Tag Archives: eReader

Don’t Want No Nekkid Kindle

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Actually, this title is a bit misleading. Reading with the Kindle 3 au naturel is a very comfortable and pleasant way to read. The weight and size of the Kindle 3 make it quite easy to read one-handed, even while lying down. Given the choice, I probably prefer reading on the Kindle without a cover. However, I’m a bit protective of my gadgets and I try to keep them in good shape. Our iPod Touches all have BodyGuardz or Invisible Shields (my BlackBerry was in service for three years and fell off a moving car once–when I retired it for the iPhone 4, it was still in immaculate condition thanks to the BodyGuardz cover).

So, despite enjoying the Kindle in its native state, I decided I wanted to be more careful with it. It can take days to go through all the available accessories on Amazon and it is a bit overwhelming/frustrating. The variety of styles, colors, and materials borders on mind-numbing. After hours of looking through page after page and reading scores of reviews, I concluded that a light would be useful. I looked at the Mighty Bright, the M-Edge e-Luminator, and the Kandle but didn’t want ANOTHER thing to carry around. A case that had a light and would protect my precious Kindle while it’s stuffed in my computer bag seemed like the best alternative.

Apparently, I’m cheap about accessories because the thought of dishing out $60 for a case to protect a $139 device really chapped my a$$. But, the thought of tossing a naked Kindle into my computer bag and then jamming it into an airplane cargo bin is just too frightening. Since Target carries the Amazon case, I decided to get it there so I could return it if I didn’t like it.

The case has a nice pebbled leather exterior with an elastic strap to hold it shut, a groove for the strap, and a leather tab on the strap to make it easier to grab. Although I’m a little concerned about the strap losing its tension, so far so good. When you fold the cover back, the strap can be used to hold it tight against the back of the Kindle, making it a little more convenient to hold. The inside of the cover has a soft microfiber that will certainly help protect against scratches. The interior spine has two metal tabs that are used to lock the Kindle into the case and to provide power for the light. Because I’m concerned about those metal tabs beginning to carve out the soft plastic of the Kindle, I leave the Kindle in the cover all the time. It’s a little disappointing but reading with the cover on makes it feel more like a book.

The light pulls out from the upper right corner of the back. It has a plastic edge that can be a little tricky to grab with your thumb but it’s not too bad. The light consists of three LED’s that shine onto the front of the Kindle. The light degrades a bit as you move down the page but even the bottom is bright enough for me to read. There are a number of things about this case that make it very nice:

  • The LED’s illuminate the front of the Kindle but that’s about it. If you read in bed and aren’t sleeping alone, your partner will hardly even notice it.
  • The light is powered by the Kindle battery, so there is no issue with remembering to charge something else.
  • Because it’s powered by the Kindle battery, if you fall asleep while reading, the light will go off when the Kindle goes into sleep mode.

So far, using the light for 5-6 hours/week hasn’t put an appreciable dent in the battery life.

If you’re in the market for a case and would like the benefit of an integrated light, there isn’t much competition for the Amazon cover with light. It’s a high quality case and the pull out light is extremely convenient without being a battery killer. Check it out.

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Kindle for Mac

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For the less technically inclined, this may come as a bit of a shock: the Kindle for Mac screen looks much bigger (on a 24” iMac) than it does on a Touch. I know, that’s what you pay me for, right? Proof again that you get what you pay for.

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The main screen gives you several options:

  • Look at the very sexy Home screen
  • Look at the books you’ve already downloaded (by clicking on Archived Items)
  • Synch up
  • Shop the Kindle store

OK, I lied on the last one. It says Shop in Kindle Store. What it really means is: launch your browser and point it to Amazon so you can shop the Kindle store. Ultimately it’s the same thing but I expected to be taken to the store within the app. Since jamming my iMac into a carry-on bag for flying has proven to be problematic, I haven’t really missed the WhisperNet connection that comes with the Kindle hardware. Also, since that’s already the process I use to get books onto my Touch, it was a comfortable non-transition.

