About

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.

Recent Comments

December 2016
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Amazon Caps Kindle 3G Use at 50MB/Month

The Kindle Keyboard has been the overall recommendation of this site, and myself in particular, since it was first introduced.  It stands out from the current generation for a couple reasons, but mostly due to its unrestricted internet access.  The Kindle Touch 3G has its cellular connectivity restricted.  Apparently that sort of freedom was costing Amazon a bit more than they liked.  Users will now find their internet usage capped to a mere 50mb each month.

For the most part this will prove little problem.  The Kindle’s screen, while amazing for reading, is not well suited for most of the bandwidth-intensive tasks that people generally put their portable devices to.  You’re not going to have the option of watching a movie on your Kindle eReader, which is part of the reason the Kindle Fire was made.  Even music downloads, which make sense knowing that the Kindle has the ability to play MP3s, are largely difficult to manage except through storefronts and social media pages that the Kindle’s Experimental Browser is less than suited for.

The most likely explanation for this change to the service agreement is that too many people have caught on to the possibility of using the Kindle’s 3G access on another mobile device.  This hack was widely publicized when a reliable method developed and seemed likely to end up little more than a bit of trivia in the days that followed.  Yes it is possible to enable wireless tethering of a sort, but it is obviously against the terms of service and the practice is far from anonymous.

Apparently people have been doing it anyway.  Amazon has been cracking down on these Kindle abusers individually, limiting their device’s access to the Kindle Store and Amazon.com, but that takes manpower and there is almost certainly a waiting list as each abuser is warned.  Adding the 50mb per month cap prevents outright abuse in the meantime.

Given what we know about software changes from model to model, this may be the start of something more significant for the Kindle line in general.  By limiting the usefulness of the Kindle Keyboard, Amazon is setting things up to remove the device entirely.  This allows them to save on everything from firmware updates to 3G charges as customers move into the hardware we’re expecting to see in the next few months.  They clearly want to make some of the new features like X-Ray into Kindle brand selling points, but that’s not going to happen while so many users are still happy with their older model.

If you like to have your laptop hooked to a Kindle Keyboard for free 3G access, you’re probably going to be very unhappy in the days and weeks to come.  Amazon hasn’t commented, but this crackdown is likely to get bigger and stick around.  If you’re a normal user who just grabs the occasional eBook or website then you’ll likely never run into this new limitation.  Either way, keep an eye out for the hardware upgrade that’s around the corner.  Amazon is likely to be pushing upgrader incentives to build interest.

Security Flaw Makes Browsing Risky For Kindle Touch Users

The Kindle isn’t ever considered the most secure of devices.  Even here on this site you’ll find many hacks for Kindles from the first generation forward.  Still, this might be the first time I can think of that there has been a hole in the device’s security that poses a genuine problem for both users and Amazon.

heise Security has recently released some proof of concept code that demonstrates the potential for remotely exploiting Kindle Touch devices.  This is a problem occurring in the most recent Kindle Touch 5.1.0 firmware.  The vulnerability allows commands to be injected into the eReader through the WebKit browser.  These commands are then executed at the root level, essentially giving malicious code total control over your Kindle.

Amazon is aware of the problem and working on a patch.  Considering the first indications that there might be a problem to fix came up as early as April, according to the MobileRead forums, they are clearly taking their time about it.  Various reports indicate that there may be some difficulty getting the patch pushed to Kindle Touch users, but until we know more about Amazon’s response that may be speculation.

There are no indications at this time that anybody has managed to create malicious code directed at Kindle Touch users.  While some speculation has revolved around turning Kindles into nodes in massive botnet attacks, that is just potential at this stage.  There are, of course, measures you can take to protect yourself.

The most obvious solution to keeping safe until this is fixed would be to avoid the internet.  Turning off your wireless connection, whether WiFi or 3G, will save you battery life and put your mind at ease.  If you don’t find that appealing, sticking to Amazon’s services and trusted sites will also go a long way toward security.

If that is not enough and something more drastic is desired, there is a way to patch the hole yourself.  For complete instructions, head over to MobileRead and learn about jailbreaking your device.  Ironically, it seems that the most common jailbreaking method right now also uses the exploit in question.  Once you have gained root privileges for your Kindle Touch, however, a tool has been uploaded in this thread that should disable browser-based exploitation from remote sites.

