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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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SolarFocus Kindle Cover Revealed

Recently revealed at CES and available for sale on the 14th of January, the new SolarFocus Kindle cover seems to be an interesting solution to a problem that few, if any, people have run into.  This doesn’t mean that it will fail to impress as a gadget or that it is in any way useless, but one has to wonder how big the market will be for something like the SolarKindle cover.

Essentially this cover is meant to serve as recharging station, backup battery, and book light all in addition to the normal screen protection function.  Certainly not a bad thing.  The case’s internal battery carries a charge sufficient to add an additional three months of battery life to the Kindle 4 and can be recharged over the course of eight hours of direct sunlight exposure if you don’t have access to a powered USB port or adapter.  Even one hour is supposedly sufficient for as much as three days worth of reading time.

Sadly, there are any number of drawbacks.  In terms of basic use, there are a few obvious problems.  The addition of this cover more than doubles the weight of your Kindle, along with doubling its thickness and increasing the size of its footprint to slightly larger than the Kindle Keyboard.  The added size and weight remove a great deal of the appeal that the $79 Kindle carries.  The SolarKindle case itself also appears fairly unappealing, though some might disagree with me if they find solar panels and white plastic pleasant.  Perhaps the most striking thing about this case, however, is the pricing.  At $79 itself, it will double the cost of owning a Kindle.

I have nothing against a desire to be environmentally friendly, but this doesn’t make sense to me.  Given the fact that the Kindle 4 already runs for a minimum of three weeks at a time between charges (based on regular personal use on my part), how could it possibly be worth the inconvenience of the bulk and weight just to avoid having it find a wall outlet?

As of the Kindle 2, we already have analysis indicating that eReaders become environmentally friendlier than buying new books as of the 50th title or so.  Probably safe to assume that things have gotten even better by now, but even ignoring that entirely we have to assume that the impact of manufacturing these covers will be sufficient to increase the numbers.  How quickly can saving $0.25 or less per month in electricity help this case start to pay for itself under any metric?

Despite the hype surrounding the CES reveal, it seems unlikely that the SolarKindle will take off.  The price is too high and the benefits too few.  It isn’t as if you were adding months of battery life to a tablet or smartphone.  If you spend months at a time without access to power, this might be the case for you.  For anybody else it is not much better than an ostentatious nod toward “Going Green” that the Kindle, despite having numbers to support such a claim, fails to advertise on its own.

To Touch, or Not To Touch: Choosing Kindle 4 vs Kindle Touch

Let’s say that you know you want to buy a brand new Kindle eReader.  It could be for a Christmas gift, a charity donation, or just because you’ve been wanting one.  Technically I suppose you could just have a desire to use the new Kindle to wedge under the leg of a desk to stop it from wobbling, but if so then we have different priorities and budgets.  Anyway, there are a couple options right now as far as which to buy, so it’s important to know what you want to get out of it.

Displays: Tie

This part doesn’t matter too much.  Basically any modern eReader will be making use of the E INK Pearl display and the Kindle family is no exception.  Unlike an LCD, you can read on this type of screen with no eye strain in any sort of lighting that would work with a normal paper book. In an extremely minor way the Kindle Touch might be at a disadvantage here since there is a likelihood of fingerprints, but in practice they are surprisingly minimal and don’t have an effect on anything that quickly wiping the screen down every couple days or weeks won’t fix.

Interface: Kindle Touch

The Kindle Touch is far superior in terms of interacting with your books.  If you have any interest in taking notes, highlighting, or just about anything else besides flipping pages while you read, then the touchscreen will be practically necessary.  The Kindle 4’s directional control is fine for choosing a book, but using the virtual keyboard is tedious at best and you’ll find yourself avoiding it quickly.

Storage: Kindle Touch (Barely)

The storage space on the Kindle Touch is effectively twice that of the Kindle 4.  While this might seem at a glance to be a big deal, in actuality it won’t come into play much.  There are only so many books you can easily navigate at a time anyway which means most people hit their limit well before the Kindle’s storage fills up and start archiving titles that aren’t needed.

