The 10 biggest surprises about Amazon’s new Kindles

Beyond Black Friday has a post worth reading today:


New Amazon Kindle Touch web browser surprise

There’s been some unexpected discoveries in the details about Amazon’s four newest Kindles. I’ve tried to identify the 10 biggest surprises in the list below — starting with five bad surprises, and then five good.

1. There’s No 3G Web Browsing (except on Kindle Fire)
“Browsing available only in Wi-Fi mode,” reads the incriminating words on the 3G version of the Kindle Touch. Reportedly over the weekend some Amazon customer service reps incorrectly told customers they could still use Amazon’s 3G network access for web browsing on the upcoming Kindle Touch. “We apologize for the confusion,” reads an official response Sunday night from “The Amazon Kindle team” in online discussion forum at “Our new Kindle Touch 3G enables you to connect to the Kindle Store, download books and periodicals, and access Wikipedia – all over 3G or Wi-Fi.” But… “Experimental web browsing (outside of Wikipedia) on Kindle Touch 3G is only available over Wi-Fi.”

2. Power Adapters Not Included
A USB cable is always included with any Kindle that you buy, so presumably you can always charge them just by plugging them into a USB port. But for both the new $79 Kindle and the Kindle Touch, Amazon’s not including a power adapter. (They’re sold separately, for $9.99).

3. One Miserable Keyboard
Originally I’d thought the $79 Kindle shipped with a touchscreen, because there isn’t a keyboard built into its plastic frame — just an on-screen keyboard. But apparently there’s no way to actually type letters into that onscreen keyboard — at least, not using the “touch-typing” that we’re used to with other devices. Instead, Amazon pulls up a picture of a keyboard, then lets you slowly nudge your controller key (up, down, or sideways) to gradually move a highlight across the keyboard — one key at a time — until it’s finally highlighting the next letter you want to type. (And then you press the controller one more time, to select that letter.)

79 Kindle keyboard uses controller instead of touchscreen If you’re planning to input text to search Amazon’s Kindle Store, Wikipedia, or Google, and you’re buying a $79 Kindle — expect it to be a little awkward and time-consuming!


4. Your Personal Documents are now Stored at
Apparently now even if you e-mail a file to your Kindle, Amazon keeps a copy on their “cloud” servers. On Amazon’s interactive list on the “Manage Your Kindle” page (at, user are now seeing documents listed that they’ve e-mailed directly to their Kindle. They’re listed after selecting the “Personal Documents” choice from a pull-down menu labelled “Your Kindle Library” (along with more menu choices for books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, audible audiobooks, and active content). The only choice for personal documents is deleting the document from your Kindle — but it shows how committed Amazon is to the concept of a “cloud,” a virtual Amazon-controlled space where your documents are always waiting in limbo, for whenever you want to access them again. If the entire document is also stored, this creates an automatic back-up copy, but some privacy-sensitive users might already feel weird if a multi-billion dollar corporation has suddenly started creating lists of their own personal documents and photos.

5. Amazon Prime not Included
You’ll only get a one-month free trial of Amazon’s Prime shipping service when you buy a Kindle Fire tablet. Maybe Amazon’s figuring it’s such an essential part of the tablet experience, most customers will still be willing to pay an extra $79 for a one-year subscription. But I’d thought Amazon would offer a much longer trial to try luring Kindle Fire customers into buying more things from Amazon’s store.

Now here’s five of the biggest good surprises about Amazon’s new upcoming Kindles…

Read the rest at Beyond Black Friday

7 Comments on The 10 biggest surprises about Amazon’s new Kindles

  1. I thought the power adapter was $10 too, but I then I saw it for $5. I wonder if there were complaints regarding this sneaky tactic. Also, you can use your iPhone adapter in lieu of Amazon’s adapter. I wonder what other adapters one might already have might work.

  2. OK, wait! the Kindle Fire doesn’t currently HAVE 3G, does it? Also, the “AC adapter” for the Kindle Touch is the removable plug part of the Kindle cable as implemented with the Kindle 2. If you own a Kindle 2 or Kindle 3, you already have this plug.

  3. I wouldn’t worry much about the on-screen keyboard on the $79 model. I’ve got a Kindle 3 and I actually prefer entering text on-screen using the Sym on-screen mode. It beats working with those tiny, stiff keys whose letters are hard to read.

    What Amazon really should do is end all the gripping about keyboards by enabling the Bluetooth mode in the WiFi chip they use and creating keyboard and mouse drivers for all their Kindles. The latter would let people with disabilities turn pages with a $9.95 mouse rather than a $300 robotic gadget.

    Also, your personal documents are only stored online if you choose to do so. By default, the option is turned on, but you can turn it off. Just be advised that it can take minutes to hours for personal documents to appear online, long after they’ve been transferred to your Kindle.

    You didn’t mention a major plus for cloud-stored personal documents. It enables you to markup and synch the last-page read of your own ‘stuff’– such as business documents and that novel you’re writing–just like you’ve been able to do with Amazon-bought books. Right now, that feature only works with Kindle hardware, but Amazon seems to be hinting it’ll be added to free Kindle apps.

    That last feature surprised me as much as library checkout. I’d assumed that Amazon intended Kindles to be used almost solely to generate retail sales. It appears that they have enough business sense to realize that getting people to buy a Kindle to read library ebooks can be a gateway to using it to buy ebooks. I can only hope that they make a similar conclusion about the Kindle Fire. I hope they see that making it app-rich, including productivity apps and the all-important Dropbox (for synching with Macs and PCs), will make the Fire a gateway to more Amazon sales.

    It’s not a zero-sum game. The more reasons people have for keeping a Kindle with them on the go, the more Amazon-bought content they’ll consume on the go.

  4. Another feature may be missing is “Read-to-me” in the new budget Kindle. I checked the website and they didn’t mention it, but they mention it in Kindle touch page. Could anyone verify it?

  5. #1 makes no sense, as there is no 3G Fire …..

  6. @Cliff: The entry level K4 has no audio.
    Hence no TTS, mp3s, or audio ebooks.
    Kindle Touch and Keyboard Kindle do.

  7. @Michael.W.Perry: The Kindle Fire is an android tablet, not an ebook reader. Amazon is in fact treating it as such so you will be able to install pretty much any Android app, unlike the Nooks and the Sony T1 (which *are* marketed as ebook readers) that need hacking to unlock them up to open Android apps.
    So your wish is granted. :)
    Want to access the Kobo ebookstore? The Amazon Appstore has the Kobo app.
    Aldiko? Both the free and paid app?
    Want Overdrive or Coolreader3? Go to their website, download, and install. No rooting needed. If you can get your hand on the Nook or Sony apps, Txtr or Bluefire, they should also run.
    Wide open.
    Explains why no Special Offers, 3G, or extended Prime; Amazon expects Fire owners to buy lots of Amazon content, but they’re not looking to force them.

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