Text-to-speech and Audible but no audio onboard…a deeper look at Amazon’s 10th anniversary Kindle

Text-to-speech and Audible but no audio onboard…a deeper look at Amazon’s 10th anniversary Kindle

I was excited to hear about Amazon’s release of the

2nd generation, waterproof Kindle Oasis (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which they have tied into the 10th anniversary of the announcement of the Kindle (November 19th).

I’m working on a book about the tenth anniversary myself…and you can be part of it:

You can be part of my new book, “Because of the Kindle”

I didn’t have much time to look at it when it was announced this week…things have been busy. This weekend, I may be going up to Santa Rosa to help. My company has been considerably affected (as have family, friends, and coworkers). They are asking us to be available to support, so I’m not quite sure what my weekend will be like yet. I live about an hour away, and the air quality has been unhealthy here…we can see the smoke around us, and the sun has looked like it was red. I wore a mask walking from my car to where I was working (a few long blocks) yesterday…that was much better. The first morning of the fires, one of our dogs was quite concerned…I first thought there might be a fire in our neighborhood. It’s definitely a difficult situation, so I was happy to volunteer in what small way I can. My Significant Other is an insurance claims manager, and has been dealing with the impact as well.

So, today, I did get some time to take a look at the

Kindle Oasis 2 User’s Guide

The first thing I did was search the document for “text-to-speech” and variations. That’s a big issue for me, as regular readers know. I didn’t find anything on it, even though it does Audible books (an Amazon company which does audiobooks).

Note that there are no onboard speakers: you connect it via Bluetooth to an external speaker.

However, I did get good news!

I chatted with Amazon help, and they confirmed (quickly, easily, definitively) that the new EBR (E-Book Reader) does have TTS!


Me: Does the new Kindle Oasis do text-to-speech?
You are now connected to Nagaranjan from Amazon.com
Nagaranjan: Hello, my name is Nagaranjan. I’m here to help you today.
Me: Hi!
Nagaranjan: I will be glad to help you with information regarding the new Kindle Oasis device.
Yes, Bufo. This device does support text-to-speech.
Me: Oh, great! Not Audible books, but text-to-speech? It doesn’t say that in the Quick Start Guide.
Nagaranjan: You can be rest assured about it. Other than audible books , it does support text-to-speech as well.
Me: That’s excellent! Thanks!
Nagaranjan: You’re welcome.
Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Me: No, that was it. I use TTS extensively. I could Bluetooth it to a speaker to hear it…no onboard speakers on the new Oasis, right?
Nagaranjan: Yes, Bufo. Bluetooth speakers is the only option available for this device.
Me: That’s what I thought…thanks so much for your answers!
Nagaranjan: My pleasure.
Bye, Bufo 🙂
Me: Bye!


 

Great news! For years now, I’ve been doing TTS on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX  7″tablet…but having it on an EBR (E-Book Reader) is a terrific option.

Speaking of the 7″ that’s one of the most notable things about this new model…hm, since it is the Kindle Oasis 2, I’ll use KO2 as a shorthand. I’ll have a hard time not seeing that as potassium superoxide, but that’s probably just me. 😉

Anyway, it has a 7″ (17.8cm) display, rather than the 6″ that almost all Kindles have had (except the Kindle DX, which had 9.7″). The 7″ size has been good for me…it still fits in my voluminous pockets, and I can hold it comfortably.

In this case, it doesn’t massively increase the size, because the “bezel” (the part around the actual display) is smaller than it used to be on Kindles. For comparison, here is the Voyage:

6.4″ x 4.5″ x 0.30″ (162 x 115 x 7.6 mm)

and here is the KO2:

6.3″ x 5.6″ x 0.13-0.33″ (159 mm x 141 mm x 3.4-8.3 mm)

The variation in depth will probably depend on the connectivity you select. You can get it with wi-fi only, or with wi-fi and cellular connectivity. My guess is the additional “antenna” will increase the depth. Do you care about cellular? It’s mostly for downloading books, I’d say, but it could also be for things like Wikipedia look up. It does cost an additional $50, and isn’t available in all configurations right now (actually, for pre-order for Halloween, at least on the main configs…maybe all).

Oh, let me address that, too: if you were nostalgic for the 1st gen Kindle, good news…the price is back! 😉

Just kidding…the original Kindle was $399, and you can pay more than that, by the time you get a cover (the K1 came with a cover). Of course, you get a lot, lot more than you did with that one, but a line graph of the most expensive Kindles over time would show a remarkable boomerang…but the least expensive would have dropped over time. Hm…might not be more if you didn’t get the cellular connectivity, but the K1 had that.

