Friday, February 10, 2012

Kindley advise me

I've been thinking about buying an Amazon Kindle. But I'm not sure if it will really be useful for what I want or whether it will just end up sitting on a shelf like my Eee PC and other gadgets of the month.

I know that the real purpose of the Kindle is for reading electronic books purchased from However I don't see myself using it for that very much. What I am interested in is reading ham radio and electronics publications that are increasingly being made available in electronic format. Are these magazines viewable on a Kindle or do they use some proprietary format only supported by a special application that needs a PC or Mac?

One of the publications I'd probably use it for is CQ, as I'm not sure it is really worth the international postage. Then there is World Radio, which is only available in electronic form, which I have never read due to the inconvenience of having to use a PC to do it. Now ARRL is bringing out an electronic version of QST. I still look forward to the printed magazine landing on the doormat but I do pay quite a premium for that.

I'd be interested to learn from Kindle users what formats the device supports. A couple of months ago the back issues of the now defunct 73 magazine and Ham Radio were put online. I downloaded the Kindle application for Windows and was disappointed with the results. The magazines were available in Kindle format but it looked as if they had been badly scanned using an OCR system and half of the content was in Greek! The PDFs were huge files and looked more like a poor quality FAX. The best format appeared to be one called Deja Vue. I downloaded a reader for it. Does the Kindle support that?

My eyes might find it easier reading on a device that lets you zoom in and enlarge the font. Does the Kindle let you do that?

How well does the Kindle support PDF files? I expect I would use it for those a lot. With a Kindle could I read PDFs I've downloaded and stored on a drive on our network or a memory stick? I've often considered, for nostalgic reasons, ordering some electronic back issues of Radio Communication (now RadCom) from the years when I first got interested in ham radio, though so far I have always changed my mind when I see the cost!

So over to my readers. Your thoughts on this, if you would be so kind!


Dan MD1CLV said...

I've put a few PDFs on my Kindle and haven't thought the results were too good.

To my mind, the Kindle is absolutely stunning when used for publications which are text with no special layout - books, even when they have diagrams, are fine. When I've tried to put magazines on mine it has not been that successful.


Casey Bahr said...


The Eee PC is a netbook, right? I have used my netbook for reading PDFs. I set the reader so that the text is displayed in portrait mode at 90 degrees so that I hold the netbook like a real book, except that there is only one page not two, of course. If I set the scale right then I can see the whole page without scrolling.

For the PC I have used a free reader called Calibre, which can handle lots of different formats and gives you a great way to store books for easy intuitive access. I don't know exactly why but the way the book pages are presented and how you flip through them is much, much more comfortable for me than reading them in, say, Adobe Reader or in a word processing program. It's free so give it a try.

I've never gotten an itch for a Kindle, because in general I don't like such proprietary formats as they seem to "age" even faster than PC technology.

Brick O'Lore said...

My co-worker and fellow ham has a Kindle and he's had good success with viewing PDF documents (not magazines, but diagrams we've created, manuals, etc.) He does not have it with him today, but we both recall being able to zoom in on the documents.

Amazon has a nice "Send to Kindle for PC" app that allows you to upload files (.doc, .txt, .pdf, and various image formats) to your Kindle.

tmw said...

So I got a Nook Touch which has the same 1hz refresh-rate e-ink screen. With custom bootloaders and ROMs that I got by researching on XDA Forums, I was able to get just the Android Open Source Project OS version onto it, and was able to get custom reader software that allowed for adjusting fonts and bookmarks and whatnot. I used it to study for the Extra exam outside and in the park, and since i've passed, I actually haven't used it since. I use my netbook Dell Mini 9 and my phone a lot, and I also have a Nook Color that I never use either, and not because there's anything wrong with it, just too many devices, ya know? :D

Jeff Davis, KE9V said...


Nice as it is, the Kindle isn't the way to go for CQ and publications like it that make use of Zinio. I use the iPad for these and it works exceedingly well as does the iPhone. I get CQ, CQ-VHF, and Worldradio Online all via that format. It works on Win/OSX/Linux on a PC but really shines on portable devices.

Of course that costs a lot more than the Kindle...

73, Jeff KE9V

Mark Volstad said...

You'll be disappointed trying to read PDFs on a Kindle. You have to zoom in to see anything, and then navigating the document with the 4-way controller becomes a pain. I have the K3 user manual on mine, and I have to be very desperate indeed to want to read it that way.

