BATTERY

We heard from a reader who has a Kindle just like ours but its battery failed to take a charge. Amazon customer service told her to buy a new one, though her Kindle was only a year old. (They’re pushing it; don’t buy a new one.)

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THE IPAD MINI

Joy’s Kindle Fire went into a coma for several months and the battery wouldn’t charge. So we got an iPad Mini, a smaller version of the iPad for $278 from Amazon.

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BACK TO SCHOOL

Boundless.com is being sued by textbook publishers for offering cut-rate and cut-down versions online.  They cover 21 subjects and all the books are $20, which is quite a bargain compared to $100-200 for many printed textbooks. Here’s how it works: Instead of an actual textbook, Boundless summarizes all of the key information, chapter by chapter into a condensed version about 90 percent shorter. You’ll miss the author’s style, but you’ll get what you need to know, complete with flashcards, quizzes, and reminders. Their own research shows Boundless users study far less than other students and get better results.

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E-READER DECISION

Some readers have asked our opinion about whether to buy a Kindle, a Nook, an iPad or the new Google Nexus 7 for some home reading and viewing. So here’s our take.

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BOOKS: KINDLE FIRE

Amazon’s Kindle Fire has 54 percent of the Android tablet market. (The Barnes and Noble “Nook” is considered an e-Reader, rather than a tablet.) With that in mind, we thought it a good idea to take a look at “Kindle Fire: the Missing Manual,” by Peter Meyers; $20 from MissingManuals.com.

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KINDLE COVERS

Joy loves having a reading light on her Kindle 4. Sure it’s great that you can read the Kindle’s e-ink screen in bright sunlight, but sometimes you want to read it under the covers. We bought the Amazon Kindle Lighted Leather Cover for $60. It weighs only 4.8 ounces, comes in four colors and works well.

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BOOK BORROWING ON THE KINDLE

When Joy showed Bob an advanced yoga move at the dining room table, she broke her Kindle 3 when her heel slammed down on the screen. Whoops. So we replaced it (the gadget, not the foot) with a new $79 Kindle, which is so light it nearly floats. It was a roundabout way of doing it, but that’s how we discovered what’s new with book borrowing.

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APP HAPPY ON THE KINDLE FIRE

You just got a new Kindle Fire or Android tablet for Christmas. What apps might you consider first?

Any.DO is the web site for a free to-do list that includes voice recognition. Tell it to remember to get some milk and it stores that to your list. It also listens and captures any other task you need to do. You can collaborate with others in creating a list of tasks or objectives. It’s available on Android tablets and phones and is coming “soon” to the iPhone, iPad and the web. (When we signed up, there were 18,485 people ahead of us on the waiting list.)

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WHERE’S THE FIRE?

Now that we have a Kindle Fire and an iPad, we’ll add our own opinions on which to get: Should you spend $499 or more for the iPad 2 or will the $199 Kindle Fire be enough?

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LOTS OF FREE BOOKS

A storehouse of three million free titles from the Google digital library may tempt us to get the new iRiver EBook reader. Target is selling it for $140.

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