Amazon Kindle does e-mail and more

Don't tell Amazon, but its e-book reader does e-mail, RSS feeds and calendaring

Now you're on the mobile version of Gmail. Selecting, opening and reading e-mail is self-explanatory. However, sending e-mail requires some explanation. Here are some tips on how to do it.

  • Press one of the Next Page bars until you see the Compose Mail option. Use the Select wheel to choose that grouping of links, then choose Compose Mail from the menu.
  • Select the To: box with the Select wheel, then choose INPUT FIELD. Enter your recipient's e-mail address and choose Done. Add a subject, then the body of your message in the same way.
  • Click on the row of buttons under the main message box, then choose Send.
  • You'll get an error message that says, "Your Kindle is unable to access this Web site at this time. Please try again later." Choose Close. Despite the error message, your e-mail was sent.
Press the Kindle's Back button (under the right-side Next Page bar) to go back to the main Gmail page.

To reply to e-mail, select the message with the Select wheel, and choose the Subject line from the menu. Select Reply with the Select wheel, then, either Reply or Reply to All. After that, it's just like sending a new message.

To return to your in-box, press the Kindle's Back button (under the right-side Next Page bar) twice to go back to the main Gmail page.

RSS feeds on a Kindle

You can subscribe to any of hundreds of blogs available in the Kindle Store. They cost either 99 cents or US$1.99 per month. Subscribing has advantages, namely, the blogs flow automatically into your reader's easy-to-access Home page, and are nicely formatted for the Kindle. The main disadvantage is that only a tiny minority of the RSS feeds out there are available in the Kindle Store.

Google offers a free online RSS feed reader called Google Reader. Although the "mobile" version of Google Reader is best for reading feeds on the Kindle, I recommend that you use the "normal" version of Google Reader to add and manage feeds. The address is www.google.com/reader/. You can add feeds you run into or if you have feeds in a PC-based RSS reader application, you can likely export your OMPL file, then import it into Google Reader.

Once you've got your feeds set up, here's how to read them with the Kindle. The address for the mobile version is www.google.com/reader/m. Navigate there with the Kindle browser.

You'll see the most recent nine items for your feed. If you don't want to read any of these, use the Select wheel to choose "mark these items as read." When you see an item you'd like to read, select it.

Everything else is straightforward. Just make sure you take advantage of the Back button on the right side of the device to return to previous pages.

Calendar on Kindle

Using Google Calendar is super easy. Simply point your Kindle's Basic Web browser at www.google.com/calendar/m.

The mobile version of Google Calendar shows you appointments for today and tomorrow by default. Choose an item with the Select wheel to see details.

You can add an item with the Quick Add option, but I don't recommend it. The Kindle will add your appointment, but many times. You'll end up with something like 20 copies of any appointments you add.

The Kindle wasn't designed for e-mail, RSS feeds or calendaring. Doing these activities won't void your warranty, but they aren't recommended by the manufacturer. Still, it's nice to know that when you really need to, it's possible to do these things from anywhere on your Kindle.

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Mike Elgan

Computerworld
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