Amazon Kindle 3G

Ok – I’m more than a little bit excited…

After buying my mum a Kindle for Christmas, I’ve finally ordered myself one!

Unfortunately delivery dates over the festive break mean I won’t get mine till the New Year, but it just means I can get all my ebooks in order between then and now. I have, however, had plenty of opportunity to set my mum’s Kindle up, source her some good books and have a general play around with it. My experience with it led me to order one for myself… it’s just that good!

The Kindle 3G, at £149 £152 following the VAT increase  (including VAT and delivery – click HERE to buy yours now!) is exceptionally good value and the e-ink screen has to be seen to be believed/appreciated. Anyone that’s ever had to contend with looking at a regular laptop screen in the sunlight will know exactly what I’m talking about.

Have a look at the video Amazon has put together themselves on the Kindle 3G page – it’s really quite good and helps explain fairly clearly what the Kindle is and what the features and benefits are. You can access the page by clicking HERE.

Contents of this article:

Kindle features

The features, according to Amazon are:

  • All-New, High-Contrast E Ink Screen – 50% better contrast with latest E Ink Pearl technology
  • Read in Bright Sunlight – No glare
  • New and Improved Fonts – New crisper, darker fonts
  • New Sleek Design – 21% smaller body while keeping the same 6″ size reading area
  • 15% Lighter – Only 247 grams, weighs less than a paperback
  • Battery Life of One Month – A single charge lasts up to one month with wireless off
  • Double the Storage – Up to 3,500 books
  • Books in 60 seconds – Download books anytime, anywhere
  • Free 3G Wireless – No monthly payments, no annual contracts
  • Built-In Wi-Fi – In addition to the 3G wireless, you can connect to Wi-Fi hotspots
  • 20% Faster Page Turns – Seamless reading
  • Enhanced PDF Reader – With dictionary lookup, notes, and highlights
  • New WebKit-Based Browser – Free 3G web browsing (experimental)

Click HERE to buy yours now

Kindle pricing

Please note that all prices are correct at the time/date of publishing (29th December 2010).

Prices can change, so please click through on the stated links to find out the latest prices.

The Kindle 3G is the version I’ve been writing about in this post. It’s currently £149 £152 including VAT and delivery – link to Amazon page HERE

There is also a non-3G version that just has wireless only – and for many people, this will suffice. It’s even more affordable at £109 £111 including VAT and delivery and can be found by clicking on this link HERE.

One of the common elements I’ve come across in the reviews is the talk of pricing. Many books are available with significant discounts for the Kindle versions when compared to the paperback and hardback versions. This is only fair if you think about it, as the cost of distribution and production are hugely reduced when talking about digital media. However, there are some reviewers out there who think more could be done to make them even lower cost. Certainly, the newspapers and periodicals that still charge quite high prices (check out a summary list below, HERE) are the ones that tend to receive the most negative reviews compared to the book reviews – because on the whole, it could be considered a lesser experience reading the Kindle version of the newspaper. It comes down to personal preference really though. I read a newspaper for the articles and the information I glean from them, not so much to look at the pictures. This is, to some extent, reflected in the pricing of the Kindle newspaper versions – but not as much as it probably should be.

The incremental cost of production and distribution is virtually zero when compared to print editions, yet the publishers are arguably being greedy by charging such high fees. I imagine it has something to do with losing their advertising revenue from Kindle versions, so there’s a need to recoup their money in any other way possible – they should just recognise that ultimately it’s their readers that are the important people in this whole relationship and they shouldn’t be exploited in the way that they are with the high prices being charged.

So, I imagine it’ll come down to just how much you want to read the latest news each day and whether you’re able to digest it in alternative formats too. Sky News is pretty pervasive these days, wherever you are in the world… from airport waiting lounges, to train stations, hotels and even business reception areas! iPhones and other smartphones have helped bridge the gap too – but Kindle’s place is first and foremost an ebook reader – these other features and subscriptions are just added extras in my opinion.

Click HERE to buy yours now

Kindle Free 3G

One of the big selling points of the Kindle 3G as far as I’m concerned is the free 3G that is included.

Amazon have cooperated with different telecoms vendors in different countries all over the world. For each place, it is the local telecommunication company that provides the free wireless for the Kindle device.

You can check the international coverage provided for the Kindle 3G by clicking this link HERE. The map allows you to search for and check the level of reception you can expect to receive on your device in different locations.

Why’s it important?

It means I can find and download new material to my Kindle, typically in under 60 seconds (the downloading part, obviously… not the finding part!). Another useful feature is that when purchasing a Kindle, you automatically get a couple of Kindle email addresses. When managing your Kindle account, you can set a maximum charge amount for having material sent to your Kindle (it’s free to receive any books purchased from the Kindle store). You also have a free Kindle email address which doesn’t incur any charges, but will only download the material to your Kindle when you’re either on wifi or connected to a regular PC. I think they’ve particularly undersold this feature, as I imagine it will be quite handy for me if I have to read any business reports or familiarise myself with any research before meetings – I can either send it to my Kindle myself, or have someone in the company send it to me. Not only will it be delivered quickly and easily, but it’ll be readable on the ever-so-handy Kindle. It’ll make train journeys that much easier for me, that’s for sure.

Amazon’s Kindle Support pages explains more about file types (HERE), but I’ve extracted a section below to explain the file types that are accepted.

Kindle’s Personal Document Service (via Whispernet) allows you to e-mail the following approved file types to your Kindle’s e-mail address:

  • Microsoft Word (.DOC)
  • Structured HTML (.HTML, .HTM)
  • RTF (.RTF)
  • JPEG (.JPEG, .JPG)
  • GIF (.GIF)
  • PNG (.PNG)
  • BMP (.BMP)
  • PDF (.PDF): Look below for details.
  • Microsoft Word (.DOCX) is supported in our experimental category.

