Kindle keyboard 3G – Review, Tips and what not

Its been nearly a year  since I bought my Kindle keyboard 3G. I presented it to my sister, but the fact is I ended up using more than she does. I believe nothing comes close to reading the physical book like Kindle does. It is one of those things you fall in love  instantly. In this post I write about why I like it, what you can do with it and  how to make better use of it and lot more.

Weight, Display and Battery

It very light so one can read on it for long time without tiring one’s hand. Also its e-ink display is so calm on eyes, no strain to eyes at all after reading for hours continuously. Page turns are fast , but the buttons on the side could be little difficult to change page using only one hand. Definitely not a deal breaker. Battery lasts for a light year , at least it feels like. Actually battery last that long I have not bothered to keep track of, also charging is pretty fast.

Content to Read, Books etc

Whats a Kindle without having books to read on it! In fact Kindle is about books than device itself. Few miss the point and confuse Kindle to books.Kindle is like a book shelf where you keep your books + some more functionality to help readers

Books are aplenty on Amazon store, so you can buy any book that is available there. I have  bought few books on Amazon store, since they charge in dollars I felt it is costly to buy all of what I like. Good thing is one can check out their daily deals and buy them at throw away price if you like the book. Also there are many sites where you can download royalty free and non-public domain books. I list a few below , do comment if you have any more links to get free ebooks in Kindle format.

I use Open culture , BooksontheKnob, eReaderIQ  and Project Gutenberg  free books in Kindle format(.mobi). Also check out for deals right on the Kindle.

If one has PDFs or ebooks in other formats like ePub then use Calibre a e-book management tool. Calibre is so cool that it converts the books on your computer into .mobi format and mails it to your Kindle. I use Dropbox , where I drop my e-books , and download the same on my Kindle since I don’t manage  book library on my computer.

If you like to read blogs use services like Instapaper , Klip.me plugins available for various browsers which mail articles and blogs to your Kindle at the click of a button. Most of things I read on web are from the links on my twitter feed, I use apps like tweetcaster which has Instapaper add-on which in turn mails it to my Kindle. Imagine after a day of work all your reading materials in one place!

Mailing it to Kindle!  what does that mean ? It means one can assign a mail address to your Kindle and send mails to the email-id and the content will be available on Kindle. This service is free over WiFi and comes with a small fee if you want this service over 3G. And yes did I mention 3G is free! out of the box. 3G is also used for Whispersync, which is the term coined by Amazon which enable one to read a book from where you left irrespective of the device you are using, may it be a Kindle or Kindle app for Android/ iOS/ Blackberry/  Windows/ Mac/ WebClient etc.,

Kindle has around 3GB of space to use for books, but it offers cloud service where you can save all the books on cloud and retrieve it when you like it. This service is not just for the books you buy on Amazon but also for document, articles, e-books you mailed to your kindle account.

Why I like my Kindle/ Why you have to buy one

  • Feels like reading a physical book
  • Zillions of books/blogs  available to read apart from Amazon Store
  • Send to Kindle functionality
  • Dictionary function without leaving the book
  • Read from where you left across devices
  • Kindle doesn’t come with a twitter/facebook client, imagine the distraction free reading you can do on Kindle!!!!
  • and many more.,

How, Where to buy it. How much it costs

Since Amazon has entered India(I am from India) with Junglee one can book it on Junglee itself. No more worrying about paying big amount for shipping from US. I bought mine from US, compare the cost on Junglee and then decide whether to get one from US. It comes with warranty of one year which can be extended to 3 years by paying extra(30-40$). Kindle Keyboard 3G with sponsored screensavers cost 139$, I suggest you buy one with 3G. Check here for the updated price.

Cover for Kindle

I bought this official black  cover from Amazon( I am an official nazi when it comes to gadgets!) It costed me 30$. One can buy other covers which costs lesser from many online stores. If you are DIY person then try this 50 Kindle covers you can make yourself. This collection is so great , I am thinking to do one for myself soon. Will post when I do it.

Rest of it

With Kindle one can listen to audiobooks, audio books can be plain mp3 or the one bought from audible.com. Audio book player is experimental so still primitive in functionality. So is the browser. If you are buying a Kindle keyboard it is logical to buy the one with 3G by paying a little extra, it’s definitely worth it!

