Archive for the ‘Menu Maps’ Category

Fire TV Cube: 1st impressions and menu map

June 25, 2018

Fire TV Cube: 1st impressions and menu map

I’ve been using the

Fire TV Cube (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for about a day now.

It’s Amazon’s new streaming device/home assistant…for most people, the shorthand is that it combines an Echo and a Fire TV.

However, I have multiple Echo devices and two Fire TVs in this room (I was only currently using one), and it does things that none of them do (but also doesn’t do some things that the Echo does do).

Let’s hit the high level first.

It is a quantum leap forward in TV control. It doesn’t completely eliminate our remotes (we have a fancy Logitech Harmony Home Control – 8 Devices (White) (at AmazonSmile*)), for one thing), but for most simple operations, it is a new, simpler way to do things.

However, it’s certainly imperfect, and I expect to see big improvements in the future. Nowadays, that doesn’t necessarily mean waiting for a second generation of hardware…a lot of it could be done with software updates.

If you get one, you are an early adopter…but it’s a more mature technology than, say, the first Kindle.

My first actual impression on opening the box was that it was a lot smaller than I expected. Maybe the size of two Echo Dots stacked on top of each other, or your two fists side-by-side.

Second, set up was easy. One of the biggest things it does is use infrared to control your devices, and your remote probably does. I didn’t have to tell it what brand and model my TV was (as I do with my Harmony)…it just detected it. I did need to know my wi-fi password, but even though it’s long and random, I have that memorized (I’m cool like that). 😉

You plug it into the HDMI port on your TV, plug it into power, and then just run through the prompts.

Oh, that brings up the biggest headscratcher!

They give you two cables you may not need: one for a cabled connection (as opposed to wi-fi) to the internet, and one to improve the infrared connection if you keep a device inside a cabinet. That’s nice of them, although I didn’t need either.

Weirdly, though, they didn’t include a cable you absolutely need: an HDMI cable to connect it to your TV. I used the one from the Fire TV it is replacing, but I can see a lot of people making the plunge into streaming/SmartHome with this, especially as a gift, and not having one.

Amazon sells their own branded, six-foot cable for $6.99: even if they ended up charging a few dollars more for the device, it seems like it only makes sense to have it usable out of the box for just about everyone. I would guess there are people who would return it when they realized that wasn’t included, again receiving it as a gift. Here’s that Amazon cable, but there are a lot of options: AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable, 6 Feet, 1-Pack | 4.6 stars out of 5 | 15,490 customer reviews at time of writing.

One interesting thing: during the guided set-up, it did suggest Hulu for my homescreen…but not Netflix (we use both, in addition to Prime video and Tubi). You could still download Netflix, it just wasn’t one of the first options.

It appeared that apps that were compatible with our 2nd gen Fire TV were compatible with this, so I just had to download them again…and sign into them, in some cases.

The one big issue we’ve had with apps is that Hulu has failed to launch…repeatedly. It eventually does, but that’s not a problem we had before. I’m guessing an update will come that will resolve that.

As to the voice control: I was generally impressed! When I asked to watch a program, it took me to where I was watching it before…and started with the right episode. We have more than one Netflix profile, as one example, and it appeared to know to go to the one where we had last watched that show (rather than picking a different profile and starting at the first episode).

One thing I thought it was going to do was turn on the TV if needed to watch something…it hasn’t been doing that, so I do ask it to both turn on the TV and then to find the show.

The search is a bit…kludgy. Not bad, but for example, when I asked for “science fiction movies”, it showed me a lot of science fiction TV shows, too. Minor thing, but it should know the difference.

I do end up using the remote some (and I set up the Harmony to work with it…it’s important for my Significant Other that the option be there for everything to work just the way it did before. I’m eager to learn new ways with tech, and my SO is less so). The remote that came with it, the Harmony, and voice control are all working with the new device, and I don’t have to tell it which one to use each time. Also worth noting: my Bluetooth headset (I use a currently unavailable inexpensive SoundBot pair) also paired with no problem. That means that I can do all the Alexa stuff it does hearing it in the headset. Since you can whisper to an Alexa, that means I can keep things pretty quiet if I’m awake and my SO isn’t.

Similar to our Echo Show, it will display some things on the TV screen, which is really nice! When I use the Jeopardy skill, I like to be able to read the questions, not just hear them…and they looked great on our TV! Similarly, asking for the weather gave us some visual information in addition to an audio response.

I would really love for it to be able to do videocalls on our TV, but it doesn’t do calling at all (and doesn’t have a camera…that might be solved by having it link to another camera. That’s a big limitation compared to other Echo devices…it can do home automation, the weather, Prime music (sounds good on our TV), and so on.

Important to note: it actually sounds pretty good when you aren’t using the TV. Much better than an Echo Dot.

It hears pretty well, but I think I’ll follow their recommendation and move it further away from the TV. It’s about a foot from it now, and sometimes we have to call its name twice for it to hear us. It may learn our voices better later and get better at discriminating them from the TV…

Let’s do a quick menu map (just looking at the Settings):

  • Notifications (these are notifications from Amazon…you may have nothing there, but it told us that a package was coming that day…not when it actually arrived)
  • Network: that’s how you join a wi-fi network…you do have options for WPS PIN or Button
  • Display & Sounds
    • Screensaver (you have it show your photos)
    • Display
    • Audio (in addition to sound style, you can turn off the navigation sounds here, which I always do)
    • Second Screen Notifications
    • HDMI CEC Device Control
  • Applications
    • Collect App Usage DAta
    • Appstore
      • Automatic Updates
      • External Market Links (since you can use browsers now)
      • In-App Purchases (important as a form of “parental controls”)
      • Manage My Subscriptions (for now, this suggests you go to Amazon)
      • Notifications
      • Hide Cloud Apps
    • Prime Photos
      • Allow Guest Connections (hm…this says guests can connect to your TV to cast photos and videos to your screen.  I have to learn more about this! Is this the return of mirroring, or something more limited?)
      • Access Prime Photos (on or off)
    • GameCircle
    • Manage Installed Applications (very useful…I sometimes end up force-stopping an app if it’s “misbehaving”)
  • Equipment Control (this is a new menu compared to the old Fire TV)
    • Equipment Control
    • Manage Equipment
      • Add Equipment
      • TV
        • Volume Increments (we definitely wanted to change this one! By default, it jumped up 5 when we said we wanted it louder, which was too loud. We changed the increments to 1)
        • Infrared Options
        • Power Controls
        • Change TV
        • Restore TV Defaults (after I’d changed the increments)
      • Fire TV Cube
      • Advanced Settings
        • Power Timing
    • Set Up Equipment Again (I may do this at some point…I don’t have it controlling our cable box…which we almost never use. It wanted me to use the remote at one point, and it didn’t seem to recognize our Harmony for this…I don’t know where the original remote is right now)
  • Controllers and Bluetooth Devices
    • Amazon Fire TV Remotes (a voice remote comes with it…the hardest thing in the whole set up is getting the battery case open) 😉
    • Game Controllers
    • Other Bluetooth Devices (this was for both the headset and the Harmony…when I set up my Harmony, by the way, it didn’t recognize “Fire TV Cube”, but it worked with “Fire TV”)
  • Alexa
    • Alexa App (yes, you’ll want to have that…I think you can do what you need to do on a computer, if you don’t have a SmartPhone)
    • Things to Try
    • Favor This Device (that seems new…and it was defaulted to On. I noticed that our Echo Show did light up when the TV talked about Alexa during the demo videos…but did not execute the commands)
  • Preferences
    • Parental Controls
    • Data Monitoring (turning it on gives you the below choices)
      • Set Video Quality (who would guess that was here?)
      • Set Data Alert
      • Monthly Top Data Usage
    • Notification Settings
    • Featured Content (this has a marvelous setting that lets you turn off Video/Audio Autoplay when you are searching! I’ve recently been having a discussion at AT&T because the DirecTV Now app now plays something in the background all the time, which means there could be spoilers if they happen to be at a crucial part of the “live” video. I’ve told them I basically can’t use the service unless that changes)
    • Location (you can enter your ZIP code for weather here)
    • Time Zone
    • Metric Units (Yay! That’s what I use, but I’ll leave it on English for my SO)
    • Advertising ID
  • Device
    • About
    • Developer options
      • ABD debugging
      • Apps from Unknown Sources
    • Legal & Compliance
    • Sleep (I thought this would let me choose screensaver timing, but it just put the Cube to sleep
    • Restart
    • Reset to Factory Defaults
  • Accessiblity
    • Closed Caption
    • VoiceView
    • Screen Magnifier (I have used this…it lets you use button combinations on your remote to magnify part of the screen)
    • High Contrast Text (Experimental)
  • Help
    • Help Videos
    • Quick Tips
    • Contact Us
    • Feedback
  • My Account
    • Amazon Account (to deregister and reregister)
    • Sync Amazon Content

Overall? I already walked into another room and wanted to use it on a TV there. 🙂 I have a lot more to learn and to try, and it’s going to improve, but it was already worth it. There’s been a leaked Prime Day of July 16th for this year…I don’t know that they’ll just flat put this on sale, but they might bundle it. We Prime members already got a discount in the beginning…I think they could repeat that discount.

It is the voice control we wanted for the Fire TV from the beginning. It can replace a typical Echo for the most part, but not quite. It can replace your remote for the most part, but sometimes it is going to be easier to use.

One last thing: a few recommendations for free apps (you can get them through your computer and download them from your Fire TV, or get them directly from your Fire TV)

  • Firefox Browser for Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*) (you can also get Amazon’s Silk browser…this multiplies your device’s capabilities. For example, there is a show we want to watch, and we can see full recent episodes at the website. It’s also a way to watch YouTube through your Fire TV)
  • Bookmarker 1 (at AmazonSmile*) (love this one! If you are using the browser, you can use this to launch a saved URL, so you don’t have to go through the awkward “typing” ((using the remote)) every time. This one only saves  one ((and you can specify browser)), but you can also get Bookmarker 2, Bookmarker 3, and so on)
  • Tubi TV (at AmazonSmile*) (this is not the equivalent of Prime/Hulu/Netflix, but we do use it. It’s ad-supported…TV with commercials, whodathunk? 😉 They do have great selections, and they seem to respect them with the way they are cut…the original British Avengers, Fireball XL5, also non-geeky options, including at time of writing Mississippi Burning and A Most Wanted Man. It also remembers where we are nicely from device to device)

If you do want geeky video on a schedule (not on demand), you can go to

Comet TV

in your browser app, and then use a Bookmarker. They have great content for free! It isn’t obvious, but the watch live link is in your top left…and note that the sound may be muted by default. You can then say, “Alexa, launch Bookmarker 1,” or whatever number it is.