This is probably not a big deal for most users.  It has the potential to turn into something major for Amazon.  A properly made piece of malware could theoretically turn their Kindle Touch line into an internet attack network.  This would be a PR nightmare and cost an unbelievable amount thanks to the free 3G these devices enjoy, but the limitations of the exploit as it is currently understood make it unlikely that any personal information could be stolen or that users could in other ways be easily harmed.

Exercise safe browsing habits and wait for Amazon to issue a firmware update.  New Kindle Touch units are already shipping with 5.1.1 firmware and that will likely be making its way to existing customers soon enough.  Some reports indicate that this update will patch the security hole, though that is not yet confirmed.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Brought To the Kindle Fire

As many people expected, the Google Nexus 7 tablet is a product developed specifically to knock Amazon off of the top of the Android charts.  Hardware-wise, it is certainly more powerful.  Whether this is enough to actually sway users is still in question, however, since the popularity of the Kindle Fire has never been based on its performance alone.  The software is another story.

By releasing the Nexus 7 with the newest version of Android (4.1 Jelly Bean) Google packed in some major advantages that Amazon never even had the option of putting in the Kindle Fire in the first place.  It was a smart decision, given reviews, and things are looking up for Google at the moment.  Kindle Fire owners might still feel a bit left out, however.

That is where XDA comes in.  It is the good people over on the XDA Developers forums who we have to thank for any number of Android hacks, including the ability to gain root access on the Kindle Fire.  Their most recent Kindle-related development is a custom ROM for installing Jelly Bean on the Kindle Fire.

Now, Amazon has not exactly set any records for taking security on their device seriously.  The last time an update went so far as to disable the security hole by which people were rooting their tablets, another option was available immediately.  If I recall correctly, the new rooting method might have been released before the update was ever rolled out thanks to somebody getting their hands on it a couple days early.  As such, it seems unlikely that Amazon will be terribly worried about the impact of customer device customizations on their bottom line.

The existing Android 4.1 ROM for the Kindle Fire is still being worked on.  It is fairly simple to install using the instructions provided over at XDA, but not everything is enabled just yet.  There is a bit of a problem with the wifi connectivity, though that is more an inconvenience than anything and fixes can be found scattered around, and various minor complaints have come up with certain apps in cases where this ROM is installed on top of an existing custom ROM.

Should you decide that you want to try all the newest features from Google, look this option up.  Keep in mind, however, that doing so will void your warranty.  It is also possible that you can render your device unusable if you botch the installation.  These are standard cautions that anybody attempting this process should be aware of.

Amazon has done a great job with developing a fork of Android 2.3 specifically for the Kindle Fire.  Users seem to really like it and the integration with Amazon services is impressively smooth.  Chances are good that the new Kindle Fire 2 will ship with an even more advanced build that offers far more features.  None of that means that the desire to try the unlocked, open version of Android is unusual or problematic.  If you do it right, follow all the instructions, and exercise caution then a completely different experience is available to try.

Kindle Keyboard 3G Tethering May Provide Emergency Options

Kindle Keyboard

Kindle Keyboard

The Kindle eReader has long come with unrestricted 3G access on its more expensive models.  This has been such an expected option that when Amazon stopped offering the feature on the newer Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch models it shocked many of us.  Fortunately, for those who are still interested in the service, there is always still the Kindle Keyboard 3G.  While they aren’t really being pushed as a current product any longer, Amazon still seems to have plenty of the older model with its unrestricted access available on their site.

The biggest problems with taking advantage of this feature for anything besides simply purchasing from Amazon have been tied to the shortcomings of the eReader itself.  The Kindle Keyboard’s 5-Way directional controller is nice enough, but can be incredibly tedious to use.  The web browser is extremely basic at best, and will almost certainly enough fail to load important pages or crash completely from time to time under regular use.  Still, it is a free lifetime 3G connection that accomplishes the goal of keeping you connected to the Kindle Store no matter where you happen to be.  It is hard to complain about that.

What was once just a convenience for people willing to spend some extra money on their initial Kindle purchase might now be a valid thing to keep around for emergencies, however.  You see, somebody has finally worked out a way to make this free 3G coverage available to more generally useful devices via a tethering hack.  While I won’t go into the details here (this is absolutely warranty-voiding and quite possibly illegal enough for action is abused), hacker Andrew D’Angelo has posted the complete method on his easily searchable personal web site.  Using this method, you can now get your PC or laptop onto the internet via the Kindle Keyboard’s cellular connection.

