New vs. Refurbished Kindle: Which is the Better Deal?

Kindle 3 and Kindle 2 size comparison

Kindle 3 and Kindle 2 size comparison

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is offering refurbished 2nd Generation Kindle 2 and Kindle DX for $159.99 and $289.99 respectively through its Warehouse Deals section.  For the smaller Kindle, I don’t see any point in going with the refurbished model because the Kindle 3 3G is only $30 more, and it has improved features such as better screen contrast, better web browser and is more lightweight.  I have heard that the web browser is much better, which is good because the Kindle 2 web browser is slow and clunky.  The Kindle 3 Wi-Fi is an even cheaper option if you are looking for one.

The refurbished models are probably just left over Kindles that didn’t get sold before the new release or returns that were not used.  Amazon Warehouse Deals has a lot of other electronics for sale at a discount as well.  However, you never know what whether there is something wrong on the inside. Apple (NASDAQ: APPL) provides refurbished iPods as replacements for ones that have been broken as long as they are under warranty.  They appear to be brand new, although I’m not sure it is fair to replace a fairly new product with a refurbished one.

I think getting a refurbished Kindle DX might be worth checking out, but the latest generation Kindle DX has much better screen contrast.  It is hard to believe that a refurbished Kindle DX is not much more than the Kindle 2 was just nine months ago.  At $289, it would be almost half the price of the iPad.  Who knows, we might see another price drop for the latest generation of the DX in the near future.

With the Kindle 3’s improvement on the web browser, comes the ability to read newspapers via Google Reader.  Google Reader is news site that allows you to add clusters of news sources for whatever topics you like.  It also serves as an RSS feed for blogs of your choice.  I really like it because you can put everything in one place.  I have topics ranging from Science and Technology to Recipe blogs on my Google Reader page. Read how to open PKPASS file.

To navigate Google Reader on the Kindle, use the cursor to find the desired feed, then click the right cursor to navigate to the articles.  After that, press “f” on the Kindle’s keyboard to enter full screen mode and you are set to go.

Amazon’s Kindle Gets Even More Popular

Recent releases from Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) have indicated that the Kindle, proving it deserves its place as Amazon’s #1 Best Selling item, has tripled in sales this year compared to last, in part due to last month’s price slashing.  While many deride that move as the end of the Kindle as a profitable endeavor, there can be no doubt that the greater the availability of the eReader and the platform in general, the healthier the product-line it supports will become.

Being spread, as it is, between the Kindle device, iOS applications, Android applications, various smart phones, and PC applications, there are surprisingly few people left who cannot, should the choose to do so, access the eBook of their choice in a convenient and comfortable setting.  As some reports indicate that the eBook market has grown by more than 160% in the past year, this increasingly pervasive presence gives Amazon an impressive advantage and even further encouragement to keep the momentum up.  We already know that Kindle Editions are outselling hardcovers by a significant percentage these days, even if you exclude free eBooks from consideration and don’t exclude hardcover sales for books not available on the Kindle.  It’s starting to feel like this is only the beginning of a much larger trend, however, that could truly change the way we enjoy books.

Any thoughts?

Kindle Reading Speed Study: Badly Misunderstood

For the past week or so, blogs like ours here have been buzzing with thoughts about a study done of relative reading speeds between the Kindle, iPad, PC Monitor and Paperback Book.  The general consensus seems to have been anything from “See, eReaders are bad!” to “Look, it proves the iPad is better than the Kindle!”  This leads me to believe that a large number of people have only a very vague understanding of what this study actually means.  Let me explain.

In the actual text of the reading speed study, we are given the details of their methods.  The sample size is actually quite small, with only 32 people involved total of whom a mere 24 were included in the final data set.  Putting aside that flaw, the data gathered provided no useful information at all besides that reading on anything but a computer monitor is preferred.  For those who are talking up the slight difference in reading speed between the iPad and the Kindle, there is a note in the results that “the difference between the two devices was not statistically significant”.  For those who do not have any statistics/science background, this means that no difference can be said to exist, with any reasonable accuracy, that stem from anything but random chance.

Basically, if you were hoping for scientific evidence of which device is better, even if you judge “better” in terms of how fast you can read, there’s nothing in this recent study to help you out.  Maybe next time.

SmartPlanet Kindle Giveaway

This isn’t the first such contest we’ve brought to your attention, so you probably know the general idea by now, but here we go again!  From now through June 30th, SmartPlanet is taking entries for a free Kindle giveaway.  The registration process takes just a moment.  You go to this page, enter your information, and you’re done for the day! One entry per day is allowed.

