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 Argentina, Brazil, 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

)

The Kindle Fire is something else, and it’ll be interesting to see how well it handles PDFs, like the Indie Travel Podcast Magazine or the Art of Solo Travel. (More on the full-colour Kindle Fire

)

Indie Travel Media on your Kindle

All Indie Travel Media ebooks are available on the Kindle; along with a growing collection of articles and stories collated from the Indie Travel Podcast. We can offer these at a lower price than the full versions, as they do not have lifetime updates, multimedia, or access to the special follow-up email series that exist for our premier products like Art of Couples’ Travel and Art of Solo Travel.

Currently available for Kindle:

Your thoughts on "Kindle for travel"

  • Nice article Craig. I've had my Kindle keyboard a couple of months now and it's proving an absolute boon for travel. With my guidebooks on it's already paid for itself in weight; having a plethora of reading material at my fingertips is just a bonus! If you're a fan of wikitravel you should take a look at oxygenguide: A free offline dump of the whole site which is available for the Kindle! I'm looking forward to the Kindle Fire as a cheaper alternative to the iPad; here's hoping it gets a release in the EU.

    on October 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm Reply
    • Thanks Russel - a great addition. The link to Oxygenguide is here: http://code.google.com/p/oxygenguide/ I'm really interested to see what happens when the Fire is released. I'm excited about it.

      on October 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm Reply
  • Thanks for this review! Still trying to figure out what mobile tech gear to take on the road once we leave the U.S. The MacBook Airs have been wonderful, but a bit big for day trips...

    on October 23, 2011 at 6:47 am Reply
    • Yes, I guess it depends on how much browsing work you're doing, and how much typing/creative work. Sometimes a tablet/iPad/iPod can do the job. Make sure you keep an eye on the weight specs too: we've found small er laptops than the Macbook Air, but they've been heavier.

      on October 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm Reply
  • I love how you presented the good and bad points by comparing it to the Mark One :) Very creative! I rejected the idea of e-readers until really recently when I got a tablet and got hooked to reading on it during my trips. So much more convenient. Now I'm considering a Kindle as I think the reading comfort must be much improved compared to the bright screens of Ipads and such.

    on October 24, 2011 at 5:19 am Reply
    • Hi Alex, Yes - the screen glare is a real issue if you're reading a lot, or working online. I'm finding myself forwarding more and more work-related PDFs and reports onto the Kindle -- the 5- or 10-minute reading time away from the glaring screen really helps.

      on October 28, 2011 at 7:30 pm Reply
  • I have a few friends who have the Sony eReader touch version and swear by it. Hmmm....I need to get something pretty soon. Thanks for some good insight into the Kindle!

    on October 26, 2011 at 2:08 am Reply
    • I've never used any of the other e-readers, so really can't compare. I know I've enjoyed using this over a laptop or iPad for reading though.

      on October 26, 2011 at 8:03 am Reply
  • Craig, what are your thoughts re aesthetics in terms of reading - is it like paper? And compared to the feel of having a book in your hands that you can flip pages etc. does the kindle give the same satisfaction? I know traveling with books is a pain, but most long term travelers suggest pawning one book when it's finished and buying another at secondhand stores, so really you are only carrying one at a time anyway.

    on October 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm Reply
    • I read a bit too much for that :) I normally have 2-5 books on the go, or ready to swap at a hostel or book exchange. It's not really like paper, in that you can't quickly flip back to a page or section. However, there's a short page when the new page loads which -- to me -- is just about the same time as a page-flip. Sometimes I miss being able to half-turn a page, but in return, wind never blows my bookmarks away. Definitely a different experience, but not one that takes away much from a novel.

      on October 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm Reply
  • Well thought out review, Craig! I do wonder if the rising ubiquity of iPads and other tablets will mean the future demise of pure e-readers, though.

    on October 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm Reply
    • Thanks Jennifer. Yes, I think you're right - but iPad screens still cause tired eyes, unlike the e-paper screens. I think that's a major different for reading for long periods -- and makes a strong differentiation for people like me (and you!) who work on screens for long periods of time. Eventually, I think there will be some perfect solution, but ~$150 for a dedicated 'book' isn't too bad.

      on October 28, 2011 at 7:24 pm Reply
  • I am thisclose to ordering one. I just need to sort out that pesky won't-ship-to-Singapore business.

    on November 1, 2011 at 12:29 am Reply
    • I didn't know that was an issue; good luck finding a workaround.

      on November 1, 2011 at 1:23 pm Reply
      • I've found a few, I just need to see if that's worth it (and also check my finances, haha). I was trying to see if it was the model of Kindle that was the problem, but I guess they just don't ship it here full stop. Annoying.

        on November 1, 2011 at 6:15 pm

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