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Kindle 2 Adds Native PDF Support; New Kindle for Windows


Amazon has added native PDF sup­port to the second-generation Kindle e-reader.

The Kindle DX, which has a larger screen (9.7 inches vs. 6 inches on the Kindle, 2nd gen) and a higher sticker price ($489 vs. $259), has had native PDF sup­port since its launch.

The new sup­port for PDFs on 2nd gen­er­a­tion Kindle devices is part of soft­ware ver­sion 2.3, which does not run on the orig­i­nal Kindle devices. This soft­ware will be auto­mat­i­cally down­loaded over the air, but Kindle own­ers who are as impa­tient as I am, can man­u­ally down­load the upgrade soft­ware and install it over a USB con­nec­tion to their Kindle. The soft­ware and instruc­tions are avail­able at: Kindle Software Updates.

The PDF reader works well. The PDFs retain all of their design and con­tent. However, there are some lim­i­ta­tions. Unlike the Kindle DX, the Kindle 2 does not auto­mat­i­cally rotate the screen when you rotate the device. (Some review­ers of the Kindle DX have said that the auto-rotation is slug­gish and unpre­dictable, but it still might be eas­ier to deal with than the clicks required to rotate the screen man­u­ally on the DX or on the Kindle 2.) Once you rotate the screen, the image of a portrait-format PDF file fills up approx­i­mately two screens worth of scrolling on the Kindle. This works fine, and makes the PDFs read­able, but it might be nice if you could zoom in on a PDF the way you can on an image in Kindle-formatted books.

For geneal­o­gists, the native PDF sup­port makes the Kindle 2 a much more inter­est­ing device. You can now down­load pub­lic domain books from Google Books or take your society’s newslet­ter along in an instant-on portable device. No wire­less access is required while read­ing, and the radio for WhisperNet, the free cell phone-based access, can be turned off for use on air­planes or where there is no cell phone signal.

Another recent Amazon release is a Kindle for PC, which allows you to read books you’ve bought for the Kindle on your PC. (Kindle for PC runs on Windows XP (Service Pack 2), Windows Vista, and Windows 7. Kindle for PC syncs your read­ing loca­tion between Kindle for PC and your Kindle. You can share Kindle books with up to six Kindle read­ers or Kindle for PC soft­ware pack­ages. A Kindle for the Mac is in the works for Mac OS X users.

This beta release is admit­tedly not ready for gen­eral use. It is miss­ing key fea­tures such as the abil­ity to copy or even high­light text, and the abil­ity to … um search! Links also do not appear to work, which is very frus­trat­ing. Amazon promises updates to address these and other gaps and requested fea­tures. There is no way to pur­chase books from the Kindle for PC inter­face. You will need to do that on your hard­ware Kindle or on Amazon.com using a web browser. For licens­ing rea­sons, you can­not use the Kindle for PC soft­ware to read news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines, or blogs, only books.

 
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