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On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

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Updating Kindle DX or Kindle 2 to Kindle 3.x Firmware

Having discovered an already functional jailbreak for the Kindle Touch recently thanks to independent developer Yifan Lu, I was also pleased to note that there is a way to get your older Kindle devices somewhat more up to date.  It turns out that the hardware improvements in the Kindle 3 as compared to the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX, particularly the processors, were not significant enough to make it impossible to run the newer version.

To get this update installed, you will need a few things.  The most important, and possibly the hardest to get in some cases, is a working Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard) that has been jailbroken.  Assuming you have a spare Kindle 3 laying around, the same site linked in the instructions to follow contains detailed instructions on the jailbreaking process under the “Projects” tab.  You will also need a minimum of 900mb free on your Kindle 2/Kindle DX and 720mb free on your Kindle 3.  Naturally a USB transfer cable will be important as well.

Assuming you have all of these things, check out this page on Yifan Lu’s site.  The included instructions are simple to follow and while it will probably take you anywhere from one to three hours to complete the entire process, there is little room for error if you follow the order of operations correctly.

There are several things that you must be aware of before starting in on this:

  • Should you allow either of your Kindles to lose power while they are in use, it is likely to cause some major problems.  Charge them before you begin.
  • Once completed, you will have to repeat the process for any future firmware updates.  The Kindle 2 or Kindle DX will not be able to automatically access the files released for the Kindle 3.
  • While the hardware difference between these Kindles is not large enough to make the process inadvisable, as it would be if going from the Kindle 4 to the Kindle 3, there is a difference.  You will experience slight lag as the downside of your improved functionality.
  • Active content such as Kindle games will not work as a result of the update.  The developer of this update process doesn’t know exactly why, nor does there seem to be any major fix for this.  Be aware.
  • Sound/Music playback on the newly updated device will be flawed.  Since it will have been jailbroken it is possible to install an alternate music player to fix this, but it is an additional step for people who make much use of the eReader’s audio playback abilities.
  • There have been some unconfirmed reports that extremely large PDF files have issues on devices updated in this fashion.  This is likely the result of slightly inferior hardware and will probably not be an issue compared to the greatly improved PDF handling, but it is worth noting.

We can’t quite say why Amazon chose not to update these older Kindles, although it has been speculated that they were consciously abandoned to drum up business for the Kindle 3.  Also possible is the idea that faster processing simply opens more doors to new features that couldn’t be productively implemented otherwise.  Either way, at least now it is possible for owners of older Kindles to get the most out of their devices.

While the newer Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch are great, eReaders are made to last and there is no reason for a satisfied owner to throw away their perfectly good Kindle 2.  With the Kindle DX it’s an even more obvious choice, since there is yet to be a hardware update to the larger form and it looks increasingly like there never will be.  This update makes it even more desirable for those who need the 9.7″ screen.

How Much Do You Have To Read For The Amazon Kindle To Be Worth Buying?

There are any number of reasons to pick yourself up a Kindle, from convenience of transportation to instant 24-hour delivery of all new book purchases, but let’s take it down to the basics for a moment.  Assuming that you have absolutely no concern besides the direct tradeoffs with paper, how much do you have to read before your Kindle has justified itself?

Pricing

We’ll make the somewhat depressing assumption that you read nothing but current bestsellers.  I sincerely hope this isn’t the case, of course, but it makes the price estimation easier for me and negates the obvious point of free books that you should already be aware save you money.  Looking through the top 15 bestselling new hardcover book releases in the Amazon.com store(not the Kindle Store since that might indicate a customer predisposition toward discounted books), there are 13 books that the Kindle saves money on, one where the price is even based on pre-order discounting, and one book that is not available in Kindle format.

The actual average savings on those books that are available is around $2.47(ranging from $0.98 to $5), but for the sake of argument we can round it down to $2.  Always better to err on the side of caution.  This means approximately 58 Kindle books purchased during the life of your Kindle device before it has saved you money, if you pick up the $114 Kindle WiFi w/ Special Offers.  Now, I’m aware that reading five books per week is abnormal so my average doesn’t really play into this.  For the sake of argument, it seems safe to assume a conservative pattern of finishing a book every two weeks.  That would mean that you have to own a Kindle for a little over two years before it saves you any money, assuming this level of consumption and no taking advantage of special offers or hunting for savings.  Not unreasonable, if perhaps more than some would like.  These things do work pretty much forever if you take care of them.  It also might be worth knowing that Kindle owners are said to buy books at more than three times the rate of paper book customers, which speeds things up a bit.

Impact

Another major concern that has come up before is the environmental impact of eReading.  While there is definitely a lot more that goes into the manufacture of an eReader like the Kindle than ever would in a paper book, there is more than that to take into account. Between production, transportation, storage, shipping, and all the other associated fuel costs, each book creates a noticeable amount of pollution.  The question is where these numbers cross over.

