Archive for July 22nd, 2010

Kindle’s the best — but not why you think it would be

Today I received the Amazon Kindle 2 in the mail. I bought it refurbished, for just $110 (US Edition, there’s also a Global Edition). The Kindle is along the iPad among the best book reading devices. Truth is, I don’t read much, since I can’t focus (apparently a problem that has become worse in the last few years).

So for me, the Kindle has another major feature that it’s indispensable — if you’re willing to put up with some of its shortcomings. That feature is FREE, unlimited 3G Internet access, FOR LIFE.

Unless Amazon removes the feature somehow, the Kindle 2 comes with a web browser (under the “experimental” menu). Kindle’s Netfront web browser is definitely not as good as the likes of Webkit on the various modern smartphones, but it’s still good enough, and fully operational, for basic web browsing and emailing.

Personally, when I’m using my phones via WiFi, I only browse to very few web sites, the ones that form the skeleton of my internet experience. They’re mostly general news, tech news, and emailing web sites. So by using their mobile pages, I was able to get the same experience on the Kindle as I’d get from my smartphones. I don’t feel I’m missing out here, because even when using my smartphones via WiFi, I still prefer mobile pages, for browsing speed, and lesser bandwidth consumption.

So these are the sites I generally use when on the go, and apparently they work great on the Kindle:
– Mobile.osnews.com
– i.engadget.com
– m.gizmodo.com
– m.digg.com
– m.cnn.com
– m.io9.com
– slashdot.org/palm
– m.facebook.com
– mobile.twitter.com
– https://mail.google.com/mail/x/ (mobile version)
– https://mail.google.com/mail/h/ (lite desktop version)
– This blog

My 1-year pay-as-you-go phone service with my cellular provider is about to expire soon, so I was pondering if I should get an iPhone, or a Samsung Galaxy S, along a 2 year contract with “unlimited” data. However, that would cost me thousands of dollars, when I can just go for another $100 pay-as-you-go service for 1 more year (I don’t call a lot via my cell — I still have $50 left after a whole year), and then use the Kindle as my “data” device. For the rest of my sporadic calls, I use either Google Voice when at home, or my landline directly, or Skype when calling my mom.

Would it be a better experience if I had a smartphone and/or an iPad instead? The answer is yes. However, since my online needs are not major and I don’t do a lot of calls, it makes no sense to pay for things that I don’t really need just because “they look better on a colorful screen”.

The user experience I get from the Kindle reminds me of my old monochrome Palm PDA. I was using the offline browser Avantgo with it, or my infrared-based modem (the PDA would create a dial-in networking connection via infrared — these were the days). However, the Kindle is still better: the browser is better than what we had back then, it has a bigger screen, a hardware keyboard, and a real 3G connection. And if I had bought the Global Edition of the Kindle, I’d have Internet almost everywhere in Europe too, for free.

So overall, it kicks ass. Internet on the go, free of charge. Sure I have to put up with a gray screen, but it works.