Let’s talk about config options (note that not every combination will be available):

Storage

8GB or 32GB (+$30)

Why spend more? More onboard storage may be important if you put multiple audiobooks on there at once. I don’t usually need much memory on my Kindles, since I store most of the e-books in the cloud. An audiobook could be big…

Connectivity

Wi-fi only or wi-fi+cellular (+$50)

Why spend more? You are often in places where there is no wi-fi. I think that is becoming more unusual for many parts of the country…hard for me to imagine that, in my normal routine, I’d ever be away from wi-fi for more than a few hours, but certainly, that’s different in different parts of the country.

Special Offers

With Special Offers (the default) or without them (+$20)

Why pay more? You don’t want to see ads. I always get Special Offers…I don’t mind advertisers subsiding my purchase to puts ads on the sleep screen (and this one has a banner at the bottom of the homescreen, too). They don’t bother me, and I have bought some things that way.

Protection Plan

None | 1 year +$24.99 | 2 years +$29.99 | 3 years +$39.99

Why pay more? There is a thirty day return policy automatically, but this lets you get a replacement after that even if you accidentally break it. With the three year plan, you get up to three replacements

In addition to those, you may certainly want some accessories. I read with my Kindles in a cover…a non-animal leather, water resistant cover (an official one from Amazon) is $44.99, and comes in three colors. The animal leather one (which may not be waterproof) is $59.99, and comes in three different colors (not the same as the fabric one’s colors).

A wall charger is $19.99…it comes with a USB charger, which will be slower.

They do have a bundle for $309.97 at time of writing, which includes the KO2, a cover, and a charger.

A few other notes before we look at the software:

  • Even in the standard config, it has twice the storage of a Kindle Voyage
  • It has twice the number of LEDs (lights) as the Voyage…12
  • It has page turn buttons…not the page press of the Voyage
  • It comes in graphite color (which is lighter than the black available on the Voyage), and has an aluminum back
  • It is slightly heavier than the Voyage, but lighter than the Paperwhite
  • It has the same PPI (Pixels Per Inch…sharpness, basically) as the Voyage and Paperwhite…300
  • Note that both page forward and page back buttons are your rightside as you look at the device…in the right place for righthanders who use their dominant hands to turn pages, but not for lefthanders (I’m an ambi, myself). I’ll have to look to see if you can flip the orientation

Next, let’s talk about some of the more software features, gleaned in part from the User’s Guide:

  • They talk quite a bit about storing your wi-fi password at Amazon, if want…I think this is a great feature, not new to this device!
  • Airplane mode is two taps (Settings, then Airplane Mode)
  • There is a “tap to share comments” button
  • You can hide the recommended content on the homescreen
  • It uses Bing translate
  • You can browse the web: “Your Kindle includes an experimental web browser that enables you to surf the web and view most
    Amazon web pages. The Experimental Web Browser supports JavaScript, SSL, and cookies, but does not support media plug-ins. You must have a Wi-Fi connection to access most websites.”
  • “Some websites may have books or documents that you want to download and read on your Kindle. You will be asked to confirm if you want to download these items to your Kindle Homecscreen. Supported file types for download include Kindle content (.AZW, .AZW1, .AZW3, and .KFX), unprotected Mobipocket books (.MOBI, .PRC), and text files (.TXT).”
  • It has a “nightlight” feature, which gradually decreases the brightness, which is intended to account for your eyes adjusting to the dark
  • You can invert the colors, so it is white text on a black background

One more thing in a chat with Amazon: I couldn’t find the number of font sizes, so I asked:


Me: How many font sizes does the new Kindle Oasis 2 have?
You are now connected to Vijay from Amazon.com
Vijay: Hello, my name is Vijay. I’m here to help you today.
Me: Great!
Vijay: Glad to meet you, please allow me a minute, Bufo.
Thanks for waiting.
Me: Sure!
Vijay: The font size options range from approximately 8-point size to 36-point size.
Me: Thanks! Do you know how many options there are?
Vijay: May I know the options you are referring to ?
Me: Sure. The font sizes range from 8 to 36, but I assume I can’t pick one for each point (8, 9, 10). If could pick, say, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, or 36, that would be eight options.
Vijay: Thanks for the information.
I’m checking this for you.
Me: Thanks!
Vijay: Thanks for waiting.
Yes, you are correct, the selection will be like 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32.
Me: That answers it, then…looks like 7 options. Thanks!
Vijay: You’re most Welcome!
​Is there anything else I can do for you today?

Me: Nope, that’s it!

Vijay: Thank you for contacting Amazon Kindle support. Have a great weekend!
You can click the *End Chat* button on the top right corner of this window to properly close the chat.
🙂
Bye..
Me: Bye!


 

Hope that helps you make your decision! If you have additional comments or questions, let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Bonus deal: the Echo Show (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) is $30 off making it just under $200. Speculation has been that it might be because we still haven’t seen the return of YouTube videos.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


My current Amazon giveaway:

Beyond Curie: Four women in physics and their remarkable discoveries 1903 to 1963 (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Giveaway:

https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b139e577ee333624

  • Winner:Randomly selected after Giveaway has ended, up to 1 winners.
    Requirements for participation:
  • Resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia
  • 18+ years of age (or legal age)
  • Follow Scott Calvin on Amazon

Start:Sep 25, 2017 5:46 AM PDT

End:Oct 25, 2017 11:59 PM PDT


Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. 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.

