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Amazon Kindle 3 (3G+WiFi) - WiFi or 3G, Cost & Verdict

Gordon Kelly

By Gordon Kelly


Our Score


Review Price £152.00

Speaking of this rudimentary music support (files are played solely in the date order they were added to the Kindle), it comes under a menu section tantalisingly dubbed 'Experimental'. In it are three features Amazon deems to be in beta with the other two being text-to-speech and a web browser. The former works well simply toggling on or off to allow your reading to continue while you are doing other things (it turns pages to keep pace). The latter is a surprisingly competent Webkit-based (Chrome, Safari, Android) browser that renders pages accurately (minus Flash content) and is handy when caught short, to conduct simple surfing or for checking email.

For me it is this feature which will determine whether you chose to spend £109 on the Kindle WiFi or £149 Kindle 3G+WiFi. In a turn up for the books Amazon supplies the latter with free 3G and unlimited global data use for the lifetime of the device. If you travel a lot this basic web browser, combined with the convenience of Whispersync anywhere will more than pay for the additional £40.

All of which leads us onto the second major change which makes the Kindle 3 so important: pricing. Covers are not included (and can cost up to £50), but when the first Kindle launched in 2007 it was priced at $399 (£250). This was a revelation at the time and still compares well to rivals like the Viewsonic VEB612, iRiver Story and Sony PRS-505, but given the Kindle 3 has the best e-ink screen on the market and the best integrated store and synchronisation service the new pricing is revolutionary. Revolutionary not just for Kindle owners, but because it is forcing others to drastically slash their RRPs as well.

I have argued before that in an ideal world eBook readers should cost under £50 - the value being in their content not the device - though the Kindle 3 is a hugely significant step in the right direction. In fact I suspect it will prove a tipping point for many. It certainly was for both Andy and I as we put our money where our mouths are and bought one (WiFi and 3G+WiFi respectively).


There are significant hardware changes to the Kindle 3 on close inspection, but the real benefits are the excellent Amazon Kindle UK store, Whispersync service and game changing price tags. Existing Kindle owners need not apply, but early adopters will be wincing at the savings now available to those who waited.

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October 6, 2010, 11:33 am

I've had my Kindle 3G some 2 weeks now and I am not alone in being very impressed (see the Amazon review pages). I travel to Asia a lot and wanted a book reader I could use while in flight and in hotels (and yes, those business traveller restaurant meals-for-one). On a recent trip to India I had my novels loaded up, many work PDF files (effortlessly) converted to Kindle format, and a trial delivery of The Independent newspaper. Overall an excellent reading experience during the trip - I did a lot more reading than usual (and not glued to inane hotel TV channels). A huge boon was the 3G roaming - which worked perfectly in Delhi and Mumbai, although at EDGE rather than full 3G level - I could download a new book, get my Indie delivered each day and even browse websites (better to use mobile sites for usability on the small screen) - and all of this totally free on the Indian Vodafone network. This browsing was an added extra, not the Kindle's core feature. Too many geeks spend time reviewing this feature than the Kindle's core function (which is the old fashioned reading of books). It is a truly excellent ebook reader. The Amazon website has over 300,000 ebook titles (and thousands of free classics); not everything I want is available, but none the less the choice and pricing of books is very good indeed. I can download book samples and buy the book if I want. On a plane, on the sofa it is actually easier to use than a thick paperback, and the screen quality is as good as reading a paper book (with a choice of fonts and sizes that a real book cannot give you). I'm a convert, and this Kindle will be the first thing I drop into my bag on trips; global, free for life data roaming to download books, get your newspaper delivered or do basic browsing is a big value add too. One of the best gadgets I have ever bought; and as a frequent traveller the 3G was the better option.


October 6, 2010, 12:18 pm

Nice review - a tipping point this probably is (as soon as I get through my backlog of paperbacks). However, it's probably worth pointing out that any DRM needs to be stripped before Calibre will convert ePub to Kindle format or vice versa. Easy enough for those with some technical competence/Googling skills.


October 6, 2010, 12:59 pm

I got mine as a gift a week ago and totally love. It' so light and compact you barely notice that you're carrying it. Definitely far more portable than a book.

I only got the WiFi version but to be honest if the need arises (which I can't forsee) I can use my Desire as a hotspot for it.

If you love books you will absolutely love it. I find that the page turning is near instantaneous and it doesn't bother me at all. I'm just pleased to not have to anchor a book open with my phone any more while I'm eating my lunch and then fiddle with page turns.

