Friday, November 18, 2011

Kindle Touch (3G) - Unexpected aspects and a few changes noted (Updated)

While I had wanted to quick-blog first impressions after 12 hours with the Kindle Fire Wednesday (which I more than enjoyed despite minor reservations), I've been doing the forums and trading information.  There's always so much there that people find and relay.

  BUT -- my Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi arrived today, so I looked into that.

  And now I want to report on that first, due to a couple of unexpected items that impressed me.

   And there are several changes I want to highlight.

The known loss of the Free 3G Web-lookup feature
  Some, including me, have been disappointed that, unlike the 3G/WiFi Kindle 3 ("Kindle Keyboard") model and its much-appreciated free 3G webbing that's so useful when traveling -- locally even, but especially in countries where roaming charges for smartphones are sky-high --  the Touch models don't offer free 3G web lookups internationally as the older 3G Kindles did.  But I can see  now why Amazon decided not to offer it on the new Kindles.  I wouldn't either if I were paying for it.

Web browsing speed  (Web lookups are on WiFi-only, on the new models, except for accessing the  KindleStore and Wikipedia, the latter a really worthwhile feature when reading a book)

  The WiFi web-browsing, via my Comcast host and Netgear router, is actually usually quite fast with the 3G/WiFi SO (Special Offers) model.
  I don't mean just fastER than the often-slow but free Kindle 3 web lookups, which could be slow with WiFi also.   The new Touch model really can be very quick for an e-Ink device.  I was startled by it.

  When accessing web sites with the KTouch, you're often wisely taken to mobile versions of the web pages, but my over-long, over-imaged, site came up in normal desktop format 10x faster than it would before. 

  This is especially good for Kindle-Edition subscribers who are needing to follow a Kindle subscription blog link to information on another site. 

When I went to the simple, text-focused, it of course came up fairly quickly, but I was surprised to see, when I clicked on a Telegraph (UK) story, that the whole thing came up suddenly -- it must have been pre-fetched by the webkit browser.

  New York Times web page as an example
   Accessing Amazon's bookmark'd NY Times site, in its print-newspaper layout, it comes up pretty fast!, but with the full page seen in portrait mode on a little screen, so it's not readable.  The zoom-box that used to be there to bring up sections so that we can read them is gone.

   Instead, we can pinch-zoom on an area and it brings up a much more readable version of that, and we can then click a link to a story that is readable while showing the whole width of a column or columns as appropriate plus side stories.   If that's not good enough, you can pinch-zoom THAT and it can look really good!  But if that's still not good enough, then choose Menu to select "Article Mode" which puts it in a highly readable layout that's very pleasant to read but which, as said elsewhere here, doesn't offer the links from the article.
   The Article Mode reformats a story into single-report form, usually with a small photo at the top. 

The processor used in the Touch models is a faster one, and the Touch method's advantage for webbing is that it gives direct access to clickable links, so there's no added time involved in moving the older 5-way controller up, down, and sideways to active hyperlinks (and each cursor movement meant a slowing-down refresh of part of the screen).   Much as I appreciate the free 3G web-lookups of the previous model when I'm outside the home, these changes are very nice.  (But it's still my Kindle 3 I'll be carrying with me outside since I can almost never find unprotected WiFi anymore, outside.)

Pressing or tapping on a screen area
  TIP:   The lightest possible keypress to bring up a menu or dialog box will work best -- even when lightly tapping for a page turn or on a link.  That doesn't seem intuitive but I found this works more reliably than using more pressure.  That's true even when doing a long-press that is used to to bring up an option box.  And it's true for the Kindle Fire also.

  On the other hand, the e-Ink keyboard input is more resistant than it is on LCD, which means less errors from a light touch.  My Kindle Fire keyboard, though, is so non-resistant that I can just hover over a key and it registers (dangerous, so I turned off 1-click buying).   That's been true of my 7" NookColor tablet too.

The 3G web browser's "New Window" link problems on previous Kindles
  The one thing that frustrated many of us 3G web users in the past was that Amazon had decided NOT to have the keyboard Kindles open links that used "New Window" processes.

  This has meant that Facebook and Twitter links recommended by people could not be used, although we could see messages to us and reply to them.  The recommended links, however, were lifeless.

  I always felt Amazon did not want to encourage our exploring all those links and staying on Facebook and Twitter through the day, as that could really cost them, with free 3G program (for us) paid by them.

  They had decided at some point to let Kindle Edition Blog-subscribers click through links requiring 'New Window' from a Kindle'd blog -- customers pay for subscriptions and I think they felt it was a service they should give, since blogs tend to have many links in them and can be worthless if people can't use them.

  But that was the only circumstance, that I know of, under which they allowed "New-Window"-links to be clicked through and the user taken to the new site.  Facebook and Twitter remained still-lifes for links.

With the new Kindle Touch, the Facebook and Twitter webpages are now useable for the links people are busily recommending at those popular sites.

Complex website-pages
   However, the Kindle Touch web browser can't handle a ridiculously heavy page like Huffington Post.
  It never loads.   I tried Overdrive (for public libraries), and it now lets me through the 'New Window' problems I used to have but that is a super-slow site for some reason. They should have a mobile version available for it.  It's too slow even for the new Touch Kindle.

NO Landscape mode on this
This mode has been crucial for web pages and for PDFs with the previous Kindles, giving the ability to expand the width and size of content.
  The default for the new Kindle Touch  is to show you the full web page and fit it to the width of the small 6" screen.  So, the words are unreadable that way, but putting the device into Landscape mode on the older models has helped with those.

