All new Kindles – Kindle 4th Generation, Touch, Touch 3G and Fire

Guess you know all about the new Kindles from the search engines, technical blogs etc. But what you probably don’t know are the impacts to you – if you’re a Kindle 2 / 3 owners, iPad owners or not living in USA. OK, here you go:

Your Kindle 3 is now named Kindle Keyboard or Kindle Keyboard 3G. The new prices are US$ 99 and US$ 139 (with sponsored screensavers) … but they are still selling at US$ 139, and US$ 189 for non-USA customers.

The Kindle 4 is now just called Kindle. This is a basically keyboard-less Kindle 3 but with only 2G of RAM (Kindle Keyboard has 4G RAM). It costs only US$ 79, but US$ 109 for non-USA customers. It’s also 30% lighter, 18% smaller and supports WiFi only. It supports six languages now – English (US and UK), German, French, Spanish, Italian, or Brazilian Portuguese. Since the Kindle now doesn’t have a physical keyboard (and the next / previous page buttons are very “low profile”), but at the same time it is not a device with touch screen – you need to use the non-QWERTY virtual keyboard and use direction keys to “type”.


And what about the new Kindle Touch

The Kindle Touch is 8% lighter, 11% smaller than Kindle 3 and of course with a 6″ touch screen to turn pages (it’s called “EasyReach”). There are also one new feature – X-Ray. According to Amazon, this feature “Explores the bones of a book. With a single tap, see all the passages across a book that mention ideas, fictional characters, historical figures, places or topics of interest, as well as more detailed descriptions from Wikipedia and Shelfari.” Yes, don’t really know what it is … I think we have to see it to believe it.

Another significant feature is the new Kindle Touch now support the display of non-Latin characters, including Cyrillic (such as Russian), Japanese, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), and Korean characters, in addition to Latin and Greek scripts.

The Touch has a Wi-Fi version (US$ 99 with special offers) and a Wi-Fi / 3G version (US$149 with special offers). But guess what ? It is available for U.S. only. Looks like I need to use the tricky method to get it.

Kindle Fire

Lastly, the really cool Andriod-based, colorful, dual-core processor Kindle Fire. Cost only US$ 199 and (also) available in U.S. only, it is really the cloud-enabled device. It includes a cloud-accelerated browser – Amazon Silk, free cloud storage, streaming of songs and videos. In addition, similar to Amazon’s Whispersync technology to automatically sync your library, last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across your devices. On Kindle Fire, Whispersync extends to video. Start streaming a movie on Kindle Fire, then pick up right where you left off on your TV – avoid the frustration of having to find your spot. Not a new technology but it sounds like really easy and as smooth as silk.

iPad-like screen, 100,000 movies and TV titles, runs Android apps, free cloud services, 17 million songs … hey, it is really as good as iPad and a great tablet.

So which one will you get ? I will probably go for Kindle Fire.

(Check out other Kindle related posts for evaluations, tips and tricks)

Kindle Cloud Reader review

Before I shamelessly promote myself as a big fan of Kindle Apps, I better tell you that I am also a big fan of Kindle eBook reader. I really love the Kindle Apps as it works very well in tablets like iPad (I think people just use the term “iPad” instead of tablet anyway). Therefore when I know Amazon released the Kindle Cloud Reader, I have to review it …I set up the Cloud Reader without any problem, but it’s not that intuitive to set up your library for offline reading … anyway, here is the full details (with photos by the end of that blog post) of that new offering from Amazon.

  1. First of all, go to the homepage of Kindle Cloud Reader. Click the “Sign in to get started”, then sign in with your Amazon account credential in the next screen. That step will then kick start the Kindle Cloud Reader web application, and show you all the eBooks you have purchased for your Kindle.
  2. Next step is to increase the local database storage size (up to 50 MBytes) so that the application can save your books to your iPad (or other devices) for offline reading. And here is the tricky part, the application will also try to save the apps for offline use, and you will see that message “Saving app for offline use” in the bottom of the screen.
  3. In many cases, that step will return an error message stating “Error saving app. Tap here to try again“. If you encounter this, go to your iPad setting page and clear the cache of Safari and repeat the steps above again. The saving shall then be successful.
  4. Then add the apps to home screen. Change name to whatever you like and add to home screen
  5. Other than the Book grid view, you can also see the Book list view. You can toggle the views from the lower right corner selection buttons.
  6. Same as the Kindle for iPad apps, you can change the settings like font size, color mode.
  7. Click any book and you can start reading, and it works pretty much like Kindle for iPads.
  8. Now, try exit the apps and start the cloud reader again.
  9. If you have not saved the app for offline use successfully (see step 2 and 3 above), you will be greeted with that error message “Cloud Reader could not be opened because it is not connected to the internet“.
  10. To really read the books offline, you need to press and hold any book cover in your library, then select “Download & Pin Book.”
  11. After the download, you will see the books are “Pinned” with a green color pin icon underneath the downloaded book and ready for offline reading !!
  12. And lastly, there is the Kindle shop such that you can buy books directly within the web apps (if you’re online).

