Kindle Book features: which devices?

Kindle Book features: which devices?

We’ve seen a lot of features offered over the years inside Kindle books.

However, they haven’t all been available on all devices (Kindle hardware and reading apps).

One of the biggest jumps was from the Kindle 1 (the 2007 model) to the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX (which Amazon collectively calls the “5-Way Controller models”).

Those of us (including me) who had (or have) the 1st gen Kindle were rapidly left behind when the 2nd generation was released.

I never mind that. I figure if I thought something was a good value when I bought it, it’s still a good value…I don’t mind if others get more than I did. That doesn’t change my initial math, right? Oh, and you all do the math before you buy, right? 😉

It’s gotten a bit confusing as to which models have which features.

Fortunately, Amazon has a page which spells it out:

Features Available in Kindle Books (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They describe the feature (these are currently available features, by the way…for example, NowNow, which was on the 1st gen isn’t listed…and what they do list isn’t comprehensive), then tell you which devices have it.

I wanted to make a grid out of that…so I did. 🙂

I let you look at either a device and see which features it has, or a feature and you can see which devices have it.

I want to explain my abbreviations before you look at it.

The devices are these:

  • K1
  • K2
  • KDX (the large screen Kindle)
  • K3 (also known as a Kindle Keyboard)
  • Touch (Kindle Touch)
  • PPW (Paperwhite…either generation)
  • MTch (Mindle Touch…the current least expensive model)
  • Vyg (Voyage)
  • KF1 (Kindle Fire 1st generation)
  • KF2 (Kindle Fire 2nd generation
  • KFHD (Kindle Fire HD)
  • KFHDX (Kindle Fire HDX)
  • FHD (Fire HD
  • FHDX (Fire HDX)
  • CR (Cloud Reader)
  • Droid (Kindle for Android)
  • Sams (Kindle for Samsung)
  • iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch…but check the asterisks)
  • Win8 (Windows 8)
  • PC
  • Mac

and the features are:

  • TPU (Text Pop-Up)
  • Pnl (Panel View: for comics)
  • Rep (Print Replica)
  • WSV (Whispersync for Voice…you can listen to an audiobook or sight-read, not necessarily on the same device, and maintain your place…I only listed the devices here on which you can sight read with this feature)
  • Imm (Immersion Reading…you can read and listen at the same time on the same device,with words highlighted)
  • XRy (X-Ray)
  • TTS (text-to-speech)
  • AV (Audio-Visual…movies and sound within the book)
Device TPU Pnl Rep WSV Imm XRy TTS AV
K2 X X
K3 X X X X
Touch X X X X X
MTch X X X X
Vyg X X X X
Droid X X X* X X
Sams X X X* X
iOS X X X** X X X
Win8 X X X
PC X X X***
Mac X X

* Tablets only (not phones)

** iPad or iPhone (not the iPod touch)

*** With an accessibility plug-in

That should give you current state on this, although it can change…both through the introduction of new devices, and by Amazon adding these features to more of the existing devices. I’d be quite surprised if they took any of the existing features away from existing devices…no real reason to do that, unless they abandon a feature altogether.

Hope that helps…

If you think something here isn’t correct (Amazon doesn’t always update the pages, and I could have made a mistake…I did make some interpretations of what Amazon was saying), or if you have any questions about these or other features, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. Oh, I should also mention that I’m looking at it’s possible that some of these features have not been approved for some countries…it may often be a negotiation with the publisher.

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* When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


21 Responses to “Kindle Book features: which devices?”

  1. Deanna's World (@langshipley) Says:

    Excellent analysis.

  2. Edanward Says:


    I’m a subscriber of your blog.

    In fact I want to share with you a good Kindle assistant toolkit, and want to get cooperation with you. Could you tell me the contact email?

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    Don’t forget the ability to use “active content.” Kindle 1 couldn’t have it because of the lack of the 5 way controller. Voyage doesn’t have it because … who knows? I like to take a Kindle with me when I’m going somewhere that will require me to sit and wait. It’s hard for me to concentrate on reading when I’m in a public place, but easy to keep my mind occupied with Every Word or Slingo. Voyage is smaller and lighter weight and would be the perfect Kindle to tuck away in a purse, but I end up taking one of my K3’s instead.