Battery Life: Kindle Touch

The battery life is also doubled on the touch model by comparison.  Once again, however, it doesn’t much matter.  The cheaper model still gets a month of use in between charges.  When you hit the point where your biggest problem is remembering where the charging cable was after such a long time has passed, it stops mattering much which eReader wins.

Price: Kindle 4

Obviously the Kindle 4’s price is its biggest advantage.  An $80 price tag makes it the cheapest major eReader on the market.

Form: Kindle 4

The Kindle Touch weighs slightly over 25% more than the Kindle 4.  It’s a fairly negligible amount, and both devices are comfortable to hold in one hand, but every bit helps.

Extras: Kindle Touch

Hands-down, the Kindle Touch provides the most extras aside from simple reading.  It has text-to-speech, audio playback, optional 3G, simple PDF zoom and scroll control, and Amazon’s new X-Ray feature.  While none of these is likely to be enough to sell the device on its own, the ability to access audiobooks and PDF documents easily is likely to be important for some people.

Recommendation: Kindle Touch (Mostly)

Basically, the Kindle Touch has the most to offer you.  It does everything that the Kindle 4 can do and more, for just $20 price difference.  This isn’t to say that the Kindle 4 has many problems, because if all you want to do is read cover to cover in your favorite books then it’s wonderful, it just isn’t as versatile.  We’ve effectively reached the point where all new eReaders will be equally pleasant to use for basic reading, so I’m forced to weigh other factors more heavily.  Regardless of that, the Kindle will almost certainly be enjoyed regardless of which one is chosen.

Special Offers Now Available For All Kindle eReaders

The addition of advertisements to the Kindle line is what has allowed Amazon to drive prices down as low as they have on all eReader hardware in the US.  It’s really the only reason that the eReader was finally pushed down to the $99 and beyond.  While many people were initially upset about the idea of advertising intruding into their reading experience, something that has in recent decades proven fairly inefficient and therefore been disregarded, the way Amazon tackled the problem has left most people satisfied.  No ads in the books themselves is the most important part, of course.

The most surprising thing, in a lot of ways, is how effective the Special Offers have been in providing genuine value for customers.  Among other things, Kindle w/ Special Offers owners have had the chance to buy $20 gift cards for $10, $1 Kindle Edition eBooks, and more.  Amazon has been their own best customer when it comes to these ads despite having some big name partners join in from time to time, and recently there have even been some great local deals springing up as a result of their attempts to take on Groupon.  Naturally this has left some owners of older Kindles, as well as people who avoided the opportunity due to suspicion over the ads, feeling rather left out.

Recently an option was introduced to remove these ads from the Kindle by paying for the difference in initial purchase price.  Definitely an appealing option since it effectively allows new buyers who are hesitant to accept the idea of ongoing advertisements buy into the device now and get the rest of the experience they want when it’s affordable.  It doesn’t hurt that this makes it that much more appealing for new customers to give Amazon’s Special Offers scheme a chance to prove its worth.

The fun flip side is that they quietly introduced the option to turn Special Offers on for Kindle eReaders that either never had them in the first place or decided to buy out of them at some point.  By going into the “Manage Your Kindle” section of the Amazon.com website, most of the work is already done.  Find your eReader in the list (which may include no more than one Kindle depending on how invested you are in the line) and, under the “Special Offers” heading, choose the Edit option.  Turning the ads on and off takes place almost instantly, requiring nothing more than that you turn your Kindle on and connect it to the internet.

I no longer have a Kindle 2 to test out this process with, but I think it is safe to assume that it would not work.  The Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard) definitely works, and all newer devices should handle it without any trouble.  If you haven’t had a chance before now to check out the options, it might be worth a try.  Just today I’ve seen a couple tempting ones flipping my Kindle off and on.  I especially recommend if you are in an area covered by the AmazonLocal deals.  Amazon is clearly not pushing people into this, nor do they make it hard to change your mind.  If there’s value to be found, why waste the opportunity?

