Sunday, October 16, 2011

Some Neat eReader Features

I was asked recently to give a presentation at the Batesville Public Library. The two evening sessions are titled “A Digital Survivors’ Guide.” They are aimed at people who are curious about many of the new technologies and devices but are confused by all the jargon and hype. I had a very lively and smart group of people at the sessions. To begin I asked each one of the participants to tell me what they wanted to come away with at the end of the sessions. Several told me that they already owed a Kindle eReader and used it for reading books but were not knowledgeable about some of the other features.

The Kindle, as I have often reported in my columns, is I my opinion a fantastic device for those who like to read. It is very easy to use, inexpensive and easy on the eyes. Over an above the fact that it is a great way to read books, the Kindle has some other features that, as evidenced by the comments at the Batesville sessions, might be hidden from many users.

One of my favorite features is the built in dictionary. As you are reading, if you come to a word you may not know you can highlight the word with the cursor and up pops the definition and usage information from the New Oxford American Dictionary. You can read a brief definition and continue reading or press another key and have the entire dictionary citation. If you read books that contain a lot of jargon or archaic words, this feature is awesome.

Another often overlooked feature is the “Text-to-Speech” function. This allows the Kindle to read aloud the text of the book using a computerized voice. For sure the “voice” does not have the dulcet tones of a professional narrator, but for someone with sight impairment or just learning to read it could be a great help.

Perhaps my favorite feature is the “Notes and Highlight function.” As you are reading, if you want to capture a sentence or paragraph for future reference you can highlight the text and save it to a file that is appended to your copy of the book. The quotes are saved along with the page number where it appears. You can also type in your own notes or observations and save them. All remain with your copy of the book.

If you have material you have written that you would like to have readable on your Kindle, you can email it to your Kindle account and will translate your file to a readable file on the Kindle. The document is sent back you your Kindle the next time your synch it with your Amazon account. This service is free.

The folks who attended my presentation in Batesville found these tips helpful. I hope you will too.

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Anonymous Ricardo Ang II said...

Another hidden feature of the Kindle is its MP3 player. It is tucked away under the "Experimental" page of the device.

While I read, I sometimes use my preloaded instrumental songs in my Kindle as background music.

1:27 PM  

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