Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader has clearly won many fans across the globe. And with more e-books sold on Amazon than printed texts in the recent past, this sure is a great ecosystem. Yes, you can read books and subscribe to magazines and newspapers on your Kindle, but that’s not all.
Small useful features like availability of a browser and text-to-speech are well known. However, there are hidden features in your Kindle and third-party services that would help you enhance your user experience on it. Some services like Lendle (lendle.me) are great, but only available in the US, so we’ll skip those.
Easy access: Email personal documents to your Kindle address
This is clearly an Easter egg. Kindle has inbuilt games, and no advertorial text from Amazon mentions it. All you need to do to activate Minesweeper is to hold down ALT, Shift and M simultaneously, and voila! Use the I, J, K and L keys to move up, left, down and right, and ALT-Scroll to toggle from row to row or column to column. The M key lets you mark a mine and the Space key uncovers a cell.
That’s not all. Tap G from within the Minesweeper interface to play Gomoku, a five-in-a-row game.
At any time, hold down Shift, ALT and G simultaneously to take a snapshot of your Kindle’s screen.The screen will blink to indicate a successful capture.
When you connect your Kindle to your computer via USB, you can find the captured screenshot in the “Documents” folder.
Kindle makes it easy to take your personal documents with you by sending attachments to your Kindle’s email address. You can send unprotected Microsoft Word, PDF, HTML, TXT, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PRC and MOBI files to your Kindle email address.
Here’s an important tip: In general, send personal documents to your “name”@free.kindle.com address to wirelessly transfer personal documents to your Kindle over Wi-Fi at no charge. If you send your documents to your “name”@kindle. com address, and Wi-Fi is not available, the files will be sent via 3G for a small fee. “name”@free. kindle.com works with the Kindle 3, and only when online via Wi-Fi.
The latest generation Kindle offers native PDF reading support. To covert your PDF documents to Kindle format so you can take advantage of functionality such as variable font size, annotation and text-to-speech, etc., type “Convert” in the subject when you email your document to Kindle.
Read Web articles
Are you a voracious online reader—news sites, sports features, blog posts, and anything and everything thrown at you by friends on social networks? Reading on Kindle is a far better experience than on the browser with IM or mail notifications popping every second and several other windows anticipating your attention. Services like Instapaper (www.instapaper.com) and Klip.me (www.klip.me) allow you to set up a browser extension to send the Web content to your Kindle at no charge (if you use the “name”@free.kindle.com address).
Another great service—Kindlefeeder (www.kindlefeeder.com)—allows you to aggregate your favourite feeds and have them delivered to your Kindle in a convenient, easy-to-navigate format. Kindlefeeder offers both a free basic and a paid unlimited service. For countries like India, where Amazon does not yet offer blogs and news website subscriptions on Kindle, this service will take care of that without subscription charges. Take that, licensing folks!
Renting kindle textbooks
Amazon has just launched a new feature for the Kindle e-reader-textbook rentals. The feature started rolling out across e-books in the Kindle textbook store from Tuesday. Users with a Kindle, or with the reader installed on any other device, can choose to rent books for one month to a year, depending on their requirement, for a fraction of the book’s price. Rates vary, but Amazon claims students can get books for a fifth of the price. For example, ‘Intermediate Accounting’ is available for $109.20 (around Rs 4,870), and can be rented for one year for $38.29 The books will automatically become inaccessible when the rental period is up. Since it’s still being rolled out, the feature is not available on all the books in the Kindle store.
•Kindle goes into sleep mode automatically after some idle time. You can also slide and hold the power button for 7 seconds to turn off your Kindle, or hold it for 15 seconds to restart the device.
•A small trick to let you check how much free space you have left on your Kindle: Press the Menu button. On the top-left corner of your screen, a number will indicate how many megabytes of storage you have left.
•If there is iTunes for iPod and Zune for Windows Phones, there is Calibre for Kindle (calibre-ebook.com). Calibre is a free, third-party application to manage your existing e-book collection and fetch Web content for your Kindle. Calibre can sort the books in your library by title and author, etc., and supports extra searchable metadata such as tags and comments. Calibre also offers conversion across a huge number of formats, supports all the major e-book formats and can automatically fetch feeds from websites or RSS feeds, format the news into an e-book, and sync to the Kindle. If you use Calibre, you won’t need to sign up for Kindlefeeder.
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