Kindle 2 Now Enjoys Native PDF Support

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pdf_on_kindleWhen you buy a new gadget, usually you take it for granted that the features on the side of the box are more or less set in stone. If you buy a TV that only does 720p, it’s probably too much to expect for it to suddenly start pumping out quality images at a shiny 1080p, just because you got a new Blu-ray player for Christmas.

Sometimes though, through the magic of the firmware update, device makers ARE actually able to bestow features on we, the lowly consumers. With a quick download and a speedy file transfer, they’re able to make us forget that if these features were so easy to implement on the hardware, they probably could have been there in the first place! And I’m pleased to report that the latest firmware update for the Kindle 2 is such a doozy.

That’s right, with the release of update 2.3, your Kindle 2 can now:

  • Read PDFs in their native state, without having to send them to your Kindle email address for conversion. This was one of those little things that the Nook does right, and I’m delighted to see Amazon is finally catching on. Just drop a PDF file onto your Kindle via USB or by sending it to your @Kindle address and it shows up perfectly; there’s no need for conversion. (Though they do still offer the ability to convert it to Kindle format if you want to be able to adjust text size, though I believe they’ve now dropped the $.10 charge.)
  • Use manual screen rotation. You know how you can turn the Kindle DX so that you can view newspapers in portrait or landscape? Well now your Kindle 2 can do that as well. It’s especially handy when you want to magnify the text on a PDF file or webpage, or, better yet, mess with another Kindle owner by turning the text on a book they’re reading upside down when they’re not looking.
  • Enjoy increased battery life… if you own one of the new Global Wireless versions, at least. They claim this update boosts battery life up to a week without a charge, but I have the U.S. Wireless version, so I can’t verify.

To check if you’ve gotten the update yet, hit Home and look at the Version listed on the bottom of the Settings page. If you have anything other than 2.3, you have not yet received the update. The Kindle was designed to automatically check for updates when you turn them on or off, so don’t worry, it’ll come soon.

BUT, if you’re like me and can’t wait to try out the new features, follow the instructions for manual installation on Amazon.com.

Kindle DX owners should also be happy to know that they’ve got a smattering of updates as well. White margins in PDF files are now automatically removed to better display text and the Kindle DX’s screensaver mode now kicks in at 20 minutes instead of 5, giving you time to really pour over those documents.

Now, if only they could deliver a touchscreen via firmware update…

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