Kindle WiFi Review

This Kindle WiFi Review is based on about an hour of playing around with the Kindle 3 – courtesy the Kindle Team.

Kindle WiFi comes in for the ridiculously low price of $139. It doesn’t have 3G wireless and that means if you can’t find a WiFi network – no free Internet, no browsing the Kindle Store, no 60 second book downloads. It weighs in at 8.5 ounces and is a little lighter than the Kindle 3 (8.7 ounces). In every other way Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi are identical.

Please check out my Kindle 3 Review for a detailed list of improvements and a discussion of Kindle 3 strengths and weaknesses. Except for the 3G wireless part all of these apply to the Kindle WiFi.

Kindle WiFi Review – Lighter, Easier, and Much Better

Amazon’s focus with Kindle WiFi and Kindle 3 seems to have been to focus even more on reading, make the Kindle even easier, and add on as many improvements as possible.

Here are the key improvements -

  1. 50% better screen contrast.
  2. 15% more compact.
  3. 21% lighter.
  4. 20% faster page turns.
  5. Double the memory.
  6. Double the battery life with wireless off (up to 1 month). With wireless on you get just 10 days.  
  7. Much better usability of buttons and keys.

There are also some improvements in the various features -

  1. Better PDF support including the ability to add notes and highlights to PDFs and use the dictionary. Kindle WiFi also supports password protected PDFs.
  2. Better Accessibility – All the menus and the home page now have Text To Speech enabled.
  3. Sharper Fonts – Amazon is using some complicated algorithms to draw sharper fonts.
  4. Page turn buttons no longer make a loudish clicking noise.
  5. There are now 3 Font types – Serif, Sans-Serif, and Condensed.

Overall, the Kindle WiFi is a very compelling eReader and at $139 it’s insanely good value for money.

Kindle WiFi Review – Disadvantages

All the disadvantages mentioned in the Kindle 3 Review post apply. There are some Kindle WiFi disadvantages worth going over again – the lack of 3G, being dependent on a WiFi network for book downloads, the tiny size and accompanying fragility (perhaps, not sure how sturdy it is), lack of ePub support, the missing row of number keys, lack of an SD card slot, lack of a replaceable battery. If one of these is a deal breaker skip the Kindle WiFi.

Not having 3G wireless is a significant drawback – However, if you can get by on WiFi or by using your PC it shouldn’t be a concern.

Kindle WiFi Review – Kindle WiFi keeps the focus on reading

Perhaps the best part of playing with the Kindle 3 was seeing that the Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi continue to be dedicated reading devices focused on reading books and on making everything very simple.

You see this in a lot of ways – much better screen contrast, faster page turns, no multi-purposeness added, no touchscreen, keys moved to be more convenient, page turn buttons improved. Amazon has refused to let the iPad’s success poison the Kindle’s focus on reading and that’s a beautiful thing.

Kindle WiFi Review – Kindle WiFi is Very Strongly Recommended

Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi are instantly the best available eReaders. Kindle WiFi exceeds every other eReader (including the Kindle 3) in providing value for money by coming in at $139. Basically, there’s nothing close to the Kindle WiFi other than Kindle 3 and that’s $50 more.

Kindle WiFi undercuts the Nook WiFi by $10 and also has significant advantages – the eInk Pearl screen, better PDF support, faster page turns, more memory, more battery life, better usability, etc. Nook WiFi has its own advantages –  lending, ePub, the promise of Android, Chess and Sudoku. Overall though, Kindle WiFi easily beats Nook WiFi.

Kindle WiFi is very strongly recommended. It’s a beautiful little eReader with lots of impressive features. Hopefully this Kindle WiFi review helped you – let me know if you have any questions.

88 Responses

  1. [...] 3 vs Kindle 2 Posted on July 28, 2010 by switch11 The Kindle 3 is [...]

    • The kindle is is a disfunctional piece of *******. I have tried to use it as a bedtime book and was constantly moved from page to page due to the over abundance of ‘next page” buttons. I am totally frustrated! After a month of use I find it a piece of trash!!!!!!!

      • You shouldn’t read any books at all.

      • I had that problem with the Kindle 1 for a while. You kind of have to learn how to hold it so that that doesn’t happen. But the Kindle 3 (which I got about 2 weeks ago) doesn’t have that problem, because the navigation buttons are much smaller. The trade-off is that it’s a little harder to navigate with one hand.

