Category: e-Reader Reviews

Kindle Fire HDX in Canada – first impressions

Today was release day in Canada for Amazon’s latest tablet, the Kindle HDX and mine was delivered as anticipated.  As always with Amazon, the setup was very easy.  Find and enter my WiFi details and the device recognised me.

It is a lovely device to look at – it is a little more compact than the original Kindle Fire HD which I have. The HD screen is gorgeous.  It has a warmer tone than my the original and text is very crisp and clear.  One thing I noticed which really made me happy is that the earphone jack now is fully compatible with my Apple EarPods so that I can start and stop my audiobooks/immersion reading with those.  The placement of the volume and on/off buttons are different and that did take a bit of finding.  I’m sure I’ll adjust quickly though.

I added the origami cover (in purple for those who are interested.)  While it’s cool looking, I discovered that unless you fold it up even when you’re holding it in your hand, the buttons are all but inaccessible.

I will say that the Fire 3.1 OS did take a little getting used to coming from the original Fire.  It took me a bit of time figuring out where everything was.  The device is very very responsive to the extent that the Silk browser may actually be usable.  I almost never used my original Fire HD to surf the web because it was painfully slow.

It came with the latest updates of Cloud Collections and GoodReads which are both excellent.  Navigating my way around my enormous Kindle library is no longer a chore on the Fire.  I’m still not 100% convinced that they are fully synchronised – I’m pretty sure they don’t match on my Kindle Paperwhite and new Fire HDX.  All in all though it’s a huge improvement in content management.

For those of you with an account on Amazon.ca, MayDay isn’t available.  My account is linked to Amazon.com so I was able to test this out.  It worked pretty much as advertised.

One feature I could not get to work at all was the screen mirroring with the Playstation 3.  I have both but for the life of me I couldn’t get them to pair.  After using MayDay, it appears because my PlayStation is registered in Canada, there is no Amazon Instant Video application available.  So it seems that is yet another feature unavailable to Canadians.

It’s still a very nice device although for Canadians I suspect the more open Nexus 7 may be a better bet.  We certainly don’t get the full value of the Kindle in the way our US cousins do.

GoodReads update on Kindle Paperwhite with Screenshots

Following on from yesterday’s announcement of the latest update to the Kindle Fire HD operating system, Amazon and GoodReads announced an update today to the Kindle Paperwhite second generation software which brings Cloud Collections and GoodReads integration as well as Kindle Freetime.  Both Amazon and GoodReads have posted press releases on the update.  Note that this is only available at this point for the second generation of Kindle Paperwhite released earlier this year.

As with the Kindle Fire update, you can choose to wait until the update is sent to your device automatically, sometime over the next few weeks, or you can go to the update page, download the software and install it manually.  I chose to install manually, and the instructions are very clear and very easy.  It took me all of about 10 minutes to update my device.

GoodReads Integration

This was announced along with the Fires and Paperwhites and was something I was particularly looking forward to.  I’m very active on GoodReads (check out my profile) and was excited about a tighter integration with Amazon.

When you update the software you see the new G GoodReads logo on the top menu and when you click are prompted to connect your accounts.  You then have access to your GoodReads account on your Kindle.

Screenshot 2013 11 19T13 39 26 0500

When you share a selection it is shared to GoodReads too as well as Facebook and/or TwitterScreenshot 2013 11 19T13 37 28 0500

One of the most useful features is the ability to add books purchased from Amazon to GoodReads if you have not already done so

Screenshot 2013 11 19T13 44 20 0500

Unfortunately at this point, the only shelves you can add them to are the Want to Read, Currently Reading and Read shelves.  I hope that integration to your other shelves is provided in the future.

When you finish a book you are invited to rate it on both GoodReads and Amazon.  This is something I’m really happy about – it saves rating the book twice on two different applications.  What I’m not certain about is if this will automatically switch a book from the Currently Reading shelf to the Read shelf.  I have asked GoodReads the question and will keep you posted.

Screenshot 2013 11 19T13 49 44 0500

This is an excellent start to the Amazon/GoodReads integration.  I would like to see it go further with full integration of user-defined shelves to the application.  It will certainly save me some time when I am rating books. What would be even better would be to synchronise your GoodReads shelves with your Cloud Collections.  Whether it’s worth upgrading to the second gen Paperwhite for this update (it’s unclear if this update will come to the original Paperwhite) is probably a matter for personal consideration.

