Kindle 3: My first impressions (and some tips)

This thursday arrived my Kindle 3 (Wifi only), but until the weekend I haven't had time to properly test it. As via twitter I said some things and I've had feedback, questions and been asked for advice, I've decided to condense my first impressions, tools I'm using, etcetera in this blog post.

First of all, the device itself: Small, initially looks too small, but the screen resolution is more than enough. So lightweight looks like a fake plastic only device. The cheapest version doesn't includes a case but apart from that I don't have any bad critic.

You can take notes, has a 5-way joystick and a qwerty keyboard, perfect for small notes or searching inside books. A curious fact is that in both sides of the device you have a button to go back and another to go forward. The first times you will accidentally click the "left go forward" when wanting to go backwards, but once you get used to it is quite nice and useful for when you handle the Kindle with just one hand.

The device is fast. Not instant but faster than other ebook readers I've seen. Having the builtin wifi and a webkit browser makes it an alternative for reading RSS and even blog articles. It is ironic that a "crappy ebook reader" includes a better browser than many desktop PCs who have IE8 or less. Here is an example:

Kindle 3 webbrowser

When it comes to books, there's two main areas: Formats supported and rendering modes.

The Kindle 3 supports the typical formats: PDF, MOBI, HTML, JPG, PNG... It doesn't supports CHM, EPUB or DOC/DOCX, so for those we will need to convert.

Regarding rendering modes, we have two:

  • For MOBI and Amazon ebooks, the native rendering, which allows a ton of customizations, from the font size to spacing, indenting and all the features of the "limited rendering" mode.
  • PDFs will be rendered in a "limited mode", which allows to change the layout (to landscape, inverted, etcetera), the contrast, and just zooming in and out of the pages, which can result in not so good reading of some pdfs with crappy headers and footers. You can't adjust the font size individually so in those cases is better to convert too.

To convert files, the best tool at the moment that both suits my needs and is not hard to use (just has a UI a bit clumsy at first) is Calibre.
Opensource, multi-platform, and really does the job. Can keep a local library, connects to the Kindle, synchronizes whatever you whan whenever you want (unlike an iTunes ;) and supports any format (except DOC/DOCX) for input/output, even old ones like .LIT of Windows Mobile books!

Converting from EPUB to MOBI is fast and easy (both are already formatted to ebook readers so need no intervention), converting from a CHM or PDF might not work perfectly all times because of custom headers and footers, but the application supports regular expressions and includes a quick tester so is a gap you can easily cross.

And believe me, having everything in MOBI with the custom font size pays off (well, also the format weights way less than PDF).

Some friends recommended me also AutoKindle, but I haven't yet tried it. Any thoughts?

I always like to customize my geek toys, so the built-in screensaver (images that appear when you turn off the device) was something I wanted to change. As usual, after some research I found that the only way was jailbreaking the Kindle. Looks scary but is actually pretty fast and easy to do (I followed this instructions).

As the Kindle is relatively recent there is not much you can do with the jailbreak, but at least you can set your own screensaver :)

Conclussions

For the price of one iPad you can buy 4 Kindle 3s, and for reading no matter what Apple says an eInk screen beats and is way better for your eyes than any LCD-like screen.

Of course if you want color, reading comics or fancy applications forget about this. But if you want to read books, if you want a real substitute for the paper books, then at this price you should go and buy one.

Update #1: More interesting links from comments and personal research:

Posted by Kartones on 2010-10-17

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