Whew! That’s a lot of information for a “first impression”! If you have more questions or opinions, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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.


Kindle EBR update 5.7.2 menu map

February 14, 2016

Kindle EBR update 5.7.2 menu map

Despite a near disastrous update to our sixth generation Kindle Paperwhite, I was able to get the new software version working. This is a significant update, affecting the current EBRs (E-Book Readers):

While there are different versions of the update (for example, different ones for the eligible versions of the Paperwhite), I think the end result is essentially the same. It makes sense to me that, where possible, Amazon gets that standardized. It can’t be exactly the same…the Paperwhites and Voyage need a screen light adjustment, the unlit “Kindle” least expensive model doesn’t. My guess is that this menu map will be helpful for anybody who can get the update.

In my Menu Maps, I go through the interface to find out where things are (there are sometimes new things, and sometimes things move), and give you some context. I’ve found some very interesting things in the past, and I’m curious as to what I’ll see here…so let’s get started!

Oh, one more thing: I did do a factory reset as part of my update, so my previous choices are likely not affecting this much.

Getting through the “sleep screen” seemed the same to me. I saw a Special Offer, I could have tapped on it, I swiped to unlock, and I could have a passcode required.

Once inside, that’s where the changes are first quite visually apparent.

There are “tiles” or sections of information.

At the top, there is

  • The device’s name
  • The wireless strength indicator
  • The battery level indicator
  • A clock

Below that is a toolbar:

  • Home
  • Back
  • Brightness
  • Goodreads
  • Store
  • Search (a magnifying glass)
  • Three dots, which are a menu indicator. Within that menu…


  • My Library
  • My Reading Lists
  • Kindle Store
  • Goodreads
  • Kindle FreeTime
  • Vocabulary Builder
  • Experimental Browser
  • Setting
  • View Special Offers
  • Create New Collection

There was also a tile with “MY LIBRARY>”, and it showed me three recent titles.

There was a tile for “MY READING LISTS>”. That showed me three titles from a Wish List, and noted that there were 99+ more.

A third title showed me  “BOOKS FROM GOODREADS FRIENDS>”, but I know that rotates.

Believe that was an ad (I have one of the more popular ad-supported versions).

Now, working through, starting with the toolbar:

  • The Home button just takes me home…it doesn’t, but the way, rotate the one which was currently “YOUR GOOD READS FRIENDS”
  • The left-facing back arrow doesn’t do anything until you’ve gone somewhere
  • The brightness setting (it looks like a sun…or, unfortunately, a bit like the settings gear we see in many programs) let me choose up to 24 levels of brightness. Basic rule of thumb: the brighter it is where you are reading, the brighter you want your Kindle. Your Kindle is fighting with the sun…in bright light, having your Kindle brighter will make it easier to read. In a dark room, you need less light on your Kindle to read. Tapping that also opened a choice to turn on or off Airplane Mode, to “Sync My Kindle”, and “All Settings”…which unfortunately, did use a very similar, if not identical, “sun” or “gear” symbol. I’ll come back to All Settings later when I cover Settings
  • Goodreads brought up the Goodreads app…which started with showing my personal recommendations. Tapping “Next” let me connect Goodreads to Facebook…I skipped that. Next, I was shown Readers to Follow. Next, I finally got to my information: Updates | Shelves | Recommendations | Friends
  • Store started out by updating my Kindle store experience. I then saw “Recommended for You”, and had a choice of Books | Kindle Select 25 | Today’s Deals | Kindle Unlimited | Editors’ Picks | Best of the Months. Scrolling down, I saw Best Sellers | Recommended For You in Kindle Unlimited  | For You in Science Fiction & Fantasy | For You in (a few genres probably based on my reading habits) | New for You. Scrolling further, I had More to Explore: Recommendations | Monthly Deals | Kindle First | New & Noteworthy | We Suggest | Kindle Singles | Magazines | Newspapers. Hitting the menu while in the store gave me an interesting different set of choices (the menu is “context sensitive”…it changes based  on where you are). They were: Storefront; Books; Kindle Unlimited; Newspapers; Kindle Singles; Magazines; Kindle Owners’ Lending Library; View Wish List; Store Settings; Gift Card Balance. Under Store Settings, I could change my 1-Click Payment Method and Country Settings
  • When I went to Search, I put in “Alice”, and it defaulted to “Search Everywhere”. That found me books in my Cloud (and it would have been on the device) with Alice in the title or in the author’s name, and suggested that it could search for “alice in wonderland” in the store. When I tapped the “Search Everywhere” at the bottom, I got much more nicely arranged search results. It broke it out into My Items (6), Kindle Store (9,221), Goodreads (22,878), Text in Books (0) (there may be a setting to change for that), and Dictionary and Wikipedia

Tapping the menu from the homescreen…

My Library

This one showed me ALL | DOWNLOADED (so I could choose), ALL ITEMS (3,229) with a dropdown (I’ll cover that display option shortly), and a sort choice which defaulted to RECENT.

Below that, by default, I saw the covers of recent books….and I was on page 1 of 539.

Tapping where it says ALL ITEMS, I get  the choices of

  • Grid View or List View | All Items, Books, Periodicals, Docs, Active Content, Collections. Huh…tapping on Active Content actually did show me choices. The Paperwhites haven’t worked with the Active Content. However, tapping on one just gave me an error message showing me that “This item is not compatible with this device”. In the past, I think incompatible items haven’t shown on the device. Does this suggest greater control of Cloud content from the devices?
  • Tapping on Collections (my normal view) showed me my Cloud collections when I was on ALL, and correctly told me I didn’t have any Collections on this device when tapped on DOWNLOADED. Tapping a Cloud Collection’s menu symbol, I as able to Add/Remove Items, Rename, and Delete…without having to download the Collection to this device. That actually concerns me…I’d rather that be only done by people who get to the account settings (they need the username/e-mail and password). Tapping one of the Collections, I could toggle between what was in the Cloud and what was downloaded…that’s something people wanted to be clear, and is quite helpful. As I would anticipate, if I download the Collection, that does not download the books in the Collection

My Reading Lists

Tapping the “>” for My Reading Lists showed me

  • SAMPLES (not just on this device)

and “Find books you want to read with Goodreads”

I’m going to jump down in the Menu to


  • Airplane Mode on or off (that will disable or enable wireless connectivity…having it off saves you battery charge)
  • Wi-Fi Networks: tapping it will give you choices of available networks. Tapping Other will let you get to Advanced, where you can manually enter parameters
  • Registration and Household: adjust Household and Family Library, or Deregister Device (this would be a register choice if the device wasn’t already registered)
  • Device Options: Device Passcode; Parental Controls (Kindle FreeTime | Restrictions to the Experimental Web Browser, Kindle Store, Cloud, and Goodreads)
  • Personalize Your Kindle: Device Name and Personal Info (I put my e-mail address there, in case the device is lost); Device Time; Advanced Options (Home Screen View…this is where you can turn off recommendations; Next in Series; Whispersync for Books; Special Offers…two choices here. One is o turn on or off Special Offer Filtering, which will allow you to hide offers which “may not be suitable for all audiences”, and the other one is to choose whether or not Special Offer Recommendations include personalized offers based on items browsed or purchased); Send-to-Kindle Email)
  • Language and Dictionaries (Language; Keyboard; Dictionaries

When I’m in Settings, and tap the menu, I get

  • Kindle Store
  • Update Your Kindle
  • Restart (you can do this any time)
  • Reset Device (this wipes your device, except for system updates…use with caution)
  • Device Info
  • Legal

Let’s take a look inside a book…

Tapping towards the top center of the book brings up a special toolbar. That includes

  • GO TO (Beginning; Page or Location; Cover; and the Table of Contents. There was a separate tab for Notes…that defaulted to Popular, but I could choose “Yours” or “Public” as well)
  • Aa (Display Settings…FONT, PAGE, READING PROGRESS. There are nine fonts, which defaulted to Bookerly. An Open Dyslexic was also available. There were eight font sizes. Three page option sections had o do with SPACING, MARGINS, and ORIENTATION (no justification choice). READING PROGRESS gave a choice of Location in book, Page in book (if available), Time left in chapter, Time left in book, and None…you can also change that tapping on the display at the bottom of the screen
  • Share (Goodreads, Facebook, or Twitter)
  • Notes and bookmarks

The menu in the book gave me

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • Vocabulary Builder
  • Settings
  • Notes
  • About This Book
  • About the Authors
  • Sync to Furthest Page Read
  • Word Wises

At the bottom of the screen had the page flip feature, which lets you flip ahead or back without losing your place. I also liked that it showed me the title of the story in this case (chapter title, I would guess), author, location, time left in chapter, and percentage).

Long-pressing a word in the book (holding my finger on it for about a second) brought up

  • Wikipedia (I was wirelessly connected) on a card, which I could swipe to move o
  • Translation
  • Dictionary
  • I also had choices for Highlight | Note | Share | Search | Open Dictionary | and Report Content Error

Let’s go back to the recommendation strip at the bottom of the homescreen. I toggled the device on and off, and saw:

  • More by Isaac Asimov (one of the authors on the book showing as the last book read)

My overall impression?

It looks nicer. Access to some choices is easier. There is a lot of emphasis on discovery of books to read…people may see that as ads for things for you to buy, and much of it is…but I appreciate having Kindle Unlimited recommendations, which cost me nothing more.

What do you think? Do you have other questions? Have you found other things? Feel free to share with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

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

* 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! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things. 

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.

Fire 7″ 2015: first impressions and menu map (part 1)

October 24, 2015

Fire 7″ 2015: first impressions and menu map

I have recently received and have been exploring my

Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) $49.99

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way.

Is this, by far the least expensive backlit table Amazon has done, worth the $50?


Can you tell they’ve cut a few corners?


Let’s start out with something which won’t affect your use of it, but was…different.

You aren’t going to see an unboxing video of the Fire 7…because it didn’t come in a box. 😉

It was more like…a semi-rigid lunch bag.


Yep, and that came in a padded envelope: I assume that saved them some money.

