Update Kindle software outside US

If you know how to download Kindle books to your Kindle, then it is not difficult to update the Kindle software at all especially you can find the detail instructions in Amazon.com website (after sign into Amazon, select Kindle > Kindle Support > Kindle Software Update).

I upgraded mine but I found that there are one or two steps not the same as in the Amazon page, so here is my version of the steps (some important steps are boldfaced):

  1. First verify your current version with this steps – From your Kindle, click Home Key, Menu Key, select “Settings”, check the version in the bottom status bar. In my case it reads Version: Kindle 2.0 (29133xxxx).
  2. Since we are outside the wireless service area and therefore cannot receive the software update wirelessly, we need to download the latest software to our computer and transfer it to our Kindle via USB.
  3. Before the download, you have to check whether the latest version (2.0.3 as of May 2009) is available to you – as Amazon rolls out the software update to the Kindle users batch by batch. You can check that also from the Software Update page, scroll down and you shall see what software version is available for you to download. If it shows 2.0.2, then it’s not the latest version.
  4. Then in the same page, download the latest software – make sure you pick the Kindle (2nd generation) and the latest version is 2.0.3 (i.e. this is available to your device to upgrade).
  5. Follow the steps as in the Kindle software update page to connect the Kindle, transfer to Kindle, disconnect Kindle etc.
  6. With your Kindle, press the Home Key and then Menu Key, then select “Settings” from the Home menu.
  7. From Settings screen, press Menu Key again, select “Update Your Kindle”. Please note that this menu option will be grayed out if the most recent update has already been installed.
  8. Select “Ok” when prompted if you want to perform an update.
  9. Next you will see system message and progress bar to report the update status. The Kindle will also reboot itself to bring back to the home page.

That is it. Press Home Key, Menu Key and “Settings”, you shall see the latest Kindle version in the status bar … in my case. Version: Kindle 2.0.3 (32761xxxx).

Kindle 2 vs. Kindle DX

As a Kindle 2 owner outside US for just two months, what’s the impact of the new shiny Kindle DX ? Now, here are my takes:

The Good

  1. The new Kindle DX reads PDF files natively – that’s the only reason I will consider to buy the Kindle DX – if I buy one.
  2. The screen auto-rotates the document you’re reading as you turn the device.
  3. The screen is bigger, a lot bigger.
  4. Now the device can store up to 3,500 books and documents.
  5. The keyboard is now better, I think … the Kindle 2 keyboard is really hard to type.

The Bad

  1. The new Kindle DX reads PDF files natively – but of course the PDF file is still a 16 gray document. When was your last time read a black & white PDF document ?
  2. The screen auto-rotates the document you’re reading as you turn the device. Seriously, I don’t think it is good for reading books, especially the menu / next page buttons are now all positioned on top. I think it is good for viewing web page though, since you already get used to view web pages in landscape mode. However, there is no use to me as we cannot use Kindle to surf, outside US.
  3. The bigger screen is good, especially you read lots of full size PDF files, magazines and newspaper. But I don’t need big device because I use my Kindle mainly in subway, buses, planes and cafes. In addition, we cannot subscribe to magazines and newspaper outside US (which needs the Whispernet to download).
  4. Now the device can store up to 3,500 books and documents – but why ? Imagine you need to use the Search function to find your books, from now on.
  5. Somehow, there is no previous / next buttons in the left hand side of the device. If you’re a lefties, hard luck.

The Ugly

  1. I don’t see why I want to pay US$500 for a eBook reader. Assuming there will be another new Kindle in two years, and I can save 10 dollars from every Kindle book … it means I shall read 50 books in two years to pay for the Kindle DX. Don’t think I can do it, really.

What’s your view ?


Registering Kindle 2 from outside US

The short answer to that task is “No, you cannot do that”. And following is the long answer and how I did it a couple of days ago in a trip to US. (See also the Update 1 below)

You cannot register your Kindle 2 (click Settings in Home / Menu) outside US, as it works only wirelessly with Sprint network in US. And even you can hack your Kindle to connect to Internet (without the Sprint network), the built-in GPS in Kindle 2 will reject the registration. In other words, you need to fly to US or ask your friend to take your lovely Kindle 2 to US to do it for you.

But still, without registering your Kindle 2, you still can buy eBooks and read those without any problems.

Anyway, I did register mine in a recent trip to US, and here are the details. I arrived San Francisco airport and I took out my Kindle 2, switched it on, turned on the Whispernet and tried to register.

Surprisingly, the device registered itself (I thought I needed to enter the Amazon membership information). And my Kindle also downloaded the previous sample reading, downloaded Jeff Bezos welcome letter and even whispersync my other book I was reading with my Kindle for iPhone. Freaking brilliant.

Then I started the Kindle shop from within the Kindle 2, searched the book I want (Quiet Strength), clicked Go and bought a book. Within a minute, my Kindle 2 homepage shows the new book. It’s that easy. The only thing I thought it could improve was it should have indicated that the book has been downloaded – as just from the name in the homepage, I could not tell (from user experience point of view) whether the Kindle was downloading a book, or already finished the download. Anyway, I browsed the new book a bit and confirmed all chapters were there.

So, my Kindle 2 is kinda completed all the basics, the next frontier is to hack the Kindle 2. Stay tuned.

Update 1 : If you really want to register your email address, Kindle name etc. to your Kindle – without Whispernet, here is a trick … create a reginfo file and copy it to your Kindle (for expert only though …. I warn you here).

Buy Kindle books from outside US

The Kindle 2 / Kindle 3 is now available for overseas market as well. So please read the following blog post if your country is not covered by the latest scheme, or you want to know more about other Kindle information.

