International Kindle 2 First Impressions

FedEx has just delivered my Kindle 2 International. On the exterior it looks exactly the same as Kindle 2 with US wireless. However there seem to be some changes in the software.¬†First of all the device reports software version to be 2.2 (375490138). What is interesting is that this version can’t be found on Amazon Kindle source code web-page.

Kindle 2 International 2.2

Kindle 2 International 2.2

Poking around the settings and easter eggs I found that 411 and 611 pages look different.

I’ve also found a new hidden setting: if you type 311 while on the settings page you will be able to manually switch wireless networks just like on any other GSM phone.

Kindle 2 International Choosing GSM network

Kindle 2 International Choosing GSM network

Kindle 2 International seems to have several new screensaver images.

I can confirm that despite the change in software number the fonts are still not Unicode. Unicode font hack for US Kindle 2 doesn’t install on the international version. At first it wouldn’t even recognize the update. I’ve played around with Igor’s script and was able to tweak it to produce .BIN files that are recognized as updates by Kindle. However these updates still fail during the installation. Right now I’m trying to figure out why that is and how to fix it. If anyone would like to beat me to it – the updated version of Igor’s script can be downloaded here:¬†kindle_update_tool. You’ll need to have Python installed in order to run it. To build update packages for Kindle 2.2 you need to use -k4 switch. Good luck! Let me know if you figure it out.

Kindle 2 Software Update 2.0.2 (309510017)

My Amazon Kindle 2 just updated itself to new firmware version 2.0.2 (309510017).

kindle software 2.0.2 (309510017)

At the moment there are no official release notes from Amazon.com, however by looking at the source code I could speculate that there are some changes related to sound system (most likely bugfix). There seem to be changes related to watchdog timer. In plain English it’s a software and hardware system that will reboot your Kindle automatically in case it freezes and stops responding to user input.

Some people have reported that screen seems to refresh a tad faster now. Now that I’ve read it I seem to notice it too but it could be the placebo effect. Please leave a comment if you noticed any changes in your Kindle 2 after the update was applied.

If you have Kindle 2 Screensaver Hack installed you’ll need to uninstall it first and then apply the update manually. After update is installed you can re-install the hack.

Kindle Software Update 2.0.1 (303870012)

Today my Kindle 2 updated itself to 2.0.1 (303870012) without even me noticing it. I had very hard time figuring out what this update is about since it’s not officially announced by Amazon (although it’s listed on the source code page) however – here’s what I could gather:

  • This may or may not be related to selectively disabling text-to-speech feature on some books since on one hand the updated started circulating among limited number of users before the decision was announced. On the other hand it’s very logical that Amazon prepared the code that started testing it on limited number of Kindle’s before it made the official announcement.
  • Some users have reported that 5-way controller got an acceleration feature (cursor starts moving faster after a second of holding the controller in some direction). I checked and it really seems to be the case now, though I can’t say that the feature wasn’t there in the first place.
  • At first it was rumored that this update addresses some kind of hardware issue that affects only some devices however this proved false since gradually more and more Kindle owners are getting this update.

I’ve downloaded both 2.0 and 2.0.1 source codes, ran a WinDiff (a program that finds changes in the source code) and here’s what I’ve found:

  • Several changes in power management code including the code that talks to MC13783 power management controller. These are most likely to improve battery life.
  • Minor change in code related to ISP1504 USB Hi-Speed transciever.

This only entails changes made to GPL portion of the Kindle source. Amazon code that controls high-level Kindle functions is not published so there’s no telling what was changed there. My personal guess would be that it is the text-to-speech update that was released before decision was publicly announced.

kindle-software-2-0-1

Instructions for manually installing this update can be found here. Use at your own risk!