I Don’t Need 3G on Kindle

Initially I wanted to buy a WiFi-only Kindle, but a friend encouraged me to buy the 3G version – why not spend $50 for life-time free 3G? It seemed so attractive, that I was convinced by him and chose the 3G version.

A year has passed since I got the 3G Kindle. How often did I use 3G on it? I think the total time I had 3G turned on must be less than one hour. Most times I turned the wireless network off so that the battery could last a little longer. When I have to access the network, I was always in a location with Wi-Fi wireless. Maybe that’s because I don’t travel a lot.

Many people are fond of the browser built in with Kindle and they think they get an unlimited data plan for free! But the browser has always been marked as “experimental” and it seems Amazon has no plan to make it usable in “production”. It’s by nature limited by the E-Ink display. Web pages must be specifically designed to make them readable in Kindle but few web sites are doing this. And free 3G web browsing is only available on Kindle 3. With the latest generation of Kindle (no keyboards), “Experimental web browsing (outside of Wikipedia) on Kindle Touch 3G is only available over Wi-Fi.

If you buy a book from Amazon (even if it costs you $0, free), it can be downloaded via 3G. But if you email a document to Amazon, it won’t be downloaded via 3G unless you pay the data fee.

Actually Wi-Fi is ubiquitous today. If I’m going to get another Kindle, I won’t buy the 3G version. But for people who will stay in a special area where Wi-Fi is not available but there is cellular network coverage, 3G is desirable.

Google Reader and Readability, Kindle

Readability has browser extensions for reading current page or sending current web page to Kindle, but I read a lot in Google Reader where many articles are on the same page. It seems that Readability staff considered this feature and did investigate on that. But until now I didn’t find a mechanism for Reader’s native send to feature to work with Readability. So I spent several hours writing this Greasemonkey script, so far very happy with it.

Click here to install. It supports both Chrome and Firefox. After it’s installed, open Google Reader and view any entry, you’ll find Readability’s button on the right of the actions bar below the entry content. Like this:

Google Reader Readability Send To Kindle

If you don’t already know Readability, you should try it. After clicking the button, the article is saved to your reading list in your Readability account, and Readability sends (after some processing to make it “readable”) it to [your name]@free.kindle.com. Then when you connect your Kindle to a WIFI spot, the articles are automatically downloaded.

Basically I utilized the JavaScript from Readability’s publisher tool. Luckily they didn’t obfuscate the code and it indeed has good readability :) Anyway I think Readability should develop a page which can be used in Google Reader’s native send to popup. That would be easy and better than my script, since I have to update it every time Google Reader interface changes or Readability updates their JavaScript library.

A minor issue of readability is that it doesn’t extract the redirected URL so all the articles from blogs using feedburner’s service will seem to be from feedproxy.google.com and in readability’s account you’ll see feedburner’s favicon displaying before most items.

Kindle PDF Support

Native PDF support was initially introduced by Kindle DX and later Kindle 2 also had native support for PDF format.

Why PDF on Kindle?

Of course if you don’t want the PDF format, you can always send it to Amazon and let them convert it into Kindle’s native .azw format (mobi, actually). But there are some pros of reading PDF on Kindle:

  1. You can embed fonts in PDF files. Kindle’s font selection is very limited, but if you read PDF format, you can create the PDF file with your own choice of font. For example, you can choose some beautiful handwriting font. It’s even more useful for CJK language readers.
  2. When reading a technical document with a lot of graphs, data tables, or code snippets, you’d better use PDF to completely preserve the original type setting. Especially for a code snippet, Amazon will convert it into a mess.
  3. If the book has lots of foot notes, PDF preserves the positioning of foot notes well because of its fixed pagination. Mobi or azw formats support font size adjusting and they adapt to different sizes of screen so they can’t guarantee foot notes are still at the footer.
  4. [update on 2011-09-19] After switching to landscape view (press the Aa key on the right of space bar and select screen rotation), Kindle automatically cuts the margins and white areas so they don’t waste the screen space. I don’t know if it was a feature since Kindle 3 or it’s introduced by some firmware update.

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