Now, as a warning, you might want to take a look at the site first and decide if you like the content as this will automatically sign you up for a copy of their email newsletter.  That’s a fairly negligible issue, however, since in the same announcement telling entrants about that, they make clear that you can unsubscribe right away should such be your preference.  Read how to open XAPK file.

I had never heard about this site previously(Excellent draw for your site, guys!), so it’s hard to make an informed recommendation, but the front page story listing led me to a few fairly interesting things I also had not run into before. Early developments in wireless energy transfer just plain interest me.  Coverage on the developing privately funded space flight industry is similarly cool.  Where they caught me, however, was the vat-grown human liver.  I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a news guy.  I follow what interests me in as narrow a way as possible on most occasions because I don’t want to be bombarded with information on what famous person leaked a sex tape with what other famous person and so on.  Finding a site that covers the interesting stuff on a broader scope without that sort of inanity is at least potential, in my book.  Worth a shot, especially when I might get a new Kindle in the process.

High School Goes Digital

While they are still in the market for a vendor and making efforts to arrange matters of budgeting and potential purchase bundling discounts, Clearwater High(Clearwater, FL) has made known its intent to move the student body over to the use of the Kindle as a replacement for the traditional textbook collection that students have always known and “loved”.

The intention is to supply all 2100 students with a Kindle that comes preloaded with every book they will require for the academic year.  Students will not be given the ability to purchase further books on the school property, but it seems likely, given the fact that students will have internet access, that there will be the ability to transfer privately acquired eBooks as desired.  In order to reduce parental concerns and school liability somewhat, all students will be required to sign a form agreeing to avoid accessing inappropriate material on their eReaders via the internet browser.

There is no guarantee that this move will save the school money.  It is intended more as a way of connection with a student body far more at home in front of one electronic device or another than behind a book. With luck, giving these students just what they’re used to in non-academic settings as a component of their learning will increase interest and focus on what they need to do.  The recent addition of Facebook integration probably won’t hurt much either, sadly.

The Natural Page

Everybody has their little pet peeves when it comes to their favorite eReader.  Nobody ever has every feature quite the way we want it and nothing will ever be quite perfect.  One of the complaints I’ve heard surprisingly often with the Kindle has been its lack of normal page numbering.  While this seems like a simple sort of thing to deal with, since we are given a progress counter of sorts anyway, I can certainly understand it getting on the nerves of some.

In response, we have The Natural Page(TM) from Forbidden Stitch Press.  Their first book, Spirit in The Sky, is now available for download from the Kindle store for $9.99.  The basic premise is that by setting a page length at right around 400 words, it is possible to put a page number, formatted as (Page 12), at the bottom of each screen as the reader moves through their book.  It’s a novel concept, if you’ll pardon the pun.  While there’s little chance that this will work out as a long term solution, being rather un-dynamic and therefore breaking any time the reader changes font size or a Kindle DX, it’s a good thing to have around, most likely.  If nothing else, the reader response could point out to Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN)  that this is a desired, and quite possibly easy to include, feature for a future patch.  The best way to get your point across about a product has always been to vote with your wallet, after all.

Kindle And Kindle DX Get Folders – They Are Called Collections

There seems to be significant interest in this long overdue feature for the Kindle, so to clear up some of the confusion for people I thought I’d look at some of the functionality and ideas surrounding Collections.

In essence, Collections are short lists of books created by the user to make browsing easier.  The idea is to save time on moving through the library and keep things nicely organized along the way.

  • Books can belong to more than one collection, or none at all
  • Collections are built directly on the Kindle
  • Your collection data will be stored by Amazon and all books will remain in their collections until you remove them
  • No data is changed by Collections, they are simply an organizational tool
  • While you are able to import collections from other people, this will not transfer the books themselves; simply the lists.
  • There are no sub-listings.  This is a one-level categorization, not a real directory tree.

So what are Collections going to be good for?  In addition to saving you from having to sort through your entire library every time you want to read a specific book, there’s a lot of customization that can come into it.  Since all Collections are user-created, it adds a certain depth of individuality to the device.

Some suggestions I’ve read so far:

  • List by Genre
  • Rate Your Books After Reading
  • Keep a List of Books To Read
  • Keep Track of What You’re Reading Now
  • Regional Listings
  • Literary Period

Any other ideas I’ve missed?

And finally, some bad news for Kindle 1 owners – it looks like Amazon is focusing all of their development effort on software version 2.* so original Kindle will not be getting the Folders update.

2.5 Update Brings Facebook And Twitter to Kindle and Kindle DX

In a fairly timely manner, given the recent impressive nook functionality update, Amazon gives the Kindle a few new features that are actually something to get excited about for once. And a couple that aren’t of course.

