By Nimish Dubey
Our post on the Kindle’s travel-friendliness has led to a number of queries about the device. While we have answered those made in the comments, we have had a fair number over the phone as well. So to satisfy everybody, here are the basics about the Amazon Kindle, which we think is the perfect companion to the traveller who also likes to read:
- It is mainly an e-book reader, although it lets you surf the Net and play music too. However, we think that its main ability is the fact that it lets you read books on an e-ink display that is almost as good as reading on paper. Do NOT compare it with an iPad, which is more multimedia oriented and has a backlit screen that can actually hurt your eyes.
- If you are in India and want to buy a Kindle, you will have to do so at www.Amazon.com/Kindle using your credit card. The device is NOT available at retailers and cannot be purchased off the shelf. You will need an Amazon account to be able to purchase the Kindle – relax, the Amazon account costs nothing.
- If purchased from India, the cost of the Kindle will be increased by around USD 90, thanks to import fees, depending on the model you buy. A part of these (about USD 22) will be reimbursed to you later. The USD 189 model ended up costing us USD 283, of which about $22 were reimbursed, making, $261 in all, which is close to about Rs 12,000.
- The Kindle is generally delivered by courier and if in stock, arrives within 3-4 days of your having placed the order. Yes, they even deliver on Sundays!
- If you buy a Kindle with 3G connectivity, you will be able to connect to the Kindle store wherever there is a mobile network available and also surf the net. There are NO charges for surfing the Net or browsing the Kindle Store on the Kindle. Yes, it is free for your lifetime – no bills from service providers! If you buy the Wi-Fi only model, you will need a Wi-Fi hotspot to go to the Kindle Store or browse the Net. The Kindle right now comes in two connectivity flavours 3G and Wi-Fi, and only Wi-Fi.
- Do not expect to get 3G speeds in India – you will be operating on GPRS/EDGE most of the time, but even that is going to be good enough for browsing and buying books on the device, although it will be a tad slow for browsing the Net.
- You can buy books for the Kindle from the Amazon Kindle book store. You can do this by going to the Kindle Book Store on your Kindle (there is an option in the menu) or by going to the www.Amazon.com and going to the Kindle Books section on your computer. You can purchase a book and order it to be sent to your device. In case you are not certain, you can even ask for a sample of the book to be sent – if you cannot decide whether you want a book after reading about twenty pages of it, believe us, you can never!
- The books on the Kindle book store are NOT the same books as on www.Amazon.com. These are special Kindle editions. There are different Kindle Book stores for different regions. So a US Kindle user will have to choose from the US Kindle book store while an Indian one will have to choose from the Indian Kindle book store. Relax, there are still tens of thousands of books to choose from.
- All purchases on the Kindle are by credit card. Prices are given in US dollars. For the most part, the prices of e-books are higher than paperback editions but very competitive with hardcover ones. The price differential between paper and e-editions differs from book to book.
- You can also read and buy books from the Kindle store by downloading the Kindle application which is available for computers and cellphones. The application itself is free.
- You can incidentally, synchronise what you are reading across different devices. So yes, you can have copies of the same book on your phone, your computer and your Kindle – of course, you will need to log in using your Amazon account to be able to read them. In some cases (depending on the book), you can sync your reading across as many as six devices!
- You can subscribe to newspapers and magazines from the Kindle store. They will be delivered automatically to your device whenever it accesses the network.
- The battery life of the Kindle is anything from a week to a fortnight of regular usage. Obviously, the more time you spend on the Internet, the more the battery will drain.
- Reading on the Kindle is a very good experience. It does not hurt your eyes (hey, no backlit screen).
- The Kindle lets you play around with font size, change orientation, read out text (depending on the book), make notes, add bookmarks and even share what you are reading on Facebook.
- The storage space on the Kindle is 4GB, but you can delete books and always download them again later – they will always be stored online for you once you have purchased them.
- Finally, the Kindle also handles PDFs pretty well – just plug the Kindle to your computer and drag and drop the PDF file you wish to read into it.
Well, we are sure we missed a few, so do feel free to write in with any other queries you may have.
And do join us for a coffee at the Kunzum Travel Cafe in Hauz Khas Village in New Delhi, India.