Second, the charger did look…cheap (and had a short cable, which does save money):


With that out of the way…

It does just about everything…apps, games, videos, e-books, Prime Music, audiobooks, web surfing.

The screen is a bit less clear than my other Fires, but acceptable for me.

The sounds isn’t as good…but again, acceptable.

I’d say it’s reasonably comfortable to hold. I do have a cover coming…I’ll like it better with that.

This might be a matter of slight individual variation, but the screen isn’t quite flush with the case…the case is a little taller. That’s not the case with my (now discontinued) Kindle Fire HDX.

The thing that makes it look the cheapest, I’d say, is that the power button and the volume rocker are both silver colored…like they haven’t been “painted”, unlike my other Fires. Outside of that, it’s pretty sleek looking.

Here is a picture comparing the size of it with the

Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black(at AmazonSmile*) $99.99

which is the smaller one on top in this picture:


As to the interface…I like it!

This is the new Fire OS 5 (which will come to some older models…my guess is Fire tablets at OS 4, which goes back to the 3rd generation).

It feels a lot more like an Android phone. You swipe up to unlock it. You “long press” an icon to put it on top of another icon to start a folder. You have a back button.

I think people used to using any SmartPhone will be able to pick it up and start using it pretty easily.

Okay, let’s start working through this. In this post, I’ll do menus outside of specific content (I won’t go into the menus or interface inside a book in this post, for example…this one will be long enough without that). 😉 I’ll follow up with a part 2 before too long.

On the lockscreen, which is somewhat configurable, I see

  • The name of the device: this one is “Dupres” for me…this is a 5th generation Fire, and “V” is the Roman numeral for 5…and Dupres was the last name of a couple of characters in the original V TV show
  • If there are any notifications, I see the number next to the name…and I can swipe left to right over that to read them…and to pull in a bunch of controls including Airplane Mode. In the pop-up from the swipe, I see: the time; the day and date; the battery level; a profile icon; brightness control; wi-fi info; airplane mode; Bluetooth; do not disturb; camera; help; autorotation lock; settings; those notifications (and I can tap to go to any of these things); and a Clear All. I’ll call this the “Quick Access panel”…it will show up again
  • Wi-fi signal  strength
  • Battery charge level
  • Profile icon
  • Time, day, and date
  • An ad (which is the wallpaper)
  • A swipable little icon (not quite sure what it is supposed to be) which brings up thae offers
  • A padlock: if you tap it, it tells you to swipe up to unlock
  • The camera (swipe left to access…like a lot of phones, you can take a picture without unlocking the tablet)

On the top edge of the device, there are those physical buttons: the power button and the volume rocker. For some reason, I keep hitting the volume when I want to hit the power…it’s not because it’s like my other models, because they don’t have the volume and the power on the same edge. That won’t matter once my “autosleep” cover is here. I’ll tell you which one I got after I try it out. 🙂 Also on the top edge: the headphone jack and the power/micro-USB.

On one edge is the micro-SD card slot: wow, the cover seems like it would be easy to break off. We’ll see…it swings out, by the way.

Once I unlock the device, I’m at the homescreen.

The top has:

  • The device’s name
  • The notifications
  • Wi-fi strength
  • Battery charge level
  • Time

Below that is a searchbox. Tap it to bring up the keyboard.

Note that this (I think only this model) does not have dictation…there is no microphone icon to enable you to speak your request. It also doesn’t allow “trace typing”, like the Swype keyboard. I’d miss both of those, for sure, if this was my only tablet. I use the Swype style a lot on my Kindle Fire HDX…and the dictation.

Once you’ve typed it in, you can hit a yellowish magnifying glass button to search.

You get Web results, Amazon, and “My Stuff”. I like the look of this! Seems like good functionality, although I would prefer it to default to My Stuff. There might be an economic reason for that…Amazon might be getting something from Microsoft (Bing was my default browser, but I think I can change that) for its results displaying first.

On the My Stuff tab, there is an additional link at the bottom to “Search emails, calendar, contacts and more”.

It’s worth noting now something that might throw someone used to earlier Amazon devices: at the bottom of the screen, we have three icons. One is a left pointing pyramid, which means back…that’s deducible. The middle icon is a circle: that’s  the new icon for Home (it used to look like a stylized house). Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s reminiscent of the Home physical button on an iPhone. There is also a square…that’s for recent items, the equivalent of the Carousel.

Going back…

At  the bottom of he tab, there are icons. Below the searchbox, HOME is a highlighted link in a selection ribbon (the equivalent of the tabs on earlier Amazon tablets), and LIBRARY (with a 3 by 3 grid). Ghosted between those are the content tabs…BOOKS, VIDEO…

Tapping the Library brings up an apps library. That has


On the apps tab, I’m only seeing The Washington Post…not the Fire apps that came on it. I can open that app, or use the menu (three dots), which lets me delete it from the device, delete it from the Cloud (I wouldn’t recommend that…you surrender your license, meaning that anyone who is now or may be on your account in the future who wants to use it in the future will have to pay for it again…if it’s even available), and Share.

Share is new…tapping it, I get

  • Bluetooth
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Note that this is not sharing the functionality of the app…just a link to it.

On the APPS tab, I also have a link to the Appstore (it looks like a shopping cart), a menu (three horizontal lines) which lets me sort by Title or “Recency) and Filter Apps (this has an option to “Show Apps on External Storage”), and a search.

Going back to the homescreen…

Swiping down from the top, I get that Quick Access panel.

Swiping left to right, I see my Recent.

Swiping right to left, I move to the next item on the content ribbon, which is BOOKS.

Going back to  the homescreen…

Let’s talk about that Quick Access panel.

Tapping brightness seems obvious…I don’t see an option for autobrightness here, which I think is not available on this model. Remember that how bright your screen is really affects how quickly your battery drains.

Wi-fi icon (with the name of the network): tapping that takes me to wi-fi settings).

Airplane Mode: tapping that puts your Fire into “island mode”…nothing that connects to anything else, including wi-fi and Bluetooth.

Bluetooth: turns this short range wireless connection on and off. Bluetooth will also run down your battery charge, although I think having your Fire set on the brightest possibility may be worse.

Do Not Disturb cuts off notifications.

Camera opens the camera…natch. 😉

Help…this has been redesigned, and deserves a mention.

  • There are tips at the top, and you can swipe through them. Right now, I’m seeing “Having trouble wit the Silk Web Browser”; “Want to Deregister Your Fire?”; “Need Help with Parental Controls?”; “Having Trouble with Screen Rotation?”; and “Incorrect Time Displaying?”
  • User Guide (this might be just online)
  • Help Videos
  • Tutorial
  • Contact Us: Phone & Email; Feedback
  • Auto-Rotate (on or off)
  • Settings

Let’s do Settings:


  • Wireless: Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; Location-Based Services; Airplane Mode
  • Storage: 1-Tap Archive; Internal Storage (tap this for detail…which seemed to refresh much more quickly than on Kindle Fire HDX, but I don’t have that much on it yet); and “Expand Your Device Storage”, which was a link to “recommended SD Cards on Amazon”
  • Power: Smart Suspend (this cuts off wireless when the device is idle to save power)…it defaults to Automatic Smart Suspend on, and also lets you schedule Smart Suspend; Advanced: Display Settings (Wallpaper…yes, you can select any picture from your personal Amazon photos. This is new on a Fire tablet, and is something people have wanted), Display Sleep (it didn’t give me a choice for anything longer than 30 minutes…I want “none”, so I choose when it sleeps. It goes as short as 15 seconds), Font Size (for the menus…Normal, Large, or Huge ((like lattes at Starbucks, they don’t want  any to mean “small”)). I’m using Huge), When Device is Rotated (Autorotation); Wireless Settings
  • Apps & Games: Manage All  Applications (this is like we had before, where you can clear the data, clear the cache ((some apps may need this regularly…I find that’s the case with CNN)), Force Stop, Uninstall)…that’s on Downloaded. Tap on RUNNING, and you’ll see all the memory usage, including of your RAM. From RUNNING, you can get to ALL; Amazon Application Settings. There are so any Settings here! I’m doing it’s on list, then I’ll get back to Device

Apps & Games, Amazon Application Settings

  • Amazon GameCircle: Show GameCircle in Library (defaulted on); Share Your GameCircle Nickname (defaulted off); Whyspersync for Games (defaulted on)
  • Appstore: In-App Purchasing (defaulted Enabled); Automatic Updates (defaulted Enabled); Notifications for Appstore (defaulted Enabled); External Market Links (defaulted to “Ask Before Opening”); Version (I’m on 9.10.10)
  • Audiobooks: High Quality Format (defaulted off); Jump Back (defaulted to 30 seconds…you can go as short as ten seconds, as long as 90 seconds); Legal Notices
  • Camera: Keep original image (defaulted off…if enabled, it will “Save only the post-processed HDR image”)
  • Email, Contacts, Calendar: each of those have their own sub-menus. Hm…worth another sublist

Apps  Games, Amazon Application Settings, Email, Contacts, Calendar

Email Settings

  • Default Message Text Size (defaulted to Small…can go as large as Extra Large)
  • Show Embedded Images (defaulted on)
  • Attachment (automatically downloads attachments on Wi-Fi…defaulted off, I turned it on)
  • Reply: Include Original Message in Replies (defaulted on)
  • Compose: Text Formatting Controls in Compose (defaulted off)
  • After delete, go to (defaults to Message list…can also choose Newer message or Older message)
  • Conversation Settings: Group Messages into Conversations (defaulted on); Conversations Include Sent and Drafts Folder (defaulted off)

Contacts Settings

  • Create New Contacts in (you can choose an account…Amazon is a choice, as is the e-mail I set up. I want to know more about creating contacts at Amazon. That sounds good to me, but what can they do with it?)
  • Sort by (defaults to First Name)
  • Name Format (defaults to First name first)
  • Synchronize contacts across Amazon device (defaulted on)
  • Delete Amazon Contacts from Cloud (not enabled and can’t be turned on…I must not have any Amazon contacts yet)

Calendar Settings

  • Set Reminder Time (defaulted to 15 mins before…can go as high as 1 week before)
  • Week Starts On (defaulted to Locale default)
  • Time Zone defaults to Default….you can choose from world timezones)
  • Sync Amazon Calendar (defaulted on…”Amazon Cloud Events are synchronized across Amazon devices and services”…I wouldn’t want these to appear in my public Amazon profile or on the
  • Delete Calendar Events from Cloud (again, not available to me)


