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Reading a Kindle
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Tim Cheek
(hikerfan4sure) - MLife
Reading a Kindle on 11/20/2007 10:23:18 MST Print View

Okay, so I enjoy a good read at the end of the day. No need to clean a fish after you finish a chapter.

But, books are heavy. I've alloted myself only a few pages a night to keep from carrying multiple books. So, would someone please buy a kindle and take it on their next hike and let me know if it is worth the weight, ten ounces?

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
kindles and other things on 11/21/2007 08:53:31 MST Print View

On my last short trip my spousal unit brought me a "book on tape" complete with player called a Playaway from the library. [she is a librarian]
The complete setup weighs 2 oz. and from the library is free.
So I was able to listen to the Golden Compass will sitting up on a high ridge.
We have $400.00 and we have free, so I'd go for free and save the flashlight batteries. Nothing like the Complete Necronomicon for a long winter's night.
Another answer needed is about the durability of the kindle.

Edited by pyeyo on 11/21/2007 09:09:23 MST.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Amazon Kindle - 10.3 oz eBook / web / mp3 on 08/09/2008 18:45:01 MDT Print View

Has anyone carried one of these portable readers on the trail?

At 10.3 oz, it's lighter than many paperbacks, and can hold the equivalent of 200+ titles, so no more dearth of good reading material in camp. At one week or more of use between charges (in offline mode), battery life looks to be reasonable for extended backpacking purposes. One neat-looking feature is the ability to upload Word documents and images, which could allow the device to hold guidebook pages as well, or even scanned maps (in black & white).

To anyone who's used Kindle, any idea how Word docs or jpg/bmp images are handled visually on the reader? Is a single Word doc page reduced to fit on a non-scrolling Kindle page? Are images rendered at original resolution or likewise reduced to Kindle's screen dimensions?

And, completely subjective, is Kindle in its current early incarnation worth the hefty price tag (for backpacking / camping purposes)? (For that matter, is the screen readable in the dark using a headlamp and no backlighting?)

Thanks for any insights.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Amazon Kindle - free wireless broadband web access on 08/09/2008 18:46:05 MDT Print View

Interesting article about Kindle and its apparent long list of pluses:

Apparently the device serves as something of a bare-bones web browser, with free mobile broadband access, just like the core eBook download service.

Edited by blister-free on 08/09/2008 20:35:10 MDT.

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
E-books on 08/10/2008 07:26:49 MDT Print View

The ipod touch and iphone also have ebook capability and are around 4 oz FYI. I haven't used it but I do own an Ipod touch and the screen looks really good. One thing to remember is that light attracts bugs so using it at night under a tarp may not work all that well anyway.

Edited by hellbillylarry on 08/10/2008 07:35:35 MDT.

Timothy Foutz
(glad777) - MLife

Locale: Virginia
Seems really cool. on 08/10/2008 07:32:57 MDT Print View

I think I am going to get one of these things. Seems really cool and I just weighed a paperback on my scale and it came out at 10oz. So I can carry all kinds of things on a Kindle for he same weight. That rocks.

Edited by glad777 on 08/10/2008 08:29:48 MDT.

Christopher Holden
(back2basics) - F - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Seems really cool. on 08/10/2008 07:52:46 MDT Print View

The Kindle isn't really consumable. I've burned old paperbacks to get a fire going or just to reduce pack weight once I've read them. For the few bucks I spend at the used bookstore, they're well worth the entertainment, and serve double duty as survival gear when necessary.
I can't justify the Kindle on the trail. If I was doing more airline travel for work as I was a few years ago, it would be great for killing time in airport delays.

Eric Fitz
(pounce) - F
I had one on 08/10/2008 09:47:02 MDT Print View

I got a Kindle within the first couple of minutes they were on sale the first day. The upside was i got to play with it before a lot of other people. The downside was not a lot of other people had it and there wasn't really enough content.

I returned mine a month or so ago because I just really didn't like the form factor. Philippe Starck called it's design "a little sad". I agree. The page turn button on the right is most of the edge of the device. I just didn't feel comfortable holding it.

For what it is it works very well. The screen is very readable, it's very easy to buy content and get newspaper and magazine subscriptions delivered over the air. You can even surf the web on it in black and white for emergencies without paying internet connection charges. The battery life is very good.

The main reason I returned it was it did not support monospace fonts. I work on software and code so a lot of my personal content that I would want to load onto the Kindle was reference materials with code samples. Not being able to use monospace fonts for the formatting of code made it pretty useless and annoying. Not having Monospace support also prevents the tech book publishers from supporting selling kindle versions of their books.

