Amazon Kindle

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Contents

Description

Third generation Kindle in graphite color, released on August 27, 2010

  • e-ink Pearl, 16-level grayscale, 600x800
  • 4Gb storage
  • Linux-2.6.26
  • Freescale i.MX35 532 MHz (ARM 11)
  • 3.7 V, 1750 mAh lithium polymer
  • Atheros AR6102G 802.11bg WiFi chip?
  • USB 2.0 port (micro-B connector), apparently master-capable
  • 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack
  • built-in speakers
  • microphone ("This feature is not yet enabled and is for future use")
  • 190 × 123 × 8.51 mm
  • 240 g
  • Browser based on webkit

Original software: Kindle 3.0 (515460094)

Links

Review

Purely subjective :-)

e-Ink

I know the technology since it was in development within Philips Research and I'm really impressed by the quality they managed to achieved today (2010Q3).
Refresh is faster (but only for static or small animations, don't try to watch videos)
Contrast is better
Definition is unbelievably better, without any noticeable pixellisation
Greyscale management is excellent
I just noticed some slight problems (ghost images) when scrolling on a webpage because it attempts to refresh only locally the content

Wi-Fi

Very easy to connect but better to have a WPA PSK full of letters than full of numbers or other chars because if there is a keyboard for letters, other symbols must be entered via a virtual keyboard and a 5-way button, kind of cumbersome if your PSK is 63-digit long...
Possibility to configure manually a network, supports WPA2
Possibility to turn off Wi-Fi.

Browser

Via Wi-Fi you can search easily on Google & Wikipedia & you can surf any web page.
It's usualle more comfortable to set the browser in "article mode" rather than "web mode". Then it only displays the text.
Limitations: web browser cannot download other filetypes than .AZW, .PRC, .MOBI or .TXT, so even if it supports PDF it cannot download them :-(
Privacy: can clear its history, all cookies and can disable javascript.

Open source friendliness

Still to be evaluated.
88 pages of legal statement, giving a glimpse on the technologies used in this product:

  • Java by Sun, Vocalizer for automotive by Nuance, PDF by Adobe, iType by Monotype
  • under GPL: alsa, atheros driver, atk, base-passwd, bspatch, busybox, cairo, directfb, dosfstools, e2fsprogs, fuse, gdb, glib, glibc, gstreamer & gst-plugin-*, gtk gimp toolkit, ifupdown, iptables, libenchant, libgcrypt, libgnutls, libgpg-error, libltdl, libol, libpango, libproxy, libsoup, libstdc++, libvolumeid, linux, lrzsz, lzo, module-init-tools, mtd-utils, picocom, powertop, procps, syslog-ng, sysvinit, taglib, u-boot, udev, util-linux, wireless tools
  • under BSD: bsdiff, bzip2m elektra, jdbm, klibc, libedit, libpcap, ncurses, ppp, wpa supplicant
  • others: freetype, libjpeg, icu4j, d-bus, liboil, klibc, pixman, e-ink, openssl, ssleay, gifencoder, ntp, curl, fontconfig, libtiff, libxml2, libxslt, libexslt, bufferedrandomaccessfile, jfep, json simple, log4j, lucene, xerces,

Source code available here, about 190Mb for v3.0.1

Other features

  • Password lockable (you can reset password by resetting the entire device, loosing all its content)
  • TTS & voice guide
  • Instant dictionary while reading (only in American English & British English?)
  • playing mp3 while reading

Bugs & missing features

  • You can write annotations while reading but I couldn't find a way to write notes out of that context, just as a Moleskine.
  • Being able to choose the type of refresh for books & for browsing: right now page refresh on books is excellent and refresh on scrolling a webpage is poorer (probably because they wanted to limit power consumption & they assumed you'll scroll more often than turning pages. But I would prefer to have the choice.
  • It displays nice engravings when sleeping, but I'm not sure I can load my own "screensaver" images. UPDATE: see jailbreaking section
  • It could also display images when turned off but that option is not there.
  • Collections can be created only when you've registered the product.
  • No way to save webpages for offline reading. Would be great e.g. for Wikipedia articles
  • Cannot browse local files through file://
  • Cannot download pdfs from the browser
  • It would be nice to store the screen orientation per book or per pdf rather than being a global setting
  • It's not possible to search within pdfs
  • It would be nice to have a password protection limited to the Kindle Store, kind of parental protection to avoid kids to purchase dozen of books in one click.
  • It would be nice to have several user profiles so we can share the Kindle with other people without losing "last page" marks and without messing up bookmarks & personal notes.
  • When locked by password it should display the personal info provided in the settings, otherwise what's the point to put my contacts info there?
  • It should be able to sync clock (it can do it via GPRS) via Wi-Fi via NTP.
  • Keyboard painting doesn't seem to be very resistant and is already fading away.
  • inline dictionary displays the begin of next definition if current definition is very short, e.g. look at "gryphon" in Alice in Wonderland.
  • When using zoom on pdfs, it'd be more comfortable if it was displaying an overlap when showing the bottom of a page rather than the only missing part and a large bunch of empty space. (e.g. with zoom 150%)
  • There is an Amazon email for feedback, it would be easier for us & then to provide a feedback form directly on the Kindle and delivered to them through the WhisperNet (for free of course). The form could even provide automatically the software version & propose categorizations of the report (bug, missing feature, appreciation, etc)