  • A listing of them
  • Set Account Color
  • Add Account (this worked easily for a couple that I’ve tried…just my e-mail address ((which also added calendars for Google)) and password. It seemed to know all the tricky stuff)

Back to Apps & Games, Amazon Application Settings

  • Home Screen Settings: Home Recommendations (defaulted on); Show New Items on the Home Page (defaulted on); Show Apps on the Recent Page (defaulted on)
  • Music…this one has several sections, so another mini-list:

  • Music: Downloading: Automatically download new Amazon digital music purchases (defaulted off); Clear Cache (this is how you clear Now Playing, among other things)
  • Music: Playback: Streaming bitrate (defaulted to Auto); Streaming Chache Size (defaulted to 100 MB)
  • Music: Your Account: Gift Cards & Promotions; Add Music to Library
  • Music: Other: Legal; Version (mine is at 10.0.44)

Back to Amazon Application Settings…

  • Photos: Auto-Save (both Photos and Videos…both set to save by default); Only when charging (defaulted off); Manage Folders (upload folders to your Amazon Cloud Drive); Hidden (Show Hidden defaulted off, Review Hidden Photos & Videos): Cloud Drive (Manage Cloud Drive Storage, Send Feedback)
  • Reader Settings: Books: Popular Highlights (defaulted on…I turned mine off), About This Book (defaulted on), Whispersync  for Books (defaulted on); Language Learning: Word Wise (defaulted off); Newsstand: Magazine Page Curl (defaulted on
  • Settings: Local Weather (defaulted on); Temperature (defaulted on); Wind  Speed: defaulted off; Synchronize Locations (defaulted off…this will sync your locations across your Amazon devices)
  • Silk Browser: Search Engine (defaulted to Bing ((Google and Yahoo are also available))); Autofill forms (defaulted on); Save passwords (defaulted on); Advanced Settings: Accessibility (text scaling, Force enable zoom…stops a website from stopping you from zooming); Privacy (do not track ((defaulted off)), clear browsing data); Cloud Features (defaulted to on); Site Settings: All Sites; Cookies (defaulted to Allowed); Location (defaulted to Ask first); Camera (defaulted to ask first); Microphone (defaulted to Ask first); Notifications (defaulted to ask first); JavaScript (defaulted to Allowed); Pop-ups (defaulted to Blocked); Fullscreen (defaulted to Ask first); Protected Content (defaulted to Ask first)
  • About Silk (I’m at version 45.1.99)
  • Special Offers: link to the Offers library; Personalized Recommendations (defaulted to on); Content filtering (hides offers “…containing images or situations that may not be suitable for all audiences”)…defaulted to off
  • Video: SD Download Quality (defaulted to Good); Download Videos to SD Card (defaulted on, but mine notes that a card is not present; Disable HD purchase warning (defaulted off…by default it will warn you about the larger size of HD videos); Clear Video Search History; Version (mine is 1.0.365.1)

Collect App Usage Data (defaulted to on…”Allows Appstore to collect information on the frequency and duration of use of downloaded apps”)

Back to Device…

  • Display: Wallpaper (pick your image here); Display Brightness; Display Sleep (how long); Font Size; When Device is Rotated
  • Device Options: Change Your Device Name; Battery (x%); Date & Time; Find Your Tablet; Backup & Restore (this has both the option to Backup & Restore your device which is defaulted on, and Save Wi-Fi Passwords to Amazon ((defaulted on))…there was a learn more link: interestingly, I can read it on my Fire, but I can’t find it by searching Help. Bottom line: this does just what you would want it to do! It backs up your wi-fi passwords to Amazon, if you want, allowing them to automatically set up new devices on your account. You can delete them from Amazon if you want, and if you change it on one device, it will change for the others. This is a terrific innovation! This should be coming to the older devices that get OS 5…it even affects Dash buttons 🙂
  • System Updates: (I’m on 5.0.1)
  • Reset to Factory Defaults (this is a “nuclear option”…only to be used in the event of a really serious situation)
  • Device Model (mine just says “Fire (5th Generation)”)
  • Serial Number


  • My Account: Deregister; Amazon Account Settings (including payment options…I’m sure you’ll have to be on wi-fi to do this); Prime Settings; Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
  • Profiles & Family Library
  • Parental Controls: you can manage profiles; you need  to enter a password to do Parental Controls…once you’ve done that,, you can block or unblock: Web Browser; Email, Contacts, Calendars; Social Sharing; Camera (all blocked by default); Amazon Stores (no blocked default); Password Protect Purchases (on by default, once you’ve turned on Parental Controls); Password Protect Video Playback (on my default); Block and Unblock specific content types (Newsstand, Books, Audiobooks, Music, Videos, Docs, Apps, Games, and Photos); Change Password; Password Protect Wi-Fi (on by default); Password Protect Location Services (on by default)
  • Security: Lock Screen Passcode (off by default…I turned mine on); Change Passcode; Automatically Lock; Apps from Unknown Sources (I have mine on…I think I might have switched it); Credential Storage; Device Administrators
  • Sound & Notification; Media Volume; System & Notification Volume; Default Notification Sound (many choices here); Do Not Disturb (you can create a schedule here);Notifications: When Device Is Locked; App Notifications (pick which ones)
  • Keyboard & Language: Language (defaulted to English United States…many choices. If I switch to English United Kingdom, I can select my regional forma, affecting the display of, for instance, dates); Text-to-Speech (set the voice); Current Keyboard…this includes Keyboard Settings…time for a mini-list

Fire Basic Keyboard Settings

  • Languages
  • Preferences: Auto-Capitalization (on by default); Double-space Period (on by default); Sound on Keypress (off by default)
  • Appearance & Layout: Theme (defaulted to Dark, Light is also available); Custom Input Style (German QWERTY or French QWERTZ)
  • Text Correction:  Personal Dictionary; Add-On Dictionaries; Block Offensive Words (on by default); Auto-Correction (spacebar and punctuation automatically correct mistyped words; Show Correction Suggestions; Personalized Suggestions; Suggest Contact Names; Next-word Suggestions (all of these are on by default)
  • Advanced: (nothing was available to me there…I suspect it is on other models)


  • Sync Device
  • Help
  • Accessibility: VoiceView (lots of settings for this); Screen Magnifier (this was off by default…I turned it on right away! I use this a lot: triple tap to magnify); Font Size (for the interface…there will be more choices inside books); Closed Captioning (off by default0; Closed Captioning Preferences; Convert Stereo to Mono (off by default); Accessibility User’s Guide; Services (mine says No Services Installed)
  • Legal & Compliance

Holy moley, that was a lot of choices!

There are some really significant improvements. I stopped what I was doing to explain the wi-fi password storage to my Significant Other: that doesn’t happen often!

I said Amazon would have a hit with this device…they have already commented on how successful it has been so far!

I’ll do another post (probably not next) on controls within content.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, or comments, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Update: two of my readers had excellent points!

BG pointed out that the warranty is only three months on this model…not a year as it is generally on Kindle/Fires. You can buy a 1-year warranty for $11.99:

1-Year Protection Plan plus Accident Protection for Fire (at AmazonSmile*)

You can also buy longer terms for more money.

Elaine Jordan asked a terrific question, and the answer does…disappoint me a bit.

I should have noticed when I was listing the Display menu settings but this model, and only this model in the current generation, does not mirror to a capable TV or other device. Certainly, that saved some money.

I probably mirror to my TV a couple of times a week on average. It’s not a lot, but when I do use it, it’s a important.

Mirroring means that whatever is on my device shows on the TV live. For example, I might be streaming video from another site, like Alternatively, I might be on a website and want to share it with my Significant Other (this is just an example…I don’t do that a lot).

Is that worth $50 more to move to the

Fire HD 6, 6″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black(at AmazonSmile*)

I would guess not, for most people. That one is also a smaller screen, and many people (including me) could mirror from a SmartPhone instead.

Thanks to Elaine and BG for pointing out these weaknesses! I still think the Fire 7 is a good buy…just perhaps not as good as I thought. 😉

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

* 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.

Fire Phone: first impressions and tips

July 29, 2014

Fire Phone: first impressions and tips

I’ve had my

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

since Thursday, which has given me an opportunity to use it over the weekend and at work.

I can say that the best is yet to come. 😉

This is a new and radically different device. Think of the people who bought the first automobiles, before there were purpose built roads. They had to bounce and rattle along over streets intended for entirely different vehicles. It wasn’t until people responded to the invention that it became completely indispensable.

At this point, the Fire Phone’s two breakthrough features (Firefly and Dynamic Perspective, which I call “dyper”) are like that.

I’m coming to the Fire Phone from a Galaxy S4…and I have an iPhone 5S that I use for work. The iPhone is new for me (the way Apple handled e-books left a bad taste in my mouth for their products), but I do have some experience with it.

I wouldn’t say I’m a power user of SmartPhones: not like I am with Kindles. However, I do know what I’m doing and I use them quite a bit.

At first, I found the Fire Phone’s interface less easy to use than my S4. After doing more research, playing around with it, and making a couple of calls to Mayday (the almost instant live online screen tech help…which is a huge plus for the FP over anything else), it’s growing on me.

It does all of the basics fine: e-mail, calendar, text.

The navigation is new. Without learning that, the phone can seem frustrating, like it takes a lot of steps to get anywhere.

Let’s talk this through.

The way I have the phone set, I turn it on by pushing a power button once…reasonable.

The lock screens look amazing! They have dyper…just by moving my head, I can see more of the image. For example, I have a neon sign up right now, like a tourist trap in the desert (it includes the date and time). By moving my head (even from probably half a meter away from the phone), I can see the streetlamps which are otherwise off the screen. I can see how many new e-mails I have, the signal strength and battery level.

To unlock it, I swipe up from the bottom…that’s an adjustment for me, I’m used to going side to side. However, as an ambidexter, I appreciate that it isn’t better for right or left handers. 🙂

I’ve put a password on mine.

Once it opens up, there is a Carousel, like there is an a Kindle Fire. It’s going to be easier for Kindle Fire users to adapt to this phone than other people.

At the bottom of the screen are four icons:

  • Phone
  • Messaging
  • Email
  • Silk Browser

Here’s the first thing you might not realize.

Swipe those four icons up, and you’ll be on the apps screen.

It will default to being the apps on your device, but you can switch it to the Cloud easily enough (it’s an obvious choice in your top left corner).

Okay, here’s are a few gestural things on this homescreen which aren’t intuitive.