Cloud Collections

I’d not paid much attention to Cloud Collections as I do most of my reading on the Paperwhite and the Kindle Fire.  Until yesterday there was no way of managing your books on the Fire so I was content with the collections on the Kindle Paperwhite.  However when both are synced I can see this being a very powerful tool.  You can see here on this screenshot that the faded grey books are ones that I had put in this collection on another device but had not yet downloaded to this Paperwhite.

Screenshot 2013 11 19T12 05 14 0500

All in all this is a wonderful update to the Kindle Paperwhites, and well worth downloading and installing, especially if you’re active on GoodReads.  If you have just the one Kindle device and are not on GoodReads it’s less exciting.

Are you excited about this update?  Let me know in the comments.

GoodReads update on Kindle Paperwhite with Screenshots

Following on from yesterday’s announcement of the latest update to the Kindle Fire HD operating system, Amazon and GoodReads announced an update today to the Kindle Paperwhite second generation software which brings Cloud Collections and GoodReads integration as well as Kindle Freetime.  Both Amazon and GoodReads have posted press releases on the update.  Note that this is only available at this point for the second generation of Kindle Paperwhite released earlier this year.

As with the Kindle Fire update, you can choose to wait until the update is sent to your device automatically, sometime over the next few weeks, or you can go to the update page, download the software and install it manually.  I chose to install manually, and the instructions are very clear and very easy.  It took me all of about 10 minutes to update my device.

GoodReads Integration

This was announced along with the Fires and Paperwhites and was something I was particularly looking forward to.  I’m very active on GoodReads (check out my profile) and was excited about a tighter integration with Amazon.

When you update the software you see the new G GoodReads logo on the top menu and when you click are prompted to connect your accounts.  You then have access to your GoodReads account on your Kindle.

Screenshot 2013 11 19T13 39 26 0500

When you share a selection it is shared to GoodReads too as well as Facebook and/or TwitterScreenshot 2013 11 19T13 37 28 0500

One of the most useful features is the ability to add books purchased from Amazon to GoodReads if you have not already done so

Screenshot 2013 11 19T13 44 20 0500

Unfortunately at this point, the only shelves you can add them to are the Want to Read, Currently Reading and Read shelves.  I hope that integration to your other shelves is provided in the future.

When you finish a book you are invited to rate it on both GoodReads and Amazon.  This is something I’m really happy about – it saves rating the book twice on two different applications.  What I’m not certain about is if this will automatically switch a book from the Currently Reading shelf to the Read shelf.  I have asked GoodReads the question and will keep you posted.

Screenshot 2013 11 19T13 49 44 0500

This is an excellent start to the Amazon/GoodReads integration.  I would like to see it go further with full integration of user-defined shelves to the application.  It will certainly save me some time when I am rating books. What would be even better would be to synchronise your GoodReads shelves with your Cloud Collections.  Whether it’s worth upgrading to the second gen Paperwhite for this update (it’s unclear if this update will come to the original Paperwhite) is probably a matter for personal consideration.

Cloud Collections

I’d not paid much attention to Cloud Collections as I do most of my reading on the Paperwhite and the Kindle Fire.  Until yesterday there was no way of managing your books on the Fire so I was content with the collections on the Kindle Paperwhite.  However when both are synced I can see this being a very powerful tool.  You can see here on this screenshot that the faded grey books are ones that I had put in this collection on another device but had not yet downloaded to this Paperwhite.

Screenshot 2013 11 19T12 05 14 0500

All in all this is a wonderful update to the Kindle Paperwhites, and well worth downloading and installing, especially if you’re active on GoodReads.  If you have just the one Kindle device and are not on GoodReads it’s less exciting.

Are you excited about this update?  Let me know in the comments.

Kindle Fire HDX now available in Canada

So Amazon has finally released the new Kindle Fire HDXs internationally, including Canada.  It will ship in late November.  While it’s great that we only had to wait a month after our US cousins, I did notice however that one of the major new innovations for the HDX is not available in Canada – there is no mention of the MayDay button…  MayDay is available in the UK.  Presumably the French language requirement is preventing its being available in Canada.

There are still no movies available to Canadians, no Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and no Kindle Freetime, which is now being offered to other international purchasers.  Still at least we Canadians now have the opportunity to check out the device.  I will, of course, report back on it once I receive it.