  The earlier models with keyboards have Zoom boxes that let you zoom into areas to read the type (awkward but doable) and then you can choose 'Article Mode' from the Menu to read the article as very-readable text although that deactivates links in that mode, so  the zoom-in and pinch-zoom versions can be better to use if you want to follow article links.

  For more details on how to handle this, see the paragraph above on accessing a New York Times article and how that's changed from the Kindle 3.  It'll work for this.

Image zoom-ins - on web pages
Kindles 2 and 3 allow zooms to full-page by clicking in the center.  Kindle 1 allows it by moving the sliding silver column cursor to the line and choosing to enlarge the image to full screen.

  On the new Touch Kindles, this is now done, when WEB-browsing,  by pinch-zooms -- 2 fingers are used to expand the material seen or shrink it back.  I hadn't expected this on e-Ink e-readers but it works.

   It's choppy and difficult to control but when it's done for a full webpage  it does expand the material so that you can read sections of it enlarged. 

Image zoom-ins - in normal e-books
For normal e-books, a pinch-zoom actually enlarges the font size!  And any photos.
  This is normally done with the Aa -choice (for 'Aa keys on earlier Kindles) that is now found at the bottom of a book's footer if you press the area at the top line, which brings up options such as the old GoTo, which is now missing from the regular book Menu and I'd wondered where it was.

  So, at the bottom, you can get  Aa (fonts),  Go To,  and  Sync by pressing an area near the top.
  Also at the bottom are the Location #, the Page #,  and the percentage of the book that's still unread.

  At the top line, there's  1) a Back-arrow that corresponds to the old "Back" button,  2) a shopping cart,  3) a search box for searching the book, and  4) the Menu of options.
  There's also a line up there for  1) the activity-indicator (spins),  2) the title of the book that's open,  3) a wireless-activity indicator (including what type of wireless is being used) and  4) the current time.

    I really like that you can enlarge the font size by just doing a pinch-zoom.


  I haven't found much in the User's Guide about PDFs, but trying it out I see that these are treated the way books are.  You don't scroll down the page if there's more, you page left and right.

  Pinch Zooms are used to enlarge a page, including both the fonts and images on the page.
I saw this on a PDF I made from taking images and text from the web and saving it in Word Doc to read later, on the Kindle.   But I saved it as a PDF.  So, this is a text-based PDF.

  I wondered where Adjustment of Contrast is now chosen, as the Aa font menu is no longer findable.  The Contrast Adjustment is selectable from pressing the top line area and pressing Menu at the top right.  It's called, simply, 'Contrast.'

  'Turn on Speech'
  That's also found under the top-right Menu.

   Go to...   for PDFs, this is also found under the Menu.

  This is all easier than selecting zoom-box areas or "150%  200%  300%" sizes as was done before.  It's a gradual zoom controlled by the fingers now.

Overall Speed + choosing Kindle books from my other Kindles
I quickly chose, from my Archived Items folder, about 100 titles to use for exploring the new system, and they included a couple of very large encyclopedias to test how the device would handle having to download them from Amazon and index them for keywords.  I then used Menu to "Import Collections"

  With this unit, I was able to tap one item after another, lickety split, without needing to use 'back' button and it kept up with me.   There's no slowness felt and I was able to do things on the unit while it downloaded the many items I chose for the new Kindle

Kindle Model Designations.
Kindle 1's have 1.x.x software versions; Kindle 2's have 2.x.x versions, and Kindle 3's use version 3.x.x.
They were also called first, second, and third generations.

  It seems the Kindle BASIC (NoTouch/NoKeyboard - $79) uses software version 4.x.x and
  Kindle Touch uses software version 5.x.x

  So, we are sort of looking at the 5th generation Kindle with these Touch models.

  Identifying software versions is now done under Menu/Settings/Device Info (which is scarily right next to the Reset to Factory Default option -- so touch-press carefull when in that Menu, even if they have a safety "Are you sure?" which I did not try  :-).

Kindle Touch Special Offers - Or Without Special Offers
It's hard to know how we will react to any kind of ad.  I've resisted them because I don't want to see them near my personal time with books.  I want to be away from the madding ad crowd.

  Nevertheless, I also don't throw my money away and have read that many actually like the Special Offers and the screensleeper  ads were not bothering them.  I have to say that they are designed very well, all have a classy look so far, and have not bothered me, not even in the lowest slot of the Home page. 

  BUT if they ever do, I've found that at the ManageYourKindle pages, there is an option to "Unsubscribe" from Special Offers by paying the $40 difference between the cost of the two models (the choices of With and Without Special Offers).

Anyway, this was a very nice surprise.  I ordered it only because I should report on it :-) and be able to answer questions, etc.  It's light but we knew that.  However, its small size seemed to make my left hand less comfortable with it, almost cramped, and I felt I'd have to get a case for it pronto, as it would be easier to hold that way.

  I got used to it though.  As for the ads/special offers, whoever directs that does a good job.

Going from one chapter to another, if the publisher used that feature
In the past, if the progress bar (which no longer exists that I can find) showed markers indicating new chapter, we could navigate to each one with a press-right on the 5-way button.
Now we can't see markers like this, that I can find (let me know if you find these), but you can swipe up or swipe down to get to next or previous chapters, respectively.  I saw this work in 'Cleopatra' by Stacy Schiff.

They've finally alphabetized Collections -- we no longer have to do workarounds, although, as of now, unless a future update fixes it, the Kindle 2 and Kindle 3 Collections remain unalphabetized, a decision I'll never understand, so if we're still using earlier models, the workaround has to stay.

Text contrast against screen background
The Kindle 3 is wonderful in this regard, and I had been puzzled to see how greyish the Nook Simple Touch fonts seemed when I visited BN and tried every font face, type and size.

