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Reading Books

This Kindle is an excellent piece of equipment that is made for one task: reading books. It offers excellent capabilities in not only reading, but documenting what you are reading. You can easily bookmark sections, add notes, look up word definitions with the built-in dictionary, or highlight sections that you want to emphasize. If you choose, you can share your highlighted passages and notes with others, and you can follow notes and highlights of others, as well.

There are lots of little extras. For instance, as shown in Figure 13, you can see the time, storage status, wireless indicator, and battery indicator at the top of the screen when you press the Menu button. You can choose View Special Offers in the Menu list to see all the current offerings at once.

Kindle Wi-Fi with Special OffersFigure 13: The time

In an effort to compete with other mobile devices, Amazon has added other extras that may or may not be useful. For instance, when you highlight a section of text, you are given the option to share that text with friends through Twitter and/or Facebook.

The Kindle with Special Offers also comes with a Web browser that Amazon lists as experimental. The browser is based on WebKit, which is used in several smartphones. This browser has zoom capabilities and an Article Mode that strips away graphics and lets you read just the text article. Yet, it is slow, and because of the navigation and gray scale screen, provides only rudimentary Web browsing. Several times, the Kindle froze when browsing the Web, making it even more unusable.

Unlike the first version of the Kindle, this one has no SD card slot. Storage space, however, is not lacking. This Kindle has 4 GB of internal memory and can hold approximately 3,500 books.

Over the last few years, the Kindle Store has grown dramatically. They now offer over 900,000 books. Most books can be previewed before you buy and many are USD 10 or less.

The Kindle supports the Kindle AZW format as well as TXT, PDF, Audible (AA and AAX), and unprotected MOBI formats. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support the popular EPUB book format.

There are also over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright books available. Top US newspapers and some magazines can be automatically delivered to your Kindle. Be aware, however, that each publisher makes their own rules and chooses which stories appear. We were disappointed to learn that even though we currently subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, and this subscription entitles us to a free online digital edition of the paper, they charge full price for the Kindle edition. You can also subscribe to many different blogs, but there is a charge for all of them.

Amazon offers an excellent leather cover for this Kindle. As seen in Figure 10, it even has a strap to keep it closed. As shown in Figure 11, the cover slides onto the Kindle by attaching to two strong metal tabs. The inside of the cover is lined in a soft felt-like material. All in all, the cover is very sturdy and adds to the richness of the device, making it a little more like actually reading a book. There is also a similar cover with a flip-up light for reading at night. Unfortunately, at USD 35 for the unlighted and USD 60 for the lighted cover, they are both a bit pricey.

Kindle Wi-Fi with Special OffersFigure 14: The Kindle cover

Kindle Wi-Fi with Special OffersFigure 15: Attaching the Kindle cover

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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.