Kindle update brings 85% more battery life, native PDF support

By on November 24, 2009, 8:00 PM
Amazon announced today that a new update for its Kindle e-book reader brings two significant enhancements. The company has timed the introduction of these new features perfectly to influence holiday shoppers who are undecided between purchasing the Kindle or a competing gadget, like Barnes & Noble's Nook.

With the latest firmware version, the Kindle has an 85% longer battery life, which is quite an improvement. The device can now last for up to seven days on a single charge with the wireless turned on. Additionally, the Kindle has finally received a native PDF reader, something customers have been after for a while. With built-in PDF support, users can simply transfer the files via email or locally through USB, rather than having to covert them.

The company took a moment to brag, saying the Kindle is already the best selling, most wished for, and most gifted product on Amazon.com. Is the Kindle or another e-book reader on your shopping list?




User Comments: 38

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AtK SpAdE AtK SpAdE, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I got the chance to try one of these out, and as weird as it was the screen itself is really cool, it definitely does feel like you are reading paper. A bit unnatural to old, I am just not sure I read enough books to warrant one of these.

If they started putting my college text books on them, I may consider.

Also apple is supposed to have something up its sleeve to compete with this market, as well as the tablet PC market.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Wonder how long this would last as a piece of service equipment.

IvanAwfulitch IvanAwfulitch said:

I actually got to play with one of these. They're quite nifty. The lighting on the screen is very soft, but still makes it very easy to see what's on the screen. It's relatively fast considering its size and the size of the screen that it can render, and now its battery life is getting better?

If you're really into reading e-books, this is definitely something to check out. But it's not cheap of course.

Timonius Timonius said:

Quite amazing that a firmware update increases the battery life so much. What else are they hiding?

LazyNinja said:

While I love all things technological, i don't see this completely replacing a good ol'fashioned paperback novel for me. Might be useful on trips when you can't haul around a bunch of books though.

saintbodhisatva said:

I didn't want one before, now I'm wanting it more and more.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I wonder how PDF's look on it, considering the low resolution screen.

I'm waiting for bistable LCD technologies to mature, so we can finally get rid of the slow refresh an relatively low-res e-ink. I had an e-ink based reader (until I lost it), and the screen looks impressive, but IMO once we have screens that overcome e-ink's limitations the devices will really fly off the shelves. Suddenly you'll be able to have animations, a real UI, etc.

IvanAwfulitch IvanAwfulitch said:

While I love all things technological, i don't see this completely replacing a good ol'fashioned paperback novel for me. Might be useful on trips when you can't haul around a bunch of books though.

A Kindle can't be as easily ruined by a few coffee stains, or have the pages torn out. Nobody can dog-ear a Kindle, and you can read even when it's dark and you don't need to waste extra electricity by using a bedside lamp. It won't bother someone else in the same room who might be trying to sleep. A Kindle won't have any trouble with turning pages because your thumb is too dry and can't separate the pages. A Kindle can't give you paper cuts. It's a bit less bulky than carrying around the full size book, and saves paper which means it's more eco-friendly besides the electricity needed to charge it. There are any number of little benefits to this little piece of technology. I don't see why anyone wouldn't want one.

timljh said:

i think they should reduce the price by 85% instead of increasing the battery by 85%, then it will sells for sure =P

Puiu Puiu said:

How much tweaking can you do to a firmware to come up with those numbers? Wasn't it already supposed to be tweaked have a long batter life?

PDF support should have been there from the beginning since many books are in pdf format. But it's better later than never.

BlindObject said:

I tried one of these too at barnes and nobles near me, and they're quite the machine. But the low resolution and I really don't need it. I barely EVER read a book or anything. I those cute book worms at barnes and nobles would be better with them. =)

Hyperian said:

Native support for PDF would be great since i read a lot of spec sheets, but then i still dont have enough use for this to justify it. i think netbooks would be more useful.

Styl said:

I'm thinking about getting one of these. 85% more battery life does sound nice. I'm just worried about the headaches it will bring.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Shouldn't bring any more headaches than reading a paper book.

Plo said:

I should really give a try one of those. Normal books always make me sleep...

sky_could_fall sky_could_fall said:

It's still way too expensive to be a substitute for ordinary books and newspapers.

yangly18 yangly18 said:

It's nice to have around if you are really into reading, but like myself, many tech guys now-a-days are too busy gaming or surfing the web to just sit down for hours at a time and read a book. I have heard that you can get tech books alot cheaper on the kindle, which can be a great benefit to any college students. I still dont see myself buying one since I like to read out of a book. I just like that feeling of accomplishment you get when you are reading a 1000 page book and you can see just how much you have read. I'm sure its a better feeling then just seeing a page number.

harby said:

It seriously makes me wonder how they achieved such a big battery life increase. Either their previous firmware was seriously not optimized or their programmers are awesome.

LightHeart said:

There is currently a device around that is portable, looks good, has low power requirements and is drm free; it's called a book. Any of the readers are only good if you read a lot of books and/or you take the bus/rail each day where you have the time to sit and read. In most situations just give me a book, otherwise I can look it up on the web. Now if the cost was reasonable, say around $30 that might be different but at $200 I can buy a lot of other things that I need.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@lightheart: The device is expensive, e-books are cheaper than normal books. I'm not that into this device so I don't know much about it, but with pdf support there is no problem in downloading the news into the kindle (I think it does this already).

If you read maybe 2 books a year (And this doesn't include the ones you have to read for college or school), this is pretty much expensive.

In the other hand, if you are part of a reading community that many works with kindle, which lends books and the sorts, well, this is your gadget. How much space you save, not having to worry about where you left that book you were lent, ups a drop of coffee in the book... maybe they won't notice, etc etc etc.

