The manual's illustration of the menu options on Page 66 for an PDF page implied (heavily) that these options would not be available for PDFs while there was no text actually stating this anywhere that I could find, and many prospective DX customers in the Amazon forums and some Kindle blogpages have wanted some definite word on this.
I'd mentioned at the bottom of Friday's article below that, if the capabilities were not to be implemented for the DX, there are 3rd-party options to convert any non-digital rights-protected text-based PDF file to a MOBI/prc version readable on the Kindle DX (as is done for the K1/K2), which would then allow global Kindle searches plus highlighting and note-additions - while keeping the original PDF with its formatted layout as a reference. Amazon should provide an option to do this conversion for DX customers who need that on specific PDFs.
Note 1: The User's Guide states on page 44 that PDFs sent to a DX would be wirelessly delivered directly [rather than converted] for a fee. We can transfer these via included USB cable though.
On the Amazon Kindle help pages, they list e-mailed conversions of PDFs only for the first-generation Kindles, at this point.
Note 2: Conversions from image-scanned PDFs (vs text-based PDFs) for text-searching won't work for ANY device unless using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to convert the squiggles to characters.
Here's the official Amazon statement I received today:
"A bookmark can be added in a PDF, but you cannot highlight, add a note, perform a lookup, or sync to last location. A converted PDF can do all of the above."
That's exactly as implied in the 1st edition user's guide except that the official statement adds that a converted pdf [text-based] will allow these actions on the text.
It'll make sense if they offer a conversion option as they do now.
What Ryan, the technical person described being able to do (page-oriented notes) is possibly something that they're not comfortable implementing at this time.
End of Update 5/18/09
Originally posted Friday May 15, 2009
Amazon customers in a couple of Amazon forums and on at least two blogs have brought needed attention to a passage in the currently distributed Kindle DX User's Guide "1st edition" which quite clearly implies that highlighting and note-adding are not options with PDFs.
On page 66 of the DX User's Guide (1st edition), we see:
"The options available while reading a PDF file are slightly different than when reading a book or a periodical on Kindle. Options that are not available in PDF files are grayed out in the menu."
Then the screen-shot of a PDF menu shows the "Add a Note or Highlight" options grayed out.
Since then, forum and blog talk has included concern over the possible lack of a notation feature for PDFs. Since PDFs are often used heavily by legal, medical, and academics these days, this is an important area for them.
I called Amazon to ask about this and got a very helpful representative ('P') who, though concerned, was reading from material after asking others about this. After she took care of my other questions, I asked to speak to a technical person so I could ask, for clarification for others, why a note could not be appended to a separate file as is done now for regular files, as it shouldn't interfere with the PDF file.
Reaching representative 'K' who sounded very capable, I asked to speak with someone who has some technical knowledge of PDF files specifically; after the quick transfer, I was now talking to 'Ryan' who said he is with the technical team and gave me permission to quote him on what he was saying. I confirmed with him my understanding of what he said.
Ryan said that a couple of them had discovered, while working with PDFs on the Kindle DX just a couple of days before the DX announcement, that although a PDF file is different from the regular text files and one cannot highlight a specific passage nor isolate words on a page, there were a couple of things you can do with PDFs on the DX:
1. You can highlight a page though not just a part of a page, and
2. You can add notes for the Page but not for specific text on the page.
The PDF pages on the DX are essentially functioning as images He said you can highlight the 'image' which is the entire page and, as mentioned, you can add notes FOR the page (but not on it, of course). Ryan said he had been able to do this himself and will take a look at the manual, as he had not seen
This makes sense to me since I knew that any notes we make on regular Kindle documents are put into a secondary file associated with the main document (and also put into the "My Clippings" file). This apparently may hold true for PDFS for the Kindle DX.
Earlier the same day, 'P' who's not in the technical area, had read some material on this, after asking an associate about it, and said she found out we could highlight text that was not included in charts or illustrations or other images, but she added that no notes could be made. That was an odd combo of capabilities and I then talked with Ryan.
When I mentioned to Ryan that customer service had said that notes for PDFs were not possible, he said that customer service was in another area and it takes time for information to get to everyone.
I called back to try to ask him one more question but they have no way of getting you back to the same person. Only P was recorded in the log as talking with me. The next person I talked with ('S') went to Engineering, he said, who told him, "No highlighting, No notes." They're the ones who should know, but ...
I asked S to check with a manager, as would-be buyers need a clear idea of what can and can't be done, and his last relayed message to me was given by the customer service manager rather than by the technical support manager.
Ryan had at least tried it out on a PDF and he could, more or less, highlight the page (which changed shades as he did) and successfully add notes for a page.
A big feature of PDFs is that pages are defined very strictly and reliably for most output, so Ryan's experience with it as a page-based operation makes sense.
He added that, for the same reasons, the PDFs are not searchable for text when searching the entire Kindle, though you can search within a PDF for text.
It seems somewhat likely (being optimistic here) that there are older notes saying things can't be done on a PDF (which would explain the conflict between the user's guide info and Ryan's experience) and that later work with pdfs resulted in more encouraging information.
In the meantime, I wasn't able to get any specific person who might be responsible for being an authoritative voice on features of the DX. The referral was always to the basic Customer Service number. I have one more dept to ask about this but am reporting what I've found, as it is somewhat encouraging.
It could be that the DX capabilities are evolving as we head into the summer.
Side note: Princeton University, part of the upcoming study, intends to scan material in Optical Character Recognition form to produce flowable text that's searchable and to allow easy annotations.
Side note 2: It's occurred to me that when someone wants to add highlighting and notes to a PDF document, they can convert it to a MOBI/prc file via Kindle's auto-conversion (but in the case of a DX target, Amazon will probably not convert the file) or choose one of several (free) methods to easily convert one for that purpose.
Customer service note: I want to add that P had to handle several other questions from me and she was really very patient and said she would follow up on a couple of areas. Customer Service was easy to get on the phone and patient about questions and the time it took.
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