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.

11 Comments »

William Eggington wrote on July 22nd, 2010 at 8:35 PM PST:

Whuh!?! I just got a nook and it has a nice web browser and the android OS under the hood but the browser only works with wi-fi. The 3G is limited to book purchases.

Maybe the data gets scrunched so much because of it being black and white that it really doesn’t cost the 3G network providers that much to just go ahead and support it but. . .

Huh. I didn’t know that.


Glenn wrote on July 22nd, 2010 at 9:05 PM PST:

That sounds like a good deal! As far as I know Kindle isn’t supported in Australia.

I bought a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 recently. They give us 1gb of internet for $5 a month. It’s a nice device for reading. I use Google Reader for all the blogs I check including yours. The mobile version of Reader is brilliant. Along with gmail, flickr and facebook, that’s pretty much all I need. Vimeo works on here too. The videos look great on the 4″ screen, when they don’t do the stop and start thing.

The camera is nice too. Expect to see a music video shot on this thing sometime soon.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on July 23rd, 2010 at 12:50 AM PST:

>The 3G is limited to book purchases.

Not on the Kindle. The Kindle has full Internet support for its browser too. It has no WiFi in it.

>they give us 1gb of internet for $5 a month.

Not in the US. There’s no pay-as-you-go data, and data plans are part of the full contracts, usually at around $75 a month. Only the iPad plan costs $15, for only 250 MB per month.

>Expect to see a music video shot on this thing sometime soon.

Let me know when it’s out. I might be able to poke a few people who’d be interested in seeing this.


Anders Pedersen wrote on July 23rd, 2010 at 4:48 AM PST:

Thanks Eugenia this was a great article.

But for the Netherlads Amazon say’s:
“Blogs and the experimental web browser are currently not available for your country. You will have free access to Wikipedia if wireless is available.”


Glenn wrote on July 23rd, 2010 at 6:17 AM PST:

Those plans in the US sound expensive. I’m lucky to have been on a plan for years where I only pay for the calls. One month my bill was only 15c! All my calls that month were to people on the same network, so were free. The Xperia handset is costing me $35 (Au) a month over 24 months including the 1gb. $30/month for the handset on it’s own.

Yes, I’ll let you know about the video. Might shoot it next week. I’m sure a bunch of music videos have already been shot using iPhones, but I’m not a fan of Apple. Steve Jobs “you’re holding it wrong” excuse for their antenna problem on the iPhone4 convinced me not to get one of those. Being left handed would mean I would most definitely be “holding it wrong”.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on July 23rd, 2010 at 11:43 AM PST:

>But for the Netherlands Amazon

Yeah, I found that not all countries get the free browsing. Some countries outside of the US do though. I also read that Amazon wants to expand the free browsing in all countries eventually though.


himanshu wrote on July 24th, 2010 at 4:39 AM PST:

Nice eugenia ! But it seems that unlimited Internet on kindle is available on only those countries where amazon has struck some kind of deal with data carriers.

How is the keyboard on kindle ? Is there some way of tethering using kindle 😉


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on July 24th, 2010 at 1:25 PM PST:

Keyboard is not great, but usable. Most of the times you will be using bookmarks anyway. There is no tethering of course, it’s not an open OS with apps.


Vast Majority wrote on July 24th, 2010 at 1:56 PM PST:

How does the Kindle screen look under full sunlight? I’m under the impression that it is much more “readable” than the iPad.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on July 24th, 2010 at 2:06 PM PST:

Yes, of course. It’s also a better solution for long plane trips.


zima wrote on July 25th, 2010 at 10:43 PM PST:

With this reminder, I checked the current situation for my place…and I’m slightly shocked. Web access has been enabled. In many places (why Amazon doesn’t have a quick list?…)

Finally, there is a day when I don’t have to grumble about such things being available only in few places which, relatively speaking, need them the least ;P – my own personal h2g2 coming up. And I might even prefer greyscale… (though – who the hell had the idea of cold metal back in K2? That seems like an antithesis of “book feel”, almost like trying to convince us to get some nice casing)


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