Amazon’s Kindle wireless reading device is a huge hit. The E-reader is not only the best-selling gadget on Amazon.com, but Kindle books now outsell their paper counterparts. The device’s low price, convenient form factor and huge library of titles make it a no-brainer purchase for many, but it’s often hard to differentiate hype from reality. Anyone considering a Kindle reader should know about both its hidden drawbacks and lesser-known benefits.
1. Don’t Overlook Kindle with Special Offers
Amazon recently launched its Kindle with Special Offers, a less expensive version of the Kindle Wi-Fi- that sells for $114 instead of $139. In return for a lower price the device displays advertisements as screensavers. Users also have to contend with a small ad bar on the Home screen. Your initial reaction might be to overlook this advertisement-subsidized gadget, but Kindle with Special Offers owners report receiving some pretty sweet deals. These include $10 for a $20 Amazon gift card promotions, one dollar books and HDTV discounts. This is one instance where being a cheap stake pays off.
2. Check Wi-Fi Compatibility
According to Amazon, the Kindle does not support WPA and WPA2 secured networks that use 802.1X authentication or ad-hoc (peer-to-peer) networks. In layman’s terms this means the Kindle won’t work on many corporate and university wireless networks. Smart phone tethering isn’t compatible, either. It might not be a bad idea to upgrade to the Kindle Wi-Fi+3G version if you’re in college or plan on taking the eBook reader to the loo on company time.
3. Using a Kindle Could Help You Sleep Better
Devices with backlit screens such as laptop computers and the iPad emit interfere with the production of sleep-inducing melatonin and make it harder fall asleep, according to sleep researchers. E-readers such as the Kindle and Nook don’t have a backlit screen, making them an ideal gadget to bring to bed. The Kindle also has a built-in Web browser, so late night Web addicts don’t need to worry about disrupting circadian rhythms any more.
4. Don’t Buy the Amazon Kindle Cover
Amazon’s Kindle Cover is a solid choice for protecting your E-reader, but everyone on the block already has one. Personalize your Kindle with something more unique instead. A variety of designers craft affordable handmade cases. Third-party manufacturers also mass-produce a number of innovative alternatives. Web blog PC Fastlane provides a good summary of the wide variety of Kindle covers available, but you should search around on your own as well.
5. Library Lending Is Coming Soon
Amazon announced the development of library lending in April. The new feature will allow libraries to lend books wirelessly to Kindle patrons. Notes added to eBooks won’t show up for other patrons, but anything you add will remain intact should you borrow the book again or purchase it. The service should be in place at nearly 11,000 libraries later this year.
6. It’s not just for Reading
Besides a Web browser, Amazon’s Kindle has a number of other hidden features. You can use the E-reader to play books aloud (some publishers disable this feature) and even play music. The Kindle also supports Word files and several other document types, so it’s a great alternative to printing long training manuals or notes for class. Technophiles have devised all sorts of alternate uses for the device, too. One owner reports loading his flight itinerary and boarding passes on to a Kindle. To his surprise, the boarding agent scanned tickets from the Kindle’s screen and allowed him to board the plane.
7. Subscriptions Aren’t Always the Best Deal
Magazine and newspaper subscriptions are more convenient and often slightly cheaper than the standard print price, but are sometimes lacking in features. Publishers don’t give Kindle subscribers the same perks as print members, including access to archives and Internet content. Promotions such as academic pricing are not available to on the Kindle, and some people still find print copies more pleasurable to read. Let’s face itâ€” you can still flip through magazine pages faster than the Kindle loads pages.
==== About the Author ====
Daniel Foster is a published photographer and freelance technology writer living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.