Amazon Kindle gets longer battery life, native PDF support

The Amazon Kindle update comes on the eve of the holiday shopping season. Will it be enough to give the Kindle a leg-up over the Barnes and Noble Nook?

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Just days before the official start of holiday shopping season, Amazon has rolled out a major firmware update for its latest generation Kindle. The update, which is clearly timed to draw some of the buzz away from the Barnes and Noble Nook, includes extended battery life and what's known as a "native" PDF reader.

According to Amazon, Kindle now has battery life of up to seven days even with wireless turned on, which almost doubles the previous battery life of four days. The Kindle will still say juiced for up to two weeks with the wireless turned off. The battery life update is the "result of a six month firmware improvement and testing program," Amazon said in a statement.

As for the "native" PDF thing, here's the translation: The 6-inch Kindle will now be able to open PDF documents without conversion. That cuts down on a whole lot of hassle, especially when it comes to business documents and the like.

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The updates will applied automatically to any new Kindle.

What if you're already bought the new 6-inch Kindle? Don't fret. You can still get the improvements via a firmware update automatically delivered over Whispernet wireless. "Native PDF support will also be available for some earlier versions of Kindle," Amazon said.

Of course, Amazon has long been jockeying with its competitors in the e-reader arena.

Back in October, Amazon today quietly dropped the price on the international edition of its popular e-reader. At the same time, the company consolidated the line of 6-inch Kindles into one world edition, which will sell for $259 – the same price point as the Nook.

Amazon said it would credit the accounts of consumers who bought the international Kindle for $279. “You don’t need to do anything to get the lower price – we are automatically issuing you a $20 refund,” the company wrote in a message posted on Amazon.com.

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