Kindle Keyboard 3G

9 Things I Love (And 3 Things I Don’t) About My Kindle

In E-readers by David Dean13 Comments

After much hesitation I bought what is now known as the Kindle Keyboard 3G last year and quickly became a convert. After using it for several months I thought it was time to review my Kindle and discuss the many things I love – and the few that I don’t – about the world’s most popular e-reader.

The Screen

More like a piece of paper than a computer display, the e-ink display on my Kindle is quite remarkable. Text is crisp and clear at any size and the non-reflective screen is easy on the eyes and at its best in direct sunlight. It is the only electronic device that I actually enjoy using at the beach.

Kindle on towelThe Size and Weight

Smaller and lighter than a typical paperback, it is easy to forget that my Kindle is in my backpack. Quite literally, in fact, as I once spent 20 minutes looking for it only to discover that it had been in the bag I took to work each day for a month.

Even in a protective case it is easy to hold the device in one hand for extended periods like a normal book.

The Battery Life

When I first saw the expected battery life figures of up to two months, I thought it was a typo.  Apparently not. With wireless turned off the battery gauge barely seems to move even after reading for hours on a long bus ride. The Kindle takes a while to recharge again from a USB port, but when you’re only doing that every few weeks it barely matters.

The Free International 3G

Free mobile browser access around most of the world seemed too good to be true.  Perhaps it was, as Amazon chose not to offer it on any other Kindle model – but it still works just fine on the Keyboard 3G.

I have avoided over priced airport wi-fi in Phuket, checked my email from a beach on Vancouver Island and double-checked directions to my hostel in Portland from my Kindle. Trying doing that with the latest John Grisham novel.

Send to Kindle

This little browser extension does one simple yet wonderful thing. With a single click you can reformat and send any web page to your Kindle via a free Amazon email address. Browse around sites like Brain Pickings or Long Reads and you have an almost limitless supply of high quality articles to be read anywhere.

Buying New Books

Every time I discover a book I would like to read, I add it to my Amazon ‘wishlist’.  Whenever I run out of reading material I can simply turn on the wireless, browse to my wishlist and buy whatever suits my mood.  I love it – and I’m sure Amazon does too.

The Unobtrusiveness

Tucked away inside the leather case I use, my Kindle looks like a typical diary or notebook. It is simple and discrete, making it (and me) a far less attractive target for theft than something like a shiny new iPad.

The Price

I paid $189 for the international version of the Keyboard 3G, and there is now an advertising-supported version for $139 (US only) as well. Either way it represents excellent value, and with a continual downward pricing trend that is likely to only get better.

Replacement Policy

While I have been fortunate enough not to break my Kindle, someone I know hasfive times.  Don’t ask. Each time a new one has been sent to her home address with no questions asked and 90 days to return the broken one – well beyond the actual obligations listed on the Amazon web site.

You really can’t ask for more than that, especially with the rigours of travel on your electronics.

Not everything is perfect in Kindle world, however. A few things I really don’t love about it include:

The Input Methods

The Kindle Keyboard is so-named because of the inbuilt keyboard that runs along the bottom part of the device. It can be best described as ‘functional’ and more accurately described as ‘painful’.

It is all too easy to hit the wrong tiny button, and without dedicated keys, entering numbers or punctuation is particularly challenging. The 4-way directional pad used to scroll around the screen feels like a holdover from a 1980’s gaming console. Altogether not a fantastic experience.

The Speed

The ARM CPU inside the Kindle is not going to set any speed records. There can be a noticeable lag when scrolling and entering text, and even with a fast Internet connection it takes complex web pages an age to load. These are excusable given that none are core tasks for an e-reader, but are annoying enough to mention.

Rendering Problems

As well as being slow, the ‘experimental’ web browser is noticeably limited, struggling with graphics-heavy web sites. Anything written in Flash is certainly out of the question, and in general the mobile versions of web sites give a much more enjoyable user experience. PDF files can also be a bit hit and miss — some display perfectly, others really don’t. Again, the simpler the better.

Overall however the benefits of the Kindle Keyboard 3G far outweigh the negatives, and it will certainly continue to form an important part of my travel technology arsenal for years to come.

Have you considered buying a Kindle for travel?  If you already own one, what do you think of it?

Note: Technology marches ever-onwards, and we now recommend a Paperwhite for those in the market for a new Kindle.

About the Author

David Dean

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Founder and editor of Too Many Adapters, Dave has been a wanderer for nearly 20 years and a geek for even longer. When he's not playing with the latest tech toy or working out how to keep his phone charged for just a few more minutes, he can probably be found sitting in a broken down bus in some obscure corner of the planet.