I say that this is an emergency tool specifically because every bit of data sent through this connection runs through Amazon’s proxy servers.  You are tagged with a unique ID number that can easily trace unusual activity back to your personal account.  Since this is, as mentioned above, rather blatantly in violation of the Terms & Conditions for Kindle 3G use, chances are good that both the connection and the associated account will be shut down before too long at the very least.

This could be great to have around for those situations where a storm takes out the local communications, and I can think of some flooding a while back that I would have loved to have it available for, but it is not a tool for daily use.  Still, it might be worth considering the 3G option on any new Kindle purchase now even if you have no interest in it as an aid to your eReader experience.  $40 added to the purchase price for a cell connection with no monthly fee running through a device that only runs out of batteries once every month or two is great by itself, but being able to use that connection so fully when you really need to have that available is invaluable.

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.

Simple Kindle Touch Jailbreak Released Using MP3

The Kindle Touch may not be running Android like its tablet counterpart, but it also doesn’t run the operating system found in previous models of the Kindle eReader line.  The focus is now on HTML5 and Javascript interfaces rather than the previous Java implementations.  This means that pretty much none of the old hacks and mods that have been released for the Kindle line will be of any use to customers this time.  Of course that was bound to be addressed fairly quickly.

Yifan Lu, a freelance developer, has found an exploit in the way the Kindle Touch handles MP3s which will allow people to easily jailbreak their new eReader.  Along with that discovery, he revealed that the majority of the device’s interface is simply HTML pages in disguise.  This alone means that coming up with interesting mods will be significantly easier than was previously the case, unless I miss my guess.  It implies a greater degree of system control through Javascript than is normally possible.  For now there isn’t much for an end-user to work with, but there is every reason to believe that you will find modules for adding EPUB support and any number of other fun extra functions in the months to come.

In order to attempt this Jailbreak (Which neither I nor this site recommend or take any responsibility for as it voids the warranty and may render your Kindle unusable if something goes wrong), head to this site and follow the instructions included in the Zip Archive’s README file.  This involves nothing more than connecting your Kindle to a computer, copying a .mp3 file to your music folder, disconnecting from the computer, and running the music player.  A button pops up labeled “Press to Jailbreak!” and you’re done.

My trial of this process went smoothly and did pretty much nothing.  It is definitely anything but an urgent need or an inherently beneficial act for most people.  All you are doing is enabling root access to your device, which means that among other things installing third party software will be possible. Chances are good that even with this it will not be possible to open up general 3G internet access, use of neglected hardware like the internal mic, or removal of advertising, but other than that there shouldn’t be many limits.

If you are interested in the potential that the process opens up, I would recommend both acquiring your Kindle Touch in the near future and making sure not to allow any software updates on the device until it is certain that the changes will be kept around.  While Amazon has been incredibly open in their lack of interest in securing the Kindle Fire in any significant way, they have a history of being somewhat more closed with their eReaders.  Not the least important reason for this is the heavy investment the company has made in their proprietary format, the evasion of which would likely be the first thing that customers use their new found freedom to achieve.

Kindle Fire Already Being Successfully Hacked To Use Android 4.0.1: Ice Cream Sandwich

As has been noted a few times in the past, Amazon didn’t really put any effort into securing their tablet against modification.  The Kindle Fire was bound to be rooted and they knew that would be the case well before it was even officially announced, I’m sure.  Since it started arriving in the mail, there have been quick results along these lines.  Andrei, here on our site, has posted instructions on how to root your own Kindle Fire for easy access to things like the Android Marketplace.  What many have been waiting for, though, is the announcement that custom ROMs were available to replace the default Kindle Fire OS.

This isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with what Amazon has done in their release.  It’s a great one and serves to highlight the capabilities of the tablet quite well.  For those who prefer to avoid being attached permanently to a company like Amazon for whatever reason, however, it is nice to have the option to make use of their affordable yet powerful hardware without the attached software.  That’s where developments from the XDA-Developers forum come in.