CyanogenMod 7.2 for Xperia X10 (GingerBread / Android 2.3)

It is nearly 2 years since I bought my Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. I know many would have already moved to new phones, I thought X10 is doing just fine. Though official Gingerbread arrived to X10 few months ago, have to admit it’s performance is not up to my expectation. It is not optimized , very laggy screen transitions, basic apps like SMS, dialer takes ages to open because of poor management of RAM, etc.,.Because of these reasons I was searching for a responsive custom ROM for X10. I tried lot of ROMs on XDA , but most of them were not usable for daily use or were under development. My search(read as – wait) went on until my friend suggested this one – CyanogenMod 7.2 ported to X10 by FreeXperia Team.

I have been using it for more than a month now, it is performing very well. No random restarts, apps open fast and smooth, RAM is managed well, battery lasts for more than a day, touch screen is very responsive and I’m loving it.

Do head to xda page to flash this custom ROM, kernel with the flashtool provided there.

To load it unlock the bootloader. I used this method

and later Development Page of the mod, and details on How To Flash.

Do remember though  rooting and unlocking bootloader is legal, it  will void your warranty. 

Android Vs Android

It is now a cliché to compare Android with iOS (and wrong for obvious reasons).We are in a situation where Android is competing with Android for bad .This post is continuation of my earlier blog The downside of Android (June 2010) . Nothing has improved from then , in fact it is getting worse. Everyone from Google and manufacturers (also carriers) have contributed their fair share in setting up a situation like this. With series of wrong doings they will(have) take(n) Android from a usable and major mobile platform to a piece of crap. What are they doing ?

Google :

  • As mentioned in my previous post, the timing of new version of Android from Google is highly frequent. Because of this manufacturers are finding it very difficult to keep up with the pace of updates. Google just announced and released Android 3.0 for tablet and Android 2.3 for phones, just as manufacturers are trying to come up with phone (not updating the existing ones !) Googlecoming up with  Android 2.4[rumor] . Seriously this should stop, else I am sure Android will see a premature death. Google definitely underestimates the effort required to upgrade the firmware
  • Poor management of Market. Though it is improving nowadays, a lot needs to be improved.

Manufacturers :

  • If I have to say in one word they are Greedy.Every manufacturers may it be HTC,  Samsung etc., have completely forgot customer as one of their parameter for their decision making. They have dumped old phones/tablets for new ones as the newer update of Android arrives. Moreover they are expecting customers to upgrade to new phone when they could just upgrade the firmware ,which is crazy and meaningless. This attitude will surely put a dent in the phone sales in few months.
  • No foresight(may be deliberate) in deciding the specifications for a phone. It is understandable that manufactures try to limit the spec so the device becomes obsolete and customers will buy new ones sooner. But they must be dreaming when the specs of the phone are not sufficient for the next version of the upgrade of firmware (remember with Google upgrades are every 2-3 months or so!)

All in all if Google or for that matter manufacturers do not learn a lesson before they face the effects of wrong doings, it wont do any good for them. Also there will be millions of customers with phones that are outdated just after months of buying. Google must take a tough stance on manufacturers by making a mandate to update the firmware when there is a possibility. It should also press them to make the boot loaders open as Android is claimed as OPEN SOURCE. If it cant do it, then they will kill the goose that lays golden eggs !! So in the war between Android and Android , who is the winner , who is the loser ? Now you know it !

Bottom Line: I am an Android Fan !!

Update : Since rumor is pretty strong that Android 2.4 (also called Gingerbread)  will be out in April, which will support Android 3.0 (dual core) apps on smartphones running 2.4, all phones releasing with Android 2.3 will be out dated even before their release !!!!!!!!

