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Old 01-22-2010, 08:00 AM   #1
eboyhan
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Posts: 104
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Florida
Device: kindle dx, kindle touch SO, kindle fire, kindle fire hd8.9
Detailed Kindle DX Feedback

I recently e-mailed some detailed feedback to Amazon at their Kindle DX feedback address. I thought I would post this here as well (to get some feedback on the "feedback"), and to provide a place for others to add their K2 or KDX reactions as well. As the e-reader market heats up (particularly after CES 2010) Amazon will probably be making some moves to enhance their product line (just yesterday they announced their intention to create a Kindle "app store"). There are probably many things that Amazon can do via firmware upgrades, and changes to the Kindle store websites. Perhaps this thread can be a point to collect a variety of viewpoints on possible enhancements. My feedback to Amazon is posted below:

Well, I've had my Kindle DX for little more than two months now (time enough for the cognitive dissonance effects to wear off). I feel now is about as good a time as any to provide some detailed technical feedback on the device, and suggest some improvements. Before I get into the gory details, let me say that I am generally well-pleased with the product.

Let me begin by outlining the reasons that I decided to buy the Kindle DX. I don't like to read off of screens. I print most things out on paper before I read them. This is expensive in terms of toner and paper (to say nothing of all the paper piles ). I decided to buy a Kindle DX, and use it primarily as a replacement for my printers. I figure I will recover the cost of the Kindle in about a year from savings in toner and paper not used. The kindle is not perfect, but for me it is better than anything else I've tried (it also helps that for the last several years almost all of my book purchase have been through Amazon :-)). To have a good reading experience, the screen has to be large, and the device can't be heavy (I like to read lying on my side in bed -- you're not gonna do that with a laptop, netbook, etc. The Kindle DX works just great in bed.

I really like the ability to buy a book and have it delivered within minutes without having to make a trip to the bookstore. the wide availability of out of copyright, out-of-print, public domain titles is also nice -- I am getting reacquainted with many favorite titles from my past (including Tom Swift, Tom Corbett, and PG Wodehouse). Overall, I find the device easy to use, and interactions with my local PC, and the Kindle store to be mostly understandable.

I had high hopes for using the Kindle DX as my main magazine reading device. Unfortunately the selection of magazines is not great, and the subscription prices -- as many others have noted -- are outrageous to say the least. At the very least where a magazine publisher provides access to a website associated with their print edition, this should also be included in the Kindle subscription price. I would also very much like to see Kindle subscriptions offered with an annual subscription pricing option.

About half of the volumes that I purchase are technical computer books -- these are roughly analogous to textbooks in the ways that I use them. The selection here in the Kindle store could be much better. I hope that going forward Amazon makes a concerted effort to get technical book publishers to release Kindle editions of their products.

Beyond books, much of what I intend to read on the Kindle is stuff that I formerly printed to paper before reading. Going forward I am looking to using my Kindle DX as an out and out replacement for my monochrome laser printers. To this end the PDF support in the Kindle DX is a good first step.

Much of what I do is research on technical topics. I scan through technical books: highlighting, annotating, and bookmarking as I go. I also browse through thousands of webpages copying out fragments of interest and pasting them (along with the highlighted passages from the technical books) into the Microsoft OneNote program. I add notes as appropriate and composite and layout note pages to help me organize my thoughts. In the past, when I had a well-composed note page, I would print it out for later perusal. Now, I want to take the OneNote page, and place it on the Kindle. A simple, bulletproof "print to Kindle" feature for OneNote, Word, PowerPoint, and the more popular browsers would be my highest priority "want to have".

Right now, I am using a couple of "print to PDF" drivers, and the OneNote "publish to PDF" to accomplish my desires -- but the process is somewhat clumsy. Also, the lack of PDF reflow and real page numbering on the Kindle makes the reading experience less than ideal. Better PDF rendering searching, and annotating would be a desirable addition to the Kindle environment. If this is not possible, then perhaps some features to facilitate the scripting of "print to PDF" followed by "Copy or e-mail to Kindle" could be provided. The most useful of these from my point of view would be some way to reliably detect when the Kindle is tethered to my PC. If the Kindle is tethered, then I could copy any created PDFs directly to the Kindle. However, if the Kindle is not tethered, then a script could copy the PDFs to some staging area.