One of their users has been able to get a basic installation of Google’s latest Android release, Ice Cream Sandwich, working on the Kindle Fire.  So far, “working” is a relative term since at the time of this writing it still lacked the ability to use the audio, WiFi, accelerometer, or light sensor (yes, the Kindle Fire has a light sensor, they have just got it disabled at the moment since it was overly sensitive at the time of launch).  This is a big step in the right direction, however, and once some of the bugs and deficiencies are ironed out will likely result in making the Kindle Fire a great option for Android fans who might otherwise be put off by Amazon’s proprietary build.

While this will definitely open up the user options in a few ways, specifically by allowing a greater degree of configurability and better integrating the Android Marketplace (as compared to simply rooting and installing it), there are a couple down sides.  Most importantly, you lose access to the Amazon service integration.  While most people considering this option are likely looking for exactly that, the Kindle Fire’s limited storage space can make the Cloud Storage a vital part of daily use and the streaming options for music and movies provide an experience that many find superior to their general app equivalencies.  The freedom to install anything you want will also lead to the opportunity to pick up apps that are not optimized for the Kindle Fire’s specs in any way.  This can lead to poor performance at best and complete waste of a purchase if you aren’t careful.

While I wouldn’t advise anybody to jump up and grab the current working build of ICS for the Kindle Fire, given its incompleteness, you may want to keep an eye on it.  Personally I love the interface that Amazon has come up with, but that doesn’t mean somebody else won’t manage to improve on it.  The best performing option will always be the preferable one in the end, and there is a great community of Android developers out there that can’t wait to get the Kindle Fire working just the way they like it.

The video demonstrating a working ICS build from the dev who got it working:

Rooting Kindle Fire to Enable Full Google Android Market – instructions that actually work

First and foremost, let me give you a fair warning: if you choose to follow these instructions – you are doing so at your own risk with full understanding of the fact that although they have worked for me and some other people there is still a chance that you may end up irreversibly damage your device ending up with $199.00 shiny paper press. I will not be able to help you even if I had the time to figure out what went wrong, which I will not. If you are cool with this, then continue, otherwise enjoy your Kindle Fire as it is right now, which is already quite good.

You will need to root your Kindle Fire first. “Rooting” means enabling the Android OS to give application full administrative (root) access to the system. Permissions are given to specific application only. While it may not seem like a huge security risk, you should consider that by giving another app root access you’ve increased “attack surface” as far as security threats are concerned. If that app has a security hole or just by virtue of poor design can be manipulated by another piece of code on the system into doing something, that other piece of code can gain root access to the system without your knowledge. It’s also worth mentioning that you can manually screw up your system by mishandling an app that has root access.

Another side-effect of rooting Kindle Fire specifically is Amazon Instant video streaming and downloads not working. This can be fixed by unrooting your device later. Even after unrooting you still keep access to Google Marketplace and can install apps from there.

Rooting Kindle Fire

  1. If you don’t have it already, download and install Android SDK from here: http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html (choose the recommended download)
  2. Open %userprofile%\.android\adb_usb.ini file with notepad and add the following line at the end
    0x1949

    In case you are wondering – it is the hardware ID code of Kindle Fire

  3. Find google-usb_driver folder in the folder where you installed Android SDK. Within this folder, find android_winusb.ini file. Edit this file with notepad. In case you installed Android SDK under “Program Files” or “Program Files (x86)” directory you will need to run notepad as administrator
  4. Add following lines to the file twice. First after [Google.NETx86] and then after [Google.NTamd64]
    ;Kindle Fire

    %SingleAdbInterface% = USB_Install, USB\VID_1949&PID_0006
    %CompositeAdbInterface% = USB_Install, USB\VID_1949&PID_0006&MI_01
  5. Turn on your Kindle and enable installation of Applications from unknown sources
  6. Connect your Kindle to your PC.
  7. Open Windows device manager. Find “Kindle” device in the device tree. Right-click and select “Update driver”. Manually point Windows to the location of android_winusb.ini file you edited in step 4
  8. Download SuperOneClick from here: http://shortfuse.org/
  9. Run it (it will ask for administrative access to the computer) and click on the “root” button. Within a minute your Kindle Fire will be rooted. When asked if you want to install Busybox, you can say “No”
  10. If you “Force stop” Amazon Video process or just restart your Kindle fire you will see that Amazon Instant Video doesn’t work anymore. This means that you are on the right track.

