The Kindle is primarily designed to be a reading device and it does this very well. As Bethan Ruddock wrote,
The Kindle... is magic. The enchanted book which is a different story every time you read it; the magic box filled with 1001 stories: this is primal, fairy-tale magic. It’s the sort of thing you can understand at a gut, rather than intellectual, level.Beth’s blog post gives a lot of great tips on enhancing reading on the Kindle: I’d particularly recommend the Magic Catalog of Project Gutenberg which enables instant download of thousands of public domain ebooks and the SendToReader button which can send full webpages from your PC browser to your Kindle.
On the Kindle with 3G, the ‘experimental web browser’ is one its best features: a perfectly functional browser which can be used to access the web for free anywhere. It’s great for checking email or Twitter while travelling or for quickly looking something up while lounging on the sofa.
Here are a couple of tips for enhancing browsing on the Kindle. First, use mobile versions of sites where possible. The Guardian website takes ages to load on the Kindle and sometimes crashes the browser: the mobile Guardian website has the same content and loads in a couple of seconds. I recommend the mobile versions of Google, Gmail, Twitter, and Google Reader. Second, use bookmarks. Typing a URL on the tiny Kindle keyboard can be difficult so it’s easier to set bookmarks for all the sites you’re likely to visit.
Exploring / geocaching
Since I moved to a rural area last year, I’ve done a lot more geocaching in my free time. I’ve also been travelling a lot more for work, for CPD, and for Voices for the Library stuff. In the middle of a strange place, the ability to quickly pull up a map of anywhere can be a lifesaver. KindleMap.net offers a version of the Google Maps API optimised for use on the Kindle: it can bring up a map, load a StreetView, or give you directions to anywhere. Wikitravel, the free collaborative travel-guide, is also a great site for finding local landmarks, places to visit, or getting background on an area. For geocaching specifically, the full Geocaching website works fine or, if signal strength is low, the WAP version serves the purpose.
From the Kindle’s Home screen, if you press Alt + Shift + M, you can access a version of Minesweeper. Then press G to access a Noughts and Crosses game (comparable in difficulty to playing against the supercomputer from WarGames). In the US, it’s also possible to download a couple of word games: Shuffled Row and Every Word. For UK Kindle-owners, if you go on the Manage Kindle page on the Amazon website and change your location to the US, you can download them and then switch back to the UK (I haven’t tried this so take with a pinch of salt).
If you explore the capabilities of the device, you will discover that the Kindle has other hidden abilities. A few extra useful tips:
Use Alt and the top row of letters to type numbers without using the Sym menu.
Press Alt + Shift + G from any screen to take a screenshot. It’s also possible – though complicated – to change the screensaver images.
Use shortcuts. There are a series of @ commands that you can use in the search bar of the Home screen to quickly access things. There's a list here.
Change the font to make reading easier. I’ve read a lot more on the Kindle since I switched from the default ‘regular’ font to the ‘sans serif’ font. Change the text settings until you reach an optimum comfort level for your eyes.