Harsha’s Blog : Year 2010 in review

Started this new blog of mine on November 2nd, 2010, More than 4200 views in just 2 months, thanks for you support 🙂 Don’t forget to like my Facebook page for updates on new posts 🙂

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,200 times in 2010. That’s about 10 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 24 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 41 posts. There were 63 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 17mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was November 2nd with 960 views. The most popular post that day was Review : Xperia X10 with Android 2.1.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were xperiax10.net, androidforums.com, facebook.com, twitter.com, and mail.live.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for xperia x10 contacts disappeared, sync, xperia x10 contacts missing, android 2.1 contacts missing, and x10 contacts gone.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Review : Xperia X10 with Android 2.1 November 2010
55 comments

2

Xperia X10 Android 2.1 – Contacts missing problem resolved November 2010
11 comments

3

Android Soft Keyboard choices November 2010
3 comments

4

About Me October 2010

5

Pencil Sketch – All my sketches November 2010
13 comments

Review : Xperia X10 with Android 2.1

Sigh !, gasped all the Xperia X10, mini and mini pro users when Sony Ericsson started to roll out Android 2.1 a.k.a Eclair. But its not over yet, currently rolled out only to nordic region (when this blog was posted). I had to debrand my Xperia X10i to lay my hands on Eclair!(I am from India), Thanks to XDA. Though Eclair is outdated by months now, I have to say it is impressive =) . I have to admit Eclair being impressive doesnt reduce our desire to have Froyo(I dont think this will ever materialize 😦 ) . Following are my thoughts after using Xperia X10 for a day.

1. Unlock screen: is very snappy, far better than the curved unlock before. This unlock screen is very responsive. You can put phone on silent right from the unlock screen, though an option to put phone to vibrate from unlock screen  would have been handy. Now we need to unlock the phone and then we can put phone to vibrate mode.

2. Home Screen and widgets : Again, nothing great, but very handy. How often I had thought it would be better to have more than 3 home screens of the stock(without any launcher). Also Recent calls and status switch widgets are nice. Notifications tab is slightly thicker which is nice.

3. Timescape and Mediascape : Sony Ericsson has been very stubborn in pushing these signature apps even after hearing cries from users that not many use it regularly. In Eclair although there are some improvements in responsiveness in both apps, they are incomplete and there are zillions of apps out there that does job better. Timescape has text scrolling now, so you need not click on the card on the spline to get full text.

Yes SE (Sony Ericsson) needs them as differentiating factor but these are bullshit apps for following reasons :

  • There are apps that do better jobs than this
  • The functionality and experience  they offer is not complete. Eg: You cannot reply for message or tweet, cannot post comment to facebook without leaving timescape.
  • You cannot create playlist in Mediascape. Also you need minimum two clicks to play a song.
  • Lack of widget in Mediascape and also both apps are CPU hogs (affects battery life and responsiveness)

4. 720p HD with continuous Auto focus : Really awesome, I’m not sure how many other phones have continuous auto focus, this is great improvement from the last iteration(donut). The pictures and video are very clear and better in Eclair. Still no flash (not adobe )support, though it is useless to have LED flash.

5. New Apps: Being Eclair opens up the market a bit more as few apps require Android 2.0 and above.

Apps to check out would be Angry bird, Official Twitter app, Fennec(Mozilla), Vlingo to name a few.

6. Keyboard : Good keyboard, doesn’t hang as Donut versions’ one. Difficult for people who use smiley as they need to navigate to other set of keys. Correction feature is good, slightly similar to iPhone.I would like if SE puts swype as default keyboard?

7. Battery Life : I haven’t got chance to actually do a quantitative comparison with Donut as I am busy installing , testing new features of Eclair. Having said that I have to stress that if there is 30% improvement in battery life as SE claims, it would be great.

All in all Xperia X10 with above mentioned improvement is good – More responsive, more usable hopefully more stable than Donut .And I maintain no where near Froyo’s as Eclair lacks JIT compiler, V8 javascript engine and more stable kernel.Hope SE makes up its mind to upgrade to Froyo and break the prejudice that users have of SE that they move on to new models dumping its predecessors.

K790i Review


The K790 is one heck of a cell phone. Inside the stylish and sleek design, you’ll find a wealth of well-designed and high-performing features. And as Sony Ericsson’s first Cyber Shot-branded phone, the 3.2-megapixel camera is top notch. There were a couple drawbacks here and there – it lacks world phone support, and the navigation controls took acclimation – but otherwise the K790 is a solid device all around. At present it’s priced at $499.