The above file types can also be combined in a compressed ZIP (.ZIP) file. ZIP files are automatically opened up by the conversion service, converted to the Kindle format, and sent to your Kindle or computer as specified.

Click HERE to buy yours now

Kindle newspapers and Kindle periodicals

The fact that you can also subscribe to your regular daily newspapers and have it automatically delivered every morning either via the free 3G or wi-fi (if you’re in range of an accessible hot spot) is incredible. I’m already looking forward to appreciating this when I’m on holiday, sat by the pool or on my balcony – and enjoying the daily newspaper, without having to pay the extortionate import charges to get the paper version. However, one word of warning – after reading a range of reviews about the Kindle versions of the newspapers – it seems that they still haven’t sorted out the layouts correctly and proofing of the Kindle versions leaves something to be desired. Errors do creep in, pictures are sparse or non existent and table layouts are often omitted altogether.

However you can, for instance, currently subscribe to the following newspapers quickly and easily:

  • Times and Sunday Times for just £9.99 a month (click HERE to find out more).
  • Or, if you prefer, the Daily and Sunday Mail for £8.99 a month (link HERE).
  • The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph is £9.99 a month (HERE)
  • The Independent and Independent on Sunday is £13.99 a month (HERE)
  • Or the London Evening Standard at £3.99 a month (HERE)
  • The Financial Times UK (Kindle) edition is £17.98 a month (HERE)

There are also a number of periodicals that you can subscribe to. It’s important to stress that the versions designed for the Kindle are text-heavy, without much fancy graphics or diagrams and certainly no videos or animations as might be seen on the corresponding web sites or the iPad versions – if it’s the text that you’re after, then these periodical subscriptions are receiving some excellent reviews.

  • The Economist at £9.99 a month (HERE)
  • PC Magzazine £0.99 a month (HERE) – NB Received poorly reviewed, as out-dated and too US centric
  • The Spectator at £2.99 a month (HERE)
  • Science News at £2.99 a month (HERE)
  • Asimov’s Science Fiction £1.99 a month (HERE)

Click HERE to buy your Kindle 3G now

Kindle videos

Did you know there’s also a whole YouTube channel about the Kindle? – although the videos seem a bit dated here and they’re all US based. Or, you can check out this YouTube review of the Kindle 3G… it’s an American review, but as the product is international, it’s just as applicable and shows a good range of the features, as well as how it looks.

Click HERE to buy yours now

Kindle Experimental

The Kindle also includes some added extras – which are perhaps rightly included in what’s termed an “experimental” section of the device. I think the most interesting feature here is the web browser, or webkit based browser, as Amazon call it.

They explain it as, “Kindle’s new web browser is based on WebKit to provide a better web browsing experience. Now it’s easier than ever to find the information you’re looking for right from your Kindle. Experimental web browsing is free to use over 3G or Wi-Fi.”

It’s never going to replace traditional web browsing in its current form, at least not for everyday use, particularly when the interface is so unintuitive. The D-pad method of moving a pointer around the screen is slow and cumbersome. After using mouse-driven GUI’s or touchscreen interfaces like on the iphone, it takes some getting used to. However, remember that this is just an added extra. It’s something I image will be useful, if for example I want to check cinema times or train times… accessing fairly static, non graphical/interactive data will be the best use of this feature in my opinion. But, as with any of the non-core ebook features, these are nice to have add-ons which may mature into much better features in subsequent Kindle editions.

Click HERE to buy yours now

Managing your Kindle

The Kindle itself is actually really easy to manage. I’ve found that using the Collections feature is the easiest way of organising my books – although other online reviewers have said that the use of tagging has made their lives easier; whatever works for you I suppose!

Amazon also provide a wealth of resources and information about managing your Kindle. Once logged in, you’ll be able to find the ‘manage your Kindle’ link from within the Kindle store – and from here, you can manage your content, the device, settings and more.

However, virtually any review I’ve read about ebook readers online – and this includes e-readers other than the Kindle – have said that Calibre is an essential application that anyone with an ebook reader needs to have. I’ve downloaded and tried the application and I’m in complete agreement with everyone else. Not only is the program completely free (they do ask for donations though) – but it’s extremely versatile. It helps you manage your entire library (and with the Kindle able to store around 3,500 books – you’re going to need some help as the thing fills up!). It will also convert to and from .mobi (the Kindle format) – and will read virtually every other format too.

Calibre can convert from a huge number of formats to a huge number of formats. It supports all the major e-book formats. The full list of formats has been reproduced below.



This alone makes the Calibre software invaluable, but there’s another feature which can further extend the usefulness of the Kindle. Calibre can be set to automatically fetch news from designated web sites or RSS sources, convert the text into an ebook format and then make the content ready to upload to your Kindle (or other ebook reader). The good thing is that these newly created ebooks will also include the full versions of the articles, not just the summaries. The Calibre library already has over 300 sources listed, including Time, The Economist, The Guardian, Wired and the BBC – although you can also add your own.

You can download Calibre here:

Click HERE to buy yours now

Ebook resources

There are lots of free resources out there to get your hands on free ebooks. A quick list includes:

Other free ebook sites include:

There are also some p2p resources that offer ebook torrents (but you should only share and download non-copyright material!)

There are lots more – but these seem to have a good selection.

If you have any extra resources and links relating to ebooks – then please post them in the comments section.

Click HERE to buy yours now

Kindle Images

Amazon Kindle 3G

Images display well on the screen, albeit in black and white

The quality of the text is amazing!

It's so thin! There's no chance of getting arm or hand ache holding this.

Click HERE to buy yours now