The only downer is the .mobi format. Although books are cheap at Amazon I've been burned by iTunes and still have loads of old DRMd tracks which are useless on anything non-Apple. Why Amazon?

Top marks for calibre too although I did find it a bit confusing to get my head around.


October 6, 2010, 1:19 pm

I couldn't believe the price of both Kindle models when I saw them on Amazon's home page. I've actually found myself reading more since I bought a few ebooks on my iPad - using the Kindle App seeing as it's so much cheaper than iBooks.

For £100, I can't see it being long before I'm tempted to buy a dedicated reader, especially as I'm already building up quite a collection for it.


October 6, 2010, 1:27 pm

I was lucky enough to get one of the first Kindles, and have read incessantly since then.

I can't manage quite such unqualified enthusiasm for the screen as other folk. It's brilliant in sunlight or interior daylight, but in lowish artificial lighting it's a bit of a struggle... the contrast isn't that high. For my first few days Kindling I found myself sitting in my living room twisting the device to odd angles to try and catch the light or reading with it right up to my face.

Once I realized I was doing this I bought the £50 (eek!) case with integrated reading light, which completely solves the problem, but I'm surprised at how many people think the display is just perfect - my eyesight is great, but for prolonged reading I thought the display hard work under typical living room/bedroom artificial light.

That said, I love the device (or have done since they bumped the firmware to 3.0.1 and it stopped crashing all the time), and my continual discovery of 'must-read bargains' on the Kindle store is doubtless making Amazon very happy too.


October 6, 2010, 1:42 pm

This looks excellent. I've held out until now, but this looks like it will tempt me.

Tipping point!!

Shame about the DRM but a quick google tells me it's easy to strip it off so I'm not too concerned about that.

And free browsing from other countries!? That's amazing!


October 6, 2010, 2:20 pm

You know, even if it's colourless, basic 3G browsing not tied to a contract or PAYG, and way more readable in sunlight than a smartphone is not too shabby at all for a little bonus.

Ian Loynes

October 6, 2010, 2:41 pm

It really is a fantastic reading aid (I speak as a reluctant book reader)

The option to email your Kindle with office documents (Word, PDF) is the killer function I've been waiting for.

Not sure yet if my 3G option is worth the 50% hike in price, but there is no doubt that it works well and allows me far more mobility.

Well done Amazon, for a gadget that... just works.

My only negative is book pricing, whilst some are cheap, many are just a few pence cheaper than buying a real book, which has to be printed and then posted. Kindle books have infinite free circulation and I just don't understand why they are not (say) £2 cheaper than printed books to reflect lower production and distribution costs.


October 6, 2010, 2:41 pm

I think im going to get one of these to try it out as my first e-reader. It would be ideal for my parents as they spend a lot of time on our summerhouse which is off the coast of Denmark and has no internet, it does have 3G however so the 3G version would be ideal for my mum to download books and my dad to download the Daily Telegraph..... hmm maybe I should get two then :-)


October 6, 2010, 2:49 pm

It's a great device. I've been more than satisfied since I've bought it. Maybe my eyesight is great, but I can read it very well in low light, and I think the contrast if fantastic, not worse than a book (I prefer the e-reader, actually). As the review explains, just use Calibre for management and conversion and it will be a doddle. The official Amazon pouches prices are a joke, though, I use a bubbled envelope and it does the trick perfectly.


October 6, 2010, 3:06 pm

I never realised the free 3G would power a browser! I am in Europe about 12 days a month. Usually I can get some wifi daily but occasionally not. This would be fantastic for emailing (Gmail) etc. and that, alone, is worth the difference in price.

There are a lot of manuals at work which exist in pdf form. Having all those to hand (I presume with a search function) could also be handy.

I just can't get over paying for books, having been a long term local library user! Perhaps now is the time to become a little less tight ;)


October 6, 2010, 3:14 pm

Wow, tipping point indeed: I actually bought one (Wifi only) just yesterday. I wonder if I'm the only one who sees the Kindle more as a personal documents reader/alternative to printing than a gateway to the Amazon bookstore, though.

Andy Vandervell

October 6, 2010, 4:13 pm

Anyone else find they read faster using the Kindle, as well? Maybe it's my natural enthusiasm of a new device, but I find I read faster and my eyes aren't as fatigued after reading sessions.

As it happens, I bought one of the official cases - a normal one, not with a light. They are expensive, but they're also very nice. :D


October 6, 2010, 4:14 pm

@Ian Loynes: eBooks are subject to VAT in the UK whereas printed books are not. It's an arcane stance that might be rectified by an EU ruling, but for now it's not helping.