After all these set up, you can read the book as any Kindle apps … with three exceptions:

  • You cannot currently create new notes and highlights using Kindle Cloud Reader – but notes and highlights you create while reading the book on your Kindle or another Kindle app will be displayed.
  • There is no built-in dictionary (I missed it a lot !!).
  • It still feels a bit slower than Kindle reader and Kindle apps.

Hope you find this review useful !!

Why is it not US$ 99 ?

About 10 days ago, Amazon announced a new version of Kindle 3 – the same look, the same specification but US$ 25 cheaper (i.e. the new low price is US$ 114). But there is one catch – you can buy one at this low price as long as you allow Amazon to place “Special Offers” (read “Ad”) on to your Kindle.

When I scanned this news, several questions popped up in my mind …

  1. How this going to work ? If I bought this Kindle and never turn on the WiFi / 3G, how can they download the “Special offers” to my eReader ? So is it mean I can enjoy a new device with low low price without any Ads ?
  2. When will the price slashing stop ? I bought my Kindle 2 over US$ 300 two years ago and now you can get a brand new Kindle 3 for one third of the price.
  3. Why is it not US$ 99 ? I mean the psychological barrier is US$ 100, so why not another 15 dollars cut ? My view is there may be another wave of price cut in near future (say, after summer holiday).
  4. When will the next Kindle (if there is one) be announced ? The current pricing strategy makes me think that a new model will arrive very soon – may be one with color screen ?

I have no good answers … but looks like at this price point, every book lover shall get one.

Close encounters of the third kind

According to the Hynek’s scale, first encounter is an event about sighting one or more unidentified flying objects (UFOs). And in my case, I encountered an unidentified computing objects (UCOs, i.e. computers) 30 years ago and it’s unidentified because those computers are housed in a large room, behind a thick wall and we could use it only through an “operator window” and with a deck of punch-cards.

Then for the second encounter – it’s an observation of UFOs, associated with physical effects like heat, interference with TV / radio reception and lost time. So obviously, my second encounter of computers were the desktop (in mid 1980s) and laptop computers (early 1990s). I could feel the heats, noises generated from the computers and of course I lost thousands of hours with these devices.

Fast forward to year 2011, third encounter is about some “intelligent communication” with “extraterrestrials” and “aliens”. I guess it is pretty clear, the smartphones, eBook readers and tablet computers are aliens to many and those all require intelligent communications if one wants to master one of these.

So, what’s the latest aliens ? It’s the iPad 2 … thinner, lighter, faster, last longer than the original iPad, and it even come in white color. But how is it compare to Kindle as a reading device ? In my view, iPad 2 is the best all-purpose tablet device in the market. It is so good that you will spend all the time (i.e. lost more hours) with the wonderful apps from the iTunes store, and therefore … you won’t spend quality time at all to READ.

So … for book reading, go for Kindle, no matter you like to read it under bright sun or not.

Kindle vs iPad 2

Kindle 3, iPad 2, I want 1

Actually I want both, as “I think” I need both.

The new iPad 2 certainly is great as a mobile device to consume contents – it’s now faster, thinner, lighter, with two cameras and looks even better. While other companies think tablets are only an extension to their computers and TVs, Apple has turned it around to make computers and TVs extensions to the iPad 2. The new Video Mirroring feature (with the Digital AV Adapter) is a good proof.

Now with this new gadget, everyone sees what’s on your iPad 2 — even when you rotate iPad from portrait to landscape or zoom in and out on photos.

The obvious new thing, however, is not the hardware but the Smart Cover. It makes iPad do things no other cover can. Close it, and iPad automatically goes to sleep. Open it, and iPad instantly wakes up — no need to press any buttons. Wow !!

So, why I still want both mobile devices ? It is because Kindle 3 is still lighter – 247 grams vs. 613 grams. And Kindle 3 is still easier to read under bright sunlight. And with one single charge, Kindle 3 can run up to 4 weeks, while iPad 2 can last 10 hours.

Would you buy both of these gadgets ? Let me know …