Tips

  • I didn't pay attention that settings were on several pages...
  • Turn off automatic backup of annotations & collections to amazon.com in the settings!
  • To see the time (how to change it??), press the Menu key
  • To see free storage, press Home then Menu keys (3105MB on a new device)
  • To reboot: Home/Menu/Settings/Menu or disconnect from power and slide and maintain power switch for 15s
  • To play/pause music: alt+space
  • To go to next song: alt+f
  • To put to sleep, slide and release the power switch or wait 10 mins of inactivity. Note that Wi-Fi seems to stay on so better to put it off before sleep.
  • To turn it off, slide and maintain power switch for 7s till screen goes white.
  • To send your docs to the Kindle, send them to the address you created xxxx@kindle.com
    • If you use 3G WhisperNet you may be charged -> send it to xxxx@free.kindle.com to receive in your inbox the converted document so you can upload it yourself to the Kindle.
    • You can also setup a maximum charging price for delivering to xxxx@kindle.com to avoid bad surprises. Delivering through Wi-Fi is free.
    • To force conversion of a PDF, type "convert" in the subject

Misc

Comparisons

With a book

  • = About same size & weight, thinner. Note that I had also a Kindle DX in hands and I find it too big & heavy for novels reading. But for tech docs it may help to have an increased display.
  • + search function
  • + reading in the bed with a torch :-) Because there is no mechanical parts like pages to turn, you can clip a small LED torch without messing with it each time you want to turn to the next page
  • + on-the-spot dictionary is a great way to learn, for kids & foreigners (such as myself) as we're usually lazy to use a real dictionary while reading a book.
  • - Contrast (10:1) is excellent compared to other technologies but paper & ink have still a better contrast
  • - valuable = "stealable" & damageable... If you can leave your book unattended for a while when going to the restroom in a pub, or bring your book in extreme hiking, you can hardly do the same with your Kindle (or you're very rich)

With a computer

  • + Better for concentration than reading on a computer as it's less easy to swap to a console, a chat box, a RSS aggregator, an email client and all those little stuffs that attracts you when you're in front of your computer ;-)
  • + Screen readability & weight much better
  • - For large PDFs it's hard to navigate through zoomed content. You may rather consider Kindle DX

Exploring

USB storage device:

Disk /dev/sdb: 3282 MB, 3282272256 bytes
4 heads, 16 sectors/track, 100167 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 64 * 512 = 32768 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00000000
   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdb1               1      100167     3205336    b  W95 FAT32

Software upgrade

I can see there is a new version here: 3.0.1
After registration, after a while, once the device went to sleep, it downloaded & installed automatically the latest version, now: 3.0.1 (525120101).
For changes, see here
There are also experimental versions here
UPDATE I'm now trying the 3.1
UPDATE There are now versions 3.2, 3.2.1 and 3.3. Seems that 3.2 gives ads, no thanks. Seems that 3.3 gives sync of my personal files in amazon cloud, no thanks. (btw this is also an option activated by default that you can deactivate in your account settings...)
UPDATE Mmm... well I got version 3.3 automatically OTA

Jailbreak

Put one single update*bin file at once on Kindle and do update each time.
k3b and b008 refer only to the Kindle 3 with Wi-Fi only, for other versions, check referred websites

Initial jailbreak

  • Forum post here how to jailbreak & download files
    • kindle-jailbreak-0.6.N.zip#update_jailbreak_0.6.N_k3w_install.bin / Home>Menu>Settings>Menu>Update your Kindle

Screen savers

See here

  • kindle-ss-0.20.N.zip#update_ss_0.20.N_k3w_install.bin / Home>Menu>Settings>Menu>Update your Kindle
  • Drop 600x800 png or jpg into /media/Kindle/linkss/screensavers

Network

You don't own it if you can't root it

All the useful doc is in the kindle-usbnetwork-0.32.N.zip#README_FIRST.txt

  • kindle-usbnetwork-0.32.N.zip#update_usbnetwork_0.32.N_k3w_install.bin / Home>Menu>Settings>Menu>Update your Kindle
  • Edit usbnet/etc/config to your needs. I've chosen to activate SSH over Wi-Fi and deactivate it on USB (K3_WIFI="true" K3_WIFI_SSHD_ONLY="true")
  • Copy ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub to usbnet/etc/authorized_keys
  • For a first manual test:
    • On the Home screen, bring up the search box by hitting [DEL], and enter:
    •  ;debugOn
    • ~usbNetwork
    • Then try from remote to login: ssh root@wireless-ip-of-kindle
  • if it works properly you can make it auto:
    • Rename usbnet/DISABLED_auto as usbnet/auto

Wi-Fi performance is quite awful (I guess it's on purpose for drastic power consumption reduction), so maybe consider "real" usbnet.
I think SSH server keys are the ones provided in the package so better to generate your own server keys...

