Journal of a graduate student in military history and the American Civil War

My New Kindle 2

with 22 comments

My new Amazon Kindle 2

My new Amazon Kindle 2

I took the plunge and bought an Amazon Kindle 2. This was a tough decision because (here’s where my family roll their eyes) I’m a bit obsessive about my books. But there are times when I’d really like a book NOW. So I’m considering this an expensive experiment. Here are my impressions so far.

  • Packaging was very cool. Nicely done.
  • Instructions were very easy to follow. I was up and running in seconds.
  • The device came set up and registered so I didn’t have to register it. I could start browsing the Kindle store and downloading.
  • I bought the standard leather case (see below) and I’m glad I did. It lets me feel like I’m holding a real book which I like.
  • The Whispernet technology was amazing. Well done Sprint.
  • It came with The New Oxford American Dictionary loaded for free which is always handy.
  • I can preview books for free.
  • I’ve bought already The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, Richard Crawley ($0.99) which I ordered from the Kindle itself.
  • I then ordered – via my computer on Amazon’s site – David Liss’ book, The Whiskey Rebels: A Novel – and with one click, it was automatically sent to my Kindle 2.  It was done in seconds. Sweet! And I paid $9.99.
  • I can also download and listen to audiobooks but these I must download to my Mac and then transfer to the Kindle. The unit has two speakers and a headset jack.
  • The Kindle  comes with text-to-speech technology so i can have any text book read to me if I choose. The voice intonation is not at all bad. It’s not a performance but it’s quite functional.
  • I can archive content on Amazon’s site and reload anytime I want which is great. No need to hook up to the computer or store on an external harddrive.
  • I can bookmark, mark up, highlight, and add notes to what I’m reading.
  • I can store personal documents. I can send any document to my Kindle email and Amazon will convert it to pdf [CORRECTION – IT DOESN’T CONVERT TO PDF BUT A PROPRIETARY FORMAT but read the comments for more options] for free and ship it back to my computer. To send it to the Kindle, they will charge a small fee. This is one of their “experimental” features.
  • I can transfer MP3s to my Kindle to listen to music while I read. The transfer would be from my Mac.

My leather case


Written by Rene Tyree

February 26, 2009 at 10:30 pm

22 Responses

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  1. Rene,

    Thanks for the mini-review of the Kindle 2. I’ve been lusting after it since the first announcement. I really love the idea of having a single, lightweight source to read a current book, as well as favorite columnists, blogs, etc.

    What a neat idea that you could switch from reading on your lunch hour to an audio book on the drive home.


    David Woodbury

    February 27, 2009 at 2:13 am

    • David,
      Completely agree. These audio features are considered in the “experimental” phase and Amazon is looking for feedback. Worked very well though.


      Rene Tyree

      February 27, 2009 at 8:16 am

      • Rene,

        Inspired by your review, I wrote a blog entry on the Kindle myself last night. http://tinyurl.com/cof36w

        Later, I would be interested to know if the battery life lives up to the claims at Amazon, “Read on a single charge for up to 4 days with wireless on. Turn wireless off and read for up to two weeks.”


        David Woodbury

        February 27, 2009 at 3:02 pm

  2. What would have sold me on the Kindle 1 is the ability to download pdf books other than those purchased from Amazon – i.e., Google Books, etc. Can this be done with the Kindle 2?

    Harry Smeltzer

    February 27, 2009 at 4:56 am

    • Harry,
      I just tried it and it works very well. What you do is register the emails that can send documents to your Kindle email address. This prevents SPAM. Then you attach a file to an email and send it to your Kindle email address. Amazon will convert the file to pdf and automatically deliver it to your Kindle. I sent one of my mid-term exams in .doc and it was delivered flawlessly. It took about 5 minutes for the full conversion and delivery.

      To have a document delivered to the Kindle in this way, Amazon charges $.10 per document. The charge won’t hit your charge card until you accumulate $3.00 in charges so 30 documents. They also offer a way to do this for free. There is an alternate email address you can send a document to and Amazon will convert it to pdf. You can then download it to your computer and move to the Kindle via USB.


      Rene Tyree

      February 27, 2009 at 8:14 am

    • Renee,

      I guess the question is, what is a document? A page? A 900 page book?

      Harry Smeltzer

      February 27, 2009 at 11:28 am

      • Stand by Harry. I’ll give it a try with a larger document. As far as I’ve read, there is no limit.

        Rene Tyree

        February 27, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    • By the way, how dod you get your comments to thread?

      Harry Smeltzer

      February 27, 2009 at 11:30 am

      • Harry,

        Threaded comments is a new feature. On the dashboard, there is an icon for settings (the second from the bottom on on the left on mine) that looks like a box with spoons (?). Open that up and choose “Discussion.” It will let you turn on comment threading and make some choices about number of levels, etc.

        Hope that helps.


        Rene Tyree

        February 27, 2009 at 12:00 pm

        • It sounds like I shouild be able to download pdfs into the device myself, and would only need Amazon if I wanted something converted to pdf. Or would I need to go through Amazon anyway to get it into a format compatible with Kindle? The reason I’m so nagging about this is that I would love to be able to read these public domain books (thousands available for free from various sources, including Google) on something other than a computer.

          Harry Smeltzer

          February 27, 2009 at 1:33 pm

          • AHA! This is COOL.

