New updates bring Audible to basic Kindle and new customization options

Today’s announcement of the all-new Kindle Oasis included big news on the integration of Audible audiobooks into the device.  Audible integration will roll out as an update when the new Oasis device ships on October 31, 2017.

Also included in the announcement was the news that the basic, entry-level Kindle (current generation 8), along with the first generation Oasis,  will also be getting Audible integration over the coming months. This may be a feature that makes the basic Kindle (which does not have a backlight) more desirable as a device for prospective owners. As noted in this post on The eBook Reader, at least according to its reviews,  the basic, entry level kindle is not well liked.

Today’s announcement also included news of new firmware updates that would add new settings for reading customization, including new font sizes, bolding options and new margin options including an option for left-aligned  /ragged right text..

The new features are:

  • New Font Size and Bold Settings: Now choose from more font sizes than ever before–and five levels of boldness–for whichever font you choose to read with. Combined with the new, 7-inch Paperwhite display, you can personalize your books so it’s perfectly comfortable for your eyes.
  • New Accessibility Options: In addition to the OpenDyslexic font, we’ve added a feature to invert black and white on the display if you have light sensitivity. The new enlarged display option also lets you increase the size of items like the text on the home screen and library as well as the book icons to make the all-new Kindle Oasis easier to read.
  • Light Settings: Built-in ambient light sensors automatically adjust the display to your surroundings whether you’re in a dimly-lit room or outside in the sun–and can be fine-tuned even further based on personal preferences.
  • Ragged Right Alignment: You can now read using left-aligned (ragged right) text.

To me, one of the most intriguing of the new features is the ability to invert black-and-white on the display for those with light sensitivity. This is generally a feature found on apps and tablets, not e-ink readers (although there is supposedly a hack for the Kobo line here.). My old Literarti e-reader had this feature, and I can tell you, being able to read white text on a black screen in a dark room Is a great feature for reading in the middle of the night without disturbing your partner! 🙂

The new firmware features will be delivered as a free over the air update to the Kindle Paperwhite and newer devices starting today.

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Amazon releases new kindle Oasis model

Given the recent number of sales on Amazon’s Kindle line and the upcoming 10th anniversary of the release of the original Kindle, many, including myself, expected the announcement of a new Kindle was in the works.

Today, Amazon announced an all-new kindle Oasis. The new device has a larger, 7″, 300 ppi display. The device is also  waterproof, a feature that many other high end e-readers already have and one that many customers have been asking for. The device is IPX8 rated, which protects against immersion in up to 2 meters of water for up to 60 minutes. According to Amazon, there are also battery improvements to the new device.

Probably one of the most frequently requested features for the Kindle is for the return of the text-to-speech features for the e-Ink devices. The TTS function was a feature in the earlier Kindle models and is currently available on e-ink Kindles only via the use of a special adapter. Built in, it is presently only an included feature on the Fire tablets. While Amazon has not restored text-to-speech in this new device, they have integrated Audible audiobooks with the Oasis.(See here to learn about Audible.) This device still doesn’t have a headphone jack or speakers and instead uses a Bluetooth connection to provide audio. You must provide your own Bluetooth headphones or speaker.

The Amazon description says,”With Audible built in, you never have to put your story down and can switch easily between reading and listening without changing devices.” It is unclear if that implies whether this model will be capable of enhanced Immersion Reading, which allows for both audio and reading highlighted text at the same time.

Because this device is designed to work with Audible files which are quite large, the device comes with more storage and more storage options. It is available in an 8GB configuration which is twice the amount of storage included with the original Oasis. The device also comes in a 32GB configuration, which will be helpful for storing the larger file sizes associated with  audio books, comic books, etc.

One of the most interesting changes to the new Oasis is the fact that it does away with the integrated battery cover of the previous model.  (You can read my views on that cover here.) The previous model’s covers were only available in leather, a fact that was upsetting to many who preferred a vegan option for a cover. This model’s covers come in a variety of colors in both fabric and leather options.

