Even a blind man in a dark room can see what the problem is with eBook readers has been – the cost. Every eBook reader review Reg Hardware has run has been followed by dozens of comments all along the lines of: Nice idea, but how much? Amazon Kindle 3 Amazon's Kindle 3: e-book gets new cover Now Amazon has bitten the bullet …
In my opinion the 3G one is clearly the better option
If the Kindle weren't available when 3G then I wouldn't have bought one. True, wireless hotspots are not too hard to find but if you're in a hotel that requires you to connect to the network then open your browser to authenticate then you're out of luck as the Kindle can't do that.
I'm a frequent business traveller so I like the way I can get my daily newspaper 'delivered' every morning no matter where in the world I am without having the mess about finding a wireless hotspot. Turn the Kindle on and within a minute or two there's my newspaper.
Even if I weren't a frequent traveller I'd still have goen for the 3G version if only to get around the annoyance of being on holiday, finishing all your books and wanting something else to read. A couple of weeks ago I was in Munich (oh how I love the Oktoberfest) and while waiting for my flight back to Heathrow I finished my last book so without any hassle I went on the Kindle store from my Kindle and downloaded a book.
Global 3G is one of the main differentiators for me between this and other eBook readers.
My only gripe is that the directional keypad has a thin border on it so with my fat fingers I often push the central button when trying to push a directional button. A minor annoyance to what is otherwise an excellent device.
Still has that major downside
Still a nice idea ... but how much?
You could get a LOT of books for £109, especially at library prices, and especially considering you not only have to buy the book reader, but books to go on your new book.
Another money spinner to pump the public for cash or fantastic new invention?
I used to think that...
But after having acquired enough e-books that I would need another two metres of shelf space (at least) to store the physical equivalents, I came to realise that (for basic text-only novels) ebooks are a premium product, at least as far as I am concerned.
I'm happy to pay extra to avoid having kilos and kilos of paper cluttering up the house, or stuffing my luggage when going on holiday. Being able to pop the e-reader in a ziplock bag and read in the bath is also a nice side benefit.
Also, a lot of ebooks are available DRM-free for $5-6 a pop from the US, which is pretty decent by UK standards.
As a bibliophile
I can say that I spend much more than £109 a year on books. Lots more. I generally read 5 - 6 books a week and recently had my bookshelf collapse under the weight of my personal library.
This is perfect for me as now instead of having to carry multiple paperbacks on my person, I can carry one device that holds my entire library, and even better it won't punish my furniture.
But, in its defence...
... all out-of-copyright books available from Amazon (more than a million, I think) are free on the Kindle, from anywhere in the world, for as long as you want. Where Kindle editions come out they also tend to appear at the same time as the hardback, but at a tiny little bit less than the paperback price. Furthermore, as the review says, you can carry round 900 big books if you want. I'm the sort of person that tends to hop from book to book, so just the reduction of three or four into a Kindle-sized package is a major win for me. Being able to put any old document on there is also a massive boon versus printing whenever you want to take away something more than about 20 pages long.
Me? I ordered one while Amazon were listing the New Yorker as being available for £3/issue rather than the £6-ish I pay from the newsagent. But at some point it was withdrawn, prior to Kindles actually shipping in the UK. So I'm quite annoyed, but such other magazines as are available seem to be similarly cheaper.
I get most of my books from charity shops. Usually they are no more than 50p for a paperback, sometimes less. OK so there is some free stuff available from Kindle, but not a whole lot and there's very little available for 50p. Downloads are hardly any cheaper than "real" books and amazon do free delivery on the reall books. If you're relying on a 3G connection downloads aren't free. So this thing would never pay for itself in purely fiscal terms.
It would probably be better if they gave you tokens for £100 worth of books with your purchase.
The other thing that's wonderful about a real book is that it comes from the charity shop for only 50p but will take any amount of abuse. OTOH a Kindle costs £109 or more and hasn't been "ruggedized" in any noticable way.
Reading in the bath? Slapping it in your rucksack while you're being outdoorsy? Could be risky.
Re: how much?
I've been filling these fora with similar comments, but the price is falling. Once we're seeing decent features for sub £100 I'll become more interested.
5 or 6 books a week?
either they're very small or...
400 pages / book, 6 books = (400*6)/7 = 340 pages per day = a page every 42 seconds!
> 340 pages per day = a page every 42 seconds!
