Kindle 2 firmware update to read PDF files

Amazon released the latest firmware update (version 2.3) for Kindle yesterday (2009-November-24), and couple of new features are extremely important and exciting for Kindle 2 users. Here are the details as well as the steps, findings.

New firmware features for Kindle 2

  1. Longer battery life for Kindle (International version): You can now read for up to 1 week on a single charge with wireless on. Turn wireless off and read for up to 2 weeks (i.e .the same as before).
  2. Built-in PDF reader: Your Kindle can now display PDF documents without losing the formatting of the original file (it works but not all files, see below).
  3. Manual screen rotation: The Kindle screen can now manually rotate between portrait and landscape views so you can see the entire width of a web page or magnify the page of a PDF file. The page-turn buttons work the same in either orientation, and the 5-way controller movements are switched to match the orientation. (See more below)
  4. Option to convert PDF files to Kindle format. If you prefer to have your personal PDF documents converted to the Kindle format (so that they can reflow), type “Convert” in the subject of the e-mail when you submit your personal document to your @kindle.com address. (I don’t see any difference on the Convert feature, but will test more)

Upgrade your Kindle 2 firmware, wirelessly

  1. First of all, some preparations – make sure you have a fully charged Kindle 2, unless your Kindle 2 is connecting to your computer. Check the current version of the firmware (go to “Home”, press “Menu”, select “Settings” and check the bottom of the page). If the version number is 2.2 or lower, you shall upgrade to the latest version to enjoy the new features.
  2. If you want to apply the new firmware manually (e.g. you don’t have access to the wireless network), check out the steps recommended by Amazon in their support page.
  3. Now, turn on the wireless connection (go to “Home”, press “Menu”, select “Turn Wireless On”), then select “Sync & Check for items”. It will then take 15, 20 minutes to download the new firmware as well as checking any new books to download.
  4. Once it finished to download the top bar of your Kindle may show “No new items” – it just means there is no new books to download, but your new firmware may has already downloaded. You can check it to see whether there is a new item in the menu – go to “Home”, press “Menu”, check if there is a new item “Update your Kindle”. If yes, then your new firmware is downloaded.
  5. Now select “Update your Kindle”, your Kindle will apply the firmware and restart the device. Another a few minutes, your Kindle is upgraded. Again, check the firmware version to see if it is version 2.3 (go to “Home”, press “Menu”, select “Settings” and check the bottom of the page). In addition, every time you turn on the Kindle from sleep mode, you will see a word “Opening” flashing …
  6. To test it out, simply send a PDF file to your Kindle via your personal Kindle email address – xxxxx@kindle.com. After a few minutes, try “Sync & Check for items” in the “Menu” again, and Amazon will download the PDF file to your Kindle. You will see a new file in your Home menu with a “pdf” in the left hand side. Select it and you shall see your PDF file with all the formatting in place !! (Somehow, one of my PDF files was not displayed correctly, but it is one with all graphics …). If the PDF file page is too small, try the new screen rotation function come with the version 2.3.

Screen Rotation

The Kindle screen image can be rotated so you can see the entire width of a web page or magnify the page of a PDF file.

Here’s how to lock your screen into portrait or landscape mode:

  1. Press the “Text” key (i.e. “aA” key, next to “SYM”) located on the bottom row of the keyboard. Screen Rotation is displayed at the bottom of the menu.
  2. Move the 5-way to select one of the four options to lock the display in a set orientation – Portrait; Landscape with the keyboard on the left; Portrait with the keyboard at the top; Landscape with the keyboard on the right.
  3. Press the controller to confirm your choice.

However, you can view Kindle Store pages only in portrait mode.

Hope it helps and enjoy this Thanksgiving Day gift from Amazon !! And if you don’t have the Kindle 2 yet, it is probably the best time to have one

Update 1: With this new version, you shall be able to read PDF with other languages (e.g. Chinese PDFs, Japanese PDFs) as well. Just make sure your PDF writer has all the languages / fonts installed. Then print the source file (with large font size, and narrow margin) to PDF and transfer to your Kindle will do.