Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kindle Touch 3G may not have Kindle Keyboard 3G 's free 3G web browsing - UPDATE4

UPDATE - Amazon Kindle Team has made an official response to the much-asked questions, about a basic feature, at the Amazon Kindle forum referenced in the two posts.

  Click on the link above to read the full, brief, but clear answer.

Earlier (just as a historical record now)

FOLLOW UP to earlier "Clarification needed from Amazon re Kindle Touch 3G-experimental G-experimental web browsing feature or omission"

I wrote, the other day, about the slight feature-differences between the older Kindle Keyboard 3G (UK: K3) model and the new Kindle Touch 3G, while also writing a separate piece on a possible BIG difference between the two models that many customers have been asking Amazon to clarify.

See the original blog article for the details if the longtime free 3G experimental web browser feature is an important one for you (I don't think it is to most, as it is quite slow on e-Ink).

It seems the feature will still be offered in the older Kindle Keyboard 3G model.  Many in the forums  are comparing notes and responses from various Customer Service representatives and waiting to hear something definitive before making final decisions on which Kindle 3G model to get.

  After a few days of Amazon Kindle forum discussions about this, there's been no appearance at the forums by anyone from the  official Kindle Customer Support team in response to all the questions and the several reported contradictory responses from well-meaning Amazon Kindle Support representatives.

  It would be understandable if Amazon has decided not to include the old bonus-feature with the new Kindle models (it was always labeled "Experimental"), but something definitive should be said by someone officially so that people can then make their buying decisions without the confusion seen this week.

  The customer support responses 2 days ago were almost 100% reassurances that the feature was included on the Kindle Touch, but starting Oct 1, that has changed, although a few customer representatives, in email or by phone, still respond that both models include the feature.

  Reading the latest pages of both forum threads linked (there are many other forum message-threads on it) will give an idea what forumners are up against in trying to decide one way or another.

  Last night one customer received unusually firm word, from one support rep, that the older Kindle Keyboard 3G model will still offer the 3G web-browsing feature.
  The emailed wording that Mobileread forum member yifanlu received from Kindle customer representative [b]Pushka[/b] is clear and not "boilerplate" in style -- Puska feels that free 3G experimental web browsing will continue on the old model. Yifanlu reported Pushka's response:
" The Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard) supports free 3G experimental internet browsing and I can confirm that it will continue to do so in the future.  This feature won't be removed from Kindle 3. "

  That's an unusually definite response about the older Kindle Keyboard model going into the future and the "I can confirm" phrase may indicate that Amazon is starting to give Customer Service personnel more solid information to be relayed.

Most would love to have firm wording, either way about the newer model.
  I should make clear, though, that no other ereader maker has offered its customers even free Wikipedia via 3G in the first place (which the Kindle Touch would definitely still get), much less internationally as Amazon has done.  Customers in 40+ countries receiving "only" free Wikipedia and, of course, the Kindle Store on 3G have often viewed Wikipedia as a "Consolation Prize" because over 60 countries have been given full web access.

  The question of cost-effectiveness with 3G carriers has always been there though.

U.S. customers have been one group with full access, and some customer reps continue to respond that U.S. customers still will  have that with the Kindle Touch 3G as well.  But as explained in the original piece here, the product page has the following wording under the "Battery Life" section of the Kindle Touch 3G product page:
' Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as shopping the Kindle Store, downloading content, and web browsing (browsing available only in Wi-Fi mode). '
If uncertain about "upgrading" a Kindle 3G device to the Touch model, I'd pay more attention to that product page wording, since it was put there for a purpose and Amazon hasn't changed it after being made aware that the phrase seen under "Battery Life" rather than under "3G Wireless" has sparked confusion because it would mark a surprising change from what customers have had on the Kindle for 4 years.

Again, most of us stress that we just want clarity on the issue, regardless of what Amazon's decision is on that feature, in connection with the new Touch devices, which would probably make web browisng easier and encourage longer 3G sessions which would likely be costly for Amazon.

