Sick of reading? Five cool things you can do with your Amazon Kindle
While the Amazon Kindle is pretty handy at reading eBooks, it has a few other functions that help you kill the time between Christmas day and heading back to work after New Year’s. Here’s our top five: let us know any others in the comments below.
If you really wanted a Kinect or a Wii instead of a Kindle, we can’t help you. However, if you’re a fan of word games or Sudoku, there are eBooks that let you play along. Amazon released a software development kit for the device earlier this year, and a few games have already popped up. The US store has a wider selection, so you may need to flip your country designation before you get downloading (you can easily flip back, you’ll just need a US post code — and yes, 90210 works).
However, the limited functionality of the Kindle makes gaming a pretty frustrating prospect, and for the most part you’ll be better off playing Hangman with paper and pencil by yourself. That said, a few are worth checking out, notably Blackjack, Shuffled Row and Mine Sweeper, all of which are free.
Browse the web
The Kindle 3 features an updated but still experimental browser. While on the home screen, click Menu and then scroll down to Experimental. The first option will let you browse the web.
As with games, it’s not the flashiest experience. Pages are slow to load, but the E-Ink renders images surprisingly crisply. If you’re desperate for internet access, and don’t have a smartphone handy, you can still stay up-to-date with Twitter, Facebook and your email, and it’s handy for when you desperately need to Wikipedia something to understand the Will Self novel you’re attempting to read.
If slowly tapping the cursor to the address bar and carefully typing URLs is driving you up the wall — and it will — try out Kinstant. Just direct the browser to Kinstant.com, and you’ll get one-click access to popular pages, with your favourites saved. Use Kinstant to access any page, and it will reformat it, stripping out photos and formatting to make it easier to read. That’s right folks, pcpro.co.uk is now on your Kindle.
Using the handy site Instapaper, you can collect articles to read as you wander the web, then send them for free to your Kindle to read later on in a nicely laid-out format. When you set up an account at Instapaper, use your @free.kindle.com email address — that means the package of web writing will only be sent by Wi-Fi, but it will save you Amazon’s delivery charges.
Not only can the Kindle play MP3s, but it will also read to you. While in an eBook, click the text key — that’s the one that looks like Aa — and scroll down to Text-to-Speech. It’s not the nicest sounding voice you’ll hear, but it can be flipped between female and male voices, with faster or slower speaking rates. A note to lazy parents: sorry, but your kids won’t put up with the Kindle voice instead of a proper story-time, but it makes a decent audio book in a pinch.
Share your thoughts
Find a passage in a book — or Instapaper’d article — that you just must share, and it’s surprisingly easy to do so, so long as you’re connected via 3G or Wi-Fi. Simply highlight the text, then click alt and the arrow key together, and the quote will be posted to your Twitter or Facebook feed, along with any comment. It’s pretty handy when you want to show off how much you appreciate Will Self novels. Or simply the fact that you have a Kindle…