I will buy another one of these after they change the design and add monospace font support. Would I take it hiking? Yea, I might if I needed content I couldn't carry as a book (full medical references, NYT delivered daily, weather reports etc). Lots of these things I can put on my PDA these days, but the large eInk display and battery life of the Kindle has some advantages.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: Amazon Kindle - free wireless broadband web access on 08/10/2008 14:35:56 MDT Print View

The free web access feature would seem to make this something of a sleeper product for long-distance hikers. For the one-time purchase price of a Kindle (plus a few bucks per e-book), you can spend the season reading (good reading) every night in camp, then read and send web mail and post journal updates from virtually every town stop where a cell phone would work, with no airtime costs to worry about, no service contracts to activate and deactivate, no WIFI hotspots, land lines, or trips to the library needed. If that wouldn't be a dream come true for permanently wired hiker trash types then I don't know what would.

Amazon calls Kindle's Basic Web browser 'experimental.' Apparently it's not a very pretty way to surf the web, nor very convenient to use. Perhaps the goal is to discourage its widespread use, since Amazon is picking up the tab for access. Some reviewers indicate that Kindle does reasonable justice to mobile-formatted web pages, so GMail and Yahoo could work. Other sites may simply require patience and some quirky techniques to navigate, which would seem to play right into the hand of many a long-distance hiker.

Kindle would probably make less sense for those who don't actually like to read much in the backcountry. Certainly the iPhone is lighter, smaller, and better at all else, with the notable exception of the long-term price tag.

Eric Fitz
(pounce) - F
Radio battery and antenna on 08/10/2008 16:08:16 MDT Print View

Yes, the internet bit is labeled experimental. Probably to avoid legal issues if they remove it in the future. I can imagine that they really could not predict its usage until well into the launch of the product.

I have not done any testing on the antenna strength of the unit so it would be hard to say if you could get the same reception from a sprint phone as you would with the Kindle. There is an on/off switch for the radio so you can leave it off all the time. You can then turn it on and let it phone home to get your NYT sub when you wake up. Once it syncs you can just turn the radio off and enjoy low battery usage.

Another cool feature I'm not sure people are aware of is that you set up a kindle email address on the amazon site. Anything that is set to the email address gets kindle encoded and sent to your kindle. When you set this up you can tell it who can send you emails by adding email address' to a 'whitelist'. This could be useful for people to contact you and send you stuff on your trip. You can attach word documents etc as well and they all get encoded and sent to the Kindle.

I'd imagine you could rig up a small solar charger and enjoy the Kindle forever without hitting a wall socket. Even better a 3rd party back cover with a PV array built in... just turn it over and set the kindle in the sun.

Edited by pounce on 08/10/2008 16:13:50 MDT.

Christopher Holden
(back2basics) - F - MLife

Locale: Southeast USA
Re: Radio battery and antenna on 08/10/2008 17:09:18 MDT Print View

Most things with LCD screens don't do well in high temps or direct sunlight. Slide it in the pack and hook up to an external PV cell instead. You're golden.

Eric Fitz
(pounce) - F
Not LCD on 08/10/2008 17:23:36 MDT Print View

The Kindle doesn't have an LCD screen, but I understand your comment. The Kindle comes with a book like cover. This could be replaced with one with a PV array in it.

Edited by pounce on 08/10/2008 17:24:09 MDT.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Solar charging NiMh AA batteries on 08/10/2008 22:11:00 MDT Print View

A company called Silicon Solar sells a ~4 oz NiMH AA battery solar charger:

(Or maybe it weighs only 1 oz - conflicting info there)

This could work handily with Gomadic's "Emergency" AA battery charger for Kindle:

AA batteries would thus be recharged on the trail by solar power, and the Kindle in turn recharged with the AA-battery-powered Gomadic device charger.

I'm not sure what the Gomadic itself weighs - likely under 2 oz I'd think - for a total weight for the recharging system of 6 oz or less.

Cost seems to be one advantage here, as the Powermonkey solar charger, for instance, is well over $100 (vs $60 for the above system). Gomadic also seems to offer better device support with their more comprehensive TipExchange series of add-on connector tips. (I'm not sure what would work with a Kindle other than Gomadic's Kindle-specific recharger tip.)

The weight of 4 AA NiMh batteries could be negated by simply using these batteries in other trail gadgets like a camera or GPS unit, plopping them into the solar charger and Gomadic when needing to charge internal Lithium battery devices, then solar recharging again and plopping them back into the camera or GPS.

Or so goes the thinking... Anyone know of a better / lighter / simpler solution for solar charging (in general, not just for Kindle) that offers good compatibility with a range of trail gadgets?

The Kindle "book" cover looks like it might be unnecessary weight. Perhaps one of the 6x8" BubblePakits would offer sufficient protection on the trail. Or if that won't quite fit, then a couple of BubblePakits taped together to form a sleeve, and then placed in a gallon ziploc bag.

Edited by blister-free on 08/10/2008 22:31:23 MDT.

Eric Fitz
(pounce) - F
Alternatively on 08/11/2008 06:58:05 MDT Print View

You can also buy spare Kindle batteries for $20 (Amazingly cheap actually). They are 1.6oz each. A couple of charged spares could get you pretty far.