UPDATE - Just proving how out-of-hand this is, the latest (unfortunate) customer support response, reported (by LM) at the Amazon forum, says that even WIKIPEDIA is *not* allowed either.  That would be probably the first time anyone in the world with Amazon/AT&T 3G wireless at all in their area was not able to access Wikipedia via 3G.
' "Hello,
Please know that you will not be able to browse other websites like google, gmail, Wikipedia using the 3G feature.  I'm sorry if this disappointed you.  However, your Kindle may use wireless connectivity to make other services available, such as wireless delivery of personal documents (see below), which may require an additional charge.  Kindle Touch 3G provides free 3G wireless that lets you download books right from your Kindle Touch.  Experimental web browsing is only available when connected to a Wi-Fi network." '

UPDATE2 - AND, last night at Mobileread forums, THIS reported customer service answer:
' Hello,

I understand your concern and I'm happy to help.

Kindle Touch 3G has WebKit- Based Browser features; you can browse the web over Wi-Fi and and WhisperNet(3G coverage).

However, for international customer's, Internet access using your Kindle's Web Browser through Whispernet is not available in most countries outside the United States when using your Kindle's 3G connection, however most customers can access Wikipedia and other website. '

How on earth can they be responding with diametrically-opposed views?

UPDATE3 - [LAST two, just to show how utterly bizarre these opposed answers are:

' 10/2   [a "NO, you cannot!" type note]
#1 just now
Nancy says:
To add to the confusion, here is the reply that I received when I asked if you can use the touch 3g to email in Europe like you can on the current version:


I'm sorry for the inconvenience caused.

Kindle Touch 3G provides free 3G wireless that lets you download books right from your Kindle Touch. Experimental web browsing is only available when connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Please note that you can e-mail using Kindle Touch 3G only when you are connected to Wi-Fi and it is not possible to e-mail with 3G.

Web browsing will be unrestricted for wifi connections and will only allow and Wikipedia on 3G.

We are trying very hard to establish ourselves as a successful online digital store and can assure you of numerous changes in very near future which will enable us to achieve our goal and Customer feedback like yours is very important in helping us continue to improve our website and services.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. '

It looks to me like different people are getting different answers.


[10/2 a few minutes later:  [a "YES, you sure can! type note]
#2 just now

I was all set to order the Kindle Keyboard 3G, but I decided to email Amazon's customer service to see if they could enlighten me. Here is the response I got:

Thanks for contacting us with your question about Kindle Touch 3G.

Below is the answer for your 2 questions:

1. Yes, definitely Kindle Keyboard with 3G continue to be available through the end of this year. If the stock ends as this product is selling out very quickly, we will provide more stock.

2. Yes, new Kindle Touch 3G will be able to browse the web using the free 3G service.

If you need any further required information, please let us know.

Thanks for your interest in our newly launched Kindle models."

======= '

As the world spins

Original post: 10/2/11, 8:29 AM; Update2: 3:09 PM
Kindle Touch 3G   Kindle Touch WiFi   Kindle Basic   (UK: KBasic)   Kindle Fire
Kindle Keybd 3G   (UK: Kindle Keybd 3G)   K3 Special Offers   K3-3G Special Offers   DX

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  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
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  1. I appreciate you following up and keeping up on this development. As you said, it would be great to get a definitive answer from Amazon so that we can make a final decision.

  2. Hi Anders. Thanks for your great blog. If you find out definitively on whether we can browse with 3G on the Touch, please post again. I'm waiting on that question before placing my order as many others seem to be. I have a Kindle 3 wi-fi and think the 3G would be handy but had the Kindle 2 and might miss the 3G browsing.

  3. If that's the case, I'll stick with my trusty Kindle Keyboard.

  4. Oh, that's really disappointing. I don't use the 3G for browsing much on the Kindle 3, but it's been really helpful to me a few times. I did preorder the Kindle Touch, but after reading this I think I'll stick to the Kindle 3.

  5. My email response was 'only amazon and wikipedia over 3g'. There was a veneer of credibility lent by the phrase 'I checked with our engineers'. Hope dies last, etc., but it's definitely on a dying trend. I wish I could quote the response in full, but somehow the email has gone missing.

    As a result, I have cancelled my pre-order for Touch3G and will not be re-ordering until probably after it has shipped and we don't need to parse through the many different responses people have received. Besides I should have my Fire by then and it deserves a good period of undivided attention . No need to rush into a decision or deal with the hassle of return/exchange (even though it is as painless as Amazon can make it to do so).

  6. Tom,
    I have a lot of catching up to do with Comments here that I do want to respond to but am very behind. Wanted, though, to make sure you saw the update to this piece, which I attached a few minutes later. Surely that last piece I quote is wrong, but they need to get in front of this one.