Meet the DecalGirl Artists

This is the 5-th post in  the series of weekly giveaways sponsored by DecalGirl.com here on BlogKindle. According to our tradition let’s start this post with the winner name. Our congratulation to @Sweepgurl. I’ve sent the redemption code via Twitter.

Just to remember for our regular readers and new visitors: to be in the game you need to do the following: click on the twitter button on the left to retweet this post and follow @BlogKindle so that I can send you a personal message on twitter with redemption code in case you win. A winner will be randomly chosen next Friday and announced in the next post. Be with us on twitter.




Over the past few weeks I have shared with you some of the “nuts and bolts” of the DecalGirl operation:  The origin and history of the company, how to navigate the website, and how to find resources to help you install DecalGirl skins.  I also showed you some of our seasonal art for Halloween.  For the next two or three weeks I would like to introduce you to some of the artists who produce the magnificent works that we put on DecalGirl skins.  We couldn’t do it without them!
(Click on any of the images mentioned in the post to visit that artist’s page at DecalGirl.com and see all of his or her available designs.)

Al McWhite has been licensing designs to DecalGirl since 2009.  The ocean has always been one of his big sources of inspiration.  “I had no plans of being an artist,” he says.   “I thought I was going to be an ocean exploring marine biologist.”  It wasn’t until his high school art teacher recognized and helped him develop his talent that he realized that his career path lay in the arts.  After high school he received a scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah Georgia, where he double majored in graphic design and illustration.

Al has since combined his passion for the ocean with his artistic abilities.  You will see that beach, surf, and aquatic elements are major themes in most of his work.  “Sunset Flamingo,” shown here is one of over 40 designs by Al offered on DecalGirl skins.

Jackie Friesth is a self-taught watercolor artist living in Colorado.  She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  When she was in high school she took as many art classes as she could.  She helped paint murals on the school walls, and even painted one on her bedroom wall.  Living in Colorado provides her with a great deal of inspiration for her paintings, which typically feature natural subjects and landscapes.  “Grandmother’s Rose” is one of 14 of Jackie’s designs currently available at DecalGirl.

Julie Borden is a DecalGirl “local” of sorts, as she operates her gallery out of nearby Rehoboth Beach, also known as “The Nation’s Summer Capital” thanks to all of the visitors from Washington D.C. who arrive every summer.  Julie earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the prestigious Rochester Institute of Technology in 1987.  To date she has produced over 700 commissioned works of art.

Julie’s art spans a wide variety of styles and subject matter.  Music is a popular theme with her, and “Music Madness” shown here is a great example of her work.  There are currently 30 of her designs at DecalGirl.com.

Vlad Gerasimov lives in Irkutsk, Russia.  He plays piano and guitar and dreamed of being a rock star.  In 1998 he started to design user interfaces for websites and software applications, and when he had some free time he created desktop wallpapers.  Over time his hobby has grown into a full-fledged business, and today he works from home full time creating wallpapers for computers and mobile devices.

Vlad creates whimsical, brightly colored art with a variety of themes.  “Cheshire Kitten” is just one of over 40 designs from Vlad Studio that you will find at DecalGirl.

That’s a glimpse of a few of our artists.  We have designs from over 80 artists from all over the world, so unfortunately we won’t be able to showcase all of them here, but you can visit their galleries and read their bios at DecalGirl.com.  We’ll look at four more of them in this space next week.

Amazon Kindle Special Offers Still Picking Up Steam

One of the ways that Amazon has managed to bring down the price of their Kindle eReader to a point that nobody else has been able to match is through their Special Offers.  This feature saves customers $30 – 40 on their new Kindle by displaying advertisements in place of the otherwise uncustomizable screen saver images that the device carries by default as well as on the bottom of menu screens.  In doing so, Amazon makes enough off the ads, in theory, to offset the discount and maybe even get word out about useful offers they could be interested in.

One of the most notable initial offers was that of a $20 Amazon.com gift card for only $10.  This was only available to active Kindle w/ Special Offers owners and got a fair amount of press at the time as a smart move on Amazon’s part.  Other ads have included Buick, Olay, Visa, ABC, and more.  There was, and for some still is, some question as to how effective this advertising method would prove to be in the end, but responses are coming in from Advertisers that put that to rest for the time being.