Indeed the hard book covers in your library makes a nice ambient room, it's just a matter of likes and uses.

jazboy said:

with increase in battery life, surely it will increase the market share. So people who really needs this can enjoy for readking books.

JMMD JMMD, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The increased battery life is quite an improvement. I'm not quite ready to buy one yet but in a few years and a few generations later they should be pretty sweet.

KG363 KG363 said:

Was the original just inefficient or did the the engineers sign their soul to the devil?

fizziks said:

After lurking for many months, I finally joined so I could post comments... way to take my productivity down a notch TechSpot...

Anyway, this Kindle update is swell and all, but the 'Native PDF support' claim is a little... well perhaps misleading is the wrong word, but consider this: YOU CAN'T ZOOM THE PDFs!!! Combined with a 6" screen and well, get out your atomic force microscope if you want to be able to read anything... personally I find carrying my AFM with me kills the mobility advantage of the ebook...

@#$@% !!!

I want to like eReaders so bad because I read a TON of academic papers, but they all come as PDFs. Last year I got the Sony ereader as a surprise Christmas present and have used it exactly ZERO times (ok... zero times after finding out its disabilities). Unlike the Kindle, it can zoom pdfs, but then it messes up the graphs, tables, etc making it useless.

The combination of small screen, slow refresh, and poorly functioning "native PDF support" means eReaders are a very expensive way to read text-only documents.

If you want to read anything with pictures, graphs or tables that doesn't come straight from Amazon/Sony etc etc, forget it...

And lets not even talk about the idea of paying for DRM'd content that will be unreadable in a few years once these devices become obsolete. Unless it's discounted 100%, paying for DRM'd eContent is equivalent to lighting your wallet on fire.

For those interested, the iRex iliad is the most feature packed eReader out there (though I'd be happy to be proved wrong). It has an eInk screen, WiFi, and an active digitizer so you can make notes on your PDFs. It runs Linux under the hood and IREX is adding new software features relatively often.... The down side? They START @ $600... oh and that version is out of stock...

As a Techno-Gaget-Geek it kills me to see eReaders so close to getting it right, and yet getting is so wrong on things that shouldn't even be issues at all. It is literally PAINFUL.

Amazon are you listening? I'll consult with you for a modest fee and solve all your problems ok?

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Man i would love to have one of these but i think my brother would like it even more as a present for christmas. native pdf reader is a nice addition i wonder how just a firmware update can increase battery life so much but hey better overall for the customer :-) cant complain about that. i had wondered if it would hurt your eyes to read a small screen for so long but it seems like it doesnt have any adverse affects.

LazyNinja said:

A Kindle can't be as easily ruined by a few coffee stains, or have the pages torn out. Nobody can dog-ear a Kindle, and you can read even when it's dark and you don't need to waste extra electricity by using a bedside lamp. It won't bother someone else in the same room who might be trying to sleep. A Kindle won't have any trouble with turning pages because your thumb is too dry and can't separate the pages. A Kindle can't give you paper cuts. It's a bit less bulky than carrying around the full size book, and saves paper which means it's more eco-friendly besides the electricity needed to charge it. There are any number of little benefits to this little piece of technology. I don't see why anyone wouldn't want one.

I'm not doubting the benefits of this technology, I just prefer the look, feel, and smell of a paper book. I spend enough time everyday staring at computer screens as it is.

lupinnktp said:

amazing. i'm a battery-life freak and this definitely increases the appeal of this device.!!

paynetrain007 said:

just another way to spend $400 to read a book.

fref said:

Wow, 85% more battery life with a simple firmware update! The previous firmware must have been really bad... How come they didn't figure this out before the device was even released? How long did the battery last before this update?

levar said:

Well I'm not a big fan on the kindle, but I do like that it now has a native PDF reader thats something I was actually looking forward to, meaning thats something I hoped they do in the future and they have. I'm sure it'll sell the new improvements talk for itself, one thing I've learned from purchasing gadgets and technological-like things is there is always going to be something better than the first or newer- always another version thats why I've started not purchasing all the new an latest gadget like things. Anyways I'm fine with my PSP there's an app that allows me to read .pdf files and thats all I need, I don't see the Kindle no where on my shopping list.

Fada said:

85% more from a firmware upgrade? man someone must have been asleep doing the previous firmware coding, and PDF should have been there from the get go, big oversight on Amazons part.

Rapidhic said:

Bug or they lost some of the market share and they wanted to add a plus to their device?

vangrat said:

Wait...an 85% improvement with a software update...can anyone proove this please that seems a bit overwhelming, although if true quite amazing. As for the PDF support, about friggin time, it has only been the international standard for documentatin for two years running now...

My only complaint about the kindle would have to be the black on grey, if they can fix this to a more black on white I will be much impressed and more inclined to get one.

MrAnderson said:

I'm interested in getting this product when the price fall bellow 199 USD. The 85% increase in power is awesome thought.

jerry53 said:

oh my God they must have messed up the firmware soo bad the time before or blocked its full funtionality otherwise there is no way that this particular firmware can bring about soo much battery life.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@Jerry: The only things that comes to my mind is that they figured out a way to optimize the 3G connection and that is the main battery saving.

Heretic said:

I genuinely like this. I think it's a great idea. I'd rather lug this around than all my books which weigh like 20 pounds each.

claycc said:

interesting gadget but probably not one I would ever use. If prices came down it would be interesting for schools since you could download your new books each semester. At the same time I have several college text books I use as reference material in my job so it is nice to have a physical copy.

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