Last year, in reference to Kindle 2 production, a report came out on the impact of producing Kindles compared to that of books which said that a Kindle creates a bit over 20 times as much pollution as a book in its creation.  You could always assume that Amazon has gotten more efficient in their production with the next generation of the device, improved processes being good at that sort of thing, but let’s ignore that speculation and focus on what numbers we actually have.  Round that first estimation up to 30 books worth if you want to account for the impact of charging your Kindle and I would be willing to bet that there are still very, very few people ever to own an eReader who didn’t manage to offset these totals.

Putting aside used books and libraries, since if you buy used books then you already know the advantages and the interaction between libraries and Kindles is in flux at the moment and hard to judge in the long term, picking up a Kindle, or any eReader, is just generally a good long term investment for you and the planet.

Helpful Software Update Tip

My Kindle was experiencing major battery drain, causing me to recharge every 2-3 days.  Since my Kindle is almost a year and a half old I thought it might be time for a replacement.  So I asked around, and didn’t find much in the way of help.  So, I finally called Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) thinking that I’d probably have to replace either my Kindle or battery.

But, it just turned out that I needed to update my software.

Where to Download Software Updates

So, for Kindle 2 users like me, the latest software update is 2.5.8.

Latest generation Kindle users need software update 3.1.

The above pages will provide ways to update the software automatically, or via USB.

To check to see what software update you have on your Kindle,  go to Home, then click the Menu button.  Go to Settings.  Once you are in your settings, you’ll see what current software update you have.  Click the Menu button again, and if you need to update your software, the selection is available, if not, it is greyed out.

Amazon Customer Service

I’m so used to major companies having either automated or poor customer service that I was pleasantly surprised to see that Amazon’s was excellent.  They offer phone call, email or chat options, and give a step by step guide on how to fix the problem.  The software update issue was resolved quickly, and now my battery is good as new.

So, next time you have any issues with battery drain, don’t panic!  It most likely is a simple fix like this one was.

No Kindle Deal from Amazon on Cyber Monday?

Kindle $89 deal got lots of attention on Black Friday. But the deal lasted for just several seconds and after that all available $89 Kindles were in the lucky customers shopping carts. Based on the number of negative comments which filled the internet after the deal I can guess that number of lucky customers was considerably less than those who went away from the deal page with empty hands. I guess most of those who missed the deal just went ahead with either $139 Kindle WiFi, $189 Kindle WiFi+3G, Nook or Sony Reader. Or they may just got completely disapponted with eInk based e-readers and went ahead for iPad. Who knows…

Now all excitement grows again with the arrival of Cyber Monday. I don’t expect to see mile long traffic jams and crowds rushing to the shopping malls but I can foresee internet routers getting overloaded with shoppers and e-commerce sites getting slow due to inflow of cyber shoppers. On Black Friday around 9am when $89 Kindle deal was in progress Amazon Lightning Deals page was loading very slow. I guess load time of this page could be a good measure to see how many customers are trying to see if there are any exciting deals there. This page is loading quite fast now as I’m writing this post but it is 2am Cyber Monday night time and most of Cyber Monday shoppers are still watching dreams about their tomorrow’s purchases.

Amazon has already changed their Facebook page to “Amazon Cyber Monday Deals” logo and published multiple deals there. You can see all of these deals at Amazon Cyber Monday Deals page.

I checked both Kindle WiFi and Kindle 3G pages on Amazon and they are still selling for $139 and $189 respectively. As of writing this post (Cyber Monday night 2am) I don’t see any Kindle related deals yet but they may show up later during the Cyber Monday day. But besides Kindle related deals I see lots of other Cyber Monday deals in other categories, like Electronics, Video Games, Sports, Health, Beauty and more. So it may be worthwhile to check Cyber Monday Deals and see if you can find something good there.

Since I’m a sports fan I also recommend you to check out bowlex sport equipment page on Amazon – they have quite nice discounts on some cool training equipment there.

Also I see lots of folks lining up to dance in front of the Microsoft Kinect demo booths at my local shopping mall which I guess means that Microsoft Kinect is one of the hits on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Kindle Black Friday Deal: Best Day for Amazon Kindle Sales in History?

This Tuesday (November 23rd) Amazon reported on their Facebook wall: “We had our biggest sales day ever for Kindle devices yesterday. Thank you, customers!”. And it was just Tuesday of Thanksgiving Week. Since then Amazon made couple more posts on their wall announcing more Black Friday Deals products but didn’t leave any notes about Kindle Sales on Friday. My expectation is that Wednesday would be as strong as Tuesday and Thursday or Black Friday Kindle Sales will beat the record. Also I have great expectation for Cyber Monday which in recent years grew to be as significant as Black Friday.

