Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kindle Touch and its X-Ray Feature. Kiplinger on Best Color E-Readers

[Revised: Eliminated the one-day Oscar apps header]

I've been spending more time with the Kindle Touch (photo from because I finally went back to reading the Steve Jobs book by Isaacson, and there are SO MANY characters whose function and place I don't remember the 2nd or 3rd time I run across them, that I've been using the X-Ray feature more and really enjoying it for a book like this.  I took screenshots but will add them later as am rushed right now.

But, essentially, for a guy like Andy Hertzfeld, say, who was a member of the Macintosh team in the 80s, I can:
  . click on the top center of the page to get the Menu and options and
      choose "X-Ray" at the bottom-right
      to see a list of all names mentioned on that page and then
  . click on his name to get a Wikipedia summary on him
      (with a link to the full article) and,
        below that, a scrolling list of each mention of Hertzfeld
        in that book, in page/location order,
        with surrounding words for context and a link to each of those pages.

  I saw that although he was doing intense work for Jobs in late 1979 to March 1984 and remained close to him after leaving, the Wiki summary tells what he's done since then, and the last part reads:

  "Hertzfeld joined Google in 2005, and in 2011 was the key designer of the Circles user interface in Google+."

  Google Plus and its Circles are something new in the last year, and many of us find ourselves using them this last year, so he is still very much in the zone.

  I do like the X-Ray feature for non-fiction especially.

KIPLINGER'S MONEY POWER ON "The best color e-readers"
Kiplinger's Money Power's Jeff Bertolucci chooses the Kindle Fire, mentioning the "vibrant color display" -- and, about the 7" form factor, says --
' And smaller can be better.  The paperback-like Fire weighs nearly 7 ounces less than the iPad and is easier to hold with one hand.  The weight difference may not seem like a lot, but it matters when you're watching a two-hour flick or spending the afternoon reading a novel.

Recent software upgrades have corrected many early shortcomings.  Given the Fire's software and content, it gets our nod as the best of the current crop of color e-readers. '
He finds the Nook Tablet's screen is the best of the roundup and the unit has better specs but that the Kindle Fire has the better overall package, and he feels that the Kobo Vox isn't "as easy to navigate" and that the touch screen is "a bit balky."

Kindle Touch 3G, US-only   Kindle Touch WiFi (US)   Kindle Touch WiFi-Only, outside US    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. Hello.

    Yes but...
    I have a Kindle Touch since 3 months, I read a lot every day in the train (2 hours), and I really don't see any value for the x-ray.
    It is my point of view, but I think x-ray is only a 'buzzlike' from amazon for this reader.
    Is it really usefulness ? Most of people don't understand what it is about. I searched a lot of explanations for understanding what this super-extraordinary feature (sic) was. It is like some products, people don't need it, but maker creates the need with marketing.
    In few words : who cares???

    Anyway I like my KT !


    1. M., glad you like your KT.
      If others enjoy a feature (and I explained why it's of value to me), then it's of value to them -- even if not (believe it or not) to you :-)

      This is much better than what I used to do, which was to search for the character's name so I could be reminded of what he'd done earlier in the book.
      This makes it easier and gives me the option of more info and is very well presented. I used to program for a living so I know the kind of work that went into this and they did a good job on it.

      So, yes, at least I had the need before, since I used Search all the time, and now all I have to do is click on X-Ray, click on his name, and then see a lot. But there's no reason for you to use it. You may have a much better memory than I do, for one thing! and therefore find much less use for it.

    2. Thanks to a mention today at Teleread, I am just now aware of the X-Ray, and it sounds vital! I have vision and memory impairments. This means each page contains relatively few characters, and I'm always wondering "who was this person again?" For print books I write up a scorecard as I'm introduced to names, and use it as a bookmark.

  2. If only they would fix KT so selecting a word or phrase offered wikipedia/google/search options, as was possible with previous Kindles.

    I recently purchased a Sony PRS-T1. In most respects, a better interface than KT. In particular it offers the search options I suggest above after making a selection. Library integration is quite addictive, web browser is MUCH more functional than KT, Google Books integration, to name a few highlights. I really like it.

    XRay quality varies from book to book, since it is all crowd-sourced. It doesn't really obviate the need or desire for something like ePub3 Navigation Documents, under the control of the ebook designer.

    BTW there's an update for K4PC (1.91) which adds KF8 support, mostly:
    - fixed layout can be side loaded (if no DRM) otherwise you can't send or download it to K4PC
    - 2 column layout not available for KF8 :(
    - reflowable KF8 is the default format delivered to K4PC (send an O'Reilly sample to see it in action)
    - I don't think sync works between mobi and kf8: the location calculation (based partly on the specific HTML markup used) is different with each. but I'm not going to purchase something just to test this!

    1. Tom, thanks for all that good information.
      As for previous Kindles -- selecting a word pulled up, with those, only the dictionary. We had a workaround that few knew about (undocumented) that if we started a highlight but ended it with a Spacebar instead of a highlight-ending click, we'd THEN get the word or phrase put into a search-box for us with the options to look it up at Wikipedia or Google.

      On the KT, Selecting a word brings up, as you know, only the dictionary, highlight, note, or share options.

      But if you start a Search instead by pressing the top-center-edge of the KT and then use the down-arrow selector in that field to specify something other than "This Book," you also get options for My Items, Kindle Store, Wikipedia, and Dictionary. So, the Free 3G for 3G Kindles feature applies here with Wikipedia.
      And wouldn't with Google.

      That may be the reason they left Google out. It would confuse WiFi owners who do have 3G and then the programmers would have to have a popup that tells them they'd have to turn on WiFi.

      I do miss having google searches FROM a book though!

      Sometimes I wonder if any of the teams for the various Kindle models or devices ever talk with one another.

      On the KINDLE FIRE, however, I've been using the Long-Press on words to start either a dictionary lookup OR a search "in Book" or "Wikipedia" or "Google" ...

      So, THERE you do have Google (with no 3G capability on the device). Go figure! But there's no possibility with the KF of having 3G AND wanting to use it for Google, I guess.

      X-Ray is just very good for what it offers -- summaries, full Wiki, Shelfari info, etc., and the usual location links for each appearance of the term that you've chosen. It's ultra fast being pre-set and pre-loaded. Any other options would be great to have too. Small steps, I guess.

      K4PC update - I saw Nate's article on that and thought most will not even notice what it does and forgot about it. Thank for the itemization of what it can/can't do. You're right about mobi and kf8 location numbers.

      But since KFire supposedly has had KF8 support for awhile, I've not heard people couldn't sinc their books with their e-Ink copies. I guess the KF8-implemented books just are not being used much yet?

      It is too odd that 2-column layout is not there. It's available for normal Kindle books in K4PC. Too odd, as I say, that it's not supported yet for K4PC's KF8 books.

      The Sony sounds very good.

    2. Tom, the blog comments are on Delay until I am here, since the blog is bombarded with spam.

    3. Re: KF8/mobi lack of synchng, yes it has not been a problem so far because 1) most people never use sync, those that do are likely syncing a Kindle with a smartphone 2) lack of books available in kf8 to date 3) people aren't using Fire to read on, or rather they are doing many things other than reading. Once all apps and KT/K4 have been updated, it will only be a problem for people with older Kindles (I'm assuming K3/DXG will not make the cut for whatever reason, e.g. maybe their brains are too tiny).

  3. Is the Kindle X-Ray feature available for the other Kindle reader applications (iOS, PC, Mac, ....)?


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