This brings up another point: Amazon maintains a store of Kindle items purchased from them (called the Archive)). One can load items from the Archive using whispernet onto your Kindle, and when you are finished with them, push them back to the archive. It would be very useful if a similar facility could be created for personal non-Kindle store items. In this case a staging area would be created on your PC, and personal items could be loaded from the staging area onto the Kindle, and later pushed back to the staging area -- in much the same way that the Amazon archive works now. Perhaps this could best be accommodated using the Kindle for PC's "My Kindle Content" folder. If this were done, then the scripting discussed in the previous paragraph could be much simpler (or perhaps not needed at all). Options should be provided to the user to govern whether items in the staging area should be automatically copied to the Kindle whenever it connects to the PC, or not. Perhaps some automatic feature for moving personal items from the Kindle back to the staging area on the PC could also be provided instead of the current "delete from device" functionality. Also the ability to "backup" my archive to a location on my PC would be desirable in case of "accidents".

As many others have requested (and as I believe Amazon has agreed to), I would wish that there were some kind of folder or tagged organizing capability.

Another important feature for me would be the ability to search backwards in a document that I am reading from the point I am currently at in the document. When one purchases a Kindle document that contains multiple volumes from an author (as I recently purchased 33 volumes of PG Wodehouse), searching from the beginning of such a Kindle document is almost useless.

This brings me to some comments about the Amazon website in general, and the Kindle store in particular. On the Amazon website when looking at a book not available on the Kindle, there is an option to notify Amazon that a Kindle edition would be desirable. It would be useful, if when one pushed the "I want it on Kindle" button, the title could be entered into a special customer wish list -- perhaps titled "Wanted on Kindle". This wish list could then be checked on future Kindle requests to avoid duplication; the list could also be useful with third-party add-ons (such as Mysteria -- or Amazon could themselves provide notification when titles on the "Wanted on Kindle" list become available).

When browsing a title in the Kindle store, the only options you have are to purchase the item immediately, or add it to your general wish list. There is no analogous option to "add to cart" followed by "save for later". Perhaps, an option for the user to customize a "save for later" wish list (with the prices included) could be provided. In this way users could better aggregate and manage projected Kindle edition purchases. Perhaps also, a "bulk buy" option could be added to the Kindle store to enable purchasing multiple titles in a single transaction. For many of us in professional situations, this would be helpful in tracking Kindle related expenditures.

Following is a list (in no particular order) of a bunch of "nice to haves" that I believe could be provided through firmware updates, or changes to the appropriate Kindle websites:
  • faster switching from powersave state
  • user configurable timeout period
  • provide real ISBN numbers for Kindle editions of books
  • export kindle metadata (especially ISBN) to excel spreadsheet
  • in menus on kindle scrolling off the top should scroll around to bottom (and vice versa)
  • rename/delete items while on the kindle (with appropriate resynchronization with your kindle archive or your "My Kindle Content" folder)
  • auto wireless off after user configuable timeout value
  • Better browser
  • Some way to scroll the page you are currently reading -- half a page up/dn would be fine
  • Put personal docs (PDFs, etc.) in your media library on Amazon.com
  • Better handling of footnotes -- I recently purchased "The Blind Side" book which has a few footnotes. The footnotes appeared okay at the end of the document, but the superscript flags were not present within the body of the Kindle document.
  • backwards searching within a document

Everything I've requested up to this point can be provided by software changes to the Amazon websites, or by firmware upgrades to the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX. What follows, are items that can only be accomplished on a new hardware platform (a "Kindle 3"?). Color, for most of what I read is not essential, or even (in most cases) desirable. However, for many magazines (Scientific American comes to mind) color is essential, and for many others it is highly desirable. E-Ink color will come, but it is still in laboratory development -- so it is a couple of years away -- other color display technologies are possible now, but they weigh more, have less flexible form factors, and consume more power. Dual display approaches as used in the Nook, and some other readers announced at CES 2010 are basically stopgaps, and I would not recommend them.

Anyhow in no particular order below are features I would like to see in the next Kindle platform:
  • multitouch
  • wifi -- especially at home
  • plug in memory card
  • color (but only if eink or similar tech)
  • alt lock, sym lock capability

Some other minor enhancements (not sure whether these would be possible or not), but in no particular order:
  • see everything (query) on your kindle from the internet -- not just stuff purchased from amazon
  • with multi-title books, an index of how far thru the sub-book you are
  • a developers guide/manual (given today's announcement in Wall Street Journal that Amazon will shortly be providing an "app store" (as for the Apple iPhone), I don't guess this will be much of an issue).
  • Kindle interfaces with entities such as Safaribooks.com.

Well that's about it; I hope that this provides you with some useful feedback. Please feel free to contact meat the e-mail address above should you have any questions or comments.
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