  It was a disappointment for some on the BN forums too but they have just done an update to the Nook Simple Touch that is said to change this so that fonts, text, foreground images are darker when appropriate and the contrast is good now.

  I'd been worried about the screen contrast, after reading a NY Times article that said the Kindle screen programmers had been having some difficulty getting the screen contrast the way they wanted, a few months ago.  But what I see in my Kindle Touch is what I've seen on the Kindle 3, so those getting either company's e-reader will be very happy with that aspect.

Kindle Touch 3G   Kindle Touch WiFi   Kindle Basic   (UK: KBasic)   Kindle Fire
Kindle Keybd 3G   (UK: Kindle Keybd 3G)   K3 Special Offers   K3-3G Special Offers   DX

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. Thank you for a thorough review of the Kindle Touch. However, IMHO, you buried the lead in the last sentence.

    One of my questions about the KTouch is text clarity and contrast. I was afraid that it would be like the Nook Simple Touch that had lower text quality and contrast compared to the 1st gen Nook.

    So, in your last sentence, I infer that when looking at a K3 and KTouch side by side, you can't see a difference in text quality and contrast?

  2. Being an owner of a K3 w/ 3G, I am disappointed that the Ktouch w/ 3G can only access the store and wikipedia.

    As far as I'm concerned, the only benefit of the 3G model now is the Whispersync, keeping track of your place in a book between devices.

    I don't know if I would get a KTouch (wifi-only) just for home use and save my K3 w/ 3G for outside reading, but it is something to consider.

  3. Thank you for all this terrific information. I can always count on you to answer all my questions--even BEFORE I can figure out what I want to know!

  4. SL.
    Well, that was the lead for ME, but I'm one of the very few interested in that. Have done a few blog articles on screen contrast (starting with the Kindle 2) without seeing interest in that factor with touch devices. Am glad I wasn't alone in being bothered by the NST's greyness though!

    I can't see a difference between K3 and K4 text against background, except that the background in my KTouch is much lighter. The text is gorgeous.

  5. SK,
    Seriously, I've given friends and relatives Kidnles and would never give them one w/o 3G. We all subscribe to at least one newspaper or magazine and I've been able to download the latest news in restaurants when comparing news with friends, and I wouldn't like to think they're somewhere wanting to download a book or some issue of a periodical or even wanting to look up a possible answer for something but they can't because they have to wait until they can find WiFi again. For me, that's primitive and not worth the one-time $50 payment.

    No other ereader or tablet make offers this and that's because it's expensive to do. I saved a bit by taking the special-offers version.

    All in all, it's a much faster, more responsive device than my much-appreciated K3.

  6. Anonymous at 7;11 am :-)
    Thanks very much for the nice words. Glad it helped !

  7. Thanks for the Touch review. (Am looking forward to receiving ours.)

    I am SO looking forward to your Fire post. I am happy with my Fire, but full of questions.
    As always, thanks for such an illuminating blog.
    Edwina O'Toole

  8. How is the page turning? I'm thinking of upgrading from a K2, but really don't like the fact that there are no page turn buttons. I don't like the idea of using the screen for page turning - seems like a farther reach and awkward, and would dirty the screen.

  9. Andrys,
    Thanks so much for all of your helpful tips and suggestions. Brilliant, as usual!
    One thing I haven't figured out is how to delete a personal document off of my Touch. On a regular book, I tap and hold, and a menu pops up, allowing me to delete or remove the item. But for a personal document that I have emailed to my device through calibre, the menu does not pop up. Have you noticed this? My Kindle is going to fill up very quickly!
    At least I can put my personal documents into a collection.

  10. I love the Kindle Touch so far, but I've found two things not to like:

    1) The back and menu buttons is at the top of the screen, far away from where a user's hand will be. The Kindle Keyboard let me navigate and use menus while holding the Kindle in one hand, but now I have to move my hand all the way to the other end of the Kindle. The top bar really should be at the bottom of the screen instead.

    2) The bottom of the page (where is says your percentage through the book and location) doesn't work for touching to turn the page. That is where I naturally try to press the page, since the thumb usually rests just below that, near the button.

  11. In reference to my comment, I finally got the menu to pop up to delete my personal document. It seems to depend on how hard to press the title -- something you referred to in your blog. You are right, the lighter the better, but if you tap too light, then the document opens instead. Just something to get used to, I guess.

  12. Hi Andrys,

    I've been playing with my new Kindle Touch for a day and overall like it but I'm not finding the user interface intuitive. Having only owned second generation Kindle devices in the past (which I sold about a year ago), I can see that Amazon did not do a grounds up touch-based interface, but rather tried as much as possible to make it easy for current Kindle owners to use the menu systems they're used to. Specifically:

    The dedicated physical button does nothing but get you to the home screen.

    Settings not accessible from anywhere but the home screen menu (I think). So if you're reading a book and decide you want to join a WiFi network, you tap the home screen button, tap menu botton, tap settings button, tap Wifi networks. That's 4 taps.

    In general I'm having trouble remembering where to access some commands.

    There's no way to quickly flip forward (or backward) through bookmarks or highlights. I found that you CAN flip through chapters (and periodical articles) by swiping up and down, but most Kindle books don't have active table of contents.

    Using the top of the screen for activating the menus and also the top right corner for bookmarks has caused me to accidentally do one or the other on a few occasions.

    Going to a bookmark or highlighted section of the book requires a minimum of 4 taps (longer if you need to scroll through many highlights)

    I have trouble remembering when I'm supposed to tap the right of the screen to advance a page, and when to a swipe from bottom to the top.

