New computers – Kindle – operation
Having been given a Kindle, what does one do with it?
Unless you have a Kindle Keyboard (a different model, with a keyboard about the size of that for a slide phone or Blackberry across the bottom of the screen), as noted, the virtual keyboard is a pain, so you aren’t going to do much writing. That leaves reading.
First of all, then, you have to get some books to read. You can copy them onto the Kindle, from your computer, with the USB cable. I’ve done that now, and it works quite well. Plug it into the computer, wait for the computer to read the device driver, and it shows up simply as a USB drive. You can put files into the “My Documents” folder, and they show up on the device. (You can also copy any or all of the “books” on the Kindle onto your computer, as backup. Oddly, most ebooks seem to have four files associated with them, once you start reading them.) I’m a bit loath to do the cable connection randomly just now, since, also as noted, plugging into a USB port on a computer starts charging, and, even though it’s a lithium polymer battery, I’d just as soon give it a few full cycles before I start messing with battery memory.
You can use the wireless connection in two different ways. You can “shop” at the Amazon store. Or, you can find your own files and ebooks, and email them to your Kindle. When you set up, the device is assigned an email address. You can find this under the “Settings” entry of the menu from the home page. Find an ebook that you want, and send the file, as an attachment, to that address. The next time the Kindle is attached to the net, you can sync, and that file will be downloaded to your device. (If it doesn’t show up on the home page, it may be under the “Archived Items” section. For some reason, some files seem to go there, possibly if the download isn’t complete.)
When I did some testing of the email-to-Kindle function, it generally worked well. However, in my early tests, about half of the text files, and about a third of the .PDFs, didn’t come through. I tested sending multiple files (four, all text) as attachments in a single message. Two of them came through, and the other two never did.
So, you can just get any ebooks, right? Well, not quite. The Kindle seems to be fairly limited in this regard. You can get ebooks from Amazon, of course. These are indicated by an .AZW extension. In terms of the ebook standards, you can also get and read .MOBI files. (.MOBI and .AZW are apparently the same format, except that .AZW are locked by Amazon. You can get some utilities to unlock and convert them, but I haven’t done a lot of testing with that yet.) The Kindle can handle text files, but, of course, they don’t have any formatting. Kindle says it can handle HTML, and that is partially true. You can send an HTML file, and it will come through. But it doesn’t render: you simply see the text of the file, HTML code and all.
Kindle says it can handle .PDF, although it also says this is experimental or beta. It doesn’t support links within a .PDF, but it does support extracting text from a PDF (as long as it really is text, and not an image), which I found handy, and just a little surprising. It does not, of course, handle locked or password protected files.
And it does not handle .ePUB format, which is a real nuisance.