Launchpad

See here, not tested

Duokan

It's an alternative OS.
See this blog

  • Copy all Duokan_0_5_13_8891__2011_03_25_english.rar#DK_* to Kindle's root
  • Duokan_0_5_13_8891__2011_03_25_english.rar#升级包/k3升级包/update_duokan_0b008.bin / Home>Menu>Settings>Menu>Update your Kindle
  • Press Q at reboot (W to switch back to Kindle OS) when a chinese menu will be displayed briefly (~ after 10% of Amazon progress bar)

With 3.1 I experienced an update error U007 with jailbreak installed. I had to remove it first.

Latests versions available here with English by default.

DRM-free

Not yet tried

Hidden features

Pictures viewer

See http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Kindle_HowTo:_Picture_Viewer

  • Create a directory "pictures", create subdirectories as albums (one level) and put your images in those subdirectories
  • Disconnect, go to Home and press alt+z
  • It'll create one "ebook" per album

Keyboard shortcuts & more

See http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Amazon_Kindle_Keyboard_Shortcuts and the original post http://igorsk.blogspot.com/2007/12/hacking-kindle-part-3-root-shell-and.html

RFID

Well it's not really a feature you asked for... but there is a UHF RFID tag inside your Kindle, from UPM, probably a UCode from NXP.
See also here

UART

On the left side are two small flat holes.
They're used for the cover embedding a LED night torch but the lower one is also actually a female connector with 6 pins.
See here how to connect to the serial port, e.g. with a Bus Pirate

Calculator

Same as Google, you can type an operation in the search field from Home and the first "hit" will be the result of that operation!
Supports basic arithmetic, some trigonometry, ^ for exp, π for pi, assigning variables, etc


Third-Party

Applications

  • G:RSS-Web: A Google Reader for Kindle and Nook

Based on KDK:

Free e-books

Exports & Conversions

Calibre

I tried Calibre , seems very powerful. (available also for Win & Mac)
For a proper detection of the Kindle 3rd gen, I had to install v0.7.18 from Debian Sid as v0.7.7 from Debian Squeeze was not sufficient

apt-get install -t unstable calibre


Supports amongst other the Kindle format AZW, its open counterpart Mobipocket (.mobi) and the widely used open format EPUB, unsupported by the Kindle.
So you can convert e.g. EPUB ebooks to MOBI format and either send it to the Kindle via your Kindle email

  • Connect/Share -> Email to xxx@kindle.com

or if the Kindle is mounted as mass storage:

  • Send to device

I could not yet find a way to manage Kindle Collections from Calibre, and it's quite painful to manage large Collections from the Kindle itself

Savory

Not tried

  • Savory runs directly Calibre pdf->mobi and epub->mobi conversions on the Kindle and it adds support to download pdf & epub from Kindle browser.

Kindlemanga

Not tried

Exporting Mediawiki pages

As you can see on the left menu of this wiki I've added an extension called EPubExport (see project here) to be able to export one or several pages as EPUB ebook.
I've some issues of buggy pages on this wiki so I always prefer to export individual pages.
For pages with images I faced a small bug because of an initial "/" in the local path to my images so here is a patch:

--- ePubExport_body.php	(revision 47)
+++ ePubExport_body.php	(working copy)
@@ -219,7 +219,7 @@
 
 			$fileName = $image[1];
 			$fileName = str_replace('"', '', $fileName);
-			
+			$fileName = getcwd().'/'.$fileName;
 			$imageSize = getimagesize($fileName); 
 			$mime = $imageSize['mime'];

see script, need to have also incremental updates...

And to fetch all pages of the wiki as separated ebooks, one by one, in case one of the page wouldn't convert properly, here is a little ugly script ...:

#!/bin/bash
 
LIST=$(wget -q -O - "http://my.server/wiki/Special:AllPages" |\
       grep "title=.Special:AllPages"|\
       grep -o "/wiki/[^\"]*"|\
       sed 's#/wiki/##'|\
       grep -v "Special:AllPages")
for i in $LIST; do
    echo wget $i EPUB
    wget -q -O "$i.epub" "http://my.server/index.php?title=Special:EPubPrint&page=$i"
done

Then I use Calibre (see above) to convert them to .mobi and send them to the Kindle

WikiTravel

  • OxygenGuide is a Google Code project and an offline copy of WikiTravel

Bibliorize

Bibliorize works online, converts HTML webpages for your Kindle
Doesn't mirror several pages at once so it's only for long webpages without pagination

Ideas & TODOs

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