I love my Kindle when I use it for the purpose it was intended for!

73, Mark AI4BJ

K9CHP said...

Hi Julian:
I'm using my Acer Iconia A500 tablet to read CQ and WorldRadioOnline and I love it. When our architect finished the plans for our addition, he sent me the plans in pdf format, and I had no troubles looking at them on the tablet. This is also where I keep my radio pdf manuals, as they are always available and also searchable.
I even have some on my phone, but while working, it is harder to read, yet accessible in the middle of nowhere.

James said...

I have not noticed any difference in quality between Deja Vu files and PDF in the samples that I've seen. I've only been annoyed by the Deja Vu files since they are not readable by PDF reading programs, which are abundant. Deja Vu seems to be a bit smaller but I have noticed some small and some large PDF files with little difference in quality between the two. And no, my vision isn't bad enough that I just don't notice.

Anonymous said...

I do not think you should plan on using a Kindle for those publications. My Kindle is great for Kindle books but not much else. You would be much happier with the iPad.
Keith N8CEP

SimonF said...

Kindle is great for novels and paperbacks. You can get loads of free books online if you look around (Guttenburg)

As soon as I read a magazine or technical book I fire up Kindle on my Apple laptop and enjoy the large screen and colour.


Unknown said...

Many thanks to you all for your comments. I think you have saved me from buying something I would have been disappointed with. It seems like I should be looking at tablets instead (iPad or Android.)

M6EPW - Liz said...

Hi Julian.

If you want the convenience of a phone and somethimg not as big as an ipad then you could try the Samsung S II i9100.

As for kindle, they are limited in their uses.

If you have an android mobile phonr then I can recommend the free app moon reader. I use this on my HTC Desire Z. Very easy to use.

As mentioned above, for pc etc Calibre is good too. It can be a bit memory hungry but otherwise a great programme.

BTW, most mobile phones these days should be able to read pdf files.


VE7HCW Blog said...

I use "calibre " software to convert PDF file to MOBI which the Kindle 3 recognize.Makes reading a lot easier without the magnifier and set the kindle view to landscape .

wayne va7at

G6XJU said...

I use my Motorola Xoom Android Tablet for reading ebooks of all flavours. I read PDF files using both Adobe Reader and Mantano Reader. Zooming in and out is a breeze with the touch screen and the colour graphics are displayed in colour as well.

By using a tablet you are not tidied to one source of ebooks. There is a Kindle app available on which you can read you Amazon purchases as well as epub readers such as Mantano and Alkido.

Dave Jewell, GW0LUA said...

Hi Julian. I am also in the pro-iPad camp. I owned a Kindle for a while, but eventually sold it on eBay (and made a profit in the pre-Xmas 2010 rush when Amazon themselves sold out!) .

Why did I sell it? Because I realised that there was Kindle software for my iPhone, and that would let me read eBooks and PDFs in colour.

I now own an iPad 2. I also subscribe to CQ and WorldRadio via Zinio and they look awesome on the iPad. Forget the Kindle.

73, Dave

MrJoshua said...

Hi Julian

The iPad is by far the nicest device for reading PDF documents (and browsing the web too).

I've got access to an iPad (iOS), an HP Touchpad (WebOS) and a Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet (Android Honeycomb) - The iPad just works beautifully.

If you want to bugger about with the OS and whatnot, then Android and WebOS are good choices, but if you just want it all to work without any fuss, you really can't beat iOS.

So, the Kindle - I have one, so does my missus and my Mother... They're fantastic for reading eBooks - like really, really good. But for everything else, they're mediocre at best.

Hope you're feeling OK?

Best Regards

Josh de M0JMO

Unknown said...

The comments about the iPad have certainly made me think. But I have a lifetime of antipathy towards Apple and its walled-garden approach. I also don't like its predilection for litigation. And no-one mentioned its lack of support for Flash - surely a major disadvantage for a web-browsing appliance? (Not that I'm a fan of Adobe or Flash, but too many webmasters use it to ignore it.)

MrJoshua said...

Honestly, once you use one, you'll see why it's so popular.

Granted, the application ecosystem is a walled garden, but it's a bloody good one :)

Initially, with the iPhone, I found the lack of flash to be a bit of a pain, but nowadays, HTML5 is fast becoming the new standard and is all over the place. Flash on Android isn't implemented particularly well either way and is a power hog.

I need to stop now as it sounds like I work for Apple, and I don't :) :)