For example, while Buick was mainly concerned with building a connection in customers minds between their brand and what they viewed as an innovative new product (the Kindle), they have been reported as noting that their customer engagement matched what they’ve come to expect from other, more established media.  ABC’s promotion also went well, with over 24,000 people taking advantage of their free script offer in support of new show “Revenge”.

In the past month, however, people in supported areas might note having seen a focus on the new Amazon Local service.  This is meant, by all appearances, as Amazon’s own competition for the popular Groupon site.  Nationwide offers in such areas have been somewhat scarce as a result.  This has led some to jump to the conclusion that Amazon has been having trouble finding people interested in advertising via Kindle.  One Amazon advertising VP, however, was able to come right out and say that there has yet to be a drop in the number of interested advertisers.

In spite of the fact that this appears to be a fairly narrow media venue to exploit, the Kindle has brought reading back to the front of peoples’ minds in a way that many wouldn’t have believed possible five years ago.  Millions have been sold and, while Amazon does not and is unlikely to ever, release sales numbers for the Kindle, it is safe to say that several of those millions had the Special Offers included.  These devices are cheap, allow for an unhindered reading experience wherein ads will never appear to disturb you, and can even come in handy when bringing deals to your attention.  Personally, I was just glad to stop seeing the same dead author portraits over and over again.  It seems clear that while there is expansion to be done and experience to be gained, this was a smart move on Amazon’s part.

Installation Tips For DecalGirl Skins

This is the 4-th post in  the series of weekly giveaways sponsored by DecalGirl.com here on BlogKindle. Here is the answer for the question – who is the lucky man? His tweeter name is @LGM777. I’ve sent the redemption code via Twitter. To be in the game you need to do the following: click on the twitter button on the left to retweet this post and follow @BlogKindle so that I can send you a personal message on twitter with redemption code in case you win. A winner will be randomly chosen next Friday and announced in the next post. A tip – tweet more and you will have more chances.


I hope everyone’s Halloween spirit was stimulated by last week’s post! We’re definitely in the mood for some trick or treating here at DecalGirl. As I write this we are preparing for our annual Halloween costume contest. Right now there’s Edward Scissorhands, a Hula girl, Gumby, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Raggedy Ann, a mad scientist, a jellyfish, and lots of other interesting characters roaming our halls!

But now on to something new….

DecalGirl skins are amazingly easy to install, and when you decide you are ready to change your look with a new one, they come off clean as a whistle, with no residue left behind. People occasionally ask “Are they reusable?” The answer to that is “no” for a couple of reasons. First, most anything made from vinyl is going to stretch a bit when it is removed from something, especially if it has adhesive on it and you have to peel it off. Second, our proprietary adhesive is designed to come off of your device with no residue, but, like most adhesives, it will not be as sticky and it will not adhere in the same way a second time.

Having said that, you should know that our adhesive does give you a “do over” if you try to place your skin and you don’t get it quite right the first time. If things don’t line up quite right for you, you do have a short time window to carefully remove the skin, line it up, and try again.

If you need some help installing your skin, you are in luck! There is a page on the DecalGirl website that is filled with installation tips. Or, if you are the type of person who prefers audio/visual help, pay a visit to YouTube.com, do a search for “DecalGirl skin installation” and you will find several pages of videos showing skins being installed on various devices. Please note that some of these are official DecalGirl productions; those are the ones that are by “DecalGirl Support.”

There are also a lot of others made by third parties. While most of them are pretty good and you’ll hear a lot of positive comments about DecalGirl skins, when it comes to installation advice you should probably stick to the ones that are officially from DecalGirl.

Just a quick note in closing today… We are already getting questions about skins for the new Kindle Fire. We would like everyone to know that we are planning to have skins available for it within hours of its release. Scattered through this post are some of our more recent skin offerings for Kindles. All of these, as well as any other design you find on our site will be available for the Fire. Talk to you next week!