Comments

  1. I loved reading this Dave. My Kindle seems as much apart of me as my left pinkie finger. I love having it, but apparently I took it for granted. I didn’t even know that I could check my e-mail on it. Thanks for educating me, and causing me to be curious enough to sit down with my Kindle and get to know it better. All I really cared about was reading it every night, but I guess I need to give it more time and energy! I don’t know much about technology, so thank you for being geeky enough to know and learn all the good stuff for me. Keep up the great work!

    1. Author

      Thanks so much Shawna, and you’re more than welcome! Glad you liked it … enjoy your new-found-Kindle-fun! 😉

  2. I love my Kindle 3G! Aside from the fact that I now read so much more due to easy access to a good book supply, they are fantastic for travelling with. More and more travel guide are now available in Kindle format, too, which means you don’t need to lug the big LP bricks around anymore. (Caveat: maps aren’t so easy to read and they are bit more cumbersome to navigate around quickly as you would a paper guide!)

    I bought the 3G version specifically for the internet access that I would have to email, news sites, etc while on the road. The browser is clumsy, but it does the job.

    Just a note to non-US and non-UK residents if you buy the 3G version: I bought mine in the US where the 3G worked fine. I brought it home to NZ and was dismayed to find the 3G didn’t work aside from accessing the Amazon site and Wiki (which Amazon encourage you to use to look up things as you are reading). Same applied when travelling to SE Asia.

    It took quite awhile to get to the bottom of the problem: if you buy a Kindle from the US, you need to have a US-based billing address. Likewise, if you buy from Amazon UK, you need to have a UK billing address. I got around this by simply changing the billing address of my NZ credit card to the address of a US-based family member and it works beautifully. I thought that this might prevent me from using my credit card on future Amazon purchases (since they no longer had the bank-held billing address), but that hasn’t proven to be the case.

  3. Dave

    What an ace blog. I’m not sure whether this was the desired effect but it looks like I’m off to buy a kindle.

    Marty

  4. I’ve had my kindle (an early model) for over 2 years and I can’t imagine life without it. It’s very dirty (mostly red dirt from the Pilbara and cream dust from Cape York). It’s had a very hard life and I’ve never had a single problem with it. I’ve been travelling around Australia with my partner and daughter for about 6 years – we currently live in a shack on Cape York where the salty, humid air tends to wreck any electronic equipment, but my Kindle is impervious to this and keeps on giving me fantastic reading experiences.

  5. Hi Dave, will be backpacking in SE asia, Europe and Canada for 12 months… I bought an iPad 2 wifi a while ago and had planned to use this for books, e-mail, Skype etc whilst traveling but not sure if it will work in many places… Would you recommend the kindle over the iPad? Or should I just ditch both and get a good smartphone? Terrible with technology 🙂

    1. Dave is off on a motorcycle adventure in Thailand so I’ll chime in for him until he returns.

      You’ll find wifi all over the place these days. What you’ll get out of a kindle is a much better reading experience, and a crazy long battery. Staring a notebook screen (or iPad) is like staring at a light bulb, and that’s why we get eye strain.

      A smartphone and ipad (tablet) offer versatility. They can do so much, but not really great at any one thing.

      A *lot* of people travel with a Kindle Notebook/tablet, but just a kindle won’t do the skype, or too much surfing without you losing your sanity.

      If you love to read, a kindle is a no-brainer!

  6. I just got this Kindle for Christmas based on reviews I’d read of it by other travelers. I LOVE it so far. Haven’t really taken it abroad yet to test out the 3G, but I do love how light and small it is. When I travel this summer, I’ll be taking my iPad as my computer and my Kindle as everything else! Can’t wait to start traveling so lightly.

  7. I have had my Kindle for a year and absolutely love it. Bought them as xmas christmas presents for my husband and daughter and they are also rapt.
    1 tip I have is for free books.
    Amazon publishes a free book list everyday – lots of up and coming authors and some well established ones. There are also a number of web sites that you can subscribe to and they send you a daily email of free books.
    However many of the books are only free for a short time so I just peruse the list and if any seem interesting download them for a later date. Can’t seem to resist doing this and now have over 300 books on my “to read” list 🙂
    Would put the relevant websites in my comment but not sure if am allowed.
    cheers Natalie – Melbourne, Australia

  8. I LOVE MY KINDLE. I was so opposed to the idea at first and now I’m a total convert- i just want to sleep spooning it every night. I think it’s so perfect for travelers who are big readers, because finding english language books abroad is both expensive and a pain.

    My only real beef is not with amazon but the publishers- ebooks are insanely overpriced!

    1. Author

      Hehe – be careful spooning with your Kindle, Steph – I’m not sure it’s covered by the warranty if you roll over on it in your sleep… 😉

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