 

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17 Responses to “Text-to-speech and Audible but no audio onboard…a deeper look at Amazon’s 10th anniversary Kindle”

  1. Phink Says:

    I remove ads so I don’t have to swipe the screen. I know I’ve mentioned that before on here but perhaps not everyone has seen those comments.

  2. Phink Says:

    On February 21, 2009 I paid $275 for my first Kindle which was a K1 used with a light and SD card. Most made fun of the looks of it but I actually liked the way it looked and still do. I loved the rubber back and have been wanting another rubber back since. Plus, it had the best presentation box ever. It has become a tradition that I print out a kindle book certificate for my wife every Christmas and always put it in the K1 box and wrap it. I still love that box.

  3. Lady Galaxy Says:

    You wrote: “Do you care about cellular? It’s mostly for downloading books, I’d say, but it could also be for things like Wikipedia look up.” Unless they have greatly improved the cellular connection on this model, you cannot access Wikipedia or Goodreads through the cellular connection. You also cannot get the special offers through the cellular connection.
    I need the cellular version because I do not have access to wi-fi. There are still isolated spots in this country that do not have internet access at all or can access only through a dial up modem.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Hmm…I haven’t tried a look-up in cellular for a long time, although its all we had in the very beginning. I do know it became more limited later, so you certainly may be right. It does seem like it might be more robust in the KO2, but checking the User’s Guide, I did find this:

      “Your Kindle includes an experimental web browser that enables you to surf the web and view most
      Amazon web pages. The Experimental Web Browser supports JavaScript, SSL, and cookies, but does
      not support media plug-ins. You must have a Wi-Fi connection to access most websites.”

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        On my Voyage when I tap a word to get a definition and it isn’t in the dictionary, I get message that says if I want to search Wikipedia I have to turn on wi-fi. Same thing happen if I tap the Goodreads hot spot.

  4. Betty Reed Says:

    I count 14 font size options on my old Oasis with the latest update which came out yesterday. I bet there are 14 don’t size options on the new Oasis also.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Betty!

      I wasn’t as confident in that rep understanding my question, so you might be right. Won’t be long before we know…

  5. Robert Anderson Says:

    Bold settings seem to only work with AZW3 formatted books, not MOBI.

  6. Tammy Says:

    I called Amazon about the new Oasis and asked about text-to-speech as well. The gal I talked to said it does not support TTS, only the Audible books. I hope she’s wrong about that. I wish I knew for sure.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tammy!’

      I’m pretty confident the KO2 does support TTS, and here’s why…the User Guide I linked in the post says, “The VoiceView screen reader enables you to navigate your Kindle using special gestures, receive voice guidance when you interact with items on the screen, and listen to millions of books.”

      That matches up with what I was told in the chat.

      I think the confusion, and why I didn’t find it first, is that they aren’t calling it “text-to-speech”…just “VoiceView”.

      We’ll know soon, but I’d say I’m 85% confident. 🙂

      • Tammy Says:

        Oh, that makes me feel much better. :)))) I think you’re right about it being called VoiceView instead of TTS after reading more into it. I appreciate your response. :)))))

  7. Tom Semple Says:

    VoiceView is not the same as TTS. VoiceView is a ‘screen reader’. It reads out text, but it also fundamentallly changes the way you interact with and navigate the device (enables navigation by touch via ‘voice’ feedback), and a number of reading features become unavailable. TTS just reads out text and does not confer ‘accessibiliity’ to the device. So TTS and VoiceView are different features and fulfill different requirements. If you require low-vision accessibility, VoiceView provides that. If you don’t require low-vision accessibility, VoiceView makes it less efficient to navigate and I think most people will find it frustrating to use as a substitute for TTS.
    Fire has both TTS and VoiceView. But Kindles only have VoiceView (apart from the KIndle Touch and older ones which have TTS and not VoiceView). Amazon could add TTS support to the newer Kindles in a future update, but they have shown no indication that they are planning to.
    You may have noticed that book listings now include both Screen Reader and Text-To-Speech properties. Screen Reader enabled means it works with VoiceView, TTS enabled means it works with TTS on devices that support that feature. VoiceView usually works even when TTS is not enabled (assuming the format is accessible – comics aren’t for example).

    • Tom Semple Says:

      ‘Screen Reader’ support also means that it works with accessibility features more generally: VoiceView on Kindle and Fire, VoiceOver on iOS, TalkBack on Android, and Windows screen readers on Windows. At this point ‘TTS’ support is confined to Fire devices and older Kindles that supported this feature.

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