Kindle WiFi or Kindle 3 or Kindle DX 2

The arrival of the $189 Kindle 3 and the $139 Kindle WiFi creates an interesting situation. We now have to choose one of three new Kindle models (Kindle WiFi or Kindle 3 or Kindle DX 2) when in many ways they are very similar (Kindle ecosystem, Kindle Store, eInk Pearl screen).

This post will look at Kindle WiFi or Kindle 3 or Kindle DX 2 and compare and contrast them. Please note that it’s based on just an hour with the new Kindle 3 and a month of owning the Kindle DX 2.

Kindle WiFi or Kindle 3 or Kindle DX 2 – Value for Money

Here’s how they stack up -

  1. Kindle WiFi for $139 is incredible value for money. It’s really a steal. You get access to Kindle Store, you get the new eInk Peal screen, you get a month of battery life with wireless off, the memory is double, and there are a lot of other benefits. It’s basically the Kindle 3 without the 3G.
  2. Kindle 3 for $189 is very good value for money. If you don’t need 3G then the WiFi is $50 cheaper and the obvious better option. Note that apart from 3G support and the WiFi being 0.2 ounces lighter there are no differences.
  3. Kindle DX 2 for $379  is a difficult choice. It definitely isn’t anywhere near Kindle WiFi in terms of value for money and it isn’t ‘do more than one thing’  like the iPad WiFi at $499. So it comes down to whether the Kindle DX 2 is a fit for you. The following sections should clear that up.

If your major concern is getting value for money then the Kindle WiFi is it. You aren’t going to be upset with Kindle 3 either. If your inclination is to always want the best value for money and to feel bad if you buy something that isn’t then the Kindle DX 2 is going to make you wonder whether it’s worth 2.7 Kindle WiFis (it’s not).

Kindle DX 2 or Kindle 3 or Kindle WiFi – Large Screen, Readability and PDFs, Newspapers, and Magazines

The reading experience on all 3 devices is very good. They all have the same eInk Pearl screen with excellent contrast.

The Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi have some additional tweaks which Kindle DX 2 doesn’t. However, the screen contrast on Kindle DX 2 is good enough that an additional 5% or 10% improvement isn’t going to be missed.

Far more important is the Kindle DX 2′s large size screen. The 9.7″ screen is 2.5 times as big as the 6″ Kindle 3 screen and adds in some ways -

  1. The Kindle DX 2 is really good if you like large screens to read on - there are a lot of words per page, you have to turn the page less often.
  2. There are larger font sizes on Kindle DX 2. The largest font size on the Kindle DX 2 is larger than the largest font size on the Kindle 2 and is almost certainly going to be larger than the largest font size on the Kindle 3.
  3. The Kindle DX 2 is also much better for PDFs because it’s closer to the size of an A4 sheet of paper. You can read most PDFs a page at a time though some PDFs need landscape mode or magnification even on the DX 2. Check out this post on Kindle DX 2 PDF support for photos and video.  
  4. The large screen of the Kindle DX 2 also makes it great for newspapers and magazines. Lots of Magazines are available online in PDF format so that’s a factor. For newspapers and magazines in the Kindle Store you can have more of the article on the screen.
  5. If you’re low vision or like the really big font sizes then the Kindle DX 2 allows that and also allows lots of words per screen even with the largest fonts. That’s invaluable.

The large screen is probably the biggest (and only?) advantage of the Kindle DX 2 – 2.5 times the screen size of the 6″ Kindle.

Kindle DX 2 vs iPad

It comes down to what’s important to you -

  1. If you want the best large screen reading device get the Kindle DX 2.
  2. If you want the best device that does more than just read then perhaps the iPad fits the bill.
  3. If you want some ethereal concept of higher value for money even though you want a device primarily for reading then don’t really know what to say. Basically, if you’re looking for a device for reading then it doesn’t make much sense to think – I can also do 50 other things on iPad in addition to reading so even though I want a device that’s great for reading I’ll get one that isn’t great for reading because it does something else.

Kindle DX 2 beats iPad thoroughly on reading and iPad beats Kindle DX 2 thoroughly on the perception of value for money and being able to do more than read.

Kindle WiFi or Kindle 3 or Kindle DX 2 – Portability and Weight

A big disadvantage of the Kindle DX 2 is that it weighs a lot and is quite large. Here are the specifics -

  1. Kindle DX 2 – 18.9 ounces. 10.4″ by 7.2″ by 0.38″.  
  2. Kindle 3 – 8.7 ounces. 7.5″ by 4.8″ by 0.335″.
  3. Kindle WiFi – 8.5 ounces. 7.5″ by 4.8″ by 0.335″.