    I accidentally changed the font size several times while reading a book until I read your post describing that you can change font size with two finger pinch and open gestures. I wish I could turn that off, though now that I know what's going on I guess I'll be more careful to touch the screen with only a single finger at a time while reading a book.

    I point these things out because I'm guessing that those using their Kindles daily will find this an easier device to get used to than someone who has never used an e-reader or is coming from a Nook. I've been using the Nook Simple Touch for the past few months so I got used to that interface, which I think was better designed to accommodate a touch screen (though one glaring exception is the lack of back button everywhere which Kindle Touch thankfully has).

    Despite preferring the user interface of the Nook Touch, I much prefer the Kindle Touch overall because of all the goodies you get by using the Kindle Platform - most especially the ease and variety of options of getting reading content onto the Kindle. I particularly like the personal documents syncing service (which I'll like even more when they extend it to all the various Kindle apps). The browser is fast enough that I'll definitely be using it as a means to access things to read. My only significant disappointment is the interface, though presumably I'll get used to it in time.

  13. Betty,
    The thing is not to tap, for actions like Delete, as those need long-presses (but lightly pressed ones are better).

    Thanks for the follow-up. I'm behind, as you can see :-)

  14. Brentus, re your thoughts
    << 1) The back and menu buttons is at the top of the screen, far away from where a user's hand will be. >>

    Touch screens seem to emulate Mac and Windows systems where action Menus are on top and they are pull-down menus. They don't get in the way of the book, which some people would really dislike -- and a Touch screen with no buttons means you'd be getting a menu in the middle of the book page.

    Amazon reserves the bottom for Location and page #s and percentage left... I guess they could put the top line at the bottom too, but it hasn't bothered me that they're where they are and I haven't read anyone else mention this.

    Did you give feedback to yet? That's where they'll see it and probably log it.

    Re the bottom of the page not being like the Kindle 3 placement that allowed you to use just one hand to use the Kindle, let them know that too.

    Where it might matter to me is on a bus when I'm standing and holding on to something and need to do everything with one hand. Is that what you mean? Or do you use it one-handed in general?

  15. Anonymous,
    The page turning is done by touching the left edge area to go back one page and touching the right edge area to go forward a page.

    You barely have to touch it and I do it right at the edge. So it's pretty easy.

  16. Thank you so much for the great info on the kindle touch. Just got mine yesterday and though all the accompanying introduction and help material was read thoroughly, I already have a list of questions. Hit the Amazon kindle discussion boards first and immediately found a thread with a post by you, including the link to this blog. Double thanks actually, one for answering some of my most pressing, at the moment, kt "how to's", and two, for turning me onto your blog (and archive of same) with what is obviously a wealth of kindle info. Dragged you right into my small on content but big on help eBooks-eReaders Info file. Like a bad penny or a famous general, I shall return.

  17. Fantastic review of the Kindle Touch. I certainly appreciate your careful exploration of all its features and the tips. I've faithfully ordered each Kindle version and am currently enjoying the new Kindle Fire and the Touch, as well. Your blog posts add to the enjoyment.

  18. I finally figured out the personal documents situation. IF your personal document is currently stored on Amazon's server, you cannot delete it from your Kindle. But if you have deleted the document from the server, the menu does pop up allowing you to delete it.
    This applies to .azw documents, which is what calibre uses to format their newspapers.
    I thought you would want to know this, since I had previously sent in a couple of comments about having difficulty deleting my personal docs.

  19. Hystorical...,
    Love that spelling and meaning :-)

    The KTouch isn't intuitive, w/ what is essentially a screen w/o hints of options, but once we figure out to lightly touch the top center (extending to top left), everything is brought up. My mind still goes blank sometimes because I'm switching between somewhat similar Kindle Fire processes and my Kindle 3 ones.

    Thank you for letting me know the info was helpful to you :-)

    Some think it's not good to give a blog link in partial reply to a question on that forum, so it's nice to get your note.

    I wonder how many of us remember MacArthur!

    Thanks again.

  20. Dee,
    Thank you also. I was just going to give the Touch a quick look because I wanted to talk about the KFire, but the more I looked, the more I saw things that I felt might need airing for, especially, those used to the older Kindles.
    But for those used to none, blank screens with only book text can be confusing too.

    It's amazing that although we really enjoy our current e-readers and think there's not much more we'd want, makers find other ways to both get some revenue and also tickle us with new ways... although I did see one news-columnist get irate over the Touch's new navigation methods being "impossible" and telling us all to return ours. I think I'll include a link to his story eventually.

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to give feedback !

  21. Betty,
    What's odd is that actually, anytime you delete a Kindle book it is merely moved into the Archived Items because the Library still has it.

    They've done that in the past only with Amazon books.

    Now they're allowing us to do that with personal docs that are non-Amazon in origin (including non-Amazon books that aren't rights-protected).

    In the past, if we deleted a personal doc, that was IT. No archiving because Amazon did not keep our material that was not Amazon-purchased. Now it's much more flexible.

    So, they're offering to move your personal doc to the Archived Items folder, which is the same as deleting it from the Kindle and leave it in our Server personal-doc areas (seeable and we can mage them at our Amazon ManageYourKindle page.

    ".azw" documents are books and periodicals purchased from Amazon and formatted as Amazon-formatted files. Calibre can help you manage these Amazon books and periodicals and Calibre can manage or help you organize them or make feeds possible.

    The thing about not being able to delete the personal doc the first time was that it needs a long-press, not just a tap, to get that option -- and it's called Move to Archived Items now.

    Thanks for the follow up on this !

