Having learnt the hard way I thought I’d pass on a few tips I got from the Amazon.com discussion forum regarding battery life on the new Kindle 3 (note: these tips probably also apply to the Kindle 2 and DX)

Background

I received my new Kindle 3 WiFi/3G recently and promptly charged it. I then downloaded many of the books I already owned, and had on my Kindle 2, categorised them, played with the wireless function (note: you can fully utilise the internet browser when you are connected through a wireless network, though it’s a bit awkward), and did a spot of reading. Two days later I noticed the battery was almost flat, so I recharged it. Read a bit the next day. Two days later I downloaded all my none Amazon books via the PC using Calibre, several hours later I went to read a book and the Kindle battery was completely flat!

At this stage I started to worry, my Kindle 2 lasted over a week with just reading and a book download or two, how come my new Kindle 3, which was supposed to last a month without recharging, was only lasting two days? So I asked the interwebs.

Causes

Seems there are three possible causes for the battery going flat so quickly:

  1. Charging
  2. Indexing
  3. Wireless

Explanation and what to do

1. Many users have reported that the first few charges do not leave the Kindle charged for very long.
Solution: Charge the Kindle for at least 3 to 4 hours (the charging light may change to green after only about 1.5 hours) use it until it discharges to about 25% battery (note: it’s strongly advised never to let the Kindle battery go completely flat). Repeat 3 times, if you still have a problem there may be something wrong with the battery, contact Amazon Customer Support and discuss getting a replacement Kindle (you should get a brand new one if returned within 30 days).

2. When a book is loaded onto the Kindle the Kindle ‘indexes’ it to make it easier to search through. Obviously when you get a new Kindle and haven’t had one before (or not used Kindle on a PC, iPad or other device) you won’t already have lots of books to copy to it, so you may not see the problem. In my case I had many books to re-download and hadn’t realised about the indexing problem. The Kindle indexes your books even when in sleep mode, so unless you turn it completely off when not in use it will still actually be doing something (indexing is fairly CPU intensive) hence flattening the battery. Additionally sometimes one or more books may get “stuck” whilst indexing and the Kindle sits there constantly trying to index a book unbeknown to you and subsequently flattening the battery even though you don’t seem to be using it. (the Kindle 3 is supposed to last a month on one battery charge with light reading and leaving it in sleep mode when not in use).
Solution: If you download lots of books into the Kindle, either via wireless or USB, at one go then leave the Kindle on charge until the indexing has finished.
Do the following to check if any books are being indexed – from the Home page press Menu then select Search, type in some random letters, if it comes back “Not Found” then your indexing is good. However, is a book or books are still indexing it will display “X items indexing”, select that and it will display which book, or books, are still being indexed. Wait until all books are indexed before leaving your Kindle off charge. If you have a book that is stuck indexing (my 60 books took about a day to index all of them) then go back to the home page, select the “stuck” book, delete it and then re-download it.

3. The wireless function, either WiFi or 3G (which by the way Kindle seems to automatically default to a WiFi connection if it finds one) consumes a fair bit of battery power even when just sitting there idly.
Solution: Leave the wireless turned off unless you need it. Several people suggest just turning it on at the end of a long reading session to do a sync and then turning it off again.

Where to now

Well I’ve charged my Kindle 3 for three hours for the third time, all my books have been indexed, and I’m not going to use the wireless, or the built in light for a few days; so I’ll see how these tips go and see if my battery is OK or whether I have a dud Kindle and need to return it.

Hope some other Kindle users get some help from this article.

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