In addition to swiping from the left or right side, you can just “flick” the phone.

Flick it where you are turning the phone with a rapid motion with the left side getting closer to you, and you reveal the main navigation. That has

  • APPS
  • WEB
  • DOCS
  • SHOP

Flick it back to remove that menu.

Generally, that left menu will be available in most places you are working, and will be the same.

Flick it the other way, with the right side getting closer to you, and you’ll reveal a context sensitive menu…one that varies depending on what you are doing.

ON the home screen, I get a weather report (which I could set to be in Celsius, my favorite…and which autodetected my location), and Google Now type cards. Right now, I’m seeing calendar events, but I may see an e-mail from people I designate, or texts. There is an ellipsis (“…”) at the bottom to go to the full calendar.

Flick left, flick right: two of the main gestures.

Three other big gestures:

Tip the phone to one side (either direction), and you’ll see a ribbon at the top with quick access to functions:

  • Airplane mode
  • Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • Flashlight
  • Sync
  • Settings
  • Mayday
  • Search
  • Brightness

How would you know what they were?

You peek.

Really, that’s what they call it.

Move your head to the side and look back at the phone, like you are trying to look behind the icons.

The captions magically appear.

You’ll use that a lot.

The last gesture I’ll mention is how to get back to what you were doing last.

The first couple of days, I really missed the Back button on my S4. Then, one of the Mayday reps told me that you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen. They didn’t describe it quite right: the thing is that you start off the edge of the screen at the bottom, at about the same level as the home button. Then swipe up on to the screen: that will take you back to the last function.

Before I go on, let me say that is seems to drink battery charge like a Chevrolet Suburban drinks gasoline! 😉 Just while I’ve been writing this post, it went down four percent. I expect that will get better after I play with some settings.

In terms of the pre–installed apps, I recommend that you play with Clay Doodle and Monkey Buddy (although the latter might drive you crazy, if you are an adult). The first one is like Play-Doh, and takes advantage of the dyper. The second one is a virtual pet, like a Tamagotchi in concept. Since it can see where you head is, it responds to you nodding your head yes in approval, for example.

Believe it or not, the integration with Amazon could be better. My Prime music wasn’t available until I downloaded an app…that was weird. My biggest disappointment so far has been that gestural scrolling doesn’t work in the Kindle app! It only works in Silk on websites.

I was really looking forward to having an endless scroll in my Kindle books, where I could get to the next text by just moving my head or tilting the phone.

A Mayday rep told me that an update is coming soon which will include more functionality…and better interface with the Kindle app is one of the things we may see. Right now, you can get the X-Ray background data by flicking from the right…good to know, right? 🙂

I may do a full menu map at some point (that kind of thing might make a good short “book” for people to borrow through Kindle Unlimited), but let’s go through the settings at a high level:

Wi-Fi & Networks

  • Connect to Wi-Fi
  • Enable Airplane Mode
  • Pair Bluetooth Devices
  • Set up a Wi-Fi hotspot (only if that’s part of your data plan, I think)
  • Enable NFC (Near Field Communication)
  • Turn off cellular dta usage
  • See your cellular data usage
  • Change your mobile network operator


  • Adjust screen brightness
  • Turn off automatic screen rotation
  • Hide (or show…the commands change based on current state) status bar
  • Change time to sleep
  • Share your screen via Miracast
  • Configure low motion settings (this will turn off some of the gestural stuff, which would be useful for those with unsteady hands or heads)

Sounds & Notifications

  • Change your ringtone
  • Manage notifications
  • Select ringtones for specific people
  • Select text message tones for specific people
  • Change volume levels (there  are also physical volume buttons)
  • Change touch feedback settings (my first call to Mayday: how to turn off hepatic feedback, the vibrating you get when you touch a key…I just don’t like it, and it uses battery charge)

Applications & Parental Controls

  • Configure Amazon application settings
  • Manage applications
  • Prevent (or enable) non-Amazon app installation
  • Turn off product recommendations
  • Enable Parental Controls

Battery & Storage

  • View battery usage (the system is taking 50% of my usage right now)
  • View available storage
  • Free space on your phone (not how much you have…this one is designed to free up space)
  • Change USB connection type

Location Services

  • Configure Location Based Services for your applications
  • Enable Enhanced Location Services
  • Disable Find My Device (enabled by default)

Lock Screen

  • Select a lock screen scene (the default is that it changes every day)
  • Set a password or PIN (Personal Identification Number)
  • Change the automatic lock time
  • Turn off (or on) notifications on the lock screen


  • Change the keyboard language
  • Configure auto-correct and spell-checking
  • Manage advanced keyboard features
  • Edit your personal dictionary


  • Configure call waiting
  • Configure caller ID
  • Forward incoming calls
  • Edit Reply-with-Text messages
  • View your phone number
  • Set up voicemail
  • Contact your carrier

My Accounts

  • Deregister your phone
  • Manage e-mail accounts
  • Connect your social networks
  • Manage your Amazon account
  • Manage your Amazon payment method
  • Manage your Amazon Newsstand subscriptions
  • Manage your Send-to-Device email address


  • Change the date and time
  • Disable auto backups
  • Change your language
  • Install system updates
  • Factory reset your phone
  • Get info about your Fire
  • Configure your emergency alerts
  • View your emergency alerts
  • Manage your SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card PIN
  • Manage enterprise security features
  • Manage accessibility (it has nice magnifier features…I turned  those  on)
  • View Legal and Compliance Info


  • Configure voice settings (oh, it does take voice commands…hold down the home button, like accessing Siri. I have found that I have to say “Search the Web” to get it to do that…it doesn’t just guess that’s what you want if you say something for which it doesn’t have a command)
  • Change Text to Speech (TTS) language (it does have TTS for Kindle books…it comes with English and Spanish, but you can download quite a few others for no additional cost)

Help & Feedback

  • Get help from Mayday (there is a lifesaver for that on the quick access ribbon…remember, you can tip your phone quickly for that, or swipe down from the top. Use it to get the most out of your phone)
  • Browse online help
  • Contact Amazon technical support
  • Provide feedback

There, that gives you a pretty good idea of its capabilities.

Overall, I’m starting to like it. If you want everything to be easy, if you want it to be as good as the most popular other phones, you may not want to be an early adopter. You can download apps to do things it doesn’t do right now (in many cases), but a year from now, it will be much more capable…I suspect it will be a lot more capable before the holidays.

It’s certainly satisfactory…and the hardware (the four cameras that enable dyper) and Firefly (the real world recognition system) promise much greater things in the future, once people start designing for it. The killer apps are yet to come.

I think it’s a great first SmartPhone (which is where I think the market is), and an adequate transition phone (with amazing potential).

Hey, my Kindle app has an update available! That sort of thing is going to happen a lot…I won’t focus on the Fire Phone a lot in this blog (just as I haven’t done that with the Fire Phone), but it is a Kindle reading device, and  I think it deserves some coverage here.

If you have any specific questions about it, or things to say, feel free to comment on this post.

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

* 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.

Kindle Paperwhite 2: first impressions and menu map

October 2, 2013

Kindle Paperwhite 2: first impressions and menu map


Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers

is here!

Let me first say that it was particularly easy to set up. They’ve been improving that, with on-screen guidance. All I needed was my wi-fi network password, and the rest of it was easy.

They even gave me a choice to set up parental controls, although I skipped that.

I’d say it took less than a minute to get itself up and running the first time.

It knew its name (“PowPow”), and it showed me the device time so I could confirm that it got it right (it did). I had my Cloud/archives, and was ready to go.

It did still have to index the (wait for it)…Kindle User’s Guide! Yes, it came with an onboard User’s Guide, not just online, which was nice.

It came about half-charged: people do ask about that sometimes.

The screen is quite evenly lit: you don’t have those “smudgy” spots on the bottom that you had with the Kindle Paperwhite 1.

I like the raised “Amazon” on the back of the device…it gives it a bit of tactility.

It does seem brighter and clearer. Even at the lowest lighting setting, there was still a bit of light, but it was quite, quite dim…even with my superior night vision, I would have been challenged to read at that setting in full darkness.

Now for the menu map (I’m on version 5.4.0):


Displayed along the top was my name for the device, wi-fi and the strength, the battery indicator, and the clock.

The first toolbar below that was

  • Home
  • Back
  • Lighting
  • Cart
  • Search
  • Menu

The menu button had

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • View Special Offers (I chose to have those)
  • Cover/List View (it came set in Cover View…I switched it to list, my preference)
  • Create New Collection
  • Sync and Check for Items
  • Settings*
  • Experimental Browser

Below that was

  • Cloud | On Device (similar to the PW1)
  • My Items (with a dropdown: All Items; Books; Periodicals; Docs; Active Content)
  • The sort (Recent; Title; Author; Collections

On the device were:

  • Kindle User’s Guide
  • Vocabulary Builder
  • Dictionaries (2 items: The New Oxford American Dictionary; Oxford Dictionary of English)

At the bottom of the device, it told me what page of items I was on, and how many pages there were all together…and there was an ad, less than an inch tall.

I’d say it isn’t a hard adjustment at all from the PW1.

Let’s take a look at the

* Settings

That’s where a lot of the fun stuff will be. 🙂

  • Airplane Mode (on or off…they explain that you should “Turn on Airplane Mode to disable wireless connectivity.”)
  • Wi-Fi Networks (tapping that showed me the available networks, and that page included “Other…” and “Rescan”
  • Registration (showed by name, and tapping it would let me deregister it)
  • Device Options…I’m going to drop to sublist for this one:
  • Device Passcode
  • Parental Controls (Web Broswer on or off, Kindle Store on or off, Cloud on or off…deregistration and reset device are disabled when Parental Controls are active. With the store locked, you can still Kindle store books on your computer and send them to the device…that’s how it was on the PW1 as well)
  • Device Time
  • Personalize your Kindle (Device Name…you can change it on the device, without going to Manage Your Kindle)
  • Personal Info (you can add whatever you want here, including contact information)
  • Recommended Content (displayed in Cover View…on or off)
  • Send to Kindle E-mail (you have to edit it on Manage Your Kindle, but it is displayed here)

Back to the Device Options Menu

  • Language and Dictionaries…time for another submenu:
  • Language (Deutsch, English (United Kingdom), English (United States), Espanol, Espanol (Mexico), Francais, Francais (Canada), Italiano, Portugues (Brasil), and two which I think are Japanese and simplified Chinese)
  • Keyboards (you can choose to add keyboard in the above languages…and yes, it confirms them as Japanese and simplified Chinese
  • Dictionaries (you can set the default dictionary here for the language you are using)

Reading Options menu

  • Manage Vocabulary Builder (on or off…controls whether or not it remembers dictionary look-ups, and whether or not Vocabulary Builder appears on the homescreen)
  • Page Refresh (you can make it refresh every “page turn” if you want
  • Social Networks (connect to Facebook or Twitter…and view Amazon’s privacy policy)

Okay, once you are in the Settings area, you can hit Menu again to get

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • Restart
  • Reset Device
  • Legal
  • Sync and Check for Items

Within a book, you tap towards the top middle to bring up the toolbar…oh, and it displays the name of the book on the top line, where the name of the device normally is.