The new Oasis costs $249.99 for the 8GB WiFi-only model. The 32GB WiFi-only model is $279.99. The Oasis is also available in a 32 GB cellular configuration for $349.99. Fabric covers sell for $44.99 and leather covers cost $59.99

All models are available for pre-order now and will start shipping October 31, 2017.

Old Kindle forums closed, redesigned help forum unveiled

As I wrote about last week, Amazon announced that it would be closing its Kindle discussion forums. The original closure date was listed on a banner as October 6, 2017.

(Click picture to enlarge)

Amazon later posted that the forum would actually close on October 13, 2017:

When announcing the discussion forum closure, Amazon had promised a new, improved experience in the Kindle Help forum on October 9, 2017. As I noted in my last post, the main difference between the two is that the Kindle customer discussion forum included off-topic discussions and was a separate forum from the official Kindle help forum.

Amazon actually closed the forums on the original date, Friday, October 6th. Amazon did the same thing to the forums on IMDB.com, announcing one date and then closing the forums in advance of the deadline. (And, no, users were NOT happy.)  Amazon seems to have closed ALL of customer discussion forums as of Friday.  All of my bookmarked pages are returning error messages.

The newly redesigned Kindle Help forum is now up and running. It has a very different interface that the old one and includes sections for the Kindle, Fire, Fire TV, Echo and Alexa, and Digital Content. The forum also has its own unique (and easier to remember) URL: amazonforum.com. For now at least, the old forum URL still works and redirects to the new domain name.

Have you checked out the new forum design? What do you think?

Amazon confirms Kindle, Fire discussion forums to close October 13, 2017

Amazon has officially announced on the that the Kindle discussion forum (https://www.amazon.com/forum/kindle) will be closing on Friday, October 13, 2017.

The pinned notice on the board reads:

Amazon would like to thank the members of this community for contributing to the discussion forums. As we grow and evolve, we encourage you to explore Goodreads Groups for books and Spark for other ways to engage with your interests. If you have a help question about your device, starting the morning of October 9th , Pacific Standard Time, we will be introducing an improved help forum experience, with expanded discussion categories.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/group
Spark: https://www.amazon.com/b?node=16907772011

The post is closed to comments.

The discussion forum has been around for ten years, since the announcement of the very first Kindle. It contained Kindle-oriented topics, including popular threads on discounted Kindle books. Customers also discussed various issues and  customers offered other customers unofficial assistance. (Note that the forum that is closing is the Kindle Discussion forum, not the official Kindle Help Community forum.)

Almost the same notice is posted on the Fire forums at https://www.amazon.com/forum/fire/.

There had been a lot of speculation on various discussion threads about Amazon closing the forum since some members had intermittently seen a banner announcing the forums closing on October 6, 2017. It seems that much of the confusion was probably caused by the fact that everyone was not seeing the banner and even those who saw it didn’t see it consistently.

According to threads on the forum, prior to the notice, people were calling Kindle support and getting a variety of answers about the closing.

For many years, you could access the Kindle forums, via a menu link on the main Kindle page. Over the last year, Amazon had deprecated that function and the forum was difficult to find unless you had it bookmarked or were subscribed to email notifications on one of the various topic threads.

Amazon had also recently removed the search function from the forums.

Before I bought my first Kindle, this forum was a tremendous help. I was able to read about the Kindle and get the opinions of people who actually owned and were using the device. Given the fact that the device was $400 at the time, that forum was instrumental for me in researching and ultimately deciding to buy my first Kindle. I don’t think I would have bought my first Kindle without it. It was also a godsend in learning how use the new device.

As a blogger, I also found it a great source of information about issues that affected both the e-ink Kindle and the Fire tablets. Many of my posts on Amazon devices had their genesis in post on the Kindle discussion forum.

The forums also had a dark side.  Many of the regular posters on the forum could be quite snarky about repeatedly answering the same questions over and over again. Authors self-promoting books was also a problem and downvoting topics was a constant source of contention.

