Keyboard and Navigation

As shown in Figure 6, the Kindle keyboard has small round keys in a QWERTY layout. The keys are tiny, but in everyday reading, they are seldom used.

Kindle Wi-Fi with Special OffersFigure 6: The Kindle keyboard

On the right side of the keyboard is a five-way touchpad, which is the main navigational controller. The four sides of the controller are used to navigate through highlighted choices on the screen. Pressing the center button on the controller selects the item that is highlighted.

The keyboard also has three navigation buttons: a Back button that takes you to the previous screen, a Home button that takes you to your library of books, and a Menu button, which brings up the Menu shown in Figure 7.

The menu options include:

  • Turn Wireless On/Off: You can turn the wireless off to save power, and turn it on only when you need it.
  • Shop in Kindle Store: As long as the wireless is turned on and you are connected to a wireless network, you can shop in the Kindle Store and download books directly to your Kindle in a flash. You can also purchase books on your computer and they will be automatically sent to your Kindle.
  • View Archived Items: If you want to keep your Home page neat and orderly, you can archive items. From the archive, they can be moved to the home page at any time.
  • Search – This option allows you to search through your items, search the Kindle Store, search Google, or search the dictionary and Wikipedia.
  • Create New Collection: This lets you combine your books into Collections that you can name.
  • Sync & Check for Items: If an item doesn’t show up immediately on your Kindle, this option will check for it.
  • View Downloading Items: If an item is downloading, you will see it here.
  • Settings: This allows you to register or deregister your Kindle, give your device a name like “Sandy’s Kindle,” and find and join available Wi-Fi networks.
  • View Special Offers: This allows you to view all the latest Special Offers. (More on this later.)
  • Experimental: Currently, there are three experimental entries, Web browser, Play MP3, and Text-to-Speech. The Web browser is rudimentary and difficult to control via the four-way pad. MP3s can be copied from your computer to the Kindle to play in the background when you are reading or so that you can use the Kindle as a music player. This works well, except that the only control that you have is to start/stop the music and/or move to the next track.

Kindle Wi-Fi with Special OffersFigure 7: Menu choices

The Kindle keyboard has a key in the bottom row that is marked with a double “A.” You can use this key to change the size and spacing of the text. As shown in Figure 8, there are eight sizes of text and three typefaces. In this area, you can also adjust the line spacing, the number of words per line, and the screen orientation (vertical or horizontal). Unfortunately, the text in the Kindle Store cannot be resized.

As you can also see in Figure 8, this is where you can turn on the text-to-speech. This option will read the text to you. It is available for many, but not all, Kindle books.

Kindle Wi-Fi with Special OffersFigure 8: The type adjustments

The keyboard also has a “sym” key for symbols and an Alt button, which is used for a variety of shortcuts.

Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up's Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.