Halloween Skins From DecalGirl

This is the third post in a series of weekly giveaways sponsored by DecalGirl.com here on BlogKindle. As usual we start it by announcing the winner of last weeks giveaway: @MRSHRAINEY. To be a winner as @MRSHRAINEY you need to do just a few steps: click on the twitter button on the left to retweet this post and follow @BlogKindle so that I can send you a personal message on twitter with redemption code in case you win. Winner will be randomly chosen next Friday and announced in the next post. Chances of winning are pretty high, especially if you participate several times :)

I’ll let Bill take over from here…


“Halloween is coming, and soon the doorbells will be humming….” Sorry, I slipped back into my former career as a music teacher for a second. As you probably know, DecalGirl.com offers skins for almost every taste, and designs featuring fantasy, macabre, or Gothic art are no exception. Halloween is getting very close, and in honor of the dentist’s favorite holiday I am going to show everyone a few “creepy crawly” designs from DecalGirl.com and tell you a little about the artists who created them.

Before we get started, just remember that you will not find all of these designs on the Kindle skins pages at DecalGirl.com. If you read last week’s post you will recall that you can shop by design and select any of our available designs for any device. If something you see here strikes your fancy, click on the image and you will be taken to the page for that design at DecalGirl.com. From there it’s a simple matter to select your device from the drop down menus, and your options for gloss or matte finish will appear along with the price. Make your selections, add the skin to your cart and you’re good to go!The first design is called “Hallucination” by Ross Farrell Design. The skull is a persistent theme for Ross, as you can see if you visit his artist page at DecalGirl.com. Ross uses media such as sculpture, oil, and acrylics to produce much of his work. He believes that “the single most important thing about art is interacting with it.” Ross currently has 20 designs available at DecalGirl.com.Next we have “Angel vs. Demon” by James Ryman. DecalGirl.com currently offers 13 designs by James. His focus is on fantasy art, and his work features images such as fantastic creatures, skeleton musicians reminiscent of Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix, and supernatural femmes fatales.

The third design is called “AFS-1” by Robert Steven Connett. Robert offers fantastic looking creatures in science fiction style settings. He cites as inspiration the work of H.R. Giger, Chris Mars, and Heironymous Bosch. Those familiar with the work of H.R. Giger will probably see some of his influence in Robert’s work. There are currently 11 of Robert’s designs available at DecalGirl.com.

For some seasonal art in a lighter vein, there’s “Succubus” by Chrissy Clark. Chrissy works in digital media, producing anime/manga style drawings that usually feature innocent looking females in a variety of settings from fairy tale to sci-fi. DecalGirl.com currently offers 29 of Chrissy’s designs.

This is just a small sample of some of the macabre and fantastic art available on skins for Kindle and other devices at DecalGirl.com. They have been greatly reduced in size for this post due to limitations on file size, but you can click on any of the images here to see them full size on our site.Have a great week, everyone!

Kindle Fire vs Kindle eReaders: Interface Differences and Why They May Matter To You

With the Kindle Fire opening up whole new avenues of entertainment in the product line and the Kindle Touch providing the affordable touchscreen eReader that people have been asking for for years now, there is a sense that both the Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3) and just plain “Kindle” (Kindle 4) are superfluous.  Sure the low price on the basic Kindle is great, for example, but for only a $20 difference over the touchscreen model you are asserting that you will never need an audiobook and don’t have much interest in note taking.  Sometimes it is nice to retain those capabilities just in case, even if you have no interest in them from day to day.  This absolutely does not mean that there is no situation where that is the smart move to make, it just means that being aware of your needs is important.

I think that the obvious contrast will be between the Kindle Fire and the Kindle products with mechanical interfaces.  While I will maintain that there is a definite difference between the new tablet and the eReader line it is billed as a part of, Amazon’s association of the two types of hardware under the same brand name makes the comparison important.  It’s true that much of the argument also goes for the Kindle Touch, right now we can look at the Kindle and Kindle Keyboard hands-on.  That makes things a bit simpler.