Installing Google Android Market on Kindle Fire

  1. Download gapps.rar from here: http://www.multiupload.com/DGMBZZNOXM. In case the link is broken, check this thread for updated link http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1349902 and let me know. You will need WinRar or 7Zip to unpack this file. To install Google Market you only need 2 files from that package: com.market.apk and GoogleServicesFramework.apk. Copy these files to your Kindle Fire
  2. Download Root Explorer from here in your Kindle Fire browser : http://www.apktop.com/wp-content/plugins/download-monitor/download.php?id=582. Open the download apk file and install the app
  3. Run Root Explorer, give it root access and find apk files from step 1 on your device. They should be /sdcard folder.
  4. Run and install GoogleServicesFramework.apk
     
  5. Tap and hold on com.market.apk and select “Move” from the menu. Navigate to /system/app and press “Mount R/W” on the top. If it doesn’t work (button doesn’t change to “Mount R/O”, you need to Force close and restart “Root Explorer”. Select “Paste”
  6. Find copied com.market.apk file and long tap it. Select “permissions” and enable “read” and “write” for “owner” and just “read” for “group” and “others”. Everything else should be disabled.
  7. Tap on com.market.apk to install it and then open. In case the app will not open, reboot Kindle Fire, run Root Explorer (it should be at the top of your carousel) and run com.makert.apk from /system/app again. There is no need to “Mount R/W” this time around.
  8. When asked, create or register your existing Google account with the Marketplace app.
  9. Once Market app opens it may hang the first time around. If it does open it again by redoing step 7. At this point you will not be asked to login again. The problem is that Market will not show up in the list of installed apps. You will need a way to launch it when you want to install apps. We’ll take care of this in the next step
  10. Install SystemPanel or a similar app from the Market. It will help you to open Marketplace later and it is a good and useful app in itself.
  11. SystemPanel will show up in the app list of the device so you can always run it. In the installer menu will be a shortcut that will open Google App Market
  12. That is it – you can now enjoy much broader selection of apps from Google App Store.
Unrooting Kindle Fire
At this point you can get Amazon Instant Video Streaming back by either:
  • Unrooting your device via same SuperOneClick tool you used to root it
  • Install OTA RootKeeper so that you can turn root on and off right from your Kindle Fire without having to use your computer

After device is unrooted you need to “Force stop” Amazon Video app and restart it for video to work again.

Enjoy!

Kindle 4 Disassembly – Part I

So my Keyboardless Kindle 4 (we can call it that since it is the first Kindle device to hit the market that features software 4.0) arrived late in the evening. Surely enough my curiosity got the better of me and armed with a screwdriver and tweezers I set out to take it apart and see what is inside.

Normally one would open a Kindle by prying the back cover off with something sharp and pointy (screwdriver or knife). Kindle 4 resisted my attempts to open it up and when I finally did I understood why – top and bottom latches are much stronger than the rest so you need to bend the center of the cover up to let them slide out. On top of that it turned out that back cover is glued to the internal battery cover with adhersive gel. You need to apply some force to pop it open. If you decide to repeat my steps – be warned that your warranty will definitely be voided. My Kindle 4 device bears clear signs of being opened. There is no way to do it gracefully. Clearly the K4 is not meant to be user-serviceable or serviceable period.

Popping the back cover off reveals battery and motherboard. Most of the interesting stuff is covered with metal and I’ll leave it at that for the time being. I don’t want to ruin the device until I play around with the software. But fear not – soon enough the mission will be complete and I’ll post pictures of bare motherboard even if I end up bricking the device.

kindle4-rfid-tag

Kindle-4-rfid-tag

On the back of the cover there is RFID tag manufactured by UPM. It reads “UPM + 253_1”. Perhaps it is used to automate the personalization process (Kindle comes to your doorstep already configured with your Amazon account. It turns out that Amazon started putting RFID tags inside Kindle 3 and I missed it during my last disassembly.

Kindle4-disassembly

kindle-4-disassembly

Internally Amazon uses T-6 screws rather than Philips like in Kindle 3.