      • I have an iPad, Nook, Kindle2 and Kindle3. Absolutely, the Kindle3, in my opinion, for reading, is the best!

  2. [...] book browsing and buying at AT&T WiFi hotspots. There’s also a Kindle WiFi for $139 (my Kindle WiFi Review) although the only difference is the lack of free 3G in Kindle [...]

  3. Apart from the bookstore, what else is the internet access good for on the Kindle? Is it easy to access Facebook, email and other sites?

    • Yes, though you have to use the mobile versions of the sites.
      Email works with mobile sites – so m.gmail.com instead of normal site.

      Facebook – think it works. haven’t tried it and don’t have an account to try it for you. You can send passages of a book you’re reading to Facebook from within books itself.

      Browsing works – It’s slow on 3G. Will be fast on WiFi. There’s a new browser and it supposedly improves the browsing.

      • Thank you! And thanks for the great reviews. I just need to decide if I need the 3G option or not.

      • Actually am writing a post on that. It should be up in 45 minutes.

      • Great, looking forward to it. You mentioned over at the Amazon forum that the K3 graphite was not as nice as the K2 graphite. Which in your opinion is nicer, the K3 white or the K3 graphite?

      • Here’s the comparison – Kindle vs Kindle WiFi.
        In a nutshell if you have WiFi (a wireless network) at home and at the places you usually read (work, coffee shops, etc.) OR don’t mind using a PC to download books then Kindle WiFi is a good choice.

        If you travel a lot – then Kindle 3 with 3G is better.

    • I am so technologically inept. I travel extensively for periods of one to two months at a time always carrying with me a bag of books. I think I want an ebook reader, but I am so confused–Kindle vs. Nook. I am not sure I would ever load a book while I am traveling. What would you recommend and have you had a Nook?

      • Ann,
        I do own a Nook.
        The Kindle is much better if you’re travelling.

        If you’re based in the US you’ll have Kindle Store browsing, free book downloads and free Internet all over the world. I’d recommend the Kindle 3 3G+WiFi model as you won’t have to hunt for WiFi hotspots.
        Also worth getting is a physical plug adapter – Kensington sells one that works all over the world. Kindle’s adapter can handle voltages worldwide – however, it needs something to adjust to the different wall sockets.

  4. WIth the Kindle WIFI, if you subscribe to newspapers will they automatically be pushed to the Kindle if it is connected to a WIFI network?

    • Not sure – However, I think that is how it should work. Your Kindle WiFi would be able to connect to Amazon’s servers and check for and download upgrades.

  5. Why only make the wifi available in graphite? Thanks for all the info!!

  6. I am European, every time I buy an e-book I pay 2$ more for whispernet delivery (VAT is another story). Do you know if the delivery will be free with WIfi K3 ? It would pay it very quickly!
    And thanks for your blog, so interesting

  7. Hi there, thanks for the reviews!

    One question on the value of the covers and if it is recommended?

    The covers seem to be fairly expensive e.g. the cover with light is almost 50% of the Wifi

    • Ed, I’m trying to get my hands on a review copy. If you need a reading light and a cover then it’s worth it. It doesn’t need batteries so that helps too. However, I agree that $60 is too much – It should have been $30 or $35.

  8. I heard the Kindle WiFi uses an older technology screen. Is this true? Is the only difference between K3 and KWiFi the 3G? Thanks

    • Kindle WiFi uses the new eInk Pearl screen. The only difference is the 3G and Kindle WiFi is a little lighter (8.5 ounces vs 8.7 ounces).

  9. What exactly is the difference between the WiFi and what the Kindle 1’s whispernet uses? Does the Kindle 1 use a 3G network?

    • Yes, Connie.
      Kindle 1 uses a 3G network like cellphones do so it can connect wherever a Sprint cellphone could connect. Kindle 3G+WiFi uses AT&T’s 3G network and WiFi.

      Kindle WiFi uses just WiFi. Kindle WiFi would only be able to connect where there is a WiFi network that you have access to. A WiFi network is any wireless network like we set up at homes for wireless Internet for our laptops or the wireless network that coffee shops have.

      Kindle WiFi also connects to all the AT&T hotspots for free – for browsing books and downloading books.

