Monday, January 31, 2011

A Kindle in Australia review

Kindle off.jpgI've had the smaller international Kindle for a few weeks now, most recently while on holiday. While the iPad is a wonderful reader, particularly for indoor use, there is definitely a place for the Kindle.

The Kindle is lighter and thinner and, being an eInk display, just gets easier to read as the ambient light gets brighter. (Below is a view of the screen in direct sunlight).

Wireless broadband is built in. Here in Australia it uses Telstra's network, there is no contract, no fees and it mostly works very well. At any time, you can turn wireless on, browse the Amazon Kindle store (of some 500,000 books), purchase something and within a minute or two it is on your home screen.

This can be addictive, particularly when there are titles for one or two dollars.

The device can also use Wifi which is faster. At the moment there is no charge for the 3G wireless delivery of books, the cost is built-in to the cover price, and there is an "experimental" web browser, WebKit based, that also currently gets this free bandwidth.

The web browser is usable but not pleasant. The screen doesn't have enough speed or pixels to make it all come together, but if you're desperate for the news it's workable. The arrow pad lets you move a cursor around the screen from link to link and there's a magnify option. I've been able to use gMail and Google News but even a phone is better choice if available.

Kindle reading.jpg

I'm running software version 3.0.2 and so far I've had a few crashes or hangs. Mostly either in the web browser or while marking text in the reader. On one occasion I left it in my bag charged, asleep, and next day found it completely flat. My guess is that as wireless was on it somehow drained itself trying to reach a basestation in a bad coverage location.

These days I leave wireless off and just turn it on to purchase books.

As well as getting books directly through the built-in store you can plug the device into a computer, where it mounts as a disk, and simply drag titles in .TXT or .MOBI format over to it where they join the rest of the list. I think there was a bit over 3GB free when new and now it's 2.5GB despite the fact that I have 760 books in mine now.

Many of the computer books I buy from O'Reilly publishing. One great thing about O'Reilly is that once you buy a book you can download it in many different formats including ePub for the iPad and .mobi for Kindle.

As there is a Kindle application for iPad, books I buy from Amazon can also be read on the iPad.

I've owned Sony readers and played with all the others I've encountered in stores and the Kindle is the best beside my iPad.

Australian electronic book scandal

What is the story with buying electronic books in Australia? The range is much smaller and the prices are higher. Mr who?, break down this wall!


Anonymous said...

Nice review.
If I just buy the WiFi version (NO 3G) can I still use the web browser with my local internet in my house?

Anonymous said...

Sure, the wifi version lets you view the web on your wifi network.

As I said, it's not a great browsing experience but when bored away from home it's a bonus.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am mainly gonna buy the Kindle for reading books, but I also write on a forum (GameSpot) so it would be great if I could read the updates on there as well.
Any chance you can try the forums for me?

- Also, I've heard there is not as many books available online (Amazon) in AUS than in US?
- Can I buy books from other websites for the kindle?
- When I choose a book from my collection, does it show the covers?

Anonymous said...

My wife has the kindle today so I can't check that site right now.

Yes there are far less ebooks available in Australia than the US. Having said that I understand there's 500,000 available so that's not too bad.

I mostly buy O'Reilly publications which you can get in MOBI format which can be dragged on to the Kindle for reading.

The cover only shows in the book itself as far as I've noticed. It's not as graphical as the iPad..

Unknown said...

so, can you use the 3g and the web browser to be on the internet when you're not near a wi-fi hotspot? I'd like to use it on the train to work.

Anonymous said...

Yes you can view web pages but it's pretty slow and low resolution. Having said that it's a good deal for free (at the moment).