Taking the cover off the LiPo (Lithium Polymer) battery reveals its specs:

  • Model No: MC-265360
  • Rating (Voltage): 3.7V
  • Battery capacity: 890mAh (3.29Wh) – this is almost half that of Kindle 3. And not surprisingly Kindle 4 claims half the battery life of Kindle 3 – one month. Which is still plenty
  • Made in China by NcNair
  • Part Number: 515-1058-01
Kindle4 battery

Kindle 4 battery

WiFi chipset is Atheros AR6103T-BM2D 26AR0620.142D PAF284.1B 1126 made in Taiwan. This is very interesting because doing a Google search for AR6103T returns zero results. Nothing. The chip is not mentioned on the net at all. It is clearly a part of AR6103 chip family but seems to be a newer modification. AR6103 chips feature:

  • 2.4GHz 802.11b, 802.11g and 1-stream 802.11n. This means that it can only put though up to 72.2 Mbps in the 802.11n mode.
  • WEP, WPA, WPA2 (TKIP and AES) and WAPI encryption
  • 802.11e, WMM and WMM-PS QoS
  • 8.3mm x 9.2mm LGA package
Kindle4 Atheros WiFi Chip

Kindle 4 Atheros WiFi Chip

Small chip between battery and buttons is Winbond W25Q40BVIG is 512 kilobyte Quad SPI flash with clock speed of 104MHz, 3V power rating and erase block sizes of 4K, 32K and 64K. It has been in manufacture since Q3 2009. It sits right on wires that go to eInk screen. Screen model is ED060CF(LF)T1 REN60B7075(C62)

Kindle 4-Winbond-flash-W25Q40BVI

Kindle 4-Winbond-flash-W25Q40BVI

There is quite a bit of free space around the battery that could have been used for one or some of the following:

  • Larger battery
  • Speakers or at least audio-codec and mini-jack headphone connector
  • 3G modem
  • Memory card (SD or MMC) reader

Perhaps Amazon will add some of these things in the future. Or perhaps they will leave this space empty forever to keep the weight and cost down.

If there is a serial console like in previous Kindle generations, it is not obvious or easily accessible.

To be continued… Continued here: Kindle 4 disassembly – part II

Kindle Hack Brings 3.1 Firmware to Kindle 2 and Kindle DX

While the general functionality of the Kindle hasn’t changed much from version to version, at least as far as the act of reading goes, as time goes on the newer firmware for the latest generation of Kindles has introduced a few things that owners of the earlier models might be justifiably unhappy about not having access to.  Even if you do read enough eBooks for the Kindle to pay for itself in a year or two, nobody really likes the idea of being forced to buy a whole new one from time to time just to be able to use the newest options.  Working with this concept, an inventive individual by the name of Yifan Lu has managed to come up with a way for owners of the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX to update their devices to the latest version of Amazon’s firmware.

It isn’t a quick process necessarily, but it seems to be a well outlined process.  You need a jailbroken Kindle 3 handy(instructions on how to do that are provided as well) in addition to the device you are upgrading in order to extract the working 3.1 setup, but other than that there’s nothing special required in terms of equipment.  Even that is simply to avoid possible penalties from Amazon for distributing the copyrighted code behind the Kindle, but you can’t blame somebody for wanting to avoid that.

There are a number of benefits to updating to Kindle 3.1:

  • Real Page Numbers
  • Improved Web Browser
  • Improved PDF Support
  • and More!

The disadvantage, of course, is that doing this will be complicated for your average user and might carry some small amount of risk to it.  Also, at present there are two major bugs that arise from this update.  The audio player becomes effectively unusable thanks to degraded sound quality, and Kindle Active Content will not work.  Both of these may be fixed at some time in the future, but I haven’t heard with any certainty that they are being actively worked on.  Surprisingly, the upgrade is said to involve no significant decline in performance.

Since the option to run the newer features on older Kindle models is clearly there, it seems a bit manipulative of Amazon to deny them to early customers.  I’m aware that they need to find ways to make money and that it serves to push the newer products that much more effectively, but this isn’t the way to do it in my opinion.  Thanks to this hack, however, if you happen to need a second or third household eReader, you have the option of a fully functional refurbished Kindle 2 with only a little bit of work.  There have been some great deals on them lately if you keep your eyes open.  It’s a good way to get the most for your money even when you dislike the idea of the ad-supported Kindle with Special Offers.  The Kindle 2 isn’t quite as nice to use as the Kindle 3, in my opinion, but that doesn’t make it bad by any means.

If you are interested in this hack, check it out at: http://yifan.lu/tag/kindle/

We take no credit for the work involved in making this great new tool.