Since its heavier the Kindle DX 2 is very unsuited to one-handed reading and even holding it with both hands can get tiring after a while. If you have weak hands you will have to read it while resting it on something (there’s a Jacket Case that can be propped up). Even with strong hands you’ll find that you prefer resting DX 2 on a table or on its side.

The larger size means the Kindle DX 2 won’t fit in your jacket pocket (like Kindle 3 will for larger jacket pockets) and it won’t fit in small bugs and purses. Carrying it in your hand is a bit awkward and also a little tiring. DX 2 is just not that portable.

Kindle WiFi or Kindle 3 or Kindle DX 2 – new Kindle 3 features

Since the Kindle 3 is a newer release it has some features the Kindle DX 2 doesn’t.

This post on Kindle 3 improvements has details on which of the Kindle 3 additions are software based and which are hardware based. However, its reference point is Kindle 2.

Here’s how Kindle 3 and Kindle DX 2 stack up -

They both have the new eInk Pearl screen. They both have the new graphite casing.  

Kindle 3 has lots of software improvements Kindle DX 2 doesn’t. DX 2 may get these down the line or it may not.  

  1. 3 Font Choices – Serif (Caecilia), Sans-Serif, and Condensed. 
  2. Support for CJK and Cyrillic fonts.
  3. Improved PDF support with ability to add highlights and notes and support for password protected PDFs.  
  4. WebKit Browser and Article Mode – The Kindle 3′s WebKit browser can support more sites. Kindle DX 2′s browser primarily supports mobile versions of sites. Also WiFi means Kindle 3′s browser can use WiFi which is much faster than 3G.
  5. Voice Guide – Kindle DX 2 doesn’t have the Voice Guide so it isn’t really accessible.

These will, hopefully, all arrive for the Kindle DX 2 – However, at the moment they’re missing.

Kindle 3  has lots of hardware improvements the Kindle DX 2 doesn’t and there’s no way it can get them -

  1. WiFi.
  2. New quieter page turn buttons and re-arranged keys. 
  3. The improved battery life might be hardware based. The improved screen contrast (over DX 2) involves tuning that may be hardware tuning or software tuning. The 20% faster page turns might be hardware based.

On the Kindle 3 product page there’s a chart comparing Kindle 3, Kindle WiFi, and Kindle DX 2 - it’s worth a look.

Kindle WiFi or Kindle 3 or Kindle DX 2 – Conclusion

The Kindle DX 2 is the right choice if you’re looking for a large screen eReader. It’s the best large screen eReader and the only one with the new eInk Pearl screen. If the value for money aspect is a concern then consider getting a $249 refurbished Kindle DX US – they are available sporadically. Keep in mind that you will miss out on the new eInk Pearl screen and on international 3G with the refurbished Kindle DX US.

The Kindle 3 and the Kindle WiFi are much better choices in nearly every other case. Amazon has made a ton of improvements and introduced them at really low prices. Combine that with the portability and light weight and they’re a great choice if you don’t need a large screen.

Kindle WiFi or Kindle 3 or Kindle DX 2 is not really much of a comparison because Kindle DX 2 trails in value for money and it hasn’t yet gotten the software improvements introduced in Kindle 3. Amazon probably needs to sell more DX 2s before it can hit economies of scale and bring the price down to $250.

Kindle 3G or WiFi

Now that the Kindle 3 has been out for a few days it’s interesting to see the Kindle 3G or WiFi question still tripping up lots of people.

Have been looking at the questions people have about the differences between Kindle 3G+WiFi and Kindle WiFi and realized that it’s mostly use case related - People only care about the impact in terms of how they use their Kindle. This post will focus on the use cases and the simplest possible language.

If you’d like a more technical discussion the Kindle vs Kindle WiFi comparison post should help you.

Kindle 3G or WiFi - The Golden Rule and an explanation for WiFi

First, there are only two differences between Kindle 3 (Kindle with 3G and WiFi) and Kindle WiFi -

  1. Kindle 3 has both 3G and WiFi. 3G is what your cellphone uses and it uses AT&T’s wireless network to connect to Kindle Whispernet. Kindle WiFi has only WiFi. It does not have 3G. We’ll discuss WiFi in the next section.
  2. Kindle WiFi is $50 cheaper than Kindle 3. So by forsaking 3G you save $50.