Naturally I could go on again about the superior reading experience to be found in an E INK Pearl screen over pretty much any LCD we’re ever likely to see.  Fortunately, I think most people have come to accept that already.  The battery life issue is also a big one, but not worth dwelling on.  It is not likely that people would fail to see the benefits of only having to charge a portable device every few weeks.  What I will contend is that there is an advantage to be found in the simplified experience of the Kindle and Kindle Keyboard over that we can expect from the Kindle Fire.

Since the Kindle is traditionally associated with reading and I’m talking about the virtues of the less expensive members of the Kindle family, it’s only natural that a great deal of weight is to be placed on the act of reading.  For example, I consider it a great advantage to be able to read without the distractions offered by a multi-functional device.  I won’t deny this owes to my own easily distracted nature, but that’s hardly an uncommon trait.  Reading a book should not generally be an act of willpower overcoming the urge to do something else.  That detracts somehow.  With a Kindle or Kindle Keyboard, not only can you do little besides read, most of what else you are able to do revolves around acquiring more things to read.  It is a cohesive experience.

The fact that both of the Kindles in question make use of mechanical controls rather than a touch interface can also be an advantage.  Aside from any risk of fingerprints being left, many people will prefer to be able to navigate their eBooks via the page turn buttons on the sides of the device.  When using a Kindle Keyboard, for example, you can adjust your grip to allow for page turning with nothing more than a light squeeze of the thumb.  Even assuming this is possible on a touchscreen, it would involve covering part of the display.  You may only save a small motion, but when Amazon is looking to save on even the effort of a swiping gesture in their touch interface there is obviously a preference for conserved effort in the user base.

The Kindle Keyboard in particular also offers the distinct advantage of being able to interact with your device without tying up screen real estate.  Normally this is not a big deal, I will be the first to admit.  When it comes to making in-text notations, however, it is useful to be able to see as much as possible while forming your thoughts.  I do think that the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire will offer a greater speed to the notation process since selecting text is a bit clunky with the more basic directional control, but it is useful to be aware of the tradeoff.  Losing the keyboard was worthwhile in terms of reducing size and weight, but for some people the keyboard is still a useful part of the Kindle experience.

This is not a claim for the overarching superiority of the older Kindle Keyboard or even the equality of the Kindle 4 (there is a reason that it is priced lower than all the other Kindles).  What I am claiming is that they each fill niches separate from the Kindle Fire and, to a lesser degree, the Kindle Touch.  Yes the newer, more powerful device can do basically all the same things that the eReaders are able to do as well as many other things that people will find useful, but that does not mean that it is a direct upgrade.  For an affordable tablet, the Kindle Fire is great.  For an eReader I would recommend any other Kindle without hesitation.  There is no more reason to disregard the Kindle or the Kindle Keyboard than there is to ignore the situational usefulness of the Kindle DX, which is an issue I have also gotten into recently.  Know your options and your needs when you decide it is time for a new Kindle.

Getting Around at DecalGirl.com / Kindle 4 Skins

This is the second post in a series of weekly giveaways sponsored by DecalGirl.com here on BlogKindle. I’ll start it by announcing the winner of last weeks giveaway: @nbrown1981. I’ve sent the redemption code via Twitter. This weeks giveaway works in a very simple way (same as the last one): click on the twitter button on the left to retweet this post and follow @BlogKindle so that I can send you a personal message on twitter with redemption code in case you win. Winner will be randomly chosen next Friday and announced in the next post. Last week only about a dozen people participated in the giveaway so chances of winning were pretty high.

I’ll let Bill take over from here…


This week I would like to start by introducing the DecalGirl website to those who have never been there before, and showing everyone some of the ways to navigate and quickly find what you are looking for.

If you click on the images of Kindle 4 skins below (more about them in a bit) you will be taken to a page for that particular design. Let’s take a look at various ways to find what you are looking for from there.

You can make a selection from the main menu and the drop down sub-menus at the top of the page. Those will help you navigate to the main pages for each device where you can see all of the stock skins for that device. (Don’t forget, you are not limited to the skins you see on this page. More about that later, too.) There is also a “directory listing” type menu just above the content area of each page that allows you to jump back over multiple levels with one click if you so desire.