    I’m also frustrated that some features that are available on Kindle for PC are not available on Kindle for Mac. Even though I’ve retired from teaching, I still like to keep up with current children’s literature. I’m frustrated that even though I own six Kindles and have the Kindle for Mac on my MacBook, most of the recent children’s picture books I’ve wanted to purchase won’t work on any of them. And I would have to do a major upgrade to my computer system software to be able to use the Cloud Reader.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      To be clear, I wasn’t choosing what to include…I went strictly from what Amazon had on that help page, with one addition of putting in the K1 (which doesn’t appear on the page at all). They didn’t list every possible device, because they are just doing it by feature and what has it…if something doesn’t have any of these features, it doesn’t appear.

      I would also consider @author a feature, and they didn’t include that.


      Yes, it’s in beta…but text-to-speech is still listed as “experimental” on the page, and they have that.

      The lack of Active Content on the Voyage is certainly a topic of some discussion in the Kindle forums…or, at least, was when it was first released. It seems an odd choice to me, but I believe Amazon has said they deliberately made it.

      The only thing in the grid that is for PC and not for Mac is TTS with the plug-in: do you know what particular features you want that aren’t on the Mac?

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear. Several recent children’s picture books that I wanted to purchase aren’t available on Kindle for Mac but are available on Kindle for PC. I’m sorry I can’t be more specifically, but for some reason, I can no longer navigate the product pages for individual Kindle books from Safari, which I’m using now. When I try, Safari locks up, the beach ball spins, and I have to force quit. I can view the page from Firefox, but first I have to wait for the ball to spin, wait to get the message that a script on the page is not responding, click the stop script button, and wait for the ball to stop spinning again. It’s not worth the trouble for me to even try to view Kindle books from my computer any more! Yes, I’ve tried to notify Amazon. They’re working on it. For now, it only happens on the Kindle Book pages. Digital music and paper book product pages are still working just fine.
        ::::::::::knocking wood:::::::::::

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        Sorry you are having those problems!

        Maybe I can spot check some books, see what’s up…

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        When I asked Kindle support about it, I received a lengthy reply. This is the part that might be most relevant: “Unfortunately, the book “You and Me” is not available on the Kindle for Mac application. The publisher of this book has not provided this to the Kindle for Mac application. I apologize for the inconvenience.” I didn’t realize that it was up to the publishers to decide which devices can display their books. The book was available for iPad, but I don’t have an iPad. The person who answered my inquiry also said, “Amazon is working closely with major Kindle content publishers to make sure that more content titles will soon be available for all Kindle devices and Kindle applications.”

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        I don’t think it’s so much that they just decide which ones can display the books…books have to be formatted for different devices, and maybe the publisher doesn’t want to spend the money for the Kindle for Mac market (not sure how big that is). However, I do think Amazon could offer a conversion service…but again, that would likely cost publishers something.

  4. jjhitt Says:

    Another “no longer available” feature (but one that influenced my decision to buy was the unrestricted web browsing. As best I understand, this only existed on the K3, KDX and K3.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, jjhitt!

      Certainly, that threw off a lot of people when they made the change. I’ll try to go back and check which ones had it…and I think the change happened around the introduction of wi-fi. I think the K1 had the unrestricted “web slogging” (I didn’t call it surfing, because it was quite slow), for example.

      • jjhitt Says:

        I never found much use for it either and had wished they’d given us a mail client instead. But it was a powerful selling point before I knew how little I would actually use it.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, jjhitt!

        I did use it some, initially, but after getting a SmartPhone, it wasn’t much help. I suspect that was the pattern for a lot of people…the web slogging on the Kindle was better than nothing, but then so many people got SmartPhones that they had a better alternative.