  22. Andress, Re the personal documents, I think it's the opposite of what you are saying. For a book, I may choose to have it in the archive only, and not on my Kindle. But for a personal document I do not have this option. If I want it off of my Kindle Touch, it must not be in the archive. Otherwise I cannot delete the document from my Touch.
    This must be a bug in that it makes no sense. I want my personal documents to behave exactly as my books -- with the ability to delete the copy on my Touch, but keep a copy in the archive. As it stands, I cannot do this.

  23. Betty,
    Before replying to you, I took a PDF from my Personal Documents at Amazon. Amazon never makes PDFs, so that was for sure a personal document.

    I long-pressed and one of the options was
    "Move to Archived Items"

    That effectively is what deleting an Amazon server held book does. It moves it to Archived items and takes it off the Home Page listing.

    I just now actually Move(d) it to Archives and sure enough, that's where it is, and it's in my personal docs library on the server but no longer on my device's home screen listing of books & documents...

  24. Andrys,
    Looks like we have different behaviors for pdf's versus newspapers and magazines created and sent by calibre. The latter are .azw files, not pdf's. Others on the Kindle forum have reported this behavior too.

  25. Betty,
    The help pages for Personal Docs says the following, which will probably explain what's happening with your personal docs, which I didn't realize were distributions feeds.

    At, Amazon's Kindle Cloud for Personal Documents page says the following:

    "You may send personal documents to your Kindle for your personal, non-commercial use only. You may not send or authorize the sending of documents from automated distribution services."

    So, if they see that, they MIGHT not archive those. If you do see them in your Library Archives for personal documents after Calibre does the regular mailing, that means they're turning their eyes.

    But it's probably a reason you see what you do. I'd back them up to your computer and move them over to the device when you need them if you want them off your Home screen.

    In my blog, I had wondered aloud what happens with regular distribution services, but at least they're going through to you, which is good. I'm avoiding bringing that up much and had not mentioned that wording before though I saw it when it went up.

  26. Thanks so much for this review. I've been using a 1st-gen Kindle and the Touch is my first "upgrade," so some of these tips have been extremely helpful!

    So, please excuse me if this question has an obvious answer -- it's not obvious to me and has been driving me crazy for a week now.

    If I am browsing the Kindle store to buy a new book, how do I get back to the screen that lists all my books? (Is that what's referred to as the Home Screen?) The only way I've been able to do it is by using the Back arrow dozens of times, which can't be right. Pushing the little rectangular button on the bottom of the KT -- the one used to wake/unlock/un-screensaver -- just turns the screensaver on (like pushing the lock button on my iPhone). Is there another button somewhere?

    Also, I'm quadriplegic with limited hand/finger strength & find pressing that button very difficult. Is there a way to adjust how long I have before the screensaver comes on?

    Thanks for any help - I found your blog via Google but love it & have it bookmarked!

  27. Hi, I've been test-driving a KTouch as I am very interested in using it for PDFs. In playing with the store demo, I was able to "double tap" on 1 column of a 2-column PDF file (preloaded on the KT), and it zoomed to exactly fill the screen with that text. Then I could use the swipe or tap methods to advance through the document (properly... top left to bottom left, then top right, bottom right, next page) without any major hangups, though it did have trouble continuing to scroll past a table/figure in the document, but with just text it did great.
    I'm curious to see how this works with documents that don't have columns, or with ones with three columns (whether it can maintain this functionality). It seems to me that if KT can reliably handle PDFs in this way and also has the highlight/make note function now, it may be a much better option for those of us who do a lot of technical reading and want to avoid printed PDF-induced back problems. =)
    What is your experience?
    Kristen B.

  28. Kristen,
    It treats a normal page as 1-column and fits it exactly to width of the screen, which means, it's too small still. I didn't know that it would do a fit-to for just one of two columns, so that's very good to know. Thanks for that!

    With the old models, we had to next-page w/ a button to see the rest of one column and then back page to see the top of the 2nd column, so this particular mode of handling two columns is considerably better

    You didn't mention trying what I wrote about, which is the pinch-zoom. You can zoom it to a width that makes sense to you for the area you're wanting to read -- you can move the area of interest to the center, etc.

    If you have a lot of documents, I highly recommend the Kindle DX, which is $120 cheaper than its normal pricing of $379 (which is unrealistic in this day and age, even if IS E-Ink). It's $259 through Nov. 28.

    You can return it within 30 days for a full refund if you decide it's not worth keeping.

    I like it, but I also want my landscape :-)

    Let me know how it goes for you.

  29. Oh, I did forget to mention that. I tried the pinch-zoom first, but the results were inconsistent amounts of zoom and it was unreliable to keep your text in the screen once you did get it to the proper size. Also, the size reset with page turns, so every time you had to start over with pinch-zooming to an appropriate size.
    I do think landscape would be extremely helpful, and it seems like it shouldn't be that hard to add? I don't completely understand the technology behind this type of touch screen though, so maybe it's not as simple as it seems...

  30. Does anyone know if we can tell in advance whether or not a book has the X-ray feature? I looked at a few random books and couldn't find anything. thanks!

  31. In addition to TTS ability for PDF, they have quietly added support for 'Table of Contents' (PDF bookmarks), and also PDF links! This makes PDF more navigable. Hopefully landscape will show up in an update.

    Also would like to see K4's internationalization features on KT.

  32. Kristen,
    It's said it has something to do with how they split the various panels of the screen for whatever needs of presentation.

    I haven't found anything yet that provides a way of telling which books use x-ray, though eventually, they plan to have this with most new releases, from what I remember.

    I did see that it is in the Steve Jobs book by Isaacson.

  33. Tom,
    They added the things that were in Kindle 3, which makes sense. Notes, highlights too. One customer rep on the phone told a forumner that they may be working on landscape. Hope he was correct. Makes a huge difference.