Got your Kindle ? Now time to buy some books.

If you are staying in US, buying Kindle books is easy. Just select your book, click the “Buy Now with 1-click” and Amazon will send the book to your Kindle with Whispernet in a matter of minutes.

However, you need different steps if you are not staying in US. Here is how …

  1. First of all, Amazon will not sell Kindle books unless you have a US address. Therefore, you need to change the billing address of your credit card to a US address (see my blog post on getting a US address for shopping).
  2. Next, buy your Kindle book as usual, click the “Buy Now with 1-click”. Then in your Kindle Management Page, scroll down to the “Your orders and individual charges” section. Find the book you just bought, and change the right most setting to “Download / Send to Computer”. Then you can save the eBook to your computer, and transfer to your Kindle with the USB cable. Simple.

Download eBook

Update 1 : I think I better specify couple more points – First, I use an American Express card and it worked (i.e. I am not sure whether other credit cards work like that or not). Second, I also needed to assign an US address in the 1-click payment method. Hope it helps.

Update 2 : Another possible approach (similar information here) is to use your International credit card to buy an Amazon gift certificate, and then buy eBooks using this gift certificate. Don’t forget to delete your credit card information first from Amazon 1-click payment setting. Hope it helps.

Update 3 : As mentioned in above update, you can buy Kindle books via Amazon Gift Certificate / coupon / card. May be it’s better if I detail the steps here:

  1. Opened a new Amazon account with an US address;
  2. Use your other normal Amazon account to email yourself a gift card;
  3. Use the gift card on your new Amazon account;
  4. Then, your new account has no credit card just a balance from the gift card;
  5. Register your Kindle to your new account, turn on the option one click buying;
  6. Buy a book with one-click with your new account and then download the book you bought to your computer;
  7. Hook up the Kindle to the computer and transfer the downloaded file to the document section of the Kindle;
  8. That is it !!

Update 4 : Looks like since end September, there are problems in buying Kindle books outside US. And that affect both Credit card and Gift coupon purchasing methods. One solution suggested is to use proxy services as looks like Amazon is checking the IP address of the order. You can find more details here for the moment, and I shall report back once I found a workable method to do that.

Update 5 : (2009-10-05) I tried to buy Kindle books with my Credit card method and it failed just like the Gift coupon method. However, since it is related to the check of non-US IP address, I just used Hotspot Shield to hide my IP address and then tried again. And it worked !! So, I guess it works as well for gift coupon method. However, this incident worried me a lot … For those who have not bought the Kindle outside US, please reconsider it before you decide to buy it. You may or may not able to buy Kindle books in future if Amazon enforce some checks again.

Update 6 : The Kindle 2 is now available for overseas market as well. So please read this blog post if your country is not covered by the latest scheme only.

Buy Kindle 2 from outside US

BREAKING (2009-10-07) : The Kindle 2 is now available for overseas market as well. So please read the following blog post if your country is not covered by the latest scheme, or you want to know more about other Kindle information.

Kindle 3 is also now available, go get it !!

So, you want the Kindle 2 but you are not living in US, what can you do ? (Since Amazon.com does not ship the Kindle outside the United States.) You basically have two options, one is ask a friend in the US to buy one and load it up with a lot of books and post it over. The other option is like what I did just 10 days ago (and now I have a Kindle 2 with me already).

  1. Basically, all you need is a Visa credit card and a mobile phone – if you’re staying in Hong Kong, Singapore, Mainland China and Taiwan.
  2. First, go to Onenow.com, get registered … turn on your mobile phone, as they will send your an SMS with the registration verification code. You will then get an USA address. Yes, it’s that simple.
  3. Go ahead to Amazon.com do shopping, the Onenow.com will resize the windows such that you will see the Onenow.com window (with your US address) and the main shopping window (i.e. Amazon.com).
  4. Buy the Kindle 2, and enter the Onenow.com US address as your delivery address. I also picked the standard delivery mode – i.e. 4 to 5 days to any US address and it costed me US$ 8.
  5. Upon finished the purchase, enter the purchase details to Onenow.com to indicate to them there is one shipment going to deliver to the address. They will have a Purchase verification code as an SMS as well.
  6. Later Amazon.com will probably send you information that the products has been shipped. And also Onenow.com will send you an email once they have received a package.
  7. By then you have a choice, indicate Onenow.com that the transaction has been completed or you can wait for other shipments (as many times eShop will split an order to several shipments). If you decided that the transaction has been completed you can click the “complete” button. And then click the “Ship” button to kick start the delivery process – you will need to enter your local delivery address and select delivery mode. I picked the speedier one as it cost only US$ 7 more (US$37).
  8. DHL is the delivery services provider of Onenow.com. Once the package Airway Bill prepared, they will send you the an electronic Proof of Delivery (ePOD) code via SMS and email – i.e. you need to confirm this code when the product arrives your door.

Update 1 : How do you buy Kindle as a gift without it attaches to your Amazon account? If you choose the gift option available in Amazon’s checkout process, the Kindle will not be attached to your Amazon account. The recipient will be able to register the Kindle to his/her Amazon account directly from the device or from the Manage Your Kindle page. If you forgot to choose the gift option, you need to “deregister” your Kindle 2 such that your friend can register it.

Update 2 : If you’re staying in Singapore, Australia, Malaysia or other Asian countries, you can also try VPost instead of Onenow.com. Hope it helps.

Update 3 : Amazon introduced some checks on the IP address to prevent people buying books from outside US from end September 2009. Please check this blog post on how to buy books and bypass the IP address check issue.

Update 4 : The Kindle 2 is now available for overseas market as well. So please read this blog post if your country is not covered by the latest scheme only

Some pictures of my Kindle 2: