Friday, August 27, 2010

Kindle v. Kindle Web Browser Showdown Video. Also, Kindle 3 Article Mode

Len Edgerly (fine reflections and photos at his blog) continues his excellent video reporting on the Kindle 3 -- Darlene's the videographer -- with this demo of the new Webkit-based web browser and the differences between the Kindle 2 and Kindle 3 displays when rendering the same New York Times home page.

Here's the larger version of the video, titled Kindle v. Kindle: Browser Showdown.

  Len talks about the videoclip and wonders if the new Article Mode may be somewhat problematic.

  It's probably not meant to be used on a Home page, though, with many article segments on one web page and a zoom-in box used to identify the beginning of an article.

  Len was in Basic Mode on the Kindle 2, which tends to be faster on that model but, as he points out, makes you look at the Left column contents first.
  For Kindle 2 and Kindle DX owners, here are some tips on using the various modes.

  Basic Mode is the Kindle 2's best mode for comfortable reading (no light grays and it uses larger fonts instead of the small ones used for Advanced mode).

  Kindle 2's Advanced Mode does a Fit-to-Screen display, and of course that's too small to read usually, but you can rotate it manually using the Aa-key and it's sometimes doable that way.  However, this mode does translation of colors to grayscale and this sometimes creates too-dark and too-light areas which are difficult to read.
  However, if javascript is used for log-ins, etc., 'Advanced' mode is needed.

With the Kindle 3, the Non-article-mode should have both a Basic and Advanced mode also, but I won't know until I get mine sometime today.

  The Kindle 3's Article mode seems to function like the wonderful Readability utility (free), which also doesn't like to try to do its own article focus at a Home page.  Readability itself is meant for articles that are displayed in the center area of a webpage once you click on the link to them, and it nicely ignores material to the sides (links, ads, etc.).

  It's probably best to click on an article at the New York Times and then use the Kindle 3 Article mode on that instead.

NUDGEfeature (also available on Kindle 2 and DX's)
Tip: When identifying an area to zoom in on, we can use the shift-key with the 5-way controller/button to "nudge" the zoom-area box in smaller increments.

I found it really interesting how much faster Len showed the Kindle 3 to be when loading the NYT's full home page vs time it took to load the simple mobile-site version that Kindle 2's Web Browser in Basic mode chose.  So, the Kindle 3 web browser is considerably faster on this new model.

Also shown clearly at the left is the difference in contrast range between the screens.  They're both on the Experimental prototypes page

This iPhone 4 video is in high definition.

Kindle 3   (UK: Kindle 3),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. The new browser will take a little getting used to. It's not as fast as I'd hoped, even though our wi-fi is fast and the EDGE that my K2 is forced to use is very slow. Seems a little happier in Landscape since there's not as much left/right scrolling (not too many web sites are designed for 600px screen widths).

    But I just tried downloading a file from calibre's Content Server over wi-fi, something that seemed too daunting to attempt over 3G (because of firewalls etc). Works pretty well!
    Then I tried downloading a PDF. Browser gives an error: "Web Browser cannot download this kind of file. Only files with the extension .AZW, .PRC, .MOBI, or .TXT can be downloaded to your Kindle." Why oh why oh why???? Amazon, do you support PDF or don't you??? They have really got to fix this one. There is too much web content on the web in PDF to pass up...

    Hmm, my Kindle restarted spontaneously for the 2nd time today. Hope they have an update in the works...

  2. Tom,
    I'd be worried if it were faster. I played w/ it for 2 hours today, and for e-ink it was quite fast. Went to many full sites, full of images and complex pages. Did it on 3G.

    It's eink. And on 3G, I am sure that Sprint and AT&T have throttling in place due to the contracts being low-cos. But mine was quite fast today, for eInk. Surprised me.

    All mine did a fit-to-width so there was no scrolling. I rotated it afterward so I could actually read them :-) Clicking on one gets you ability to do very effective Article Mode.

    PDFs have NEVER been downloadable because in the past we had only 3G and you are aware how big those files can get. That would be foolhardy. It's not the format, it's the possible/probable size and bandwidth.

    Download it to your computer and WiFi it over by sending it via your home network. Check the manual on that as I don't remember the steps...

    You'll get an email announcement AND a copy you can send direct to your Kindle if you are on WiFi.

    You can do that now with the Kindle email if you're on your WiFi network or someone else's.

    Now if they code it so that they know you're on WiFi while browsing the web,I suppose they could let us download PDFs.

    Little e-reader memories from all kinds of makers are crashing on very demanding heavy load PDFs (image-based) and ultra complex sites after we've hit many...

    I had one hang after I hit too many buttons together at one time. Rebooted after I did the 15 second thing. I had no spontaneous restarts though. Have had those with Kindle 2 and DX when I browse too much w/o clearing cache.

    And I web'd for 2 hours before it happened.

    I was surprised at how well they rendered several difficult sites...

  3. Got my Kindle 3 yesterday. I returned my Kindle 2 on July 27th because I was within the 30 day window. Many nice improvements in the Kindle 3 but I'm kind of disappointed with the new web browser. I know this is probably the best book reader out but I was hoping to use this as a cheap mobile browser to replace my aging PDA that I wirelessly tether to my bluetooth phone. When I'm browsing on the go I take advantage of web sites designed for mobile devices. I prefer fast and ugly over slow and pretty. I'm having trouble using some of my favorite mobile sites on the new browser. The old browser worked very well on these sites. For example I can't get the mobile version of GMail or Google Tasks to work on the new browser. They simple won't load at all. I'm seriously considering returning this Kindle 3 even though I like many of the other improvements. I'll hold out for a couple of weeks to see if there is any improvement in this. I don't understand why these sites won't load because I can load them in Firefox on my laptop too. I get the popup message that says "Your Kindle is unable to load the requested page" when I attempt to go to
    or to

    Both of these sites work fine on my PDA and my laptop.

    I know with the new browser I can go to the regular gmail site but I don't really want to do that because it is much slower.

  4. I think my first impression was flawed (as first impressions often are ). I'm pretty sure when I played with it the first time, the Kindle was busy indexing the stuff I'd just put on it in the background. Performance is pretty much what I'd expect now, and I'm getting used to the way it sometimes wants to zoom a web page, and sometimes not.

    That said there are still many limitations, and you can only discover these on a case by case basis. The wonder of it is that so many sites are accessible now.

    My Kindle continues to crash with annoying frequency, with no discernible pattern to it. It's not heavy PDFs or anything like that, I've got the same content as I had on K2.

    As far as the restriction on downloading PDFs, the error message doesn't specifically mention PDFs, and I doubt it is really designed to prevent PDF download, so much as prevent users from downloading arbitrary files which Kindle can't read (the only download location is Documents folder). There was a time when there was no PDF support, but now there is, so it makes sense to allow it, and from Amazon's perspective, to do so without incurring 3G charges.

    I'm still wondering how audible downloads over wifi are supposed to work; I asked Amazon CS and they could not tell me the status of the feature. I tried using Kindle browser to download directly from my library on and get the same 'only mobi/prc/txt/azw' error as with PDF. It would not have worked anyway since it is supposed to go in the audible and not the documents folder.

  5. The only crash I've had has come with a lot of web browsing and 'experimenting.'

    I think I wrote above that PDFS are just downloaded to your computer and you email them to [you]

    The manual describes what you do. That sends you any file (this one w/o conversion) AND it sends it to your Kindle for a time you can get it via WiFi.

    I know for a fact that PDF isn't allowed for download because of the possibly humongous sizes and how insane that would be. I have normal electronics manuals that are 40 megs and more. Why would they allow that? They could cap it at 2 megs maybe.

    Same thing with audible, you mail it to your Kindle address while you're on WiFi and receive it on WiFi after you've downloaded it to your computer using Audible.

    Can't get to the user manual right now...

    Glad you're finding some good things with the web browser. Wish they'd fix gmail of all things though.

  6. Yes, I know about PDF delivery by email. The point is that I want to pull content onto the Kindle from the web, not push it to Kindle using my computer or whatever. There are a lot of free ebooks on the web in PDF format for example (and I don't mean the bloated ones Google has ), and I mentioned the personal web server use case also.

    I'd be perfectly happy if I could download PDF only over wifi, which Amazon should care about. Most of the PDFs I'm interested in are just text and maybe only 2-3 times as large as the equivalent mobi file.

  7. Yes, we discussed this in messages above though.

    I imagine you're writing their feedback folks about it also? As mentioned they have to know WHEN to allow it -- in other words, suggest to them how they would determine you're on WiFi when you're requesting a PDF download.

    Also, maybe institute a procedure that allows it if the file is no larger than 2 megs (or maybe [slipperly slope] allow something larger than 2 megs for a fee if you feel it's that important. Check out their apps program - they are extremely conscious of the cost of using the web since they pay for all of the web page downloads etc and are making sure apps developers charge the customers for using programs that use over a rather small amount.

  8. Yes, I'm preparing a bunch of stuff for kindle-feedback, including this.

    And my mouse misfired (sticky Scroll Ball) and prematurely posted my previous comment: I meant to say '...which Amazon should not care about'.

    I'm liking the web browser more and more. Am able to post to Kindle Community on amazon from my Kindle! I'm never going to get any reading done...

  9. Yesterday I posted about problems with going to the mobile Gmail and Google Tasks sites on the new Kindle 3 browser. I believe that Google has done something to fix this because today it is working. I noticed that now I'm getting redirected to a URL that includes the word Android. This started working today after I did a restart because the browser was not bringing up any sites.

  10. Bill,
    that's great news! Thanks for the follow-up posting.

    I made a shortcut of your tasks one:

    And a shortcut for the gmail URL

    I kept them consistent, using an underscore.

    ( But, at first, I used with a hyphen instead and it still works also.)

  11. I don't own yet, and have been trying to figure out if there is any way to access the PDFs in my "DropBox" either by downloading to the Kindle direct from the online storage, or simply opening the PDF online via a browser plug-in that reads PDF files. It appears not, and that PDFs would have to be USB-loaded or emailed one-by-one into the Kindle for conversion to its format. Maybe I'm missing it - would appreciate confirmation and any experience with downloading or reading online PDFs on the new Kindle.

  12. AF,
    PDFs have not been downloadable directly to the Kindle from the web browser due to the tendency, I imagine, of their being very large and if you are on 3G that would be a real hit to Amazon's 3g pre-paid wireless.

    Don't know that they can determine if you're on WiFi at the time, even if you are.

    But, yes, you'd download them to your computer and need to move them over to the Kindle's documents folder either via USB or via email directly to the Kindle via the 'free' method of [you] ...

    1. For others reading, I add that, for moving them, you just attach the Kindle via USB and it's given a drive-letter and you can select a grouping of PDFs in the normal computer way and move them all over to the documents folder at once.

    2. If you read the online User's Guide for K3, you can send via email multiple documents for conversion in a zip file, but these will tend to be large files so they may take longer to get back if they're put together in a zip file. Mail to [you] after approving yourself to email documents to the Kndle direct (via the manageyourkindle page).

    You can attach several documents at once into an email of course, so I'd try that.

    Again, take a look at the User's Guide online (see right-hand column of this website to get the links to the Kindle and computer PDF User's Guides at under "Kindle Support Info" section).

    That'll get you a better idea - no time to look it up right now.

    Hope that helps.

  13. That does help, thanks. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way to email a document out of the online DropBox storage via Gmail, etc. on the Kindle itself, so one would always need a computer with the document in order to transfer it to the Kindle rather than handle it all via the Kindle itself. I'm assuming that Gmail file attachments would work on the Kindle browser (?)

    I've just read that Google has a new app similar to DropBox called Insync which might be integrated with its Gmail service, but haven't looked at it.

  14. AFm
    I wouldn't assume there's any integration with Gmail and its file attachments. I think you can read the main note but attachments would likely be more complex to program for the Kindle in its experimental web browsing mode.

    Insync: that would be great.


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