Given the fact that Amazon has also done away with the forums on sites like IMDB.com, I am not surprised the they are closing the forum. It is sad, however.

Amazon is directing customers to Goodreads and Spark (an Amazon community exclusive to Prime members). There are members suggesting everyone write Jefff Bezos at jeff@amazon.com to ask for a reprieve on the forums. Some customers are also discussing starting communities on other sites such as Reddit as a replacement.  You can also find already thriving communities on Kboards and Mobileread.

The new Kindle Help Community update will be available on October 9, 2017.

Did you use the Kindle Discussion forum? Are you going to miss it?

Get a refurbished Kindle Voyage for $135

Today, Amazon is offering a refurbished Wi-fi Kindle Voyage for only $135 and can even be purchased on a payment plan of five payments of $27 each.  The device normally costs $199 new.

The Kindle Voyage has a 300 ppi display and features PagePress sensors for one touch page turns  and an adaptive front light that self-adjusts to the available light.

The refurbished Voyage is also available in a Wi-Fi plus 3G configuration for $195.

Amazon’s refurbished Kindles come with the same one-year warranty as its new devices.

 

Amazon announces new Kindle

new_kindleIf you had looked at the Kindle product page over the last few days, you might have noticed that the basic Kindle was sold out. That tends to be somewhat unusual as they are generally consistently in stock. So maybe, combined with the rumors of a new device, it is really not that much of a surprise that today, Amazon announced an all-new Kindle with some pretty nifty features.

  • The new Kindle comes in both black and white. We haven’t had a white Kindle here in the US for a while.
  • The new device is slightly smaller and lighter than the previous model. It also has a slightly more rounded design
  • The new Kindle has 4GB of storage and twice the memory of the old one (it now has 512MB).
  • The device is Bluetooth enabled. This is an added accessibility feature that readers who are visually impaired can use the VoiceView feature to navigate and read the on-screen content without the need for an adaptor. Hopefully, we will also see more Bluetooth compatible feature in the future – I want a foot switch for page turns so I can read and eat pizza! 🙂
  • Over the coming weeks, Amazon will be adding an Export Notes feature.  This will enable users to export their notes to a PDF file that can be printed out or exported to a spreadsheet.

Best of all, the price for the new Kindle is still $79.99 (with special offers, $89.99 without special offers). The new Kindle is available for pre-order now and is also being offered for 5 monthly payments of $16.00 payment plan. The e-reader will ship within the next few weeks.

Unlike the Kindle Paperwhite, the new Kindle does not have a built in light. Amazon also announced that the Paperwhite would also be available in white.

3rd Party cover for Kindle Oasis coming in May – without a battery

fintie_oasisWell, that answers at least a part of the question about whether or not Amazon would allow third-party covers for the Kindle Oasis. A non-Amazon cover, the Fintie Kindle Oasis Case, is going to be available in May. Spotted on Amazon, the cover is made by Fintie, a company that makes quite a few covers for Amazon Kindles and Fire tablets. 

Going by the description and the pictures, it seems that the cover does not have the battery and charging capabilities of the OEM Amazon Kindle Oasis cover. While this cover certainly provides more color choices and variety as well as an alternative cover design, especially for vegans who don’t want leather, it will not extend the battery life of the device like the Amazon cover.

From the description:

Protect your New Kindle Oasis with this Fintie Smartshell Case at all times! The Fintie Smartshell Case sports a simple and classy design. The back shell is made from durable polycarbonate material so you do not need to worry about any damages. It offers an easy clip-on application. The cover is designed to fold back, so you can read comfortably with just one hand. Our innovative cover was designed to specifically fit your Kindle Oasis and secures your device without any hinges or straps. Thin, lightweight, and durable, this cover is perfect for taking Kindle Oasis wherever you go.

The cover comes in a variety of colors and designs and has a wake to sleep magnetic clasp built into the cover. The cover is sold and shipped directly from Fintie and will be available May 18, 2016. Cover prices start at $5.99 plus shipping (It’s not Prime Eligible).

What do you think? Are we going to see battery cases from other vendors?