  10. Will i be able to access the Kindle store if I use the device outside of US?

  11. Thanks for the review, which is very useful for me who is contemplating purchasing an e-book reader. As I live abroad, I am very concerned about carrying useless peripheral space and weight that I cannot use as I will be using the device outside of the USA. So, do I care for carrying extra rows of keyboard buttons that I never get to use to access the Amazon Web site to order books from the Kindle 3/2? Do I need the added 3G internal device, and hence the added cost, that will never get connected free of charge in my part of the globe (if I can configure it to access local 3G provider, for a charge)? Do I have the luxury of sending the device back to Amazon to get a battery replacement when the original runs out? The answer is obviously “no.”

  12. Can you check email and log on to all internet sites other than Wikipedia with the Kindle 3G?

    • Yes.
      On kindle 2 the browser could only handle mobile versions of sites.
      The browser in Kindle 3 is webkit based and in help guide they show espn.com loaded. So perhaps it works for all sites.

      The mobile email sites will definitely work.

      3G browsing is a bit slow though. Over WiFi it’ll be pretty fast.

  13. Hi there, I have another question.

    Regarding the costs of the books delivered to international users – what about if it was the other way around in that I bought the Kindle WIFI in the US but returned to Australia – would the additional costs and range be restricted?

    • No. If you set your home country to US then you’d get US prices and US range. However, if you took a subscription like a newspaper or a magazine the delivery would be very expensive unless you did it via WiFI – which I guess is the only option with Kindle WiFi. Do check on the subscription part with Amazon.

  14. I have been waiting for the kindle wi-fi and going to get it.but what you said about having to pay for internet. is it just better to get kindle wi-fi and 3g becuase if it is i think it might just be better to get that! do you think i should becuase i’m only 10 but use the internet alot! thanks so much
    Claire

    • Claire,
      Where do you most expect to use your Kindle?

      If it’s at home and in places like coffee shops that will have free WiFi then Kindle WiFi will be fine.
      All AT&T WiFi hotspots get free access to browsing the store but not to Internet.

      Coffee shops and McDonalds and some cafes have free Internet through WiFi.

      Depends on where you plan on using your Kindle. Let me know if you want more details.

  15. Can anyone tell me what is the biggest font size that is available on kindle (139$] and if that particular font size is available for all the ebooks that we download or convert from pdf ?

    • Biggest font size is size 40 font in word. Check out the Kindle 3 Videos page for a video showing it.
      It works for all books – even ones converted from PDF format. PDFs can be zoomed up to 300%. If you have access to change font size in the PDF on your PC then Kindle will show the new PDF font size.

  16. Please help me! I am quite elderly and living in a retirement home. I really don’t have a clue about access to hotspots, etc. I am afraid that I’m totally ignorant about “WiFi”, 3G, hotspots and networks. While your reviews seem that they would be helpful to a younger generation who understand the different references you make to such things I am totally lost. I am considering getting a Kindle or similar device as a Christmas present for a family member but honestly have no idea of what your’re talking about in your reviews.

    I am not being critical when I say that most reviewers of technical devices seem to believe that everyone understands what, to some of us elderly folks, is practically a foreign language. Would you please write a review of Kindle and similar devices just for those of us who didn’t grow up using computers?

    I read your reviews and think, “this looks exactly like what I need to know but what is all of this nomenclature?”

    I know how impatient the younger generation gets with this sort of message but we’re really not stupid, just uneducated in a highly technical field.

    Thanks for any help you can give.

    Tom Fulcher.
    ct.fulcher@hotmail.com

  17. Does the Kindle Wifi have the capability to play amazon video on demand?

  18. I have been considering getting my husband a Kindle 3 for Christmas. He is not computer literate and will not carry a cell phone. I was ready to buy one because he has vision problems and loves to read and saw the advantage of the font enlargement. I am very pleased with all that it seems to offer but in almost every review there are complaints about it freezing up or stalling. I could see if it is frustrating computer literate people it would end up in a drawer (with his cell phone). Some people have mentioned an upgrade to fix this problem, is that a reality or wishful thinking?

    • MMurray,
      There are now fixes. The freezing problem only applies to a very small subset of Kindles now. If he does get a Kindle Wifi or Kindle 3 with freezing Amazon does a free replacement. They’ll keep replacing your Kindle in the rare case you find another edge case that has a freezing problem.

      It’s not really something that should prevent you from buying a Kindle.