  34. I never had a ereader and I'm thinking about the kindke touch or kindle keyboard which one do you think is better? Can I play the games on both ill like to take a brake between books and do they both have a notepad? I blog and write down everything in my notepad until I get to a computer

  35. You do make a good argument for getting the 3G+wifi model. I imagine the Special Offers for items one would purchase anyway would also offset the 3G premium.

    One feature I didn't catch until now... Adjusting text size with a 2-finger pinch gesture. Is it dynamically adjusting the text size or just switching between the 8 available font sizes?

  36. Another thought... How is the MP3 playback on the KTouch? In the K3 (aka Kindle Keyboard), it played MP3s in created date order, whereas the K1 and K2, I believe, were random order.

  37. K3 does not have support for PDF TTS, PDF TOC, or PDF links. So I was surprised to find these new features on KTouch. It makes a huge difference in navigability for PDFs that have defined these. I wish there were a mobi TOC browser like the PDF TOC browser (for books that have defined chapter navigation)!

    I suspect K4 may also have these PDF enhancements (except of course TTS), but have no way to check that myself.

    One thing I miss on KTouch is chapter marks in the status bar. Kindle needs better chapter navigation, not worse. Perhaps that will come with KF8 format. X-ray seems to extract chapter names from the books it is enabled for (though only for the 'top' level sections). They should have left display of page numbers on for PDF also—there's room.

    I also don't like how TTS takes over so much of the screen (both at top and bottom). There should be a way to hide it, or minimize to a button at the bottom so that you can read all of the text you'd ordinarily be able to see.

    Some people will miss the margin/justification/font hack that was possible by editing reader.prefs file (which doesn't seem to be in the visible Kindle file system for Touch). And the picture viewer is gone AFAICT.

    I requested a replacement for my KTouch as I've seen significantly more 'ghosting' than with my K3 (or Nook Touch even before the latest update for that matter). Hope the new one will be better; I haven't seen a lot of complaints about this on the forums, so with luck my first one was just a bit substandard.

  38. Amy,
    The Kindle Touch has a faster processor and is navigated by 'touch' so will be faster in that way too.

    I personally prefer the physical keyboard but am liking the Kindle Touch also.

    The Kindle Keyboard still has free 3G web lookups (if you go to text-focused sites, the loading is faster). The Touch can do this only over Wifi (except for Kindle Store and Wikipedia, which can be done over 3G cellular access also).

    Word games and logical are available on both. My favorite utility is Notepad, by 7 Dragons, but most of the developers are busy customizing their games and utilities that are popular on the Kindle 3 to work on the Touchscreens too.

    Good luck on whatever you decide. Maybe let us know which and how you like it if you choose one.

  39. SK,
    Re adjusting text size with a 2-finger pinch gesture:

    It's seemed gradual instead of fixed to me, but then there's the sudden choppiness or jerking as it suddenly goes to a huge font. So, I don't know.

    I think the pinch-zoom feature is not easy to implement well with e-Ink.

  40. SK,
    Kindle 1 play mp3's in random order. Kindles 2 and 3 play them in the order they're placed on the device. I haven't read they've changed this, but then they don't describe all their changes...

  41. Tom,
    Good to see you back exploring.

    You're right about the K3 not having, in the PDF documents: text-to-speech, table of contents with active hyperlinks

    I had read they were coming and then apparently imagined they'd been done.

    I don't have a K4 Basic either so have no idea whether they were given the TOC hyperlinks.

    Re chapter marks, I remember swiping up and down to go from chapter to chapter on the Touch (where we used left and right motions on the old 5-way button when we had physical page turn buttons). But I don't remember seeing chapter indicators and, yes, I wish we had them. How would we know to swipe?

    The team put on Kindle Touch seem to have little familiarity with what was on Kindle Keyboard.

    An extreme loss for me (unless you can tell me where I can find it) is the method of jumping to a titles that begin with 'm' or 'j' etc.
    We were able to type ONE alpha character and click Return or press the 5-way button down to get right to it. Now I have to page through to get to them or Search on a title or author I know is there. By the way, my Touch has not indexed for a week and I therefore can't search things. I've contacted tech support and talked for about 45 minutes with one party there.

    Agree that the PDFS really MUST show page numbers. It's one of the basics of reading and comparing notes and certainly, in schools, of being able to cite pages.

    I'm one who misses left justification because I really dislike right or full justification. But, as you say, the text file they used before is not in evidence with the Touch.

    Is the picture viewer really gone? I haven't really tried it. I did put some in 'documents' so I could see them on the Home screen as 'books'... But there's no 'next/previous' that way.

    The only ghosting I see is when I choose to not have screen refreshes for the 5 pages. My screen backgrond is very light and the fonts are crisp and dark, so even when the ghosting starts on the 3rd-4th pages it doesn't bother me.

    Kobe, I think, allows you to choose how often to refresh the screen, and I wish they'd do that.

    Where's the equivalent of alt-g screen refresh? I think I saw it mentioned on the Mobileread forum.

  42. I discovered that TTS UI can be hidden by tapping anywhere in the screen. Another tap reveals the options, and it is much easier to adjust 'playback' that way than before. So I'm very happy with that. Ok, but I would like some gesture to toggle TTS without having to bring up the dialog (two finger hold?)

    On the Home screen, you can navigate by alpha or page number by tapping on the 'page x of y' indicator at top right. This brings up a dialog. You can type more than one letter in there for alpha search. So that makes it as manageable as K3 was.