Design of Sony Ericsson
K790Like most of Sony Ericsson’s cell phones, the K790 sports a simple candy bar form factor. Though it’s almost perfectly rectangular, it still has a sleek and stylish design that’s sure to catch attention. What’s more, the black and gray color scheme accurately reflects the high-tech features inside. The K790 is far from compact (4.1 by 1.9 by 0.9 inches; 4.1 ounces); a solid construction and comfortable feel in the hands is a worthy trade-off. Just be advised it won’t fit in smaller pockets.

Like many Sony Ericssons, the K790 has a brilliant 262,144-color display that richly captures whatever content it shows. At two inches diagonally, it takes almost half of the real estate on the phone’s front face, while the 240×320 pixel resolution makes for eye-popping colors and sharp graphics and animation. You can change the brightness but not the font size. Below the display is the main navigation array, which is a throwback to the controls on the Sony Ericsson K700i. A five-way joystick doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined functions, while the two soft keys open the recent calls list and the main menu when the phone is in standby mode. You also get dedicated Back and Clear buttons, a key that launches the Web browser, and a nifty control that opens a submenu of user-defined shortcuts and a list of upcoming calendar events. Overall the navigation controls were tactile and easy to use, but they are squashed between the display and the keypad buttons. As a result, they take some acclimation due to their relatively small size.

Speaking of keypad buttons, we were pleased with those on the K790. While previous Sony Ericssons such as the W300i often slipped in the design of their keypad buttons, the K790’s are a big improvement. Rectangular in shape, they’re large enough for most hands, and since they’re raised just above the surface of the phone, it was easy to dial by feel. They’re brightly backlit as well, so dialing in dim situations was not a problem.

A music player button and the Memory Stick Micro slot sit on the left spine, while the right spine holds a volume rocker and a camera shutter control. The most interesting feature is on the back of the handset, however. Just slide down the back cover to expose the camera lens and self-portrait mirror. Above is the large flash, which, believe us, is like no other flash we’ve seen on a camera phone (see Performance). When viewed from behind, the phone looks very much like a standalone camera; the camera shutter even shifts to the top of the phone when it’s held horizontally. Completing the exterior is a small speaker next to the camera lens.

Features of Sony Ericsson K790
There’s a lot to tell about the K790’s innards, but we’ll get the basics out of the way first. The phone book holds a respectable 1,000 contacts, with room in each entry for five phone numbers, Web and e-mail addresses, a work title and company name, work and home street addresses, a birth date, and notes (the SIM card holds an additional 250 names). You can organize contacts into groups and pair them with a photo for caller ID. You can pair contacts with a ring tone as well, but oddly only 16 72-chord polyphonic tones are included. Fortunately the K790 supports MP3 tones, and you can even use videos for caller ID as well. Other essential offerings include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a task list, a timer, a stopwatch, a calculator, a notepad, and a voice memo recorder (space is limited by the available memory).

The K790 also comes with a wealth of business-friendly features that should please most worker bees. You’ll find full Bluetooth for connecting to a wireless headset or sending files or your electronic business card to another Bluetooth device. And like with many other Sony Ericssons, you can use the phone as a modem and use the Bluetooth feature as a remote control to connect with other Bluetooth devices. Other high-end goodies include a speakerphone, an RSS newsreader, an infrared port, PC syncing for contacts and other files, USB cable support, e-mail, voice dialing, and a code memo for storing passwords and other secure information.

While Sony Ericsson’s Walkman phones focus on music first and photography second, it’s not surprising that the company’s Cyber Shot phones do just the opposite. And as the K790 is the first Cyber Shot handset we’ve inspected closely, we can report that it rises to the challenge successfully. In short, the 3.2 megapixel K790 is the most advanced camera phone we’ve reviewed, surpassing the Nokia N80 and the Nokia N90 in features and in performance. It marks a very long leap in the direction of making camera phones truly functional devices rather than just a fun novelty. While previously we thought cell phones and MP3 players made more logical convergence devices, the K790 has caused us to rethink that theory.