      • Thank you, I emailed Kindle rep at amazon and never got a response from them, hope their tech service is better at responding LOL

      • Their tech service is very good. You should go to the Amazon Help page and ask them to call you back – they have a service that calls you back in a few minutes.

  19. One more question, from what I gather this does not have back lighting, is the screen lit at all? Seems they make all these lights for it, why wouldn’t that be built in?

    • It isn’t back-lit. If it’s back-lit it causes lots of problems – it reduces battery life, it hurts the eyes.

      They want to replicate paper which reflects light shined on to it. That’s why they have add-on lights.

      • The backlight does not hurt the eyes, if you do it right. One of the complaints about the iPad is the backlight hurts the eyes. I own an iPad and read ten to twelve hours each day. At first it hurt my eyes, but then I turned down the intensity and now I can read as long as I want, without pain or strain. If you are considering getting any reader with backlight, if you can decrease the intensity, then do that and try again. You might be surprised.

  20. I don’t get it…I have a book?…and I read it a few times.

  21. Hey i was wondering if there is a cheaper head light than the 60 dollar one avalible now?

  22. The Amazon website lists the “Read to me” feature as experimental. It says that it can read to you unless the right holder makes this feature unavailble. So does this mean that if the book is available as an audiobook then the read to me feature will work?
    Also, has anyone used this feature? How well does it work?

    • Gail, have no idea how it relates to the Audiobook availability.

      Publishers decide whether or not to enable text to speech. The ones that feel it will affect audibook sales usually don’t enable it.

      The feature works decently. The voices are a bit mechanical – there is the option to choose male or female voice and there are 3 speed settings. The book pages turn along with the reading.

      • thanks for the info. I will try to research it a bit more. I am looking into purchasing for my daughter who has a reading impairment so the audio part is very important to me.

      • The second and third videos on this Kindle Review Video page have Text to Speech in male and female voice. Let me know if there is additional video or audio you’d like.

  23. I’m trying to decide between devices for a gift, and I’d like options of where to download ebooks. What are some eReader apps that are compatible with Kindle?

    • None.

      Any ebook store that sells books without DRM will probably work – the ebooks can be converted and read. However, the bigger publishers and bigger stores don’t offer DRM-free books.

  24. I am thinking of buying a kindle wifi for a friend up in Candada, will he have any problems or isues with acessing the books?

    • No.
      He will need to have WiFi access at home or somewhere he can go to.

      He’ll be limited to books available in the Kindle Canada store.

      I’m using a Kindle 3G in Montreal and it’s fine – use WiFi nearly all the time and everything works great.

  25. Thank you for a very thorough review!

    While reading the Q&A, I got a bit confused on one point though … I’m assuming if we get the Kindle WiFi, we only need WiFi when we order/download books (or otherwise access the internet), but we can read books that we’ve already downloaded without a WiFi network. Is this correct? Or do we always need to be connected to WiFi? Thanks!

  26. Hi! I’m considering buying the wifi Kindle and I have read that one downside to the kindle is the lack or replaceable battery. my concern is, if i order a kindle (i’m from the Philippines) and by the time comes that the battery no longer works, will I not be able to use the kindle anymore? Or will I need to have it always plugged just to use.

  27. Is there any place where I can see a Kindle and try it out–the way I can try out an iPad or a Nook? I am making comparisons in preparation for a Christmas gift purchase this week. I live in the Minneapolis area.

    • Target, Staples, and Best Buy are the 3 stores that have demo units. It’s best to call before hand to confirm they have demo units.

      Also, if you click on the Kindle Review Videos link at the top of the page, and on that page on ‘Kindle 3 Videos’ link which is in 1st paragraph – you can see some videos discussin features that are worth checking in person – just so you know what things you should look for.

  28. how hard is it to set up a wifi network? if it’s more than just typing in password/username, i might go for the 3g+wifi version. at some coffee shops, i need to click “user agreement” box when i want to use their wifi connections. i dont know if that’s gonna make things complicated on kindle, because the webpage function on kindle is just experimental.

    • The WiFi networks where you have to click a ‘user agreement’ might not work with the WiFi version.

      If by ‘set up’ you mean ‘find and connect to a WiFi hotspot when you are out and about somewhere’ – it’s very easy.