October 6, 2010, 4:25 pm

@xoanito - 'contrast ... not worse than a book'. Wishful thinking, buddy! Compare the Kindle on the right and the paper on the left in the photo at the top of this thread, for example:


And I could (if I could be bothered :) take photos showing a still more pronounced contrast difference than in the photo above, which it looks like was taken in an office in good light.

(The photo is of the 2010 Kindle DX, but that has the same next generation E Ink Pearl screen as the Kindle 3.)

I'm not trying to slate the Kindle. As I'm enjoying a 'career break' I've read dozens of books in the time I've had it. I love it, and I've never previously spent anywhere near so much time with a new gadget (though this is perhaps not surprising given its role as a substitute for traditional books), but I think the 'display just like a book' story has been overdone!


October 6, 2010, 4:48 pm

Guys, could you please tell us how easy it is to read a graphical PDF (i.e., a PDF which has an image of the page, as many academic articles do) on the Kindle? Can you read the text comfortably on that size of screen?

Secondly, any chance of posting a video showing what the page transitions look like? Do you still have that flicker where it turns negative-like?


October 6, 2010, 4:53 pm

@simonm: I agree, the Kindle's screen is not quite 'just like a book', but to me it's so close as to make no difference. Only the slightly reflective nature of the screen makes any real difference IMHO.

That picture you referenced is a bit selective, as it compares the e-readers to a single sheet of plain paper. Good paper has a very white tone, but that's not what I do most of my reading on. Regular paperbacks often use nasty recycled paper, which is closer in tone to the Kindle's screen. I know which one I'd rather be reading from.


October 6, 2010, 4:59 pm

I think it's a great device myself and was very impressed by the screen. I did actually think it was a printed sheet on my screen when it arrived, turned out it was only in sleep mode. So I'm happy I bought it but on reflection the Wifi only version instead of the Wifi/3G might have been sufficient for me.

As for content, the book prices seem cheaper to me, the only issue I have is the small number of UK daily newspapers available. And due to form factor I can now carry my CCNA book with me to study wherever I go, as well as all the other ebook reference material I have - very handy!

I've put my own thoughts <a href="http://halesy.wordpress.com/20... Wordpress</a> if you're interested, and also discussed in a bit more detail the <a href="http://halesy.wordpress.com/20... and Wifi/3G versions</a>.


October 6, 2010, 5:07 pm

@lensmann I've been reading PDFs on my Kindle and I would suggest you need to do it in landscape and not portrait mode. I did manage to get my CCNA stuff on Kindle format and it works great.

If I have the time I'll try do a couple of pics showing you how it looks.


October 6, 2010, 5:39 pm

I'm also interested to see how academic pdfs display. These would compose the bulk of my reading on the device.

There is a good video on youtube which shows a PDF, zooming, and page transitions.



October 6, 2010, 6:37 pm

@Ian Loynes:

"Not sure yet if my 3G option is worth the 50% hike in price" - actually, it's more of a 37% price hike, as the Wi-Fi is £109 and the Wi-Fi + 3G is £149.

Arctic Fox

October 6, 2010, 8:17 pm

Taking into account the way Kindle has developed as a device since version 1 is there anyone here who shares my suspicions about where/in what direction Amazon is taking this already fine piece of kit? In the medium term I mean - not next year or even the year after but....? Who or what they might be thinking of competing with as the cost of adding more and more functionality drops without compromising build quality. They appear to be growing a very large market for a device that seems to be slowly "mutating" into something more than "merely" an e-reader. Just wondering. I would bet that "someone else" is also wondering what Amazon might be up to!


October 6, 2010, 8:40 pm

@Arctic Fox: The Kindle is getting cheaper, better and faster. Who cares about a bit of feature creep as long as that remains the case?

There will always be demand for a cheap device that does a good job of reading books and little else, and if Amazon don't provide it someone else will. So no, not concerned.


October 6, 2010, 9:00 pm

@Arctic Fox. It is logical that Amazon will continue to add features to their product. They want to own the content supply (that's where they make their money) and therefore need to have a product which competes with other content consumption devices such as Pads and Tablets.


October 6, 2010, 9:32 pm

There's an excellent interview here with Jeff Bezos (Amazon Founder/CEO) about the Kindle and the company's approach to focusing on the Kindle and ebooks: http://www.charlierose.com/vie...

Its also on the America Amazon site: http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-W...

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