  5. Tom Semple Says:

    The iOS, Android, and (I believe) OS X Kindle apps support TTS via accessibility features of the respective OS’s (VoiceOver on iOS/OSX, TalkBack on Android). It’s particularly simple with iOS 8’s ‘Speak Screen’ feature.

    The iOS app supports immersion reading.

    The Android app supports XRay.

    Missing from your list is Kindle for Windows Phone, WebOS, Blackberry, and Blackberry 10.

    You would need another feature matrix for it, but Sharing options vary considerably over the various devices.

    Other semi-important features: Personal Document support, NCX navigator support.

    You could argue that all devices support WSV, since they all sync reading position. The K3 and Kindle Touch audiobook players needed an update so that they would sync reading position, so they have better support than K1/K2/DX, whose audiobook players do not sync.

    This is the Device Support page:

    • Tom Semple Says:

      Also, iPod Touch has the same feature set as iPhone, provided it is the current 5th gen model (which shipped in Oct 2012). It runs iOS 8, the latest version of iOS. There is an older version of the Kindle app that runs on older iPod Touches, but it is no longer being updated and doesn’t support Print Replica format.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Tom!

        So, you are saying that Print Replica does work on the current iPod touch? Again, I can let Amazon know…thanks!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Clearly, I needed to be more explicit that I was just taking what was on the page (with the exception of adding the K1). 🙂 I knew there were a lot of things left out (I didn’t add the HP TouchPad app, either), and lots of features.

      The help page I linked does mention some of the other ways to use text-to-speech with the books that you mention…but that isn’t a feature Amazon is providing, it’s just the book working with the accessibility feature (non-Amazon) of that device.

      I’ll check the immersion reading and X-ray you mention…I can let Amazon know, and they may update the page.


  6. Edward Boyhan Says:

    One point to make about Xray: while a device may support Xray, not all kindle books do. I have found Xray (especially when devoted to characters) to be a very nice add-on to the reading experience. For some reason the Xray “terms” list seem to be so thin as to be almost useless.

    I’ve often wondered how the Xray lists are prepared: by the author/publisher manually, by an Amazon staffer manually, or algorithmically? Sometimes the list seem to be algorithmic; sometimes not. I do wish that the “terms” list could be better done — at the very least all the acronyms used in a story ought to be in the “terms” list.

    Lately, it seems to me that I’m coming across more and more titles without Xray turned on. Is that due to my choices, or are authors (others?) backing away from providing Xray support? What has been your experience with Xray support?

    • Edward Boyhan Says:

      Another feature with different support levels across devices are “collections”. There are two kinds of collections: device-oriented (on older kindles), and “cloud” collections on newer kindles and some fires. At least one PC-based reading app also had some collections support, and the ability to import a list of collections from a device. I wish that import feature would be more widely supported.

      I’d also like to have collections on kindle phone reading apps.

      And my perennial gripe: the ability to “see” my cloud collections from the Manage My Content web page. With 6 Kindle/Fire devices, and maybe 10 reading apps on a single account, the ability to “see” what I have where, and in what collections would make keeping track of what I have so much easier. 😀

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        Yep…as I mentioned, I just took what was on that page.

        I like the Cloud Collections much better than the old device specific Collections: suits my use case better, but the initial implementation was a problem for a lot of people. For those starting from scratch, though, I think this is a better design.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      If you asking for my experience as an author with X-Ray, I have zero…that’s not an option given to me, and I don’t think the authors or publishers necessarily have anything to do with it.

      This is what Amazon said in the original press release:

      “Amazon invented X-Ray, a new feature that lets customers explore the “bones of the book.” With a single tap, readers can see all the passages across a book that mention ideas, fictional characters, historical figures, places or topics that interest them, as well as more detailed descriptions from Wikipedia and Shelfari, Amazon’s community-powered encyclopedia for book lovers. Amazon built X-Ray using its expertise in language processing and machine learning, access to significant storage and computing resources with Amazon S3 and EC2, and a deep library of book and character information. The vision is to have every important phrase in every book.”

      So, I think it’s all done by Amazon software (perhaps drawing from Shelfari and Goodreads), rather than by the rightsholder.

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