If you look over the skins on any particular page and you don’t see anything that really tweaks your interest, or if you just want more choices, you can go to the right side of the main menu and click on “More ways to shop.” If you select “Shop by artist” you will be taken to the main artists’ page, where you can select an artist to view his or her gallery. If you select “Shop by design” you will be presented with all our current designs, which can be sorted by “Freshest,” “Best Sellers,” or “Name.” There’s a filter option on the left that lets you filter by artist, color, or style of art.  Any design can be put on a skin for any device.  When you choose to shop by design or by artist you will be presented with a menu to select the type of device, and then the specific device you would like skinned.  After making those selections you will be presented with a choice of gloss or matte finish, you will see the price, and you can add the skin to your cart.

We are occasionally asked about custom skins.  It’s a little hard to find information about it on the website, so let me make everyone aware:  Yes, DecalGirl can do custom skins.  If you want a picture of your favorite pet, or your daughter, or whatever on a skin, all you need to do is email [email protected].  We will send you a photoshop template via email.  Put your art on that template, send it back to us, and we will create your skin.  There is an additional $5 charge for custom skins.  You can also request to have color changes made or text added to any of our stock designs.  We will soon be streamlining this process by adding an online customizer tool to our website.

Still can’t find what you are looking for, or have questions? You can contact DecalGirl in several different ways. Go to the bottom left of any page to find our customer service links. From there you can send us an email or find our snailmail address, as well as our toll free customer service telephone number. Live customer service is available Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Eastern. When you call you will be talking to a friendly helpful customer service representative who is right here on site at DecalGirl, not someone at a foreign outsourced call center! (You’ll be talking to Amy, Keith, or Erin, not “Peggy!”  For anyone not in the U.S., this video will introduce you to “Peggy.”)

Now let’s talk about the skins for a bit. We have most recently added skins for the Kindle 4, and you can expect to see skins available for the other new Kindles in the near future. Right now there are 157 skin designs available on the Kindle 4 page, but remember you can shop by design or artist to select any of our more than 2200 skins to cover your Kindle 4. Here are three of our currently most popular designs. Click on any of them to visit the page for that design.

The first design is called “Library,” by Vlad Studio. Could there be a more appropriate skin for an ereader than this one?  Vlad lives in Irkutsk, Russia. He produces clever designs on a variety of subjects – from inanimate objects to stylized animals and people.

The next design is by one of our newer artists, Kate McRostie, and it is called “Fresh Picked.” Kate lives in Wilmington, North Carolina and gets her inspiration from people and things around her. “Fresh Picked” is reminiscent of the upholstery on an old fashioned chair, or perhaps decorative wallpaper.

The third and final design I want to share this week is called “Infinity” by David April. David is a software developer who produces fractal and photographic art. “Infinity” has multiple layers that give it an almost 3-D look.

Next week I’ll share some of our designs that will get you in the mood for the Halloween season. Have a good week, everyone!

Kindle 4 vs Kindle DX: Where To Find The Most Value

Ok, I’ll come right out and admit that I’m a big fan of the Kindle DX.  I know it is a bit expensive compared to the other Kindles, especially after the price drops that we have just experienced, but it does a specific task very well and shouldn’t be overlooked entirely by prospective purchasers.  Unfortunately, Amazon seems to have virtually abandoned the only good large form eReader on the market at the moment, at least as far as their advertising is concerned.

