Kindle e-Book Reader

Kindle Touch

Entry 01 : Initial Purchase

I became interested in the Kindle on one of my solo backpacking trips after chancing upon a fellow backpacker that raved about the one he owned (Kindle 3). He had been traveling for half a year and insisted that the Kindle was one of the best things that he could have brought along with him. Fortunately for me, shortly after Amazon launched their new generation of Kindle eBook readers including a touch screen variant.

After scouring the web (since Amazon does not sell the Kindle in Malaysia), I found a seller through Low Yat forums who was selling the Kindle Touch for RM409. Payment was CoD and the seller waited patiently whilst I opened the sealed box to check that everything was in order before paying him. Giondori is definitely a seller that I would recommend.

Entry 02 : Kindle Touch

The first thing that struck me was the screen. It is very different from LCD screens that you are used to as it uses a type of electronic paper called 'E-Ink'. E-Ink works by filling the screen with tiny microcapsules that are pushed to the top (making them look white) or pulled to the bottom (making them look black), when an electrical charge is applied to them. There are two immediate benefits :

  1. Readability - The Kindle display is not back-lit. This makes reading far more comfortable especially for long durations. The screen is clear and crisp when you are outdoors with no reflective glare at all. The only downside to this is that an external light source is required when reading at night or in low-light conditions.
  2. Low power consumption - E-Ink uses 50-100 times less power than liquid crystal displays as the power is only needed when the display is changed. Amazon claims that you can read for up to 2 months (as long as wireless is turned off) based upon a half-hour of daily reading time!

The only downsides that I have noticed so far is the slight lag from the touchscreen when changing pages or navigating menus and the experience when reading PDF files. The screen is a bit small for graphic novels and magazines but they are readable as long as you are prepared to navigate by panning and zooming in and out as are willing to endure the fact that there is no colour. The Kindle also seems to struggle a little with large, high resolution PDFs.

Entry 03 : Kindle Paperwhite
Amazon have just released a new Kindle called the Paperwhite. The main difference that you will immediately notice is the screen. The screen is internally illuminated with 4 LEDs allowing you to also read in the dark and also manages to increase the resolution as well as the screen contrast. Other differences are the colour, now black, as well as a much higher pricetag!

Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos said "Paperwhite is the Kindle we’ve always wanted to build — the technology didn’t exist to build a display with this level of contrast, resolution, brightness and battery life, so our engineers invented it.”

Entry 04 : Calibre E-book Management

I have been using an eBook management software called Calibre to both organize the tens of thousands of eBooks that I already have as well as an interface to upload those eBooks onto the Kindle. It supports a huge range of eBook formats, including MOBI, EPUB, LIT, & PDF. It can accept 22 formats and convert them to 16 formats!

The interface and other options such as tagging, categorizing and searching are very easy to use and kind of reminds me of iTunes. The best thing about it is that it is open source and is available for Windows as well as Linux OS's. The online manual for Calibre can be found here.

Entry 05 : Registration

Shortly after purchasing the device, I tried registering it mainly to correct the time that was being displayed but as soon as I did, the device started to display a bunch of ads (since the version that I purchase is not the ad-free version). I ended up trying to reverse this by de-registering and power-cycling the device but it was to no avail. Eventually a factory reset of the Kindle worked and all was back to normal..

Entry 06 : Jail Breaking
Jail breaking the Kindle was remarkably easy. All that was required was to upload a few files to the root folder of the Kindle file system, to launch the Kindle and then to execute an MP3 file. This file did the jail breaking automatically and displays a wallpaper of your choosing instead of the ads that are displayed after the device is registered.

The custom wallpaper was also very easy to customize. All that needed to be done was to convert the image to greyscale and the resize it to the correct dimensions. The image I chose was the well-known Vitruvian Man that was sketched by Leonardo da Vinci. Here is the original image that I used.

Entry 07 : Kindle Casing & Light Source

Since I don't plan to buy the Paperwhite anytime soon, I instead ordered another casing for the Kindle Touch but this time it is one that comes along with its own light source. The built-in reading lamp gets its power from the Kindle itself via two metal tabs on the rear of the Kindle which is handy since you will only end up having to monitor the power levels of one source. The light itself is right at the top of the casing and is turned on by flipping a small arm that has been built into the casing.

Entry 08 : Kindle Paperwhite
I ended up ordering the paperwhite after all! The improved contrast and resolution, as well as the built-in lit display was just too good to resist. That and the small additional features such as the 'Time To Read' which estimates how long it will take to get to the end of the chapter or to the end of the book (based on your average reading rate) would make reading that much more pleasurable. The only thing missing would be the audio capabilities but that won't affect me much considering I never used that function on my Kindle Touch anyway.

Entry 09 : Damaged Kindle

Just when I thought that a bad day could not get any worse, it did - liquid spilled in a drybag that my Kindle was also in. As soon as I took the kindle out and wiped it down, I could see that the screen was all messed up. I tried my best drying it, wiping it down, blowdrying it, even looking for a bag of rice that I do not have but it was all to no avail. After a few hours with no change, I decided that I had nothing to lose and decided to peer into the inner workings of the kinde.

Entry 10 : Kindle Definitely Damaged

Leaving it to dry for a few weeks didn't improve the condition of the Kindle at all. The only options are to either get rid of the whole thing or to purchase a replacement e-ink screen and try and fix it up. Have scoured the web for local sellers but the only promising option that I have found seems to be this one. Something I'll have to look into at a later date.

Entry 11 : The Kindle Paperwhite

The awesome Kindle Paperwhite arrived just in time for my almost month-long trip to Nepal, thanks to my friend Ryan William who brought it all the way from the USA. The Paperwhite was vigorously tested in some really extreme weather and never failed to disappoint. Ended up reading almost 2 hours a day and managed to go through 2 books and all this without having to recharge the Kindle even once! The lit display came in super handy as there was a lack of electricity (even middle of the night excursions to the restroom required a torch) for huge portions of the trip and the ability to control the brightness ensured that my eyes had just enough light so as to not end up strained.

Another welcome addition was the Kindle's ability to gauge the amount of time left till you finished the chapter (or even the entire book). It would measure the time you took to get through a page, with a specific number of words, and apply that time to the amount of words that you had left. I knew that this feature was to be included before I purchased the Paperwhite but didn't think that I would end up using it much. The more that I used the feature however, the more that I began to rely on it. It particularly came in handy at points where I started to get sleepy and needed to determine whether I was to carry on until the end of the chapter or to just leave it there and carry on the next day.