Kindle Fire HDX now available in Canada

fire_hdx

So Amazon has finally released the new Kindle Fire HDXs internationally, including Canada.  It will ship in late November.  While it’s great that we only had to wait a month after our US cousins, I did notice however that one of the major new innovations for the HDX is not available in Canada – there is no mention of the MayDay button…  MayDay is available in the UK.  Presumably the French language requirement is preventing its being available in Canada.

There are still no movies available to Canadians, no Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and no Kindle Freetime, which is now being offered to other international purchasers.  Still at least we Canadians now have the opportunity to check out the device.  I will, of course, report back on it once I receive it.

Kindle Paperwhite Second Generation – First Thoughts

My Kindle Paperwhite second generation arrived today so I decided to take a moment to share my thoughts.  My initial reaction is that this second generation of Amazon’s popular eInk eReader is more evolutionary than revolutionary.  The improvements to the screen and processor, while noticeable, are not overwhelmingly so.  I, personally, was not particularly bothered by some light shading at the bottom of the screen, but I know that many people are sensitive to this.  That is improved considerably on the second generation of Paperwhite.

Here are some screenshots:

The new Kindle is on the right.  The new version does seem to have a warmer sense about it.

IMG 0914

and with the new Kobo Aura

IMG 0917

The new combined Dictionary/X-Ray/Wikipedia screen seems really useful:

Screenshot 2013 10 10T17 57 40 0400

(Note – the shading at the top of that screenshot is not a faulty screen – it’s decorative shading on the book itself)

Probably the most useful is the new page scrolling function – you can now move about easily within a book with a new navigation tool.  

Screenshot 2013 10 10T18 07 41 0400

The feature that I am most excited about, GoodReads integration, isn’t yet here – it is “coming soon” via software update.  This takes me back a few years when we were all anxiously awaiting the update that brought Collections to our eInk Kindles! I’m curious though.  Amazon’s Paperwhite info page says Cloud Collections is also coming soon – I thought we already had that on the Paperwhites? I wonder if they’re doing something new or if it’s referring to the Kindle Fires.

All in all the new Paperwhite is a very nice device – I’m not 100% certain that it’s worth upgrading from the original Paperwhite, which was already excellent, especially if it also gets a software update to allow GoodReads integration and the other new features.  As a first eReader though, it’s hard to beat.

Kindle Paperwhite Second Generation – First Thoughts

pinot-assoc_banner-1-ca-300x250

My Kindle Paperwhite second generation arrived today so I decided to take a moment to share my thoughts.  My initial reaction is that this second generation of Amazon’s popular eInk eReader is more evolutionary than revolutionary.  The improvements to the screen and processor, while noticeable, are not overwhelmingly so.  I, personally, was not particularly bothered by some light shading at the bottom of the screen, but I know that many people are sensitive to this.  That is improved considerably on the second generation of Paperwhite.

Here are some screenshots:

The new Kindle is on the right.  The new version does seem to have a warmer sense about it.

IMG 0914

and with the new Kobo Aura

IMG 0917

The new combined Dictionary/X-Ray/Wikipedia screen seems really useful:

Screenshot 2013 10 10T17 57 40 0400

(Note – the shading at the top of that screenshot is not a faulty screen – it’s decorative shading on the book itself)

Probably the most useful is the new page scrolling function – you can now move about easily within a book with a new navigation tool.  


Screenshot 2013 10 10T18 07 41 0400

The feature that I am most excited about, GoodReads integration, isn’t yet here – it is “coming soon” via software update.  This takes me back a few years when we were all anxiously awaiting the update that brought Collections to our eInk Kindles! I’m curious though.  Amazon’s Paperwhite info page says Cloud Collections is also coming soon – I thought we already had that on the Paperwhites? I wonder if they’re doing something new or if it’s referring to the Kindle Fires.

All in all the new Paperwhite is a very nice device – I’m not 100% certain that it’s worth upgrading from the original Paperwhite, which was already excellent, especially if it also gets a software update to allow GoodReads integration and the other new features.  As a first eReader though, it’s hard to beat.

Update on my Kobo Aura 2013 Six inch edition

Kobo Devices

I’ve had my Kobo Aura for about a week and a half now, and while there has been a lot I have loved about it, it hasn’t been a 100% positive experience.

The industrial design is great – I love the bezel flush with the screen and the device is very light and thin.  The new UI looks good and the Pocket integration is fantastic.  Tor.com often has great snippets of upcoming books on its website and I find it awesome to be able to click a button and have those on my Kobo.