The camera’s feature list rivals that of many standalone shooters. You can take pictures in four resolutions, from VGA up to the full 3 meagpixels, and choose from two image-quality choices. Other standout features include a panorama mode; 16X digital zoom; a BestPic function for taking several photos in rapid succession; 15 fun frames; a self timer; six lighting settings, including beach/snow and twilight; four picture effects; a white balance control; spot metering; four shutter sounds; autofocus; and a macro setting. There’s also an image stabilization feature, which effectively corrects the blurriness that plagues many camera phone pictures. The camcorder, which takes MPEG-4 clips with sound in one resolution (176×144), also comes with a generous feature selection. You can use the auto or macro focus setting, adjust the white balance, activate a night mode, choose from four video effects, or use spot metering. The remarkable Xenon flash is the most powerful light we’ve seen on a camera phone. It flooded our photos and videos with light even in dim situations. The default setting is auto, but you can turn it off completely or use a red-eye reduction mode.

Picture quality was very good, with bright colors, distinct object outlines, and sharp effects. The washed-out effect visible in many camera phone pictures was hard to find overall. Yet because the flash is so strong, it flooded photos with too much light in some situations. We advise using it at your discretion. And keep in mind that even though it’s an excellent camera phone, we still wouldn’t toss our standalone shooter just yet. Video quality was also satisfactory, but don’t expect too much; clips were a bit grainy. Videos meant for multimedia messages are capped at two minutes; otherwise length is limited by the available memory. Creative types can use the Photo DJ to rotate the shot’s orientation and use various editing options such as brightness and contrast adjustments, light balance settings, red-eye removal, color effects, and photo marking. There’s also a Video DJ function with similar options.

When you’re finished with your photos, you can save them to the phone’s 64MB of shared internal memory. With such large photo files, however, space is likely to go fast, so we recommend investing in a Memory Stick Micro. Fortunately a user-friendly file manager lets you transfer images back and forth. To get pictures off your phone, you can send them wirelessly via Bluetooth or an e-mail or a multimedia message, upload quickly them to an online blog, or transfer them to a computer via a USB cable. The K790 also comes with an HP Print function for wirelessly printing photos, calendar entries, and contacts to a compatible HP printer. And in case the camera is too much for you, the phone comes with a handy Photo Mate feature, which describes the various camera settings in detail and gives tips on taking and sharing photos.

Music fans can get use out of the K790 as well. The phone comes with a digital music player similar to the player found on the Walkman phones but with a slightly different interface and functionality. Opening the player takes you directly to the main menu, where you can organize music by artist, track name, or playlist. Settings include album/song shuffle and loop, stereo widening, and an equalizer. Switching between the cell phone and the music player is seamless, as music automatically stops when you receive a call. Hang up, and your song picks up from the point you left off. There’s an airplane mode that lets you listen to your tunes in flight with the cell phone turned off, and you can minimize the player while using other functions. There are stereo speakers on the back and the front of the phone as well, and we’re thrilled that the phone supports a stereo Bluetooth profile.

Music capacity is limited by the available memory, so again buying a Memory Stick Micro is a good idea. Getting music on the phone is relatively easy. In addition to using the included USB cable, you can send tunes via Bluetooth or the infrared port. You also get an FM radio with 20 presets, though you must use it with a headset, which acts as an antenna. You can set it to automatically scan and program Radio Data System info from stations that digitally broadcast their names and call letters, and you can use the radio as an alarm clock.

You can personalize the K790 with a variety of themes, wallpaper, and screensavers. As always, you can purchase more options and ring tones from Sony Ericsson via the WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser. Alternatively, the phone comes with a Music DJ application for composing your own ring tones. Gamers can enjoy three Java (J2ME) titles: FotoQuest Fishing, Mini Golf: Castle, and WTA S.R. Tennis, with additional titles available for purchase. The 3D games were a treat to play on the K790’s gorgeous display.

Performance of Sony Ericsson K790
I tested the triband (GSM 850/1800/1900; EDGE) Sony Ericsson K790 in San Francisco using Cingular service. Call quality was very good with nice clarity, little static, and no interference from other electronic devices. We also had no problem getting a signal, and though volume could be a bit louder on our end, it should be quite serviceable for most users.