You might want to go back and check that calculation...
OK, I think the calculation was based on a 4 hour period of reading each day which gives you:
4 (hours) x 60 (minutes) x 60 (seconds) = 1440 Seconds / 340 = 1 page per 42.35 seconds
OK so you could read for 8 hours a day every day if you liked but I think a 4hour reading period over the day is a reasonable assumption
have you read a paper book in the rain?? or tried using a soapy hand to turn a paper page?? My PRS-300 has been dripped on as ive dried off by the pool, rained on and dropped a few times, yet it still comes back for more! they are robust-ish! (although, to be fair every time i drop it, i do hold my breath when i turn it back on!!)
a page per 42 seconds is actually pretty slow reading. Many people can manage more.
Of course, you use something like Calibre to convert file types, and Amazon handily will convert all sorts of PDF and doc files into Kindle-ized documents, within minutes of you sending them an email.
The 3g version is probably worth it if you're the kind of person who would like to check the web on the way to work, rather than youtube - which isnt compatible. I find the guardian mobile sites, and my Uni course webpages display with perfect functionality.
The 3g also is useful for looking up further info, and as someone who lives and works and commutes in places that have no hotspots, it's a godsend. It's FREE INTERNET! (albeit B&W Internet).
But yeah, awesome, isn't it?
It's not free internet
It's only free browsing of the Amazon Kindle store and the ablility to download books/mags where ever you are. For internet and everything else you need to have a WiFi conection.
Jim, the post lady put mine in my intray just before lunchtime. The 3G version connects to wikipedia and the BBC news site just fine with no WI-FI.
some what wrong
the 3G version is free internet
You were right, I was wrong
So who's paying for this then? Seems too good to be true, but it is. I can't help but feel they will block this after a while.
I tried Wiki and BBC news while in Hungary on 3G, both loaded fine with up to date pages. Still looked aweful, but it did work.
If you want to read epubs, get yourself Calibre. You can then take your epubs and convert them to mobis, then send them over to the Kindle. It's a must-have for ereader readers. That takes care of the does-not-support-epub point, although the lazy ones among you may complain about the extra steps required, it's still better than nothing. Right. Right.
Swings and Roundabouts
Well, it's nice to see that the price of the Kindle has dropped, but I was shocked to see that prices of eBooks at Amazon are now mostly higher than their paperback (and often hardback) equivalents.
Of course, the olde Gutenberg-sourced eBooks are available for free, but is there really any excuse for delivering books electronically at a higher price than the paper versions? Apart from attempting to preserve the dead-tree-based business model?
Paper is cheap dude
I'd not be happier with consistently higher prices, but the cost of actually printing a book (especially at publisher volumes) is small compared to writing/proofing/editing so I'd not expect much discount, and I'd hope for little variance, but when you are the only significant ebook store I guess you can charge what you like.
Not any more
In my recent searches I've noticed that the price of eBooks on Amazon are now generally less than the paperback editions (post discount on both). I do remember them being more so it may be more to do with the fact that with them selling the Kindle3 directly in the UK market forces (i.e. a lot more people out there who will be buying eBooks) has actually brought the price down.
I've found the opposite to be true. Take the top three on Amazons bestsellers list. No.1, Eat, Pray, Love; Kindle price £3.11, paperback price £3.27, RRP £7.99. No. 2, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest; Kindle £2.44, paperback £3.99, RRP £7.99. No. 3, Worth Dying For; Kindle £6.64, Hardback (no paperback edition available) £7.59, RRP £18.99. The same is true of every other title in the top 10 that has a kindle edition. I'll grant you that the differential isn't substantial, but it is there and it is less.
Kindle books are cheaper
Dont know what books you are looking at. Look at the top 10 amazon.co.uk paper book chart and 9 of them are available on kindle and of those the kindle edition is always the cheapest.
one factor may be that ebooks attract VAT, paper books don't. Go figure HMRC
Buy them from charity shops or second hand bookshops for pence. Or better yet get them from your local library for nothing.
Really I just don't get the idea of paying a lot for a book, "e" or traditional.
I don't know about the newer titles, but there is a considerable amount of work that goes into publishing an ebook.
I have a large collection of 1950s and 60s pulp fiction, a very niche market, and probably hardly worth converting to electronic format. But I am in the process of converting one to see what it's all about, and I can tell you it takes a long time:
scanning the pages
Using OCR to convert it to editable/searchable text
Going through page by page, correcting erors the OCR made (some very funny!)
