Monday, September 3, 2012

Kindle News: The Kindle e-reader among "best tech when going off the grid"

Ars Technica highlights the author's cousin's use of the Kindle Keyboard 3G for keeping in touch while away with the Peace Corps in a remote area of the world

  The article by Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar, about his cousin Martin do Nascimento's use of a Kindle to keep in touch, doesn't make clear that it's the Keyboard version (UK: KK-3G) rather than the Touch version of the Kindle.  The old keyboard version's 3G can be used in about 60 countries for things like very slow web browsing and e-mail.

  So, I did want to clear that up while also linking to the story, as it's a good example of what Amazon has kept available in the slower keyboard Kindle3 e-reader (and 9.7" DX) since 2009 when they first allowed Kindles to access 3G in the rest of the world (where it is available with Amazon's carrier agreements) for more than downloading Kindle books or accessing Wikipedia at no add'l cost.

  Besides the usual (for Amazon) free cellular network usable for 3G Kindle books downloading that is so convenient when you don't have to go look for WiFi (something Penguin Group found too convenient for public library borrowing), the free Wikipedia access is still part of the newer Kindle Touch models as well -- and 24/7 free 3G access to Wikipedia can be very useful for students and other curious people.
  However, 'Touch'  can definitely be more 'cool' than a not-easily-used physical flat-keyed keyboard and a 5-way button for up/down/sideways.

 But the special 3G e-mail and web capability featured in the story is available only on the old Kindle 3G keyboard model.  It's clunky but it works.
'...this little, relatively cheap device has been a godsend for him in 2012, with its worldwide 3G Internet. Even though Martin lives in a remote area, I hear from him nearly every day by e-mail.

"Most of my e-mails I write on my Kindle," he told me recently (by cell phone this time). "I use it to stay in touch with friends, even [through] Facebook. The Kindle’s not fantastic by any means, but I can read my e-mail reliably... '
Farivar mentions he can't gift his cousin in Nicaragua a Kindle book because e-mail attachments are not possible, and I think that the Kindle book-gifting feature isn't available for people currently located outside the U.S. (due to world-wide digital rights problems).

  He does mention the battery life being excellent and we've seen this in events such as earthquakes or other disasters when smartphones had short lives and some were able to get through with their longer-battery-lived Kindle keyboards instead.

The article is about how to keep in touch when away, generally, so there are tips for iPhone user and Android handset users too, with software recommendations and a unique website for paid text-to-email service recommended if necessary.  The image they use for the article is of someone using an iPhone but I linked to their article and included a smaller version of the image they are using.  It's so much nicer than seeing yet another image of a gadget!  ;-)

I have an ongoing article about the countries in which this feature works for the Kindle Keyboard (K3) model, and the countries-table highlighted is used by Amazon UK on their website to make it more clear for their own customers (the table applies to Amazon in general).

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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  1. That's the reason I have a Kindle Keyboard, I returned my 3G Touch as soon as I realized those limitations. But it appears they've make it easier to access my personal documents, so I think it'd be a little less of a hassle.

    I just wish there was a better interface for reading my gMail on it (it's too small) and my Google Reader. Maybe a Kindle app?!?


  2. Gary,
    Do you mean it's not as easy for the Keyboard model to access the personal documents? I thought it was the same there.

    Gmail is too small on it, but it's the web mail I use anyway as it's so reliable. I go into landscape mode, currently using and I can at least read them and do extremely brief responses.

    Amazon won't be doing anything to encourage peoplel to use 3G web more than we do...

    Have you downloaded my free WebLinks file? It gives faster-loading sites and also links to umbrella sites of good mobile links for small devices (The filename is mobiweb.azw.

  3. I use my Kindle 2 Keyboard with 3G as much for web surfing in my work vehicle every night during my lunch break as for reading books. I find that using works much better to read/send email than trying to access webmail via Gmail, Hotmail, or such. You don't need to create a new account with In fact I use the PDA version of Mail2Web for an even simpler and easier to navigate logon.

    It seems I can access any of my numerous email accounts, web or POPmail, just enter your email address and PW.

  4. Anonymous,
    (For a good tip, wish we had your first name even.)

    I'll try, probably after the press conference this Thursday. Thanks for the info!

    (The only hesitation I have is giving my mail password to another site, something I've almost never done.)

    1. I looked it up and the free service does not explain why it's free nor why you should trust it with your email passwords but it quotes International Herald Tribune user Victoria Shannon saying "It's so simple, it's almost scary."

      That page has quoted reviews and recommendations from several larger sites: Mail2web's check-email info page.

      I gave an actual link because I found the UK's "The Guardian" newspaper's Jack Schofield's column about whether it's worth it to try mail2web (which has been around since 1997).
      Jack Schofield on mail2web. He also recommends, as an alternative, forwarding one's mail to gmail, which I do because I can filter it there to auto-delete, auto-label and it works as a very fast database search of my mail. I write from gmail while away as 'From:' my normal address, so as not to confuse people.

      Forum messages about Mail2web are positive, and one says Earthlink recommended it for when you're away, early on.

      A very trusted site, tech page, explains "How to Use Outlook Away from Home.

      Here's Wikipedia on Mail2web.

  5. For me personally I don' see the point in having a Kindle with 3g, soley to the fact that I have a phone with unlimited data that I can share to other devices.

  6. Martin, me too, with my AT&T + Samsung Galaxy 2, the tethering works well though it uses a lot of battery pretty quickly.

    However, for those who are out of the country, as in the article, the 3G roaming charges in other countries with AT&T partners is insanely high and I wouldn't be using that type of access on my phone.
    The Kindle 3 keyboard still has the free 3G access mainly because it's so slow you'd use it only when you have to.

    Strangely, most of my friends don't have smartphones with data plans. For them, this will work for emergencies and I've used it quite a bit too when step-by-step directions driving (or walking) instructions are needed, as described at


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