The Golden Rule is – If you don’t know what WiFi is and $50 isn’t a big deal  – get the Kindle 3G+WiFi (i.e. Kindle 3).

You don’t have to read the rest of the post - just go and get the Kindle 3.

This is thanks to someone at the official Kindle forum. It makes a ton of sense. If $50 isn’t a big deal to you , then you are not going to ever regret spending $50 more. However, there’s a pretty high chance you will regret not getting the 3G. If you would buy something for $50 without thinking twice about it then get the Kindle 3. This is especially true if  you have been using the Kindle 2 and love having the WhisperNet connection everywhere OR if you travel more than twice a year.

When are WiFi and 3G used?

The Kindle 3G+WiFi and the Kindle WiFi are identical in behavior most of the time. That includes reading, sorting through your books, looking up the dictionary, listening to music, and using Text to Speech.

The only time they are different is when you are browsing the Kindle Store or downloading a book you have bought or surfing the Internet or Wikipedia. To do that your Kindle needs to connect to Amazon’s WhisperNet. Think of WhisperNet as an intermediary/gateway to the Kindle Store and to the Internet.

You need SOMETHING to connect your Kindle to WhisperNet - a gateway to the gateway.

  1. The Kindle 3G + WiFi can use either 3G or WiFi to connect to WhisperNet.
  2. The Kindle WiFi can only use WiFi to connect to WhisperNet.

That’s the only difference – How you connect to WhisperNet. Since 3G is availabile wherever AT&T’s network is available and that’s usually (not always) more widespread than WiFi availability the Kindle 3G+WiFi has a bit of an advantage.

3G and WiFi are both luxuries.

Neither 3G nor WiFi are a prerequisite to using your Kindle or even buying books. You can do without 3G and WiFi by using your PC. 

You can simply use your computer to browse Amazon’s Kindle section, buy books, and to download them to your PC. After that you can transfer books from your PC via USB cable to your Kindle (to the Documents folder).

So 3G and WiFi are a convenience and not a necessity.

Let’s dig into what 3G is, what WiFi is, and what wireless networks are.

What is WiFi? What is a wireless network?

WiFi is a popular wireless network technology. Kindle has WiFi capability means it can connect to wireless networks using WiFi network technology. Both Kindle 3 (3G+WiFi capable) and Kindle WiFi (only WiFi capable) have WiFi network technology.

A wireless network is usually a network that uses radio waves to connect devices to a main hub and via that hub to the Internet or to other devices. There are also wireless networks that connect devices to devices – However, Kindle does not support that.

At home, if you want to let devices connect to your Internet connection without using unwieldy cables, you can set up a home wireless network. Your wireless modem will plug into the wall socket that has the Internet cable and then it’ll send out radio waves that encompass a certain area and that is the wireless network.

Any device in that area can connect to the wireless network (provided it has the password), through the network to your modem, and through it connect to the Internet. 

If an airport wants to let passengers use the Internet connection(s) the Airport has it can set up a wireless network. Again we have the same process of the WiFi capable device connecting to this Wireless network the airport has set up and through it to the Internet.

What is 3G?

3G stands for third generation wireless technology and is generally used for cellphones.

Kindle 3 with 3G+WiFi uses AT&T’s cellphone wireless network as its 3G network. This is the same 3G network that is used by AT&T cellphones like the iPhone and the same one used by Kindle 2 International. 

If you want everything to work just as it does with the current Kindle 2 then the safe bet is getting Kindle 3G+WiFi.

Kindle 1 and Kindle 2 US use Sprint’s wireless network as their 3G connection. If you’ve been using one of these please check how AT&T’s network reception is in your home, work, etc. before buying a Kindle 3.

Quick Summary

At the very core 3G and WiFi are just ways to connect to WhisperNet. 3G will work wherever AT&T network reception is available. WiFi will work wherever there is a wireless network and you have the password to access it.

Kindle 3 can use either AT&T’s cellphone network or a WiFi network. Kindle WiFi can only use WiFi networks.

Where can you find WiFi?

To use WiFi to connect to WhisperNet you need a WiFi hotspot (a wireless network). Here are a few options -

  1. If you have wireless Internet at home that’s a WiFi network your Kindle WiFi can log onto.  
  2. Here is a list of AT&T WiFi Locations. AT&T offers Kindle owners free WiFi access for browsing Kindle Store and buying books. Note that WiFi locations are not like cellphone towers – they are small in area. If a coffee shop has a WiFi network it’ll only be available to you inside the coffee shop and in the immediate vicinity. You probably won’t have the network 10 metres away.
  3. All McDonald’s have WiFi networks. There is free access though you might have to get a password.
  4. All Starbucks have WiFi. These too have free access and again you might have to get a password.
  5. Lots of coffee shops and cafes have WiFi. These are usually free.
  6. Your work will probably have a WiFi network.
  7. Lots of airports and hotels have WiFi networks – some of these are paid.