Since I do feel rather strongly that there are uses for this Kindle yet, and that many people would find it worth the money, let’s take a look at the factors that weigh your choices when looking into a new purchase.  Here are some of the more important specs that differentiate the Kindle DX against its newer siblings:

Kindle 4 Kindle Touch Kindle DX
Display 6″ E INK Pearl 6″ E INK Pearl Touchscreen 9.7″ E INK Pearl
Connectivity WiFi WiFi + Optional 3G 3G
Battery Life 1 Month 2 Months 3 Weeks
Weight 5.98 Ounces 7.5 – 7.8 Ounces 18.9 Ounces
Storage 2GB (1,400 Books) 4GB (3,000 Books) 4GB (3,500 Books)
Price $79 $99 – $149 $379

Kindle 4

Pros:

This new Kindle is the least expensive and most portable ever to hit the shelves.  It weighs less than most paperback books, for example, and will technically fit in your pocket.  Please note that for the safety of your Kindle it is not recommended that you carry your Kindle around in a pocket. The battery life, while not quite as impressive as the more expensive Kindle Touch, is still an impressive month of reading.  You can even change the language of the Kindle interface now, should you have a non-English preference.

Cons:

The Kindle 4’s inability to be purchased with 3G connectivity makes it a potentially poor choice for people without access to a reliable wireless network.  Storage is also substantially reduced, which might be an issue for people with large libraries.  This may not matter to many, however, because this Kindle also lacks the ability to play audiobooks, or indeed any form of audio.  If you like to listen to music while you read or have plans to make use of the Kindle line’s popular Text to Speech feature, this is not the right device.

Kindle Touch

Pros:

The first ever Kindle with a touchscreen, the Kindle Touch eliminates the uncomfortable keyboard that many people have often complained was simply wasted space on their eReader.  This manages to reduce the weight, allows for an easily usable localized interface, and generally speeds up navigation.  This particular Kindle also has access to the X-Ray feature, which will allow readers to highlight connected passages throughout a given book, find term repetitions, locate external references, and pull up detailed articles via Wikipedia.  So far, no other member of the product line has access to that.  You will also get the device with the highest battery life in this comparison as well as the opportunity to choose 3G coverage in addition to the included WiFi capabilities.  Unlike the Kindle 4, this eReader has audio capabilities and will be able to both play audio files or audiobooks and read texts aloud for you using the Text to Speech feature.

Cons:

While Amazon has made the Kindle Touch’s interface quite simple to use while reading, it is still completely lacking in physical page turn buttons.  This will make a small difference in how you hold the device and how often the screen needs to be cleaned.  It is also slightly more expensive than the Kindle 4, though still coming in just under the $100 mark if you make use of the cheapest options.  Aside from that, the only real downside is the highly restricted nature of the optional 3G coverage.  Unlike previous Kindles, this one will only allow users to browse the Kindle Store and Wikipedia via 3G.  Everything else is blocked off, rendering that option far less appealing.

Kindle DX

Pros:

The clearest advantage here is going to be screen size.  Having a 9.7″ screen to work with will come in very handy for just about any book.  This is especially important for people who prefer or require larger print sizes, or for the display of standard size PDF files that might be difficult to view on smaller devices.  The Kindle DX has slightly more available storage space than either of the other options, which is also useful for PDF viewing as those files tend to be far larger than Amazon’s proprietary format.  Also, this is the only device listed here that allows unrestricted 3G connectivity.  Of all products in the Kindle line, the DX is probably the best suited for internet browsing.

Cons:

The biggest downside here is weight.  The Kindle DX is clearly far too heavy for comfortable long-term reading if you prefer to hold your book in one hand.  It is better compared to a hardcover book, which has a bit more heft.  Perhaps owing to the assumption that people would not want to be reading with just one hand anyway, there are no left-side navigation controls.  This can make the device hard to use, especially for lefties.  The firmware for the DX is also lagging a bit behind and shows no signs of pending improvements, so what you have now is probably all you’re going to get.  Finally, obviously, is the price.  At nearly four times the cost of the Kindle Touch, the DX will only be worthwhile if its larger screen provides you with something you find truly valuable.

Recommendations

Kindle 4: Perfect as a paperback replacement for the regular reader.  The stripped down model provides a cheap enjoyable reading experience.

Kindle Touch: Great for active readers.  By far the best option if you like to highlight, annotate, and examine your reading material closely.

Kindle DX: The larger screen makes this desirable for people preferring large print, anybody carrying around loads of PDF files, students, and those with a strong preference for the hardcover feel of a book.