Things that have surprised me about the 3rd gen Kindle (Part 1)

imageI just bought a Kindle.  And for the most part, I like the experience.  I also like geeking out on new crap like this so I suppose it would make sense that I’d be excited about a a new gadget seeing that I haven’t had any new gadgets in a long time. 

Amazon likes to evangelize the fact that the screen is clearly viewable in daylight.  And they’re absolutely right:  The screen is virtually the same experience as reading paper.  As a matter of fact, when I first opened the box, I’ll admit I’d never seen a 3rd gen Kindle and thought the pictures on the screen were an actual “peel away sticker”:  It’s THAT legible.

But I’ve found that the Kindle has a lot of interesting surprises that aren’t advertised – some bad, but most good.  They may be obvious to some but I wasn’t aware of them before having bought the Kindle. 

So here’s the 1st part of my list of “Things that have surprised me about the 3rd gen Kindle”:

  1. Document conversion & delivery via eMail 
    Again, I didn’t know about this but each Kindle is given it’s own private email address.  (With restrictions on who mail is accepted from)  Mailing documents to this email address will automatically get the document onto your Kindle in a Kindle-readable format.  If it requires conversion so that it’s in a format that the Kindle can understand, it will do so so that it is viewable on your device. (.DOC, .XLS, .PPT all need to be converted, PDFs do not)
  2. $CHARGES$ for document delivery of Whispernet/3G
    This was a BIG surprise:  If your device receives a document over Whispernet (3G Cellular connection) Amazon will charge you’re a service fee at 15 cents per MB for the document.  If the device receives the document over 802.11b WiFi however, there is no charge.

    By default, every device will receive documents over Whispernet for charges up to $2.50 per document.  You can see how this would add up if you’re not careful and let the document get transferred over 3G.  There is no feature that restricts document delivery to just using free WiFi-based delivery, thus eliminating the possibility of getting charged. 

    PRO TIP:  If you go into the following link and set the maximum monetary charge allowable for documents delivered to your Kindle to $0.00, you can effectively prevent documents from ever being sent over Whispernet, while still allowing your Kindle to receive documents over WiFi for free.

  3. Automatic dictionary definitions
    Perhaps I never paid attention but if you move your cursor in front of any given word, the word’s definition appears at the bottom of the screen care of the Oxford Dictionary, or any other dictionary you ‘plug in’ to your Kindle.  (It comes with two dictionaries by default.)

    Color me surprised, but this could make the Kindle the greatest learning tool ever for kids K-12.  I used to carry around a 100,000 word electronic dictionary when I was younger just to help me learn vocabulary when I didn’t know the definition of a word.  Now… it’s automatic.  Fantastic.

  4. Games & applications 
    I haven’t seen a LOT of these but the Kindle actually supports independent apps that Amazon sells on their web site and delivers via Whispernet just like a purchased eBook.  Here’s a list of some of the one’s I’ve downloaded to my Kindle.
  5. Post book quotes & links to pages via Facebook/Twitter
    If you set up your Facebook account or your Twitter account, Kindle will automatically post your bookmarks or specifically highlighted content to Facebook/Twitter.  If it’s a book, it will even point users to the part in the book ONLINE that the quote is taken from or the page you’ve bookmarked.

    For people who read the same book at the same time, that’s pretty f’ing neat.  The level of reading collaboration that this provides is cool because while it might not be useful for you if you’re not reading a book with someone else (or know others that are interested in the book you’re reading)…

    …this is REALLY important for kids doing school work.  Imagine reading a book that a class of 40 other kids are reading and being able to tweet to your school mates specific paragraphs for others to note.  I remember breezing through books and missing huge chunks of information that other’s with better comprehension might have gotten.

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