Getting the formatting to match that of the original.
It isn't necessarily difficult, just very time-consuming, so I would imagine that would push the cost up, at least until the technology becomes reliable and fast enough.
True...but from Amazon's point of view there's no storage or postage costs.. That must account for a few £s.
Some OCR packages are much better than others. I've found "ABBYY" the most reliable.
Once it's "trained" on a particular font it makes fewer mistakes.
Pulp novels were printed cheaply in every way, from the paper that gave them their name, to the layout which was quick and dirty and often too tightly set. So I wouldn't worry too much about matching the original format. As long as you get the logical structure: paragraphs, chapter heads; otherwise let the text flow and choose a more legible format.
You might find more people in your niche than you expect.
See eg http://pulpgen.com/pulp/downloads/ and other sites linked from there.
"Buy them from charity shops or second hand bookshops for pence. Or better yet get them from your local library for nothing."
I'm not sure the books I read would be the kind I'd find in second hand shops, or charity shops. Or even libraries.
Is it me...
or does anyone else find the page refresh annoying on e-ink displays?
The first line of this review made me laugh as anyone in a dark room wouldn't be able to read on a kindle!
To be fair...
anyone reading a book in a dark room would have the same problem.
In a drak room, you'd be hard-pressed to read something written on paper either.
Don't notice it any more
I've had a Sony Reader for the last couple of years and yes the flash is initially distracting, but I can honestly say I stopped noticing it after a while.
I've just bought a new Sony Reader 650 which uses the same screen as the current Kindle. The Sony feels more solid, is a bit more elegant and I prefer its interface; but the Kindle is streets ahead in getting content on to the machine. I'd have probably jumped ship if I hadn't already bought quite a lot of ePub and LRF books.
In contrast to Kindle, using the Waterstone's store and the Sony Library application is something like the fiddly process of getting content on to an MP3 player before Apple introduced the iPod - clunky.
Suprised to think people even consider the 3G version
When you can simply use your phone's AP mode...
If you're abroad, would you rather pay the extortionate roaming charges through your phone, or use the free 3G on the Kindle?
I have a Sony PRS-600 Touch and am considering the Kindle 3G because of the improved screen and the worldwide free 3G.
Calibre pretty much gives Kindle epub support, but it would be nice for Amazon to accept the standard natively.
I dunno about you..
But my data roaming is pretty dirt cheap. On a recent 6 week trip stateside, I paid around £120 for full data roaming (email & calendar pull, browsing, using as AP for my iPad, etc). Not too shabby.
In general, we do not charge you for this use of wireless connectivity
Is what it says... further "Your Kindle may use wireless connectivity to make other services available to you for which we may charge you a fee, such as personal file download and subscriptions when you are located in another country"....indicating there will be a fee if you are roaming..
WiFi only - really?
I was suprised you reccomend the WiFi only option, and not the 3G version.
With a querty keyboard, and a web browser providing access to the internet for webmail (Gmail, MSN, Yahoo! etc) as well as the ubiquitous Twitter - for an extra (once off) £50 fee, and supporting roaming in 100 countries - the 3G option looks like an absolute bargain.
I'd like to try one before buying - but that's just not possible with Amazon.
You can sort of
Once you've bought it, you can send it back for a full refund within 30 days, so long as you retain the original packaging etc.
Web browser is best only in an emergency
"With a querty keyboard, and a web browser providing access to the internet for webmail (Gmail, MSN, Yahoo! etc) as well as the ubiquitous Twitter - for an extra (once off) £50 fee, and supporting roaming in 100 countries - the 3G option looks like an absolute bargain."
I have the kindle 2, DX, and a new 3rd generation with wifi only. With wifi, the 3rd generation brower is much faster than the earlier models, but I still wouldn't want to use it intensively. Maybe to look up an occasional item on wikipedia.
I haven't seen the performance of the webkit browser on 3G, but on earlier kindles it was frankly a bit painful to use the browser. It's convenient to have it when you have no other way to get online. Say, if your cellphone doesn't have web access, and your car breaks down on the highway and you want to find a tow truck.
I used the 3G pretty much only to download things I'd bought from Amazon via my Mac.
Ride a bus?
"I'd like to try one before buying - but that's just not possible with Amazon."