  29. I am about to push “add to cart” on a Kindle 3. HOWEVER, I’ve read all stats on amazon regarding the 3G. I have 3G cellular service where I live (as well as wi-fi at home), but one review I read this morning said something about AT&T.
    IS THE KINDLE 3 Wi-Fi + 3G restricted ONLY TO AT&T as the 3G carrier??? I know there are no monthly or data or ‘package’ fees attached to the 3G option, but AT&T is not available in our area (tho “they” keep saying it’s coming), and am really anxious to use my Santa money here; Will my Verizon 3G coverage cut it if I go for the Wi-Fi+3G?
    Thanks

    • Amy, only AT&T 3G works. If you don’t get AT&T reception at home then 3G won’t work.
      So you’re better off getting the WiFi since you have WiFi at home.

      • Amazon should really make that clear on their “about 3G” information page. THANK you! You just saved me 50 bucks, and I’m going to get a cool case instead.

        How about the graphite color being distracting when reading? Has anyone mentioned that? Thanks.

      • Amy, I find that the graphite case brings out the contrast better.

        Is white better when you want to get lost in reading? Perhaps. Not sure about that.

        It’s a matter of personal preference. If you look at the videos and see the contrast and how it looks on white and on black – If there seems no difference, then get the White. If you feel there’s a difference, then it’s hard to say because I’ve never found any way to quantify ‘easier to get lost in reading’.

  30. Hello, Kindle doesn’t support Chinese characters, what if I change the ebook to PDF? Or any other ways to read Chinese?

    How can I transfer ebook in my PC to Kindle and vice versa? Can I download any Chinese input method in Kindle coz I may use Chinese to mark on the ebook and for web search.

    I heard that Kindle 2 has International version, what is the difference? Will Kindle WiFi also has Int’l version?

    Thank you very much!

    • Embedded fonts in PDFs are supported.

      You can transfer ebook in your PC to Kindle if it has no DRM or if it is a Kindle store book. There’s no Chinese format input – though there is a hack called Daukon or something similar that allows something. Search at Mobileread.com.

      International version has 3G support for store browsing internationally. Kindle 3 also has it. Kindle WiFi has no 3G.

      If you find a WiFi connection you can browse the Kindle Store from anywhere – You are limited to buying books available for your home country.

      • What is DRM? I am trying to infd out if i can actually add my notes and ebooks to my kindle also if i didnt buy them from Kindle? I got a Kindle 3 w/ free wifi 3g and not sure if it will function for college?

        Thanks!

      • Which store did you buy them from? If it’s a store that used ePub format or used any other format with its own copyright protection then it won’t work on Kindle.

        Just go to Amazon.com and check if the books you want are available.

        If your ebooks are in text format, or copyright free PDF format or the Kindle format then they’ll work.

  31. can the kindel read the book to you if you don’t want to read?

    • If Publishers haven’t disabled text to speech feature – then yes.
      It can’t for PDFs. It can for any documents you add yourself and for public domain books.

  32. Hi there I am an older lady with eyesight that is failing slowly and I can’t read normal print for much longer. I know nothing about this new technology but does anyone do a larger print item on one of these new machines or can it be downloaded onto a laptop and can I then use a larger font ?

    Thank you Kathy

    • Both.

      Kindle and Nook and Nook Color and Sony Reader all offer large font sizes.
      Kindle and Nook both have reading apps that you can download for your laptop – then both have large print size.

  33. Thinking of buying my first Kindle. Any idea when the next, newer version will be released?

    Thanks,
    Terri

    • Terri, that’s a difficult question.

      There are three possibilities here –

      1) A Kindle Tablet to take on Nook Color and iPad 2. IN first half of 2011.

      2) A Kindle 4 that is incremental improvements over Kindle 3. In mid 2011. Probably July.

      3) A color Kindle 4 that brings color screens. Perhaps November 2011 or Feb 2012.

      The best two options would be –

      Get a Kindle WiFi for $139 now.
      OR
      Wait 3 months.

  34. Are there any charges to use the internet on a Kindle 3G …. like a monthly fee to AT&T?

  35. Kindle presently uses its own proprietary format, which is not compatible with the formats used by public libraries. In April, there was an announcement that later this year Kindle owners will be able to download books from public libraries, as do Nook, Sony, etc. e-reader owners. Do you have any idea when Kindle owners will be able to download public library books?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,809 other followers