Monday, April 18, 2011

Kindle Lessons Learned After a Year Away

I'm glad I jumped back into the Kindle market.  My wifi-only Kindle is getting almost as much use as my iPad.  I recently wrote a post on my iPad blog about lessons learned the first year with that device.  I figured I ought to do something similar covering lessons learned after a year away from the Kindle:

There's nothing wrong with doing only one thing exceptionally well -- I love my iPad, mostly because it's a jack of all trades.  But there's definitely something to be said for a device like the Kindle that pretty much just does one thing but does it extremely well.  (It's still hard admitting this since I jumped ship and did all my long-form reading on my iPad for the past 12 months!)
No free memory indicator -- I'm sure this device has plenty of storage space but I miss the ability to see just how much memory is free.  Unless I'm missing something, there's no way to tell that on the device itself.
No SD slot -- Speaking of memory, would it really have killed anyone to include an SD slot on this model?  It feels very Apple-esque without an option to add memory, particularly since the older Kindles used to support this.
Text-to-speech is a terrific feature -- I didn't have this with my first-gen Kindle and I'm already finding it very useful on my new device.  I'm still amazed there are publishers (and authors) out there who refuse to enable this in their Kindle editions.  Do they really think Kindle edition owners are also running out to buy the audio versions of the same book?  Highly unlikely.
Apps still feel awkward -- I haven't come across a single app that seems compelling enough to buy/install.  I've got dozens on my iPhone and iPad but can't find any that look appealing for the Kindle.  Are there any worth trying out?
The dictionary is even more awkward -- Here's where not having a touch-screen is a huge drawback.  The Kindle app for iPad spoiled me by letting me simply touch the word I want to look up.  The Kindle device makes it more of a challenge where you have to press the up button for every line, then the right button for every word till you get to the word you're looking for.  Ugh.
Experimental seems to have stalled out --  One year and two generations later and yet the "Experimental" screen looks the same as it ever has.  I really wish Amazon would use the R&D potential of this area and start adding some cool options. 


Anonymous said...

To see free memory, press menu on the home screen. It will appear at the upper left. The experimental browser is improved, but still not a super useful browser. said...

Free space: On the Kindle DXG you just press the menu button, when you are on the home-screen. The amount of free space will be shown in the upper left corner.

Lack of SD slot: that’s something what is bothering me too, but in conjunction with google docs, dropbox etc. for example, you can easily extend your memory up to terra bytes, due to the capability of free internet access.

Dictionary: with the larger display of the DX this is even worse, but, if the word is in the lower right corner of the display e.g. just press the cursor up key and the cursor left key, so the way you have to move can be shortened a lot since the cursor will jump from top to bottom and so on. Needs some time to get used to it, but after a while you will do this automatically without spending any thoughts about it.
I still prefer the awkwardness over a screen full of finger prints and scratches, even though it’s still not as comfortable as a simple touch.

Andrys Basten said...

Welcome back to the world of the wee, light, bright K3, Joe!
The clarity amazes me everytime I pick it up. (I also have a NookColor for color magazines (great) and for fast color web-browsing -- but not for long-session reading of sequential words as in a novel.)

Others have mentioned pressing Menu to see your storage space and time. Also, you can get the real page number if the Kindle ebook has been matched by Amazon to a specific ASIN# print book.

Since you left, they added "Collections" (tags posing as folders) and a few other things, such as posting highlights and notes to Facebook and Twitter, to friends, if you want. Works really well.

And you can get a quick look at how Collections-feature works from a user's point of view, at

Collections, I'm pretty sure, are the real reason for no SD card. Having one causes all kinds of consternation on the NookColor board where people wonder why books put on the card don't stay in their shelves.

The Kindle 1 saw all kinds of problems caused with the SD card: some incompatability causing freezes (not infrequent), one card having these books, another card having those books, and Amazon trying to to keep track of what you do have for indexing and sync'g, so that was a bit of a nightmare because the cards are in and out, with different books viewed in various sessions.

I haven't missed the add'l space, since the K3 has enough for me with several encyclopedias for reference at any time and LOTs of books and periodicals also.

Essentially text, most books don't take up much room.