Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kindle 3G versus WiFi?

In the older days of Kindle, 3G vs. WiFi wasn't a question we had to worry about. Kindle's came only with the 3G option and that was fine. That was also when Kindles were pretty darn pricey (I paid $360 for mine nearly 2 years ago).

These days, prices are much lower and choices more available. One such option is whether to get the Kindle WiFi at $139 or the Kindle 3G+WiFi at $189.

What's the difference? And what does it matter?

Kindle WiFi only gets wireless service where there is a wireless internet network. You may use wireless routers at home, for example, and you would use that network. Other places include coffee shops, hotel lobbies, some restaurants where "free wifi" is advertised.
This option is less expensive and when you download items or use your Kindle's web browser you're using a network that is being paid for already, so Amazon isn't picking up the tab.

This is useful when: you have wireless at home, work or school, or frequent places that offer free access.

Kindle 3G + WiFi - this gets wireless service in all the same places as above, plus wherever you might normally get a cell phone signal. Kindle uses AT&T to wirelessly sync so wherever they have service, your Kindle can connect.  Alternatively, if you have access to WiFi, it lets you connect that way.  

 - The cost of this 3G connection is paid upfront when you buy the Kindle, buried in the $189. You don't pay again unless you want to download large personal documents (which you can do for free with WiFi or using your USB cable). With such documents you paid by size.

This device is useful when: you think you might need internet access or to download books when you are nowhere near a WiFi connection, such as on the bus or train, sitting in a waiting room, on an 8hr car journey, at a ball game, on the beach or by the pool, some hotels (like rooms at the Marriott ggrrr) or B&Bs .... basically anywhere there's no computer network to ride off.

Personally I love having 3G. I've used it so many times that I know it's been well worth having. I bought my daughter the WiFi only, but I think I regret it. Sure, she's only 11 now, but in a few years she might well wish she had the 3G option. As it is, she's fine with WiFi only. It's fast, easy to use and since she mostly uses it at home, it works great for her needs. Maybe by the time she wants 3G we'll be up to Kindle 5 Color or something anyway.

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