Kobo often touts its handling of PDFs, and in all fairness it’s probably better than that on the Kindle.  However, I tried to read a PDF book I have and gave up after a few pages.  I found manoeuvring around the document very cumbersome even with Kobo’s navigation tool.  For PDFs, tablets rather than eReaders are definitely the way to go.

Searching on the Kobo reader – or the website for that matter – is completely hit or miss.  For more common books or authors there is no problem.  However trying to search for Anne Robillard for example brought up every Anne under the sun except Robillard.

The biggest issue I’ve had is that the screen is very unresponsive compared to other eReaders I’ve had.  Many times I’ve had to press three or four times to change a page.  Today it became severe enough that I decided to call Kobo support to discuss a replacement.  After 10 minutes on the phone, I was left with a completely unusable eReader.  I was told to take photos of the device and am now waiting on an email with further instructions about the replacement procedure.  I couldn’t help thinking Amazon would have had a replacement device on its way to me this evening.

I will, of course, keep you updated.

Update on my Kobo Aura 2013 Six inch edition

Kobo Devices

I’ve had my Kobo Aura for about a week and a half now, and while there has been a lot I have loved about it, it hasn’t been a 100% positive experience.

The industrial design is great – I love the bezel flush with the screen and the device is very light and thin.  The new UI looks good and the Pocket integration is fantastic.  Tor.com often has great snippets of upcoming books on its website and I find it awesome to be able to click a button and have those on my Kobo.

Kobo often touts its handling of PDFs, and in all fairness it’s probably better than that on the Kindle.  However, I tried to read a PDF book I have and gave up after a few pages.  I found manoeuvring around the document very cumbersome even with Kobo’s navigation tool.  For PDFs, tablets rather than eReaders are definitely the way to go.

Searching on the Kobo reader – or the website for that matter – is completely hit or miss.  For more common books or authors there is no problem.  However trying to search for Anne Robillard for example brought up every Anne under the sun except Robillard.

The biggest issue I’ve had is that the screen is very unresponsive compared to other eReaders I’ve had.  Many times I’ve had to press three or four times to change a page.  Today it became severe enough that I decided to call Kobo support to discuss a replacement.  After 10 minutes on the phone, I was left with a completely unusable eReader.  I was told to take photos of the device and am now waiting on an email with further instructions about the replacement procedure.  I couldn’t help thinking Amazon would have had a replacement device on its way to me this evening.

I will, of course, keep you updated.

Amazon announces new Kindle Fire HDX

A few days ago, Amazon announced the updates to its Kindle Fire line of tablets.  Here is the page with the details.

Naturally, it has an improved screen, and processor.  No surprises there.  What’s more interesting is that they announced a major update to the Kindle Fire OS, to called Mojito.   Some of the new features in Mojito include:

Mayday button.  This is the most innovative of the inventions and allows you to be connected to a video chat with an Amazon tech support person.  Your tech will have the ability to view and control your screen to assist you.  This could be a godsend for the novice user.  Amazon is at pains to stress that the agent can only see your screen, not you to alleviate privacy concerns.  This is a very interesting feature and one I think could really differentiate Amazon tablets from the others in a saturated marketplace.

On the other end of the scale, Amazon is touting better enterprise support.  This includes support for data encryption, Kerberos integration so that users can browse corporate intranets and VPN clients.  This is interesting. So far, Amazon has placed itself securely in the consumer market – I’m really not certain that a Kindle, limited as the OS is, is a big attraction for corporate use.

One of the most asked for features is finally coming to the Kindle Fire – Collections!  The biggest pain in the current Kindle OS is the inability to organise your content in any meaningful way.  Many people resented the recent upgrade to the iOS Kindle apps which added collection support.  The question was asked why this was available on iOS before Amazon’s own native system.  This feature will be coming in November.

Also in November, GoodReads integration will be included as previously announced for the new Kindle Paperwhite.

Other features include a revamped email client – good! – and printing support.

X ray has also been enhanced – it’s now available for music so that song lyrics appear onscreen as you are listening.  This, along with X ray for movies is of limited interest to people outside the US.

As of today, the new Kindle Fires are only available in the US.  I am interested to see how long they take to come to Canada.  What is unclear at this point is whether or not these features will be made available to current Kindle Fires via a software update. 

For me personally, some of these new features, especially Collections and GoodReads integration,  are very attractive and would be a good reason to upgrade if they’re not made available on the other Kindle Fires.  

Will you be upgrading?  Let me know in the comments.

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