Kindle for travel

I never wanted a Kindle. I mean, it looked like a great gadget but I struggled to see how it might fit into my life. I love reading (and gadgets), but since the rise of the internet, I’ve found less and less time to get absorbed in a book. I think my friends know me better than I do, because for my most-recent birthday, they clubbed together and got me one. Now I spend an hour or more a day devouring books just like I did as a teenager.

Delivery took a little longer than expected, so first they presented me with this, which I’ll call the Mark One; a week or so later the updated version arrived, which Amazon are now calling the Kindle Keyboard 3G.

Advantages of the Kindle Keyboard 3G over the Kindle Mark One

  • It’s much, much thinner – easily slotting into the front of my backpack or my jacket’s breast pocket.
  • It’s able to access wifi or free 3G in order to shop and download books.
  • I can use that wifi or free 3G to check email or search for accommodation — which has come in handy at more than one bus station around South America.
  • It’s much easier to change pages and books: I can do it with a press of a button, rather than with glue and scissors.
  • I can carry over 2,000 books and it weighs the same. To achieve the same thing with the Mark One means hiring a sherpa.
  • Books are generally cheaper than their paperback counterparts; especially when comparing the ridiculous prices of books in Australia/New Zealand.
  • There’s a huge selection of books available, in English and Spanish, in any country I visit… no more searching for an English-language bookshop.

Advantages of the Kindle Mark One over the Kindle Keyboard 3G

  • A full-colour screen, rather than the greyscale Kindle Keyboard 3G
  • Special Kindle Kindling technology (one-time use only). Possibly a precursor to the Kindle Fire, which is going to be released later this year.
  • I have to charge the Kindle Keyboard 3G every three weeks or so. I never had to charge my Mark One.
  • No DRM or copy protection.
  • More rugged and durable, but you sacrifice on size and weight.

Kindle for travel

After a few weeks of use at home in New Zealand, I’ve been using the Kindle 3 “on the road” for two months. It’s been a fantastic companion through ArgentinaBrazil,Uruguay and Paraguay — not only is it lighter than paperbacks (I used to carry two or three in my backpack at all times), but the way of reading has dramatically changed.

If carrying a paperback, I tend to try and save it for when I’m really bored, but with the Kindle I can read to my heart’s content knowing there are more $0.99 cent books just around the corner — or articles and PDFs that I’ve downloaded online and sent to my Kindle. There’s no need to leave books until you find a book exchange.

On week two in Brazil we were staying with a family that spoke little Spanish and no English. We could jump straight on the 3G connection and download a Portuguese phrasebook while in their living room — making basic communication so much easier!

We often arrive in a town with no plans, trusting in the local tourist information office or a swarm of touts to help us get started. Sometimes that just doesn’t work out, so we can use the free 3G to connect to the internet and check our hostel search tool to find a place to stay.

Thoughts on the new Kindle family

Soon three new styles of Kindle are going to be released. I’m sure they’re going to have advantages but apart from a small speed bump, I think the Kindle 3 does its core job — selling and displaying books — really well.

The $79 Kindle lacks a keyboard or a touchscreen. I really wouldn’t want to be doing a lot of searches or trying to pen a basic email using the joystick to move around. (See the specs for Kindle, Wi-Fi, 6″ )

The Kindle touch looks great, and is likely to be the second Kindle in our family. I’d be concerned about what would happen if it accidentally gets unlocked in my backpack, would I end up buying dozens of books as it’s moved around? I’m also not sure about the screen technology — will it need more protection than the current model? (More on the Kindle Touch 3G)

Originally published as “Kindle for travel” on the Indie Travel Podcast.

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About greattravelblogging

I'm a travel-lover from way back, and hoping to share some of the best travel stories and best travel blogs I can find.

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