    Don't know if you noticed but you can type in some 'diacritics' by holding the letter down, this reveals more choices based on that letter. Unfortunately these don't include diacritics needed for Polish/Czech/Turkish/Vietnamese etc. though these are also latin-based. But they cover requirements of west european languages that Kindle platform is currently targeting.

    There's a 'shortcut' for doing screenshots: hold down the Home button and single-tap on the screen, continue holding Home for a second or two. The screenshot is placed in the 'root' of the user storage.

    My wish list for the update is:
    - screen orientation option (it would be cool if they could have a gesture for this, such as drawing a circle with your finger)
    - faster page turns (seems a little slower than Nook Touch right now)
    - option to change UI language, F/G/S/P dictionaries as with K4, ideally, TTS for those languages also (I notice that KTouch has a 'tts' folder; presumably more language support files could be placed there and used as per the book metadata language).
    - ability to extend selection to adjacent pages
    - redesign home screen with option for showing covers instead of a list;
    - some way to quickly navigate within a book, such as a scrubber control that appears with the options at the bottom (ideally with chapter marks, and forward/back buttons to jump to these). The scrubber would show a popup with the page number/location as you drag it back and forth.
    - they need to think about adding some accessibility features before killing off K3 (voice menus, etc.)

    All considered, I'm really liking it (aside from the ghosting on the device I have right now). Seems well worth $20 to get this rather than the K4, provided you can get used to a touch interface.

  43. screen refresh: just tap to bring up options and tap again to dismiss them (double tap would be a better way, but it's not a gesture that reading mode understands (though PDF and browser do).

    The options toggle to refresh only works in reading mode. In these contexts, tap menu and then dismiss the ensuing menu dialog seems to force redraw.

    BTW, PDF is better in another respect: double tap seems to zoom to fit width, and when thus zoomed, you can still turn pages (and it auto scrolls to show text cut off by the zoom-to-width. The PDFs I've tried so far work really well this way. IT EVEN WORKS WITH MULTI-COLUMN PDF!: double tap zooms the column to fit width, subsequent taps advance to bottom, then to next column, then to next page, etc. Fantastic!

  44. PDFs do show page numbers, but you have to bring up Options. Plus typically PDFs have page number labels already (unless you crop them off as I used to do, but probably won't bother with now that fit-to-width reading mode works so well). The Kindle displays the page number labels that are embedded in the PDF, but this often does not correspond to the actual page number images, since many PDF authors are not careful to generate the labels correctly. So it is a minor thing for me.

    Personally the page refresh on/off option is all I want, and I'll leave it off. The only reason it's there is so people who have become used to page flash with every turn can get it back. It shouldn't be used to compensate for ghosting problems. Fix the ghosting!

    Kobo took the wrong approach IMO by basically not fixing the ghosting issue and adding this option instead (apparently—I will admit I am not current on Kobo Touch issues). Even K3 has ghosting now and then, with refresh every page. Nook STR (at least mine, since the update) doesn't really have this problem and they don't have any option to change page refresh option. If the problem is ghosting, fix that (e.g. by using a little more current or however that's done).

  45. My Kindle Touch 3G does not show a "Delete" when I want to delete a book. A couple days ago I had success with deleting a book from my Home position. However, just today I held my finger over a book for five seconds, and one of the options said, "Move to Archive." There was no mention of "Delete or Move to Archive." Should I contact the Amazon technicians? Many thanks.

  46. Well, I finally got my KTSO. I bought it with Amazon's KT leather cover:

    which snaps onto the KT and improves handling, looks, and protects power button a bit from accidental turn-offs (a big problem on my KF). The special offers displays are unobtrusive, and not at all a problem for me -- I just wish they could be targeted to my interests a bit.

    It's a very nice reader for mass market books (I haven't tried it yet on PDFs -- that's not going to be its primary purpose).

    Touch is capacitive like on the KF. I find the KT to be a little less responsive to touch than the KF (I haven't made up my mind yet whether this is a good thing or bad).

    The doc that came on the KT about transferring existing kindle docs to the KT could have been clearer. I ended up grabbing my KDX collections first, which meant that books downloaded from archive would NOT automatically end up in the right collection. You have to download (or sideload for non-Amazon stuff) your books first before you import your collections.

    As you mentioned handling/displaying of collections has changed. They used to display the collections view sorted by time of last reference -- I had got used to having my most recently touched collection appearing at the top of my home page list. I also was prefixing my collection names with the "}" special character to force the byTitle sort to bring collections to the top. The KT ignores most special characters -- so when using byTitle sorting, collections would appear in the list where the first alphanumerics in the collection name would place them.

    I haven't tested extensively, but prefixing a collection name with a numeric or "+" or "-" ("-" appears before "+") will bring that collection to the top of the list in either the byCollections or byTitles sorts (byCollections will only display the collections whereas byTitles will display all the items (collections, books, etc) sorted alphabetically.

    I am using "+" and "-" for now to ensure that the collections I want at the top stay there.

    I haven't tested this, but the KT documentation somewhere mentioned that if a PDF contained complex layouts/images, it would automatically force the PDF to display in landscape mode.

    Bulk loading a new device is a use case that Amazon needs to improve -- more in another post.

  47. Compared to my 2nd gen KDX, the display is a good improvement; readability is better (though my KDX was fine for all of that).

    Internally on the KT, collections are being handled differently than on 2nd/3rd gen kindles. The "collections.json" file used in the past has disappeared, and all the collection utilities and Calibre collection plugins do not work on the KT. This will seriously impact the management of large collections on the KT, and has got the boffins over at scratching their heads. They are waiting for someone to root/jailbreak the KT to see if the KT collection mechanism can be deciphered.