Below that, you get:

  • Home
  • Back
  • Brightness
  • Cart
  • Search
  • Menu

This menu, though, is different:

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • Book Description (yes, it sill connects to the website to get you that)
  • About the Author (won’t always be available)
  • Landscape/Portrait mode
  • Sync to Furthest Page Read
  • Reading Progress
  • Vocabulary Builder
  • Settings (this is the main Settings choice above)

Below that is

  • Aa (font size, font ((Baskerville; Caecilia, which is the default; Caecilia Condensed; Futura; Helvetica; Palatino)), line spacing, and margins)
  • Go To (Contents, Notes, Beginning, Page or Location…and specific chapters, then End. A separate tab in Go To brings you to your notes, which are nicely displayed…you can delete or share them from here)
  • X-Ray
  • Share
  • A multiple bookmark looking icon, which lets you jump to your bookmarks…click the plus on the top one to add a bookmark to this page

Not intuitive to me was that at the bottom of the screen, there was a things which told me the chapter I was in, what location I was on, and how many minutes were left to read in the chapter. Tapping it brought up the new Page Flip feature, which is really cool. You can preview pages, moving ahead or backwards with arrows, without losing your place. There is also a location slider, to adjust where you are in the book. The location slider also had a “chevron walks into a bar” icons (>|) which lets you jump by chapters…but just in Page Flip. It looks to me like you could figure out where you want to go with Page Flip, and then use the Go To button to get there.

“Long-pressing” (holding your finger or stylus on it for about a second) a word in a book gave me an X-Ray definition first, and a choice to get “More on Shelfari”. Tapping that brought me to the Shelfari (owned by Amazon) page for the current book…lots of info there).  I could also open the full X-Ray for that book.

I had a choice to see the Dictionary definition, or Wikipedia. I tried the Wikipedia search with Airplane Mode on…it didn’t like that much.

I could also search This Book, All Text, or the Kindle Store.

Tapping “More” gave me:

  • Highlight
  • Add Note
  • Share
  • Translation ( to Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish)
  • Open X-Ray
  • Report Content Error

Dragging a set of words (which seemed much more responsive than on the Kindle Paperwhite 1) gave these options:

  • Add Note
  • Highlight
  • Share
  • More (Search, Wikipedia, Translation ((which did do the whole phrase)), Report Content Error…all similar to above)

Overall, it does seem nicer than the Kindle Paperwhite 1, but not a quantum leap forward. I’ll need more experience with it, but I wouldn’t say you need to rush to upgrade from a KPW1…but I will say it is better. 🙂

If you have any specific questions, or comments, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Menu map: Kindle Paperwhite 5.3.4

April 12, 2013

Menu map: Kindle Paperwhite 5.3.4

In the Menu Maps series of posts, I take you through the menu options on a specific Kindle device. That will make it easier for you to find things, and may make you aware of things you didn’t know your Kindle could do.

This time, I’m going to run through the menus on the home screen on a Kindle Paperwhite 3G + wi-fi (with Special Offers). This is based on firmware version 5.3.4.

I’ll add comments where I think that’s appropriate. Do feel free to comment on this post if you have more questions.

What is a menu?

It gives you options, just like a menu in a restaurant. You select a menu (you might be tapping, clicking, arrowing and hitting enter…depends on the device), and see a series of choices. You pick one (if you want), and that “launches” (starts) something on your device.

You “wake” a Paperwhite by first hitting the power button (or by opening an “autowake” cover…something I find very convenient, especially with the new power buttons on Kindles which can be hard to locate), and then swiping (holding your fingertip or stylus on the screen and sliding it a couple of inches) it.

At the top of the screen, you’ll see what I call the “icon ribbon”, where there are a number of symbols

  • A house returns you to the homescreen
  • A left facing chevron “<” takes you back to your last activity
  • A light bulb (although I find this one a bit abstract looking) lets you control brightness
  • A shopping cart takes you to Amazon to shop
  • A magnifying glass lets you search
  • * My Items (just on your device)
  • * Kindle Store
  • * Dictionary (I wonder how many people realize this is there? It does work pretty well…finding the word, not just any word that has that sequence of letters)
  • * Wikipedia
  • A menu (horizontal lines…we see this symbol a lot on Kindles, sometimes in a box, sometimes not)

Within the menu, we get

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • View Special Offers (if you are subscribed to Special Offers)
  • Cover View (switches the display of your books on the homescreen…it will say “List View” if you are already viewing the covers)
  • Create New Collection (I believe your Kindle has to be registered for this to be active)
  • Sync and Check for Items (if you’ve purchased something and can’t find it on your Kindle, try this)
  • Settings (I’ll address this separately below)
  • Experimental Browser

Within the Settings menu

  • Airplane Mode (turning this on turns off wi-fi and 3G connectivity…on  a device with other forms of activity, Airplane Mode also disables those…Bluetooth, GPS. I think that’s why they use the term, for compatibility with other devices. Many people have both a tablet and this sort of Kindle)
  • Wi-Fi Networks (you can tap this to scan and to manually enter a network)
  • Registration (it shows you who the current registrant is even before you tap it…that might help you get your Kindle back, and might be useful if you chose to purchase a Kindle from an individual)
  • Device Options
  • * Device Passcode
  • * Parental Controls (note that when these are on, you can’t deregister or reset the device)
  • ** Web Browser (require a password to use)
  • ** Kindle Store
  • ** Cloud (this is how you can have, for example, books of adult interest on the account without your child who has a Paperwhite seeing them)
  • * Device Time (you can set the time manually and switch between setting automatically or manually)
  • * Personalize Your Kindle
  • ** Device Name
  • ** Personal Info (you can add a free text note here…you might put contact information in case someone finds your Kindle, and offer a reward, if you wanted)
  • ** Send-to-Kindle E-mail (you can’t edit it here, but it is displayed…this is the address you use to send personal documents to this device
  • * Language and Dictionaries
  • Reading Options
  • * Annotations Backup (this is on by default…it’s what allows you to share your notes, your last “page” read, and to import your Collections between devices on the same account)
  • * Popular Highlights (on or off…when this is on, you see underlines in your books that other people have made in theirs…I think it takes at least three people having underlined it before it appears)
  • * Public Notes
  • * Page Refresh (you can force a screen refresh every page turn…which will take more battery charge)
  • * Social Networks (you need to be connected to wireless for this…you can link your Twitter and Facebook accounts to the device, so you can share the fact that you read a book, notes, and that sort of thing…it doesn’t allow you to share the entire book)

While you are in the Settings Menu, you can tap Menu again to get another set of choices:

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • Update Your Kindle (this will only be active if an update has been downloaded to your Kindle, either by you or by the device, and it hasn’t been applied yet)
  • Restart (if your Kindle is acting oddly, this is a good choice…unplug it from power sources first. This is a “soft restart” ((using the menus…the software)) as opposed to holding in the power button for thirty seconds, which is a “hard restart” ((using the hardware))…Amazon says this is better)
  • Reset Device (this is a radical move, and should be used rarely. It wipes everything off your Kindle except for Kindle software updates that wasn’t on your Kindle when you got it…you’ll have to redownload books afterwards, you’ll lose personal documents, wi-fi networks, and so on)
  • Device Info (this includes your serial number, firmware version, and the amount of space you have free)
  • Legal (274 pages of text that can’t be enlarged or use with text-to-speech…you would think the latter might be a problem for Amazon)
  • Sync and Check for Items

Hm…I’ve got enough room here. I’ll go through the basic menu in a book. Tap towards the top middle of the book to get the menu to appear.

Beneath the icon ribbon we saw on the homescreen, you get

  • Aa (you can choose font size, font, line spacing, and margins)
  • Go To (the beginning, a page or location, a chapter, the end…I think this varies a bit with different e-books)
  • X-Ray (background about the book)
  • Share (you can, for example, tweet about a book and a llink will be included to the book at Amazon)

The menu (horizontal lines in your top right corner):

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • Book Description
  • About the Author
  • Landscape (or Portrait) Mode
  • Sync to Furthest Page Read
  • Add Bookmark
  • View Notes & Marks
  • Reading Progress (you can choose what is displayed by default…location left in book, Time left in chapter, Time left in book…when the menu is displayed, you see all three. If a book has “real page numbers”, I think you see that choice as well)
  • Settings (that’s the Settings menu above)

There you go!

Bonus note:

I found this just recently:

Kindle Features By Country

It’s a nice table! It’s interesting to me that Japan, for example, doesn’t have Popular Highlights or Public Notes…is that technical, societal, or due to regulations?

They list “Sina Weibo” on the table under Social Media and Device Features…but don’t show that any current device has it! That’s a Chinese microblogging website…this seems like a clear indicator of more Amazon/Kindle involvement in China in the future. That might be a bit of a scoop here. 🙂 I did a Google search, and while there were matches for “Kindle Sina Weibo”, I don’t think it was about this as a legitimate future feature.

Hope this post helps! I include the Features By Country partially for those who don’t have a Paperwhite…I know some people think I may cover the Fire too much, so this post provides a bit of balance to that. 😉

If you have questions or comments, feel free to comment on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Menu map: Kindle Fire 8.9″ 4G 8.3.0

April 8, 2013

Menu map: Kindle Fire 8.9″ 4G 8.3.0

In the Menu Maps series of posts, I take you through the menu options on a specific Kindle device. That will make it easier for you to find things, and may make you aware of things you didn’t know your Kindle could do.

This time, I’m going to run through the menus on the home screen (there are just too many to do in one post if I start on in-book menus and such…perhaps another time) on a Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB (with Special Offers). This is based on firmware version 8.3.0. This is a recent update, and I do think some things have changed.