  7. It's disappointing that Amazon is removing the free web browsing. It was quite handy.

  8. Amazon has always been very vague regarding the experimental browser. The reason is that they don´t know themselves the restrictions the browser will have in the future. It depends on their agreements with the carriers which I guess have to be renegotiated now and then.

    For examples, in many countries the web browsing is, according to the agreement with the carriers, restricted to Wikipedia and Amazon for local residents. However, if the Kindle account is registered on an US address you can browse freely in the same countries.

    The web browser in Kindle 3G is very useful for three things:

    1. reading the mobile versions of the newspapers on the commute to and from work on the excellent eink screen. It is much more relaxing than using the laptop.

    2. downloading books outside Amazon when you have no other access to internet. You can find virtually all classics before 1920 free of charge.

    3. free but basic internet access abroad. You can quickly be online and send an email or check a timetable when you arrive to a new country. No hassle or cost buying a new SIM-card or going to an internet café. It is so convenient!

    Hence, I hope Amazon decides to keep the 3G web browsing feature also in the touch model. It is one of best things with Kindle compared with other e-books. The cost can´t be large since it is so small amount of data transferred and very low bandwidth used.

  9. This doesn't surprise me. The real limiting factor for those using the experimental browser in keyboard Kindles has been the clumsy interface. It's not something you want to do for very long. Touch Kindles and the Kindle Fire change that and the greater cellular usage could end up costing Amazon quite a bit, particularly overseas where data can be very pricey. Amazon can't afford that, particularly at these prices.

    If Amazon decides to make those changes, they could keep their customers happy by offering something they are likely to love, either genuine instant messaging or something much like it with all Kindles and have it use cellular for cellular models. The couple of hundred bytes that would involve wouldn't cost much and it would be a great selling point. And it'd be great for travelers.

    Personally, I'd love it if they created a system that'd work with the new messaging scheme that Apple will be adding to iOS 5. Then friends could message one another: Kindle to Kindle and iPhone to Kindle Fire. In time, the messaging could also go to Macs and PCs.

  10. I wonder if some of the confusion could be unspecified difference between 3G access in U.S. vs. Europe/elsewhere? I can imagine that Amazon would restrict 3G web browsing outside the U.S. but permit it within the U.S. The fact that they charge more for personal document service outside the U.S. helps with that interpretation.

    I'm happy with my K3 (aka Kindle Keyboard) for now. I'll wait until late November when the Kindle Touch 3G is released and see what the reviews say.

    Depending on the answer to the 3G web browsing question, it will raise or lower its priority in my Amazon Wish List. :-)

  11. I am wondering if there is any way to link up the Kindle Fire with my old K3 with 3G connectivety and just use the old Kindle's 3G link with the Fire.

  12. 22nd July. I have read this with interest and wonder if there's any update?

    1. Lynne, the last update at the very top, the update that starts it out, links directrly to the definitive word on this, as it's from the official Kindle Team.

      Those who buy a Kindle Keyboard or Kindle 3 can still use the free 3G web browsing outside the U.S. in about 60 countries, but the free 3G web lookups are not available on the Kindle Touch.

      The thinking is that its processor is faster than the Kindle Keyboard's, and the touch-system gives people direct access to links (on the Kindle Keyboard you have to sluggishly navigate up or down using the 5-way button, to get to a link), so people would use that free 3G far more and it's expensive.

      Have you been trying to make a decision on the KKeyboard vs the KTouch?

    2. At no time was I considering the Touch, but I was toying with the idea of the Kindle (5 way controller), but having done a bit of research, I have ordered the Kindle Keyboard wi-fi + 3g. I get it this coming Friday and I simply can't wait. Now I am trying to find out all the possibilities with this gizmo, LOL!!!

    3. Lynne, it's a lot of fun. Once you get it, you can download TO it, while you're using it, my little file of links to faster mobile-device oriented webpages so that the experience is faster than it would be with the regular pages. But you'll be able to do lookups on the web wherever you happen to be, which was one of my favorite things for a couple of years.
      In the Kindle web browser URL field you can just type:
      (No 'http://' is needed on the Kindle - it's done for us)

      That'll get you started, and you can download free mobi books from all kinds of sites as well 24/7 from anywhere near an applicable cell tower :-)

      Drop a line after you've got it and tried it :-)

  13. Thanks so much Andrys. I have made note of that link :)


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