When you switch to the Archived Items screen, you’ll see any books that you’ve already purchased/downloaded. Right-click on a book and you will get three options:

  • Go to Last Page Read
  • Go to Beginning
  • Add to Home

Aha! OK, so you don’t have to just stare at the naked home page. You get the chance to touch it up a bit. Doing so moves the book from Archived Items to Home. As a point of interest, opening a book from the Archived Items screen also moves it to Home. When a book is located in Home, you have additional options after right-clicking. Here is what you can do:

  • Go to Last Page Read
  • Go to Beginning
  • Go to Location…
  • Table of Contents (if the book has one)
  • Go to Cover
  • My Notes & Marks
  • Remove from Device

It has been proven, probably scientifically but I don’t have time to find the white paper, that having Kindle app on your iPhone or Touch allows you to take advantage of down time. I’ve probably read six or seven books on the Touch by doing just that. While sitting and waiting for an oil change, I read a huge chunk of a book. Of course, that’s because they had forgotten about my car and I sat there for a long-ass time but you get the point. The point that I’m finally getting to is that the one thing I really don’t like about reading on a small device (at least with Kindle app) is the concept of locations. It doesn’t translate to anything for me. Zip. Zilch. Nada. It doesn’t give me a sense for where I am in the book at all and it isn’t something I memorize. So, option three (Go to Location for those with the inability to look up a few lines) is worthless to me. However, since the app remembers where I left off, I guess I can just ignore that option.

Once you open the book, you see the expected screen:

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As you can see, you can go Home. You can go back. You can Bookmark a “page.” You can change the size of the font. You can click to the left or right edge of the page to turn it. You can also use your scroll wheel or the arrows on your keyboard to turn the page. I can confidently tell you that 10 minutes of putting fingerprints all over my screen convinced me that you cannot swipe to turn the page. I don’t know if the swipe gestures on a touchpad will turn the page or not. If you notice the upper right corner, there is an annotation option. Hitting the Show Notes & Marks button opens a column to the right that lets you view any annotations. You can look at everything, at highlighted items only, at notes only, or at bookmarks only. Hey, cool! So I can annotate books on my Mac! Slow down, pardner. No es posible. In fact, there are a host of things that you cannot do within the beta. Here is the dirt from the Amazon help site:

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Bummer.

Down at the bottom of the screen, you’ll also see this bar:
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So, I lied again. This one does tell you how far along you are in the book. It uses a handy percentage as well as a darker grey indicator to show progress. It also tells you the “locations” (gag) currently displayed, as well as (I assume) the total number of locations in the book. Finally, you can resize the screen to any size you want. Guess what that does to “location?” Changes everything… For all you young whipper snappers who have never picked up a book other than to squash a nearby bug, this probably isn’t a big deal. As you might have noticed, this drives me crazy. I like pages. I like to know page numbers. I like to know which page a chapter starts on. But I digress…If you miss your iPhone, you can resize the screen to be exactly the same size as your iPhone screen. This allows you to avoid giving your iPhone “big screen envy,” which is something I sometimes get when I look at the 27” iMac. The problem is (or maybe not), once you resize the screen, it remembers it. There is no default size to reset to. Unless you’re anal retentive about books like I am, this is probably a non-issue.

OK, hold on! A very good friend has pointed out that I don’t know what I’m talking about and the Kindle for iPhone app DOES include a progress bar of sorts. He’s quite correct, of course. Look below to see what it looks like on the Touch.

Thanks Ray!!!

Thanks Ray!!!!!

You can change the size of the font but I did not find an option to change the font. You can also re-synch to the furthest page read. That could be handy.

The bottom line is that this app seems to function well enough. It gives you more real estate if you’re tired of squinting at your iPhone. It synchs up with your iPhone so that all hardware knows where you left off. The features that are still missing may mean more to you than me. I’ve probably highlighted a few times but it isn’t something meaningful to me. Graphics certainly look better here than on an iPhone or Touch but you’re still dealing with the same source material so I doubt you’re going to get a lot of sexy color shots. If you buy books from Amazon, this provides a nice alternative for reading those books. For books with a fair amount of graphics, this might be your preferred option. Personally, I don’t know how much I’ll use it because my DRM books were purchased specifically as reading material for those small (or large…thanks a lot, Toyota…) snippets of time where all I have handy are the BlackBerry and the Touch. YMMV.


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