I like the solar idea for when you want to use the radio and internet etc and not have to use txt speak... OMG plz snd $$!

I didn't like the book cover thing that came with the Kindle so I personally would like to see a nicer one and it couldn't hurt to make it useful with solar panels ;) A simple panel rigged to charge a spare kindle battery would probably work better and should be fairly straight forward to build. The Kindle battery has a standard connection.

Linsey Budden

Locale: pugetropolis
Solar Battery Chargers on 08/11/2008 07:37:20 MDT Print View (post moved to g-spot)

Edited by lollygag on 08/14/2008 17:12:42 MDT.

Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Kindle/Solio on 08/16/2009 01:44:02 MDT Print View

Glad to find this thread. Evidently, the kindle is not backlit. Some trail guides are available in kindle editions -- perhaps, that could go toward the weight splurge. It does charge via USB which presumably means that it could be used with a Solio provided it doesn't take too much juice. Does anyone out there have backcountry Kindle/Solio experience?

To use kindle versions with Iphone do you actually have to have a Kindle? Does anyone know?

James Park
(jalcide) - F
Re: Kindle/Solio on 08/18/2009 22:46:17 MDT Print View

Unexpectedly, counterintuitively and unfortunately, the Kindle does not charge via the Solio's USB socket adapter. The Kindle seems to be extremely selective in what DC input specifications it accepts, either intentionally or not. Only the AC to USB adapter the Kindle ships with and "most" computers' USB ports seem to work. I've tried it with several adapter configurations with no luck (some battery-based, some AC-based, etc.). To further confirm this problem, an Amazon tech support rep I spoke with about this mentioned it's not working on some computer brands' "front external" USB ports, either. Presumably due to voltage drops, etc. He said it was becoming a major headache for them. He said sometimes you have to try plugging it into several different USB ports on the same computer until you "find one that works." Seems like a definite design flaw in the Kindle 2. To not be able to charge it, straightforwardly, with a portable USB charger is a pretty unfortunate and unnecessary limitation for such a portable-oriented product.

There's a car/auto/cigarette lighter adapter that Amazon sells called the "Rapid Car" that I hope will work, albeit in a somewhat Rube-Goldberg-esk way.

Amazon claims/confirms it's "designed to work with the Kindle 2 and DX." I just ordered one and will post the results once it arrives. In theory you should then be able to use it with the Solio's cigarette lighter socket adapter. There are also small emergency-oriented devices that take AA batteries and sport a cigarette lighter socket for an output, that would then also work.

Oddly, the same company (Gomadic Corp.) that makes this adapter, also makes a battery pack that supposedly charges the Kindle 2. However, two of the three product reviewers on Amazon claim it didn't work for them. Not a vote of confidence for Gomadic's Kindle accessories, but we'll see, there seems to be several reviews claiming the Rapid Car worked and charged the Kindle 2 (albeit, no doubt, from a heavy-amped car socket and not a little Solio attempting to match it's mystery device's load/amp requirement via it's electrical sniffing process).

Perhaps we'll have a workaround via this Rapid Car, or perhaps other 3rd party products, but it appears some Amazon engineers dropped the ball on this whole "USB charging" thing. The devil is always in the details, no?

James Park
(jalcide) - F
Re: Re: Kindle/Solio on 08/21/2009 18:59:01 MDT Print View

Update: The "Rapid Car" with Solio and Solio's cigarette lighter socket cable worked for charging the Kindle 2 via solar. So, there's at least one workable solution.

Tim Cheek
(hikerfan4sure) - MLife
Charging the Kindle on 08/21/2009 19:53:16 MDT Print View


What does that combination weigh?

James Park
(jalcide) - F
Re: Re: Re: Kindle/Solio on 08/31/2009 09:52:30 MDT Print View

Second Update: I may have been a bit hasty in my cry of full-on success. While the Solio + "Rapid Car" does initially start charging, it stops after a few minutes and only if the Solio is more than 50% (or so) charged. The strange thing is that the Kindle's battery indicator shows a sizable (but not full) increase in charge and the Solio goes from, say, fully charged to 20% charge in that short time. It's like it's trying to draw way more amperage, more quickly, than it should; Charging the Kindle super quickly and depleting the Solio super quickly.

The charging parts do seem slightly warm but not too much, it would be hard to believe much is being lost as converted heat. How this super-quick-charge affects the longevity of the electronic components of the Solio and Kindle remain to be seen.

So, it's not a perfect solution, but I think would work enough to keep you reading in the backcountry as long as there are sunny days sufficient to keep the Solio at a full charge.

In summary, If you can't get a close-to-full charge on the Solio, it will fail to even try to charge the Kindle, so only attempt when close-to-fully charged and expect only a few minutes of charge, but a "super charge."