In case you haven’t heard about it, there’s been some controversy from people who have had both a first generation and second generation Kindle, complaining that the Kindle 2’s text doesn’t appear as crisp and dark on the screen, making reading more difficult in low-lighting situations. The problem isn’t a problem with the Kindle 2’s screen (which is actually better than the screen on the first generation Kindle), but instead Amazon has added font-smoothing to the Kindle 2 because its better screen can handle such things as font smoothing. Unfortunately, the font smoothing decreases readability.
This forum thread has quite a bit of discussion of all of the above, as well as a link to a petition you can sign if you are so inclined, asking Amazon to improve the fonts on the second generation Kindle. Even better than all that, Ted Inoue has a set of installers for different custom fonts that he’s designed to rectify this issue (as well as an uninstaller), so that you can change the fonts on your Kindle 2 if you would like a little more contrast when reading in lower lighting situations.
I just installed the Arial Round Narrow font on my Kindle 2, and here’s some comparative screenshots.
First, the Kindle 2 displaying the first all-text page from today’s New York Times in the default font:
Second, after the installation of update_arialRndNrw_install.bin here’s a screenshot of the same all-text page from today’s New York Times:
Now, you’re probably thinking “ok, cool you can change the fonts, but honestly the first one doesn’t look any lighter than the second one, really.” Well, true, but that is because these were screenshots and don’t represent the difference of the two fonts being displayed on the actual screen with font smoothing. It’s not that the black in the middle of each character is any blacker, it’s that the edges get slightly blurred / smoothed by the display, so the more rounded default font blurs a bit more than the straight boldness of the arial font.
You can find actual comparison shots of the different fonts on the screen below the download files on this page.
In any case, this hack is as simple as downloading the font file you want to use, putting it in the root directory of your Kindle 2 via USB, then dismounting your Kindle 2, hit Menu, then Settings, then Menu, then Update Your Kindle and simply wait for the update to apply and your Kindle 2 to reboot. Don’t try to reset your Kindle during this process. Once it’s done, you should have a new font. Check it out. If you don’t like it, just use the uninstaller file and follow the same process as above. Easy.
UPDATE: I uninstalled everything and then installed the bolded version of the default font using update_Droid_fonts_install.bin. Here’s a screenshot of that one:
I should also note that even after you run the uninstaller, there are several extra files in the root directory of your Kindle, including: font.properties.new, font.properties.orig, font.properties.prerestore, font.properties.restored, netfront.ini.new, netfront.ini.orig, netfront.ini.prerestore, and netfront.ini.restored. So if you run this hack then uninstall it to send your Kindle in for repair or something, make sure you remove those extra files too.
Another Update: If you install this hack, the next time Amazon releases an official update you will have to uninstall it in order to perform the update. Version 2.0.3 update works with it, so just uninstall the hack, run the official update, and then reinstall the hack.