It would be very interesting to find out how many people will go with Kindle 2 Black Friday Deal for $89 and how many will get Kindle 3G+WiFi or Kindle 3 WiFi version instead. It won’t be a simple choice since Kindle 2 is closer in features to $189 Kindle 3G (both of them have 3G connection which is a very useful feature) for just half the price at $89.

I’ll keep track of Amazon Facebook page and Amazon Black Friday Lightning Deals page deals both manually and with use of my Amazon Deals tracker which I announced in previous post an will keep you updated on all changes and announcements there.

Kindle Black Friday Deal – Gone in under 60 seconds…

Update: As of now latest generation Kindle 3 WiFi is still in stock for $139

Update 2: There is a response on official Amazon forums. It reads: “Our Kindle 2 for $89 deal is sold out. Amazon Lightning Deals are limited time deals that can sell out very fast. We had thousands available and unfortunately they sold out very quickly. – The Gold Box Team

Well, folks that was fast. While I was taking the screenshot in the previous post, the deal has gone from available to all claimed with even waitlist being full. All “in under 60 seconds” (the amount of time take for the Kindle reader to download books according to Jeff Bezos). Another quote that comes to mind is from “Lord Of War“: “Selling a gun (or buying a Kindle on Black Friday) for the first time is a lot like having sex for the first time. You’re excited but you don’t really know what the hell you’re doing. And some way, one way or another, it’s over too fast.” “Gone Bay Gone” is another appropriate quote.

There are still other (than Kindle) Black Friday deals to hunt on Amazon and there is Kindle 3 which is still reliably in stock for either $189 (3G + WiFi) or $139 (WiFi only).

If any of you are curious – here’s how fast the Kindle was claimed and sold out according to my Amazon Black Friday Deal tracker.

Kindle Black Friday Deal Sold Out

Kindle Black Friday Deal Sold Out

All Kindle deals were claimed within seconds of the deal going live. About 3.6% of people sere able to rush to check out within the first minute. Quarter of the lucky ones cheked out within 3 minutes, 50% – within five. Now, 25 minutes after the deal, 95% customers checked out while 5 are still hunting for more Black Friday Deals.

Kindle Black Friday Deal – Now Live On Amazon!

Kindle Black Friday Deal (buying 2nd generation Kindle 3G eReader for $89) is live Black Friday Lightning Deals page on Amazon Black Friday home page (to have easier time finding the deal, select “Kindle Store” in the category selector – it will be the only deal there). Here is a screen shot of the deal. You can click on it to go to the deal page.

Kindle Black Friday Deal 2010 Sale

Kindle Black Friday Deal 2010 Sale

Deals page on Amazon.com website seems to be extremely slow to load this morning. By the looks of it a lot of shoppers convinced by the ads decided to cyber-shop on Amazon this Black Friday rather than camp at 4am on Best Buy parking lot. If Amazon Black Friday Lightning Deals page is being slow for you or fails to load at all, you can check out this copy that I’ve created that is lightweight. It only contains Black Friday deals that are currently active and not sold out (why would you care about other deals anyway?) so Kindle deal should also be there only while supplies last. I try to have the deals updated every minute but even with  2 redundant servers doing it parallel, Amazon website sometimes doesn’t respond at all.

And of course, should you be out of luck on Black Friday Kindle 2 for $89, you can always get the latest generation Kindle 3 with WiFi for $139.

I will keep updating this page as the deal unfolds.

Kindle Black Friday Deal – Already on Amazon

Kindle Black Friday Deal just showed up on Black Friday Lightning Deals page on Amazon Black Friday home page. Deal should become active at 9am today. Here is a screen shot of the deal. You can click on it to go to the deal page (new price will become active only after 9am PST).

While this is the previous generation, that isn’t saying much against it.  The Kindle 2 is a great, very reliable piece of hardware that would still stand up as competition against pretty much anything on the market.  It uses the same screen as the Nook eReader that was its ongoing competition, is nearly as compact as the current generation, and has access to all of the books, games, and applications(i.e. Facebook integration, web browsing, etc) that you would expect.  When it comes right down to it, you really can’t beat $89 for a Kindle of any sort given that the equivalent competition is going for $149.

Now, of course there won’t be enough to go around.  Heck, at this price I’d be surprised if they have enough second generation Kindles left in stock to satisfy the demand that this offer would be likely to generate if it weren’t a “Lightning Deal” and therefore intentionally limited.  So set your alarms, keep a laptop close to your bed, make the kids do it…whatever it takes to keep from missing out.  It’s always unpleasant waking up on the day after Thanksgiving, but this time there’s a worthwhile reason that won’t even make you stand in line freezing your butt off!

And of course, should you be out of luck on Kindle 2, you can always get the latest generation Kindle 3 with WiFi for $139.