I think the menus here will be similar to those for an 8.9″ without 4G (except for the ones related to that), and likely similar for other Kindle Fire HDs.

I’ll add comments where I think that’s appropriate. Do feel free to comment on this post if you have more questions.

What is a menu?

It gives you options, just like a menu in a restaurant. You select a menu (you might be tapping, clicking, arrowing and hitting enter…depends on the device), and see a series of choices. You pick one (if you want), and that “launches” (starts) something on your device.

The Icon Ribbon

You reach this by swiping down from the top.

  • Unlocked/Locked (controls whether or not the inclinometer will switch the Kindle from landscape ((wider than it is tall)) to portrait ((taller than it is wide)) when you tilt the device. I believe some apps lock it in one orientation, and then you have to unlock it manually…but I’m not positive about that
  • Volume (there are also physical volume buttons on this device. You don’t have to slide the controller: you can tap where you want it to be, enabling you to mute it quickly)
  • Brightness (brighter in bright light is better)
  • Wireless
  • *Airplane Mode (turning it on turns off wi-fi, 4G, Bluetooth…note: you can turn on one of these services manually while you have the Airplane Mode set to On)
  • *Mobile Network (to enable 4G or not)
  • * AT&T AllAccess (one of the things this does, when the Mobile Network is on, is let you see how much data you have used and how much you have left)
  • * Bluetooth
  • * Wi-Fi
  • Sync (syncs with Amazon’s servers…if you’ve bought something and it isn’t showing up, try the Sync)
  • More…

“More” brings up another menu, which I’ll start below:

  • Help & Feedback
  • * Getting Started
  • * User Guide
  • * Customer Service
  • * Feedback
  • My Account (this is where you can register or deregiser a device, manage your social networks ((tell it how to connect to your Facebook and/or Twitter account)), and manage your E-mail, Contacts, Calendars…you can change your setings and add accounts here)
  • Applications (this is one of the most important menus you have. You can get to apps here and Force Stop them, or clear the cache)
  • * Notification Settings (for each app)
  • * Installed Applications (give this time to load…you can see all of your applications here. Long press ((hold your finger or stylus on it for about a second)) to be able to Force stop, Uninstall, Clear Data, Clear Cache, and choose to have the app be the default app that gets launched in certain circumstances…and stop that. For example, you might have chosen to use a particular video player each time you launch a video, and now you want to change that)
  • * Collect App Usage Data (this was new with the latest update, and some people think it is contributing to battery charge drain. It collects information about how often and how long you use specific apps…according to Amazon, that is just used in aggregate information (it doesn’t identify you specifically)
  • * Sync Amazon Content
  • * Amazon Applications section
  • **Amazon GameCircle (You can show your “Amazon GameCircle nickname or not…it’s defaulted to Hide. By default, some of your games can save your progress by using Whispersync for Games…you can turn that off here, if you want)
  • ** Amazon Home Recommendations (you can turn those off here)
  • ** App Settings (I don’t think people realize what’s here. You can see your Gift Card balance, turn In-App Purchasing on and off, turn off Automatic Updates ((not to the whole Kindle, I think, just to individual apps…you can also choose whether you want to be notified when an app has been updated)), External Market Links (I use the 1Mobile store sometimes, and that makes this important…I can chosose to have link open in the Amazon Appstore, which defeats the purpose of 1Mobile to a large extent, have it not open, or have it ask me before opening), and this shows you the version of the Apps app) 🙂
  • * Audiobooks (you can choose your download format…Standard, which is the default, or High, which should take more memory and sound better…there is also a link for Legal Notices here)
  • * E-mail, Contacts, Calendars
  • * Music (some cool things here…you can choose to have your Amazon MP3 purchases automatically downloaded to this device, clear the cache, tell it to stream only when on wi-fi ((as opposed to 4G)), or to download only using wi-fi…by default, the wi-fi restriction options are off)
  • * Silk
  • ** Requested website view (Automatic, Desktop, or Mobile…Desktop sometimes gives you functionality that Mobile doesn’t, but it also might not look as good)
  • ** Search Engine (Bing, Google, or Yahoo)
  • ** Block pop-up windows (Ask, Never, or Always…without pop-ups, you might not be able to enter a password sometimes)
  • ** Accelerate page loading
  • ** Enable Flash Forward (I believe this is new…not connected to Flash video, by the way…it will “Allow predictive loading to speed up page load time”)
  • ** New Tab Content (you can choose to “Show Trending Now & Selected Sites”, or Most Visited Only)
  • ** Display most recent page in Carousel (that’s on by default, but I think a lot of you would like to turn that off)
  • ** Clear history
  • ** Clear cache
  • **Accept cookies (some sites won’t function without them)
  • ** Clear all cookie data
  • ** Remember passwords
  • ** Clear passwords
  • ** Remember form data
  • ** Clear form data
  • ** Enable location (it let sites tell where your device is…Fandango, for example, can tell me nearby movie theatres using this)
  • ** Clear location access
  • ** Individual website data
  • ** Load Images
  • ** Enable JavaScript
  • ** Show security warnings (you know, when you see something telling you that a site’s certificate doesn’t look valid)
  • ** Prompt for experimental streaming viewer (this is new, and is a way for the device to try to play Flash video with Flash)
  • ** Reset all settings to default
  • * Videos
  • ** Mobile Network for Video (do you want your 4G used for video? You can also choose the video quality…this had some interesting data. “Good” is the lowest quality, “Better” is next, then “Best”.  Each level up uses more data from your plan. They listed some stats. At good quality, you can watch up to 43 minutes of SD video per month on the 250MB plan…with 3GB, you can watch up to 9 hours of SD, with 5GB, you can watch up to 15 hours of SD. When I jumped right to Best, that dropped down to only 14 minutes of SD or 3 minutes (!)  of HD on the 250MB plan…I guess you couldn’t watch that Stairway to Heaven video…) 😉
  • ** HD Download Quality
  • ** SD Download Quality
  • ** Clear Video Search History
  • ** Version (mine is Greenway-20903510 right now)
  • Parental Controls (you can turn them on or off here, and then you have a whole bunch more controls…for more information, see Parental controls and your Kindle
  • Sounds & Display (Volume, Dolby on or off, Mute All Notifications, choose your Notification Sounds, Auto Brightness ((off by default…I’m trying it now, although I assume it will take more battery charge)), Display Brightness ((same as icon ribbon)), Screen Timeout ((defaults to 5 minutes, but there  are eight settings)))
  • Wireless & Networks  (same as Wireless in the icon ribbon)
  • Device (About gives you your System Version, Serial Number, Wi-Fi Mac address, and Bluetooth Mac address ((when available)). Storage ((takes a while to calculate)), Date & Time ((you can set it here, and choose to use the Automatic Time Zone or pick one…you can also choose to use the 24-time format ((1:00 PM becomes 13:00 )), Allow Installation of Applications From unknown sources ((very important…that’s how I can “sideload” apps like Zinio)), Reset to Factory Defaults ((“Danger, danger, Will Robinson!” Sometimes, this is the right solution, but it should be used with great caution…it wipes all the personalization from your device, including Kindle Store books you’ve downloaded…you can download them again, though)))
  • Accessibility (important for the print challenged/disabled…you can turn on Voice Guide, so you have audible menus, and Explore by Touch, so it will speak what you are touching…it also has an orientation lock here, just like in the icon ribbon)
  • Location-based Services (it will use wi-fi, cellular networks, and GPS to locate you)
  • Language & Keyboard
  • * Language (choose one here)
  • * Keyboard
  • ** Keyboard (pick a language)
  • ** Keyboard Settings (Sound on Keypress, Auto-correction, Auto-capitalization, Next word prediction ((I find this is working pretty well)), Personal dictionary ((Oh, I thought this was going to be to pick your dictionary! No, this is where you can tell what words aren’t misspelled! This is important…you can have it stop predicting certain words for you. I always have to tell computers that “Bufo” isn’t misspelled, and that’s here. You don’t actually add the words here…you do that when you tap a word you’ve typed into the keyboard to get it to remember. However, you can delete them here…that could be very important if more than one person uses your Kindle Fire. You could certainly have  embarrassing  words there ((I have…um…”labradoodle” and “theremin”)) 😉 and this allows you to keep them from coming up as a predictive word)
  • ** Bluetooth keyboard (language setting)
  • Security (Lock Screen Password, Credential Setting ((you can install them here)), VPN ((hm…it says, “To use your Kindle on a virtual private network (VPN), you need to download an app from the Amazon Appstore that is compatible with your organization’s VPN. Then, there is a link to go the Appstore, but it doesn’t take you to VPN apps specifically. I do use a VPN, so I may need to explore this more)), Device  Administrators, Enable ADB )(it says it enables Kindle developers to debug over USB)))
  • Legal & Compliance (Legal Notices, Terms of Use, Safety & Compliance, Privacy)

Whew! That was a lot, but there are some interesting things in there…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Menu map: Paperwhite 5.3.3

February 21, 2013

Menu map: Paperwhite 5.3.3

In the Menu Maps series of posts, I take you through the menu options on a specific Kindle device. That will make it easier for you to find things, and may make you aware of things you didn’t know your Kindle could do.

This time, I’m going to run through the menus on a Kindle Paperwhite (specifically, a wi-fi only USA model with Special Offers). This is based on firmware version 5.3.3. By the way, that “5” at the beginning is the same thing that the Kindle Touch used, suggesting Amazon considers this to an evolution of that device (models are indicated by the first number in the firmware version).

I’ll add comments where I think that’s appropriate. Do feel free to comment on this post if you have more questions.

What is a menu?

It gives you options, just like a menu in a restaurant. You select a menu (you might be tapping, clicking, arrowing and hitting enter…depends on the device), and see a series of choices. You pick one (if you want), and that “launches” (starts) something on your device.

With the Paperwhite, you wake it up by pushing the power button on the bottom edge, and releasing it. That will light up the screen…you then swipe the screen (rub your finger on it) in any direction to complete the process. You may be opening to the Homescreen, or to something you were reading.

The “icon ribbon” (series of pictures at the top) represent something like a menu (it would be called a “toolbar” on a Windows PC). The first one (going left to right as you look at the screen) looks like a house, and will bring you home. Then, there is a left pointing chevron < (like an arrow without the stick), which is a back button (it will take you to your last activity). The next icon is a lightbulb…that lets you adjust the lighting. Next, there is a shopping cart, which takes to the store. The magnifying glass lets you search your device, and then we get to the menu (three horizontal lines).

