Friday, August 28, 2009

Follow Up On Kindle Review

Re-posted from my facebook pages, again....

Thanks everyone for the positive response to my review. Several people thought I should try to get it published which surprised me.

I just wanted to follow up with something. One feature that I did not test was syncing. This is a a feature that lets you read a book on kindle enabled device, like say a kindle, and then on another device go to the furthest point you've read in the same book. I had a chance to test it last night, so I thought I would add a bit about it.

So last night I was waiting to get my hair cut, and decided to try out "Kindle For IPhone", Amazon's app that lets you read your kindle books on your iphone. So, I pulled out my phone and fired up the app. I was presented with only one option, "Archived Items" which in Kindle-speak means "books that you've purchased but haven't downloaded to this device." The name is confusing, and really should be changed to something like "Items Not On This Device", but whatever.

So I went into my archive and selected "Death From The Skies!" because, as I've said the Bad Astronomer rocks. The book downloaded in less than a minute over the 3G connection I had, then I had to go back to my "Home" and enter the book. I was immediately taken to, and this is a little confusing, the last page in the book that I was reading the last time I had my Kindle's wireless turned on.

This of course makes sense, its just hard to describe. Basically, when your wireless is on, the kindle updates Amazon's servers to tell it the furthest page you've read. So, if your wireless is off and you read, say 10 pages, when you sync you'll be taken to the last page -10... or the furthest page you read when the wireless was on.

In this case, I had read about another 10 pages after I'd turned off the wireless to conserve battery power, so I had to go manually "flip" through the pages. And yes, on the iphone that is exactly what you do. Flicking your finger from right to left takes you forward a page, and flicking from left to right takes you back a page. Of course, with the iphone's screen, a "page" is really about 1/5 of a printed page. So I had to flick... and flick and a just when my finger was getting tired I had to flick some more.

Reading on the actual iPhone is ok, although it is not as easy on the eyes as the Kindle, and the fact the you can only read a few sentences before flicking again gets annoying. I also noticed that whenever a negative temperature was mentioned (say -273 Celsius), instead of a negative sign there was a little square. So there is some strangeness in the display on the iphone. Where it really shines though is in the use of footnotes, which unlike the kindle you can simply tap to activate... much, much easier.

Over all the app is pretty well written though, especially for a freebie, there is a slider bar that you can grab and pull through the book so you can fast forward. Other than the little square for negative signs, I really had only 2 complaints. 1) When you get in to the book, there really is no clear direction about what you are supposed to do. I only figured out how move from page to page after a bit of playing around, and a menu is available but it took me a few tries to find it. (You have to tap the screen and it appears... and then retap to make it go away.) The other complaint I have, and perhaps this options exists but I couldn't find it, is that there is no way to go forward a full page. So to get to page I wanted, I had to flick something like 40-50 times. Very annoying.

Now for the cool bit. When I got home and picked up my kindle, I tapped "Menu", navigate to "Sync to Furthest Point Read" and after a few seconds I was taken to exactly the page I'd gotten to on my iPhone.

What is great about that, is I now have whatever book I'm reading with me at ALL TIMES, for all those unexpected little delays in life. Waiting in line at the bank (do people still go to their actual bank anymore?), post office, doctor's office, whatever, I can just pop out my phone and pick up where I left off in whatever book I'm reading.

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