How to Use a Kindle
The Amazon Kindle is an eBook reader. eBooks are “electronic books” that can be carried anywhere your reader can go. The first Amazon Kindle devices appeared in November of 2007. The Kindle allows you to download eBooks, newspapers, magazines, and more. You can also look at magazine and newspaper websites, Wikipedia, and a few other periodical or reference websites as well. The Kindle uses the same Internet system (wireless 3G technology) as Internet-capable cell phones. This means you can get to your Amazon account and download eBooks pretty much anywhere.
eBooks are available from a few different sources, so you’re not handcuffed to using Amazon. eBook downloads are not cheap — in fact, prices have recently gone up on most books — but they range from a little less than a
book at the bookstore to slightly more than you’d pay for a regular book. Don’t forget that the Kindle has plenty of free content, including news and periodicals and a library of classic and religious literature, all for free. Kindle books are in a specific format (called AZW), but the Kindle is capable of converting files of all types, like HTML, DOC, PDF, JPG, GIF, PNG and BMP. That means you can read a wide variety of files after converting them to AZW format.
It isn’t all books and newspapers — the Amazon Kindle can read MP3 and Audible formatted files, as long as you have a direct USB connection to load them with.
The keyboard on the Kindle exists for two reasons — you can easily type in your search items and other commands, and you can make notes on whatever you’re reading. Like penciling in your notes, only more permanent and easier to clean up if you want to erase them. This makes the Kindle ideal for students and anyone who needs to take a ton of notes.
Using the Kindle keyboard, you can also grab a screenshot from a book, or use keyboard shortcuts to get easier access to certain Kindle features.
Keyboard Shortcuts for the Amazon Kindle
There are some built-in shortcuts you can use just by putting in a certain code on the Kindle’s keyboard. These will make using your Kindle easier.
General Kindle Shortcut Keys
Alt-Shift-R reboot Kindle
Alt-Shift-. restart GUI
Alt-Shift-G make screenshot
Alt-Z rescan picture directories
Alt-T show time
While listening to music and reading:
While reading a book in the reader
Alt-B toggle bookmark
Alt-T spell out time
Alt-0 enable/disable slideshow
Alt-1 start slideshow (if enabled)
Alt-2 stop slideshow
Alt-PageForward/PageBackward lets you move to the next or previous book section. Each section of a book is usually 1/20th of the book’s total size, according to Amazon.
To activate the grayscale PhotoViewer
1. Make a folder called “pictures”
2. Put your pictures in a subfolder in the pictures folder you just made. This will be your photo album’s “book name”.
3. While on the Kindle Home screen, press Alt-Z. Your picture book will show up. You can “read it” to see your photos in beautiful grayscale.
4. In the local menu you can make changes to your album, like size and other features.
Using the photo viewer
If you press Alt-Shift-0 on a picture, you can set it as your screensaver.
Pressing F will toggle fullscreen mode on and off.
A popular old computer game called Minesweeper was built into the Kindle.
To launch the game Minesweeper, press Alt-Shift-M
To play the game:
I,J,K,L move you up, left, down, and right
M marks a mine
R restarts the game
Space bar opens a cell
Scroll moves the cursor up/down
Alt-Scroll moves the cursor left/right
H returns you to the Home screen
Besides the keyboard, there are a few other controls you can use to heighten your eBook reading experience. The “Previous” and “Next” buttons perform a pretty obvious task — they let you move forward and backwards through the pages. You can also use a handy five-button control pad to navigate through text on a given “page” of an eBook.
Syncing the Kindle with Your Computer
One big hangup people have with the Kindle is that there is very little in the way of port access. About all you get is a single USB port for connecting to your home computer. The reason for limited port access is that the Kindle is designed to be an “all in one” unit. This is meant to make the device easy to use, but for those of us that want functionality outside the range of what Amazon designed, the Kindle doesn’t give you much leeway.
The kind of person that needs a Kindle is a big reader, an “on the go” type, or a slightly tech savvy person who wants to own the latest gadget. You can listen to audio books with the Kindle, too, so no matter the type of “reading” you prefer, this Amazon device has it available.
Pros and Cons of the Amazon Kindle
Most Kindle owners will tell you loudly and repeatedly how much they love their device. It can be difficult to get a negative word out of them. Why do they love it so much?
- Getting books is easy and (usually) cheaper than at the bookstore.
- Your book library is completely portable.
- Reading the Kindle screen is as easy as reading a book. Unlike other handheld devices, Amazon went out of their way to make reading the Kindle screen easy on your eyes.
- Recent book price increase.
- Sometimes hard to read in low light.
- No book sharing allowed.
- Incomplete Internet access.
Even with that short list of “cons”, the Kindle is easily the most popular eBook reader. People love the convenience of downloading books, the ease of reading, and how easy it is to use. If you are a big reader and you want the convenience of carrying all your newspapers, magazines, and books wherever you go, consider Amazon’s Kindle.