            OK Harry – so here’s the scoop. The Kindle will read the following file formats:
            Kindle (.AZW, .AZW1)
            Unprotected Mobipocket (.MOBI, .PRC) (Without DRM)
            Audible (.AA, .AAX)
            MP3 (.MP3)

            So I just downloaded saved an ASCII text version (.TXT) of “The Memoirs of General P. H. Sheridan, Complete” (i.e. both volumes) from Project Gutenberg. I connected my Kindle via the USB to my MAC and simply dragged and dropped the .txt file into the Documents folder on the Kindle. I disconnected the Kindle and VOILA, I have published the entire work to my Kindle.

            Now you can also upload to Amazon for conversion files in the following formats:
            PDF (this is experimental)
            Structured HTML (.HTML, .HTM)
            JPEG (.JPEG, .JPG)
            GIF (.GIF)
            PNG (.PNG)
            BMP (.BMP)
            Compressed ZIP (.ZIP)

            They will convert it to Kindle-speak (see formats above) which appear to be UNIX-based and wirelessly send it to your Kindle for $0.10 like I mentioned before. That said, I sent the same book as above in Word (.DOC) over and hour ago to be converted and it hasn’t happened yet. But it’s a BIG HONKING file to be sure. So it may just take some time for really big stuff.

            It goes without saying, but I will, that this is not intended to be used for copyrighted materials.

            Very cool.

            Another nice feature is that the dictionary constantly runs at the bottom of the page. So if you run the pointer down the page, it automatically looks up the words and provides a definition at the bottom. I need more text books in this format!!!

            Keep asking those good questions Harry. And, ahem, if you decide to buy one, consider doing it through WigWags Books. I think I’ll get all of $10.



            Rene Tyree

            February 27, 2009 at 2:19 pm

  3. I was sure you would be the last person on earth to buy a Kindle. Glad your liking it.

    Your Daughter.


    February 27, 2009 at 8:26 am

  4. Rene,
    Have you started reading The Whiskey Rebels yet? Sounds like a great story/concept, but I’d be curious to know your thoughts before I pick it up.

    Chris Cook

    February 27, 2009 at 10:02 am

    • Hey Chris.
      Great to hear from you.
      I HAVE started reading it but am just through the first chapter. It’s a good read so far. Glad to keep you posted.

      Do check out the history courses on http://academicearth.org. I mentioned to CC.

      Take care,


      Rene Tyree

      February 27, 2009 at 11:12 am

  5. OK…I admit up front that I’m a bookophile…but have to ask this question: Do you miss the feel of turning the pages, holding the book, the smell of the cover, pages and binding? Those are the things that have kept me from buying the Kindle so far. I am eager to hear what you think after using it for a while.

    Pam Walter

    February 27, 2009 at 11:40 am

    • Pam,
      I’m with you. I love all those things about my books too. Believe me. I’m going to use my Kindle as supplementary to my paper library. But, I’ll keep folks posted on my impressions over time. One thing I’m liking already is the “text-to-speech” feature. I’m also going to use this for multi-tasking. I read a lot of journals for school and this feature will let me listen while on the elliptical! Gotta love that.

      Stay tuned.


      Rene Tyree

      February 27, 2009 at 12:03 pm

  6. […] about it because of its convenience and because it’s a nifty gadget perfect for travel. Rene Tyree bought one and really likes it. She also points out that there are a number of public domain books […]

  7. I’ve been trying to discover two things: 1. can you transfer your notes on a text to your computer for use in another note-taking program (i use InfoSelect)?

    2. Can you read downloads from a public library (ebooks checked out) on the kindle?

    Irvin Peckham

    March 21, 2009 at 6:00 am

  8. Hi Rene,

    I´ve been cheking out all these kind of widgets as sony reader and kindle. As I’m from latin america i guess i have to buy it by internet because there’s no any shop where i can see it here in Colombia. these days i watched at amazon’s page the new kindle DX It seems really wonderfull because of all the features but i have a single, even inocent, question: can you, with your kindle 2, connected to your laptop and transfer your personal documents to it without any problem? or do you have to send it to an email first and then download it there? I guess if you can transfer documents directly from your laptop to your kindle 2, then i could do it with my next kindle DX :). Thanks for your review and your soon answer i need to buy one of those and i dont know what to do i can´t waste my money i need to be sure before buy it.

    Jaime Ernesto Palma Baquero

    July 31, 2009 at 1:19 am

    • Hi Ernesto,
      Thanks for you comments/questions. Yes you can easily transfer documents from your laptop to your Kindle DX. It’s really just like the Kindle 2 in that regard. When you connect via that USB cable, it’s just like you’ve connected to another hard drive. The Kindle has several folders and it’s as easy as clicking and dragging files into those folders. So while you can upload to the web, you can also simply load from your computer.

      I hope that helps!

      Take care,


      Rene Tyree

      July 31, 2009 at 8:11 pm

  9. You can switch back and forth between reading and listening, and your spot is automatically saved. Pages automatically turn while the content is being read, so you can listen hands-free. You can choose from both male and female voices which can be sped up or slowed down to suit your preference. In the middle of a great book or article but have to jump in the car? Simply turn on Text-to-Speech and listen on the go.


    July 2, 2010 at 9:34 am

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