    Apropos large collections several over at have been trying to find a way to reliably bulk load a kindle with both Amazon and non-Amazon books. On the KT sideloading appears to not be reliable. The Amazon documentation for the KT states that certain side-loaded non-Amazon books will not be visible on the KT; and some are reporting that sideloading Amazon books from one kindle to another doesn't always work either.

    Amazon documentation says to load your device one by one from the Archive section on the device, or from the manage your kindle page on the web. This is impractical for those who keep hundreds of books on their kindles (as do I -- I keep several hundred technical books on my KDX for reference at customer sites).

    A lot of this -- I'm sure -- has to do with DRM concerns -- so even if a work-around was discovered, this would not be the place to discuss that.

    Some have tried to upload in bulk to the Amazon cloud drive (an AWS area separate from Personal Document storage), and then download from there to the KT/KF. This apparently only works for mp3 music files (I haven't tried it yet).

    Much of this behavior is governed by metadata in the book/document file. People using Calibre have been able to get invisible-on-the-KT .mobi files to be visible, but they seem not to be clear exactly how it's done.

    As an aside: within the metadata is a flag that can contain "EBOK" or "PDOC": if EBOK, it will be treated as an ebook; if PDOC, it will be treated as a personal document (this is probably of most use for controlling whether an item appears under "books" or "docs" on the KFire).

  48. Tom,
    Yes, it's great that the Text to Speech can be tapped to not take up screen place and then tapped to bring it back, while it's playing. Thanks for pointing that out. A 2-finger hold? Yes, since doing that brings up the Aa font size choices, it should be able to do the TTS also.

    THANK you for that tip on tapping the Home Screen page # !! which, as you say, gives me back the "Go To Title Starting With" that I'd been missing or jumping to a certain page!

    I don't remember that being in the User Guide.

    I did know about the diacritics and that could be useful when using another language's contribution to English that uses the mark as in 'Resume' (a long press doesn't work on my computer though :-) )

    I saw that shortcut for screenshots and then forgot it, so thank you for that too. It's a bit easier than shift-alt-g on the older Kindles. Interesting that they decided not to drop those in the Kidnle's documents' folder on the newer model.

    The 'gesture' idea comes from Dolphin browser? I've found that useful lately.

    I thought my page turns w/o screen refreshes were almost transparent. They just almost instantly melt into the other letters, but it may be a function of how many books you have on the device. I have only about 200.

    Yes, I miss being able to extend the highlighting across pages.

    Covers on the home page are popular are some but I don't like to depend on anything that takes longer load-time, as an Image or set of images will, or be limited to seeing only 3 at the top while 'Recommended books for you' is on the bottom half as it is with B&N. Just give me my listing :-) On a faster machine like the KFire, it's okay.

    I like the Kindle Touch, but they still have not solved my problem with NO SEARCH for almost 2 weeks because of inability to index probably because they will not release two 'pending' sends to my KTouch which don't exist and won't download. It's annoying to see them taking up the first two slots as grey and barely seeable "pending" titles. It's been days and after an hour phone call, they still haven't called me about an essential thing like being able to do a book or device search.

    AND all they have to do is take the pending non-existent books out of the queue!

    Yes, am getting impatient, even though I know they're busy. But, I don't know why, I love the KTouch. It seems so light and easy and the text is so crisp!

  49. Tom,
    On the PDFs reflowing, Kristen wrote in this very thread just before you, on Nov. 25, about the column fit via double tapping (which works for single column pdfs of course too).

    This is an Android feature which some readers implement (when the document allows it) and I saw a video the other day of the Kindle Fire reflowing text to fit the screen while the iPad didn't. (Maybe they felt it didn't have to because a PDF is meant to be seen one way and the iPad is big enough to just show it :-) ).

    Yes, it IS fantastic but in a couple of cases with my pdfs, still too small. I want landscape! BUT it's the best we can get for portrait, certainly. There's always the magnifying glass !

    By the way, it works with the web too, and I'm about to write that you need to zoom the text to the size you want, when reading web and then double click to see it reflow in the size you want. I use this in forums a lot.

  50. Ed,
    Thanks for the complex feedback. Will get back you on these after I finally do some blogging!

  51. Joe, somehow I missed responding to all your good input. I will eventually. Noticed this today because I'm doing a blog entry on this kind of thing. Apologies. And, more later!

  52. Becky,
    I could have sworn I did answer yours but I don't see any reply here. Huge apology! I must have formed the answer and become distracted and never answered it. I think now that I stopped to find out the answer to your 2nd question.

    Yes, your instincts were correct. If at the Kindle store, you can get right back to the Home screen by pressing the Home button, which is the one physical navigation button, at the bottom of the screen.

    It looks like a grate, with 4 horizontal lines.

    Re your 2nd question, there USED to be a hack for adjusting the length of time before the screensaver comes on, for one of the older Kindles, but I haven't seen one discussed for over a year, sorry to say. Maybe someone who knows for certain will reply.

    Also try the Kindle Community forums where someone might know or find the answer for you. I don't know if you can do the forums. I can put the question out there or at Mobileread where they usually look into things like this.

    The screensaver comes on too often for me too.

    Thanks for taking the time to write here and I am sorry I missed responding to it. If you do hear of a way to stall the sleepscreen or screensleeper, please let us know.

  53. Tom, re the ghosting you returned your unit for...
    Are you "Cold in Seattle" then ?

  54. Roger,
    "Move to Archive" means that you want to delete something from the Kindle device but the Archive will show the title that exists on the Amazon servers, still reserved for you, in case you ever want to re-download it by clicking no the Archive title.

    Sorry to be so late with this reply. I've been missing some when things get too busy.


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