Kindle Fire HD: The Missing Manual, 2nd Edition – Covers new features, how-tos for 7-inch / 8.9-inch tablets – #bookreview

Kindle Fire HD: The Missing Manual, 2nd Edition
Peter Meyers
(O’Reilly – paperback, Kindle)

O’Reilly recently has brought out the second edition of Peter Meyers’ popular how-to guide for using the Kindle Fire HD multi-purpose tablet.

The new edition covers the 7-inch and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire models, but does not cover the original, first-generation Kindle Fire that was released in November, 2011. For details of how to use that model, get the first edition of Meyers’ book.

Many of us who own Kindles tend to have more than one version in the family: his, hers, and the kids’, for example. And we tend to use just a few of the features over and over–until we suddenly need or want to try another feature and aren’t sure how it works. So it can be good to have both editions of this book on your reference shelf (or in your Kindles).

The new edition includes how to use the front-facing video camera and microphone that were added to the 7-inch and 8.9-inch Fire HD models for video and audio chat capabilities. An HDMI port also is offered on the HD models, so you can hook up a cable and view a Kindle-stored video on a TV screen.

By  the way, if you enjoy audiobooks, they “are now full-fledged members of Team Sync” in the Kindle Fire HD world, the author notes. For example, if you buy a Kindle book and click the “Add Narration” button, you will also get the synchronized audiobook. (The button appears on your Fire’s screen, and the extra charge ranges from free to $3.95, depending on the book.) You can listen to the audiobook played on your Fire HD while driving to work, and then, when you’re ready to read quietly during your lunch break, you can pick up, in the text, right where you left off. The Kindle Fire HD now includes an Audible.com player, as well, and you can link an existing Audible.com account.

This well-written, richly illustrated Missing Manual definitely covers “the important stuff you need to know,” in a well-organized, easy-to-use format. It can help you get the most–and possibly more than you expected–from your Kindle Fire HD.

Si Dunn

iPad: The Missing Manual, 4th Ed. – A fine how-to guide for iPads new or ‘old’ – #bookreview #ipad #in

iPad: The Missing Manual, 4th edition
By J.D. Biersdorfer
(O’Reilly, paperback, list price $24.99; Kindle edition, list price $19.99)

Why a fourth edition already? Apple’s iPad hasn’t been around that long, has it?

The reason behind this new (indeed) 4th edition of iPad: The Missing Manual is quite simple, according to author J.D. Biersdorfer. 

“It’s become,” he writes, “something of a spring ritual: the clocks move forward an hour, flowers begin to bloom, and Apple releases a new version of its iPad tablet computer. March 2012 was no different: the fastest iPad yet arrived on the scene and millions of people scrambled to buy it. Apple calls it the new iPad, and this book refers to it as the 2012 iPad or the third-generation iPad.” 

He adds that “Apple decided it didn’t want to get locked into upping the iPad model number every year.” (His book, by the way, can be used with any version of the iPad thus far.) 

The differences between the still-available iPad 2 and the new 2012 iPad (other than price) are mainly “a matter of screen and speed,” Biersdorfer adds. “The 2012 iPad…sports a robust A5X processor; a pixel-packing, high-definition Retina display; and a 5-megapixel back camera.” The cheaper iPad 2, “on the other hand, cruises along on a slower A5 processor and has a screen that’s half the resolution of the Retina display, though it’s still crisp. It has a rear camera with around a megapixel resolution for still photos (which is not very sharp), but can record video at 720p, which still counts as high-definition.” 

Apple gives you a basic quick-start card in the iPad box, and then you’re left to your own initiative, cleverness and occasional confusion.  

This well-written, well-illustrated “Missing Manual” guidebook provides 361 pages of clear how-to steps and tips, plus troubleshooting information and a nice index.

If you truly value your time and are trying to keep frustrations minimized in your life, this cool guidebook can be a helpful reference companion to carry along with (or on) your iPad – whether it’s the new one, the one that’s now so last year, or (gasp!) the one that’s even older.

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Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance book reviewer, and former software technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist. He also is a former newspaper and magazine photojournalist. His latest book is Dark Signals, a Vietnam War memoir. He is the author of an e-book detective novel, Erwin’s Law, now also available in paperback, plus a novella, Jump, and several other books and short stories.