They're sold in some retail stores in the US (Target, Staples, Best Buy). I guess they aren't doing that in the UK?
I've been seeing more of them in use on the subway in Boston (US) lately. And someone in my apartment building got his in the mail today. (I could tell from the box).
Find some commuters, and you might find someone with a kindle who'd let you take a look at it.
3G is much better choice
I think you missed a few vital points when you suggested that the W-Fi version was the way to go. The extra £40 gets you a 3G data connection with no additional monthly fees. Firstly this means my newspaper and magazine subscriptions arrive without any fuss about whether or not I'm connected to a hotspot.
There is also the free roaming to consider. This means that when I'm abroad I still get my subscriptions and I have free access to basic web browsing, so I can check my email, grab a map or just look something up without racking up a massive data bill.
Another great feature (of both versions) that you failed to mention in the review was the ability to send documents as email attachments to a Kindle email address. The attachments are stripped out of the email and dropped straight on the Kindle with no hassle at all. Great if you're someone who uses their Kindle to read a lot of documents, presentations etc.
PS. Thank you for not trying to compare the Kindle the Ipad.
Doesn't this version include a basic web kit based browser? Just how basic is it?
Not as bad as people make out
It's basically a gray scale smartphone browser, but with a larger resolution and viewing area.
It works a lot better than expected, but is still rather basic compared to those on the very latest smartphones.
I've had one for 2 weeks now...
...and this review has it pretty much spot on. Buying books is so easy, I've had to resist building up a huge backlog!
This is my first e-reader and it's good enough that after the first book I forgot that I wasn't reading off paper. Being able to change through so many different text sizes made it very easy to read in any condition (i.e on a bumpy bus ride).
Music support: will anyone actually use this? I bet everyone who buys one of these already has a dedicated music player. This feature is available so it will support audio books, nothing else.
PDF support: is great.
No epub: not great. But threre's a handy little bit of software (not included) which converts epub to pdf if you want to.
Web browser: is rubbish. Connected to fast WiFi it's still slow and much easier to use my phone.
Oxford English Dictionary included: awesome. I'm not the most well read person in the world, my vocab range is good but I've already used this feature on a few occasions. In any book you can select any word and the deffinition appears at the top/bottom of the screen, depending on which is further from the highlighted text.
American dictionary is also included so you can switch between the two. I work with mainly forginers and after seeing this feature they've ordered a Kindle.
Cost of the dedicated case: a joke. Buy a 3rd party one. Or use a sock.
Good point, I've always had a mini-dictionary by the bed to look up words when I'm reading at bedtime. My wife wonders if I'm all there, flicking through a dictionary in bed, but there you go!
I was wondering, though...I'm a Brit living in the US and am very tempted to get one of these. I was wondering if the UK English dictionary is available on the US version. somehow i doubt it, but it would be nice if it was.
"Cost of the dedicated case: a joke. Buy a 3rd party one. Or use a sock."
I use a $1 bubble-wrap mailing envelope. It's a little big, so I folded one edge and stapled it to provide a snug fit. Then I put it inside a slightly more rigid cardboard mailing envelope. Total price: $2.
It's open at the top, so it just stays in my backpack and I slide the kindle in or out when needed.
You forgot possibly the most useful feature!
If you have an existing library of ebooks/word documents etc, the Kindle comes with its own email address that you can send stuff to in various formats....which then quite miraculously arrives on your Kindle in a readable format! I found this incredibly handy as I had around 300 books floating around my PC in various formats.
I did have to download a 3rd party converter to convert .lit files to .HTML or .doc format before sending them in batches to the email address, and there's still no easy way to convert epub format books so there's still plenty of room for improvements.
Another niggle is the 'collections' method of organising your books, it can only be done manually on the Kindle which (with a large number of books) is VERY time consuming! Surely there must be a way to sort this out from the PC?
Overall I'm really happy with the Kindle 3, it's a pleasure to use once its fully set up and so far I've actually been reading more than usual, lets hope that lasts!
You can create a collection, go in to it, then go to the menu and there's an option for selecting multiple books to add to the collection. After that you basically scroll through your books ticking what you want to add. Shame you can't do it online in advance, but a lot quicker than one at a time. Annoyingly I only found out after I'd gone through my 32 books (all free through Amazon).
BTW you do know Amazon charge (all be it a small amount) for each book you send to your kindle email account (and if they don't anymore can you point me at where it says that as I can only find charge details)
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