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by Jiří {x2} Činčura

New Kindle firmware (2.5) – reflections

26 Jun 2010 4 mins Amazon Kindle, Social Networks

Amazon released new firmware (2.5) for Kindle couple of days ago. And I have to say, there were some features I was quite looking forward. Namely the collections, PDF zoom and lately also the social networks integration. The rest wasn’t so much interesting for me. Let me go through these three and put out some reflection I have from usage.

Collections are great. Simple powerful. Everything I was expecting for my usage, which is to just keep some order in my books. One book can be in zero, one or more collections. Nothing more or less.

The PDF zoom is good, though I was expecting little bit more (at least in back of my head, as I know creating something with wide application would need a serious thoughts). You can simply zoom into your PDF document if the font, image, graph, whatever is too small to easily read it on screen. Using it for images, tables etc. is great. Finally you can read the complete PDF without later checking some small tables on computer. Sadly it doesn’t solve the problem with small font in PDF. Well, it does, but it’s not pleasant. The font used to create the PDF is normal for computer reading then it’s too small to read it easily on Kindle (for me at my 6’’). And although you can now zoom into it the reading experience is not so great. You have to use 5-way joystick to jump left and right to read whole line. I know (and I wrote/said many times on many places), PDF is for showing and printing, it contains a lot of information about layout etc., for reading (and “just” keeping text with simple formatting) we have some other formats, but I was expecting little bit more from this feature from reading point of view. Maybe better usage of buttons? …

The so called social networks like Twitter and Facebook are now supported in a way you can highlight some part of book and post it there, using Whispernet. When I first read it, I thought: “Cool.". But the real world implementation is slightly different from description. First the highlighted passage isn’t posted to social network. It’s posted to and only link is posted to network. On the you can see the highlighted part, your (my) comment, the book name, author and link into Amazon store to buy it. And as a bonus you can see most highlighted parts in books you have in your Kindle directly when reading these. Problem is, sometimes I just want to share some part of book, sentence even a word and add comment. But the message posted will contain only my comment and the link to it (to Twitter). Why? If it’s short enough to fit in why to share link? And why even share the link? What if I don’t want to show from what book it came from? What if I just want to point out some interesting wording … Sure I know. It supports the Kindle business and all around. When you’re reading the highlighted part you’re only one click from the store and there you’re one click from buying. I totally understand it. I was just expecting something different. Or at least let me decide what to do. But overall the feature is good as well. Especially the overview about the most highlighted passages. It allows you to spot interesting pieces you might miss otherwise.

Be it as it is, I like it. The main feature – collections – I was looking forward to this firmware is truly great! The other one are good as well and some issues are just my personal opinions and others might be happy with the implementation. And who knows what improvements will be there with another update (either firmware or backend services).

Profile Picture Jiří Činčura is .NET, C# and Firebird expert. He focuses on data and business layers, language constructs, parallelism, databases and performance. For almost two decades he contributes to open-source, i.e. FirebirdClient. He works as a senior software engineer for Microsoft. Frequent speaker and blogger at