Tap the menu, and you get:

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • View Special Offers
  • Cover View (or List View…it will be whichever one you aren’t on now. List View shows you the names of the items on your device…Cover View will show you the cover of, for example, e-books)
  • Create New Collection
  • Sync (with Amazon) and Check for Items
  • Settings
  • Experimental Browser

I think most of these are pretty self-explanatory, but feel free to ask questions about the ones I don’t cover by commenting on this post.

If you tap Settings, you’ll get an important sub-menu:

    • Airplane Mode: you’ll see the current state, and you can turn it on or off. Airplane Mode means that the wireless is turned off. Why not just say that? On devices with other connectivity, Airplane Mode turns them all off, and calling it that makes it consistent. For instance, my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE 64 GB has wi-fi, 4G, and Bluetooth. Turning on Airplane Mode there turns off all three of those with one move. Some people find the term “Airplane Mode” confusing. When  you are getting on the airplane, you would turn on Airplane Mode. When you are getting off, you might turn it off (to gain access again)
    • Wi-Fi Networks: use this to connect to networks
    • Registration: tap this to deregister or register your device
    • Device Options: Tap this for another submenu:
    • *Device Passcode: enter a password to protect your Kindle
    • *Parental Controls: you can turn on and off access to: the Web Browser; Kindle Store; Cloud. The third one means the user (who may or may not be a child) can not access the archives on your account. If you enable Parental Controls, the device can not be deregistered or reset. When you’ve locked the Kindle Store, you can still send books to the device by buying them on your computer or sending them from
    • Device Time: choose between setting it automatically, or set it manually. You might use the latter if you were traveling somewhere (say, camping) where you won’t have wi-fi
    • Personalize your Kindle: the choices there
    • * Device Name
    • * Personal Info (you can add a message here, including contact information)
    • * Recommended Content: you can turn on and off the recommendations that appear when you are in Cover View
    • * Send to Kindle E-Mail: this address is used when you e-mail documents to your Kindle. You can not change it here, but it is displayed here. You change it at the Manage Your Kindle address above
    • Language and Dictionaries: you can change which interface language your Kindle uses (SimplifiedChinese, English UK, English USA, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish); change keyboards (to match the above language choices); and set the dictionaries
    • Reading Options:
    • * Annotations Backup: on or off…this lets Amazon automatically back up your notes and  highlights, the last page read, and your Collections (so you can import them to another device)
    • * Popular Highlights: on or off…you can see what other people have highlighted in this book (if at least three people have, I believe)
    • * Public Notes (if you follow people at, you can see their notes in your books
    • * Page Refresh (you can choose whether or not your Paperwhite refreshes the screen with each page turn)
    • * Social Networks: connect to Twitter and/or Facebook (you’ll need a wireless connection to do that)

When you are in the Settings menu, you can get to another menu by tapping the menu button again:

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • Update Your Kindle (this will only be active if your device has downloaded an update which has not yet been applied)
  • Restart: this is how Amazon says you should restart your device if it is responsive…if not responsive, you can hold in the power button on the device
  • Reset Device: CAUTION…while this often fixes things, it will wipe everything personal off your device. That means you would lose wi-fi networks you’ve had the device remember, internet bookmarks, personal documents, and so on
  • Legal: 274 pages of legalese
  • Sync and Check for Items

Within a book

To access the Menu from within a book, you first tap towards the top of the screen, in the middle horizontally, then tap the menu.

You’ll see the same icon ribbon as you saw on the homescreen, and there are four more options before you even get to the menu:

  • Aa: that’s where you can set the font size, the font, the line spacing, and the margins
  • Go To: lets you jump to the Beginning, the Page or Location…and may give you a link for each chapter, as well as to the end of the book
  • X-Ray brings up the x-ray information for the book…characters and terms. Not all books have this
  • Share: you can type a message about the book, and share it with Twitter and/or Facebook

In the Menu inside a book:

  • Shop Kindle Store
  • Book Description: it will need to connect to the book’s product page using wireless
  • About the Author
  • Landscape or Portrait Mode: it will show you whichever one you aren’t right now…landscape is wider than it is tall, portrait is taller than it is wide
  • Sync to Furthest Page Read: it will check with Amazon to get that information
  • Add Bookmark
  • View Notes & Marks
  • Reading Progress: you can choose between it displaying your location in the book, the time left in the chapter, or the time left in the book. This is what shows when you are reading the book and you don’t tap the menu. The latter two average out your reading speed, so it won’t work right when you first get the device
  • Settings: that opens the Settings menu from above. You can put your Kindle in Airplane Mode by tapping toward the top middle of the page, tapping the Menu, tapping Settings, and tapping Airplane Mode

Other types of content, like blogs, newspapers, and magazines will have additional menus, but that should get you started. 🙂

I like to do this from time to time to keep a record of the menus as Amazon issues updates which may change them in the future.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Menu map: Touch 5.1.0

June 11, 2012

Menu map: Touch 5.1.0

I’ve done this kind of thing for the Kindle Fire in my book, Love Your Kindle Fire: The ILMK Guide to Amazon’s Entertablet, and I’ve done it in this blog before for other models. I think this may become a regular feature, but do let me know if you find it helpful (or not).

I’m going to run through the menus on a Kindle Touch (specifically, a wi-fi only Kindle Touch with Special Offers in the USA). This is based on firmware version 5.1.0.

I’ll add comments where I think that’s appropriate. Do feel free to comment on this post if you have more questions.

What is a menu?

It gives you options, just like a menu in a restaurant. You select a menu (you might be tapping, clicking, arrowing and hitting enter…depends on the device), and see a series of choices. You pick one (if you want), and that “launches” (starts) something on your device.

With the Touch, you would first wake it up or turn it on with the power button on the bottom (press and release).

Those four horizontal lines below the screen are the “Home” button. I’ve heard people asking if that was a speaker or a vent. I personally would have made it look like a little house, because four horizontal lines typically means a menu, rather than Home.

The Menu button is in your top right corner of the screen. Tap that.

  • Menu (with an X…if you tapped this by mistake, the X will close it with no changes)
  • Turn on Wireless
  • Shop in Kindle Store
  • View Archived Items (these items available to be downloaded to this Kindle from the account…and there is a place here to import Collections from another device. This will only be up to date if your Kindle has done a sync with Amazon since the last change)
  • View Special Offers
  • Create New Collections
  • Sync and Check for Items (this will communicate with Amazon’s servers. Not only will this download new items, it may set the time, get you an update, and so on. If your wireless is not on, it will ask you to do that…your Kindle can’t communicate with the server with the wireless off)
  • Sort By…> (tapping this gives you four sort options…Recent ((which is the default)), Title, Author, or Collections ((if you have created any)))
  • Settings (a very important menu)
  • Experimental (Web Browser, MP3 Player, Text-to-Speech…but TTS doesn’t do anything here. This is a list of experimental features, and TTS only works in something you’ve opened that you can use that feature, like a book)

Let’s take a look at the Settings menu:

There are four sections here:

  • Registration
  • Wi-Fi Networks
  • Device Options
  • Reading Options

Here’s the key thing, and something that might surprise you.

You got here by doing


You can hit Menu again to see another menu.

You got here through a menu, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use Menu to get even deeper.


  • Turn on Wireless
  • Shop in Kindle Store
  • Update Your Kindle (if you have an update package on your Kindle which hasn’t been executed yet…this option is generally “grayed out”, or what geeks may call “disabled”. You see the option, but can only select it in certain circumstances)
  • Restart (this will restart the Kindle, which is often a fix for problems. You may need to sync with Amazon after doing a restart. This is a way to restart the Kindle using the software (going through the menus and the “user interface”), so you may see it called a “soft restart”. You can also restart a Kindle Touch by holding in the power button for at least twenty seconds. That uses the hardware (the button), so you may see the term “hard restart”. Amazon has indicated that it is better to use the software restart when possible. If your Kindle is non-responsive, that’s when you use the hard restart
  • Reset Device (this used to be called Reset to Factory Defaults. This is a really radical thing to do, and should be used with caution and when other options have been tried. It will wipe out everything you’ve done to your Kindle, except firmware updates. You’ll lose personal documents on the device, it will forget your wi-fi networks ((so you may need to enter a password again)), it will lose your internet bookmarks…pretty much everything. It’s appropriate to do this when giving or selling your Kindle to someone not on your device, or if you have a problem you just can’t fix any other way)
  • Device Info (this is sometimes crucial information for someone helping you, and I do wish it was a bit less buried. It gives you your firmware version, the memory you have left on your device, the wi-fi capability, the serial number, the Wi-fi MAC ((Media Access Control)) address)
  • Legal (254 pages of small print that you can’t enlarge)
  • Sync and Check for Items

You may notice that this sub-menu inside Settings has some of the same options as the main Home menu. Yes, that can happen…not every menu is unique. Gee, for some reason, Amazon likes to make the “Shop in Kindle Store” option available in several places. 😉

Within a book

To access the Menu from within a book, you first tap towards the top of the screen, in the middle horizontally, then tap Menu.

  • Menu
  • Turn on Wireless
  • Shop in Kindle Store
  • Landscape Mode (switch it so the image is wider than it is tall)
  • Sync to Furthest Page Read (this has to connect to wireless, because it is to coordinate between different devices. Device A has told Amazon’s servers how far you have read on that book. Device B wants to get that information from the server, to set the book to the same point. That works well when the same person is reading the same book on more than one device. It’s not something you are going to use if two different people are reading the same book on different devices)
  • Book description (requires wireless…it gets that information from the Amazon website. An X-Ray enabled book downloads information about the book to store locally, although I don’t believe that affects this menu choice)
  • Add Bookmark
  • View Notes & Marks
  • Share (this lets you write a note about the book and share it with others)
  • Turn on Text-to-Speech (this may be grayed out, if the publisher has blocked text-to-speech access)

Those aren’t the only menus: you’ll have a different menu in different types of content. For example, a magazine will have a menu option to “Keep This Issue”, which keeps a copy of that specific issue locally on that device. If you don’t do that, you’ll eventually lose that issue as new ones come it. That kept issue is not saved for you on Amazon’s servers…just that local copy which is keyed to work only on that specific device.

Let me know if you think this was useful. I think it will help people find what they need more quickly. It also lets me document what is in the menus, so I can compare them after an update. 🙂

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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