought my Kindle had frozen. And why are we forced to do a lookup on every word in the line when I really only care about one? Amazon, please, can you fix this with a software update so that I can choose the word or phrase I want to look up? As an added bonus, maybe the results will display faster if the device is only looking up one word (instead of the entire line)...

5 comments:

Andy Rathbone said...

While reading, you can look up something on Wikipedia by pushing the Search button and typing:

@wiki foobar

It's not perfect, but it's fairly quick, and much faster than calling up the Kindle's browser.

(The other Search shortcuts are @web and @store.)

Joe Wikert said...

Thanks for the tip, Andy. Now I'll have to see if I can remember that! It sure would be easier if they'd just build this into the menu itself.

Len Edgerly said...

I like the idea of being able to highlight a word and look up just that one--I hope Amazon is listening to your suggestion!

morningglory2 said...

It makes me crazy when the word I want to look up isn't in the dictionary that Kindle uses. More often than not, the results will show me definitions for words like "table", but leaves off the word I'm looking for.

Fat Knowledge said...

Another thing I would like to see is the ability for the word to be spoken out loud so you know how to pronounce it.