Kindle Black Friday Deal – Best Day for Amazon Kindle Sales in History?

This Tuesday (November 23rd) Amazon reported on their Facebook wall: “We had our biggest sales day ever for Kindle devices yesterday. Thank you, customers!”. And it was just Tuesday of Thanksgiving Week. Since then Amazon made couple more posts on their wall announcing more Black Friday Deals products but didn’t leave any notes about Kindle Sales on Friday. My expectation is that Wednesday would be as strong as Tuesday and Thursday or Black Friday Kindle Sales will beat the record. Also I have great expectation for Cyber Monday which in recent years grew to be as significant as Black Friday.
It would be very interesting to find out how many people will go with Kindle 2 Black Friday Deal for $89 and how many will get Kindle 3G+WiFi or Kindle 3 WiFi version instead. It won’t be a simple choice since Kindle 2 is closer in features to $189 Kindle 3G (both of them have 3G connection which is a very useful feature) for just half the price at $89.
I’ll keep track of Amazon Facebook page and Amazon Black Friday Lightning Deals page deals both manually and with use of my Amazon Deals tracker which I announced in previous post an will keep you updated on all changes and announcements there.

Scrabble for Kindle Released

Recently we have seen the release of the first third party game to actually be sold for the Kindle.  Scrabble, an Electronic Arts release, is available to US customers on their Kindle 2 or Kindle 3 for $4.99 through the Kindle store.  This is not the first game to become available for the popular eReader, of course, but it is the first major production from a big name publisher.

Those who have been following these sorts of things, or who simply like word games and Kindles, will likely remember the release of two free games(Every Word and Shuffled Row) a couple months ago that were quite well executed and demonstrated the potential for development that was present in spite of the lack of a rapidly refreshing screen.  This version of Scrabble operates similarly.  It can be played alone in a solitaire mode for fun and practice, against the Kindle when you want a bit more of a direct challenge, and in a head-to-head competitive mode that involves passing the Kindle around. Sadly, there is no capacity for multiplayer interaction between devices.  While it is understandable that the hardware limitations of the device might make such things difficult, it is certainly a disappointing and difficult to accept shortcoming that will be a major factor in many players’ purchase decisions. Overall, however, it looks at least somewhat promising if you don’t mind that.

These days there are quite a few different activities to be found in the Kindle store, from Crosswords to Sudoku, but this is pretty much the first polished experience to be found since Amazon’s initial offerings.  Reviews so far are favorable in the extreme.  People are finding it to be a fun game, fairly intuitive, and easy to get addicted to.  As always, however, there are going to be problems and it is best to bring them out into the open.

The most common complaints so far are:

Some customers have taken issue with the way shading is used in this application.  Words occasionally become hard to discern due to overly bold board markings(double word/letter scores, etc.) confusing the play area.  There are also passing comments made that there is no major distinction made on the board between a space occupied by no tiles and and a filled one.  Empty spaces and blank tiles are effectively identical, apparently.

While many reviews state that controls were obvious and easy to understand, there are some gamers who wish that the Kindle‘s 5-way controller was more intuitive to use.  Most of those who made these complaints also went out of their way to mention that it was soon something they grew accustomed to as well.  Possibly simply a matter of users trying something besides reading on their Kindle for the first time, but it would be impossible to dismiss this out of hand without more information.

There isn’t much elaboration that can be made on this.  More people claimed that the interface was perfect than complained about it, but that doesn’t mean it’s fine for everybody.  May well be related to the control issue I mentioned above.

One disappointed Canadian user stated that as of this moment the game is not available internationally.  Definitely something to be aware of for many users.

Owners of multiple eReaders sharing one account, and therefore libraries, throughout their household may be disappointed at first here as well.  One reviewer points out for us that it seems to not be possible to share the application among multiple devices as one might expect.  Further reading and comments, however, lead me to believe that this reviewer simply didn’t know what he was doing, as follow-up comments indicate licensing for up to six Kindles.  It might just be a bit more of a pain to manage than usual.

As of the writing of this article, the favorable reviews of this application outweigh the unfavorable by more than two to one(17=4-star+, 8=3-star-), even leaving in those reviews by people misusing the space on the product page to ask questions, complain about unavailability, and generally contribute little to the understanding of the product.

It simply looks like a good deal right now, if you’re like me and enjoy word games.  It’s a gross generalization, but I’d say that likely encompasses the majority of Kindle owners.  Definitely a smart move on the parts of Amazon and EA.  Personally, I’m really looking forward to getting this thing on my DX when I get home.  Any version is likely great, but this just cries out for a larger, crisper screen to me.  If anything happens to alter my favorable outlook on all this, I’ll let you guys know.  Can’t wait to see what apps hit the store in the next few months now that there’s a precedent to work with.