One of the more exciting new additions is simply a long overdue organizational concern.В  Users will now be able to define collections of books.В  I don’t know when this became something people didn’t expect an eReader user to need, but it’s about the only thing I missed when I made the move from the PRS-500 to my Kindle.

Password protection, going down Amazon’s list, is simply a useful new feature.В  Not exciting, per se, but anything that adds a sense of security to this otherwise almost scarily portable device I like to take out in public with me is a good thing.

In terms of functionality, we get the ability to Pan & Zoom on PDFs, and some font enhancements.В  I’m on the fence about the PDF thing.В  It seems like a great idea, but until we see the actual implementation, it might end up being about as useful as the note-taking feature for all I know.В  Sharper fonts, as well as larger font options for those in need of them, can’t help but be a plus.В  Anything that makes reading even more pleasant gets my vote.

The most hyped part of the update, however, is about Facebook and Twitter integration. В At very least it gives you (and Amazon) the ability to advertise to people that you’re reading on a Kindle right this minute and show off what your book of the day is. В Depending on how functional this social highlighting would be it can turn out to be quite useful. I read several periodicals and blogs on my Kindle when I’m on the go. I highlight and clip interesting articles and paragraphs so that I can later get back to them or share with other people only to forget about them five minutes later. The problem is that although Amazon let’s you view your notes and highlights online so theoretically you could conjure up a web-service that would email them to you, this functionality doesn’t apply to periodicals and blogs. Hopefully with this update you could tweet your interesting highlights and then read your own tweets so they are actually not forgotten.

Anyway, this one’s going to be a fun one, especially for those of us with huge collections.В  Bringing some order to the chaos that is my ebook shelf is going to be a huge relief.

Audible Incentives

There are a lot of good reasons to pick up a Kindle.  It’s neat to read, occasionally very useful for its ability to be a portable internet device, and it saves on effort and potential injury when you compare it to the hundreds or thousands of paperbacks you might otherwise have to carry down a flight of stairs on moving day.  One of the less talked-about uses, however, is as a vessel for audiobooks.

Having worked with the Kindle while helping out students with learning disorders, I can tell you that this is a really useful feature.  It’s also proven helpful with an elderly relative of mine who sometimes has trouble even with the device’s largest font sizes, but who still really loves her books.  The Text-to-speech feature isn’t bad, though it can trip over some words in odd ways sometimes.  I personally prefer to go with actual narrated book readings.  It adds something that, if you’re forced or inclined to be listening to a book rather than reading it yourself in the first place, helps significantly with personal immersion.

Since I’m sure there are those of you out there who agree with me, as there are certainly those who find my position ridiculous, I figured it was worth pointing out the current incentive for people still on the fence about the usefulness of eReaders.  For the moment, Amazon is offering a discount of $100 off their device if you sign up for a year of Audible.com membership.  I don’t really know how limited a time this offer is, but I’d guess not terribly.  It’s been around a while.  I personally consider it a worthwhile investment if you’re interested in audiobooks.  Audible provides good prices on good readings of good books.  What more can you ask, really?  Chances are that if you’ve read this far into the post, you’re interested in audiobooks anyway.  Might as well get a discount on your Kindle and a new source for your reading all at once, right?

Audible is an online service with wide selection of audio books. Audio books could be exchanged for Audible credits available as part of the subscription or purchased from Audible.com website.  You can cancel Audible at any time.

Kindle app for iPad goes live

Though Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad are touted to be arch rivals in the e-Reader segment, it hasn’t stopped Amazon from building a Kindle app for iPad. Amazon previewed the Kindle iPad app a couple of weeks ago and yesterday, the app made its way to the Apple iTunes Store. The Kindle app for iPhone has been around for a while now and is very popular amongst iPhone users. The iPad Kindle app is a logical extension of the iPhone Kindle app and its release was on the cards after Apple announced the launch of iPad on April 3. However, there’s one major limitation of using Kindle on iPad – Books bought through Kindle app must be read within the app itself. These books will not be viewable in Apple’s iBooks app.

The Kindle app for iPad lets people enjoy the best of both worlds – easy to use Kindle app interface and supreme performance of the iPad. Further, it gives the users a choice to read books from either Amazon or Apple. Customers always want more choices and e-Readers are no exception to this rule. I’ve come across many voracious readers who are addicted to kindle interface and therefore, they are reluctant to try out the iPad. The Kindle app for iPad is welcome news for all such readers.

While a lot of people have been debating the fortune of Amazon Kindle after the launch of Apple iPad, I believe that Amazon will emerge as the major e-Book provider for iPad. Since iBooks is not pre-installed on Apple iPad, many users might prefer to install Kindle app for iPad as compared to iBooks.

I’ll publish a review as soon as 3G-capable version of iPad hits the stores that I intend to get for myself.