By asking around you can find out whether or not there is WiFi in all the places you usually read. Remember that you don’t need WiFi except when you are downloading books and browsing the Kindle Store and surfing the Internet.

What are you paying the extra $50 for?

You are paying $50 extra to get Kindle 3′s 3G capability and have the option of using EITHER WiFi or 3G to connect to WhisperNet. You also get free Internet access via 3G and if your home country is US you get this free Internet access in over 100 countries. In all those countries you can also browse the Kindle Store and buy books (you can do this even if your home country isn’t the US).

Note that you don’t have to have either 3G or WiFi – you could just use your computer.

It basically comes down to how much convenience you want and how much access to WiFi you have. There are 4 main cases -

  1. You have no access to WiFi and need the convenience of 3G and the free Internet access – Get a Kindle 3. This has both 3G and WiFi.  
  2. You have access to WiFi sometimes (or always) but want the convenience of 3G and the free Internet access – Get a Kindle 3.  
  3. You have access to WiFi sometimes (or always) and don’t mind restricting book browsing and buying and Internet surfing to those times – Get a Kindle WiFi.  
  4. You have no access to WiFi but can get by using your Computer – Get a Kindle WiFi.

Another way to look at it is -

  1. Kindle 3G+WiFi – Book browsing, buying, and Internet surfing wherever there is AT&T’s network or there is a WiFi network.
  2. Kindle WiFi – All the above things only where there is a WiFi network.
  3. Your Computer – All the above things.

For $50 you are getting the convenience of AT&T’s 3G network and free Internet browsing on it – including outside the US.

What if you make the wrong choice?

The worse case scenarios are pretty harmless – You might get the Kindle WiFi and feel it restricts you to buying books only when WiFi networks are available or from your Computer. That’s not such a big deal.

You might get the Kindle 3G+WiFi and feel you spent $50 and aren’t using 3G access enough to justify it. Well, it’s convenient and it’s just $50 and it helps resale value.

Quick Summary of Kindle 3G or WiFi

Kindle 3G or WiFi is an easy question to answer -

For the most convenience get the Kindle 3 with both 3G and WiFi.

If you don’t mind the inconvenience of looking for WiFi OR you always have a WiFi network available OR you don’t mind using your computer to buy books then get a Kindle WiFi.

The only critical thing the Kindle 3G or WiFi decision determines is the physical locations at which you will be able to browse and buy books from your Kindle. If you don’t get Kindle 3G you can simply use a computer or find a WiFi network.

Kindle vs Kindle WiFi

We’ve seen the $139 Kindle WiFi and the $189 Kindle 3 arrive today and one of the hot topics at the kindle forum is Kindle vs Kindle WiFi.

This Kindle vs Kindle WiFi comparison post will explain the differences between the two and help you choose the right Kindle for your needs.

Note: Kindle 3 has BOTH 3G and WiFi and you can switch between them freely. You can choose to use WiFi instead of 3G. Kindle WiFi, on the other hand, has only WiFi.

Note: You only need 3G or WiFi when you are downloading books or browsing the Kindle Store or Internet. It is NOT needed when reading. Once you have a book on your Kindle WiFi or Kindle 3 you can read it without being connected.

Kindle vs Kindle WiFi – Exactly what are the differences 

There are, to the best of my knowledge, just two significant differences -

  1. Price – Kindle WiFi is $139 and $50 cheaper than the $189 Kindle 3.  
  2. Free 3G - Kindle WiFi does not have 3G and will not benefit from free wireless via AT&T’s network. You will have to find a WiFi network/hot spot to browse the Kindle Store and browse the Internet.

There are also 3 minor differences –  

  1. Weight – Kindle WiFi is 8.5 ounces and Kindle 3 is 8.7 ounces.
  2. Name – They’re named differently and have different serial numbers.
  3. Kindle WiFi is only available in Graphite. Kindle 3 in White and Graphite.

Let’s look at Kindle vs Kindle WiFi differences.

Kindle vs Kindle WiFi – $50 vs Free 3G

The benefits of Free 3G include (provided you’re using the Kindle 3 in places covered by AT&T’s network) -

  1. Browsing the Kindle Store.
  2. Downloading Kindle Books in 60 seconds.
  3. Free Internet Access – This includes Wikipedia and Internet sites via the built-in browser. The browser is experimental and while mobile sites work other sites might not. The 3G is also somewhat slow.

The benefit of getting the Kindle WiFi is – $50.

What is WiFi?

WiFi is simply a wireless network that lets you connect your laptop or mobile device to the Internet. An example would be a wireless modem that creates a wireless network in your home which you use to access the Internet from your laptop (without needing a physical Internet cable).

Another example is a coffee shop that takes its Internet connection and creates a wireless network (also called WiFi hotspot) which its customers use to access the Internet.

Kindle WiFi depends on these WiFi networks to connect to the Kindle Store, to download books, and to access the Internet. If you have a wireless network at home or work the Kindle WiFi should work (you might need to figure out the password). Additionally, Kindle WiFi works with AT&T WiFi hotspots.

How does Kindle WiFi work with AT&T WiFi Hotspots?

Kindle WiFi works automatically with AT&T WiFi Hotspots. If a coffee shop or a mall has an AT&T WiFi HotSpot your Kindle WiFi will automatically recognize it and work -

Free Access at AT&T Hotspots
Enjoy free Wi-Fi access at AT&T hotspots across the U.S. for shopping and downloading Kindle content – no AT&T registration, sign-in, or password required.

This is a nice benefit although Internet access is not included.

Kindle vs Kindle WiFi - Cases where the Kindle WiFi is better

You don’t really need Kindle 3 with 3G in case -

  1. You will mostly use your Kindle WiFi in areas where you have access to a WiFi network. For example – If you use your Kindle WiFi mostly at home and you have a WiFi network setup at home then you don’t really need the Kindle 3. Save the $50.   
  2. If you happen to have a decent number of AT&T WiFi Hotspots where you usually head out for reading or near your house then you should do fine with the Kindle WiFi.
  3. Some coffee shops have a free wireless network. Again, the Kindle WiFi will do just fine – ask the Barista for the network password and you’re set.

Basically, if you have access to a wireless network at home and where you read outside the house then you can get by with the Kindle WiFi.

There are two qualifiers -

  1. If you travel a lot, and especially if it involves international travel, you should get the Kindle 3 with 3G.  
  2. Even if you don’t have WiFi networks handy you can go with the Kindle WiFi if you don’t mind searching for books on your PC and downloading Kindle books to the PC. You can transfer books from your PC to the Kindle WiFi via USB – It’s pretty straightforward.

At $139 Kindle WiFi is a great value and if you don’t need the 3G (or can do without it) it makes sense to get it.

Kindle vs Kindle WiFi – Cases where the Kindle 3 with 3G is better

If you fall into one or more of these categories -

  1. Don’t understand WiFi at all and don’t have home Internet. Note: WiFi is quite simple. So do give it a shot before deciding Kindle WiFi isn’t good enough.
  2. Can’t be bothered to learn how to set up WiFi at home and how to find WiFi hotspots. 
  3. Really value the fact that Kindle 3 with 3G is much more convenient.
  4. Travel a lot and don’t want to keep looking for WiFi networks.
  5. Travel internationally or move around internationally and don’t want to bother with WiFi.  
  6. Will use your Kindle a lot on commutes where WiFi networks will not be available.
  7. Don’t think $50 is a big deal.

Then please get the Kindle 3 with 3G. The $50 is worth it since you get free Internet and it’s very convenient.

There are a few qualifiers -

  1. Keep in mind that AT&T network isn’t available everywhere. If you read mostly at home and have a WiFi network at home but AT&T’s network doesn’t cover your home – Well, it makes little sense to get the 3G Kindle 3.  
  2. If you plan on moving to a different country or different state it makes sense to get the Kindle 3G – You might find that you no longer have any free WiFi hotspots nearby.
  3. $50 isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things. Kindle 3 with 3G will pay that back in many ways – perhaps just the convenience of using it on a vacation, perhaps through higher resale value, perhaps when the 3G saves you (at a time when WiFi isn’t available or is very expensive).

If $50 isn’t a deal-breaker consider going with the Kindle 3 with 3G. Kindle vs Kindle WiFi should tilt towards Kindle 3 – unless you always have a WiFi network around when you’re reading. Also consider taking a look at this Kindle vs Kindle WiFi discussion at the official Kindle Forum.

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