Kindle Q's
October 3, 2010 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Two Kindle Questions: Should I get the Kindle with or without 3G? Have people had problems uploading pdfs onto the new Kindles?

I'm going to be spending several months in Germany next summer, if that makes a difference. I want to primarily use my kindle for reading, though. I.e., I don't plan on treating it like an iPhone.
posted by outlandishmarxist to Technology (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been pondering the question myself lately, and it comes down to, what value does the free wifi give me that I can't get in any other way? Remember that the base model still has the wifi, but not the free access worldwide - you have to find a free wifi zone. Base model with wifi is $50 less than the model with free wifi access, so how much does that $50 matter for you?

1. Can check my email for free. Only valuable if I'm going to be travelling and the cost of checking my email there from the usual sources (blackberry, free wifi with travelling netbook or laptop) will be more than the extra $50 for the global free wifi option.
2. Can always get new content without looking for free wifi. This is the one that has me on the fence, but in the end I think that there is enough free wifi around that I can do without it - home, walk past a starbucks, etc. Will I really be so antsy to buy new ebooks that I can't wait half an hour to find a wifi zone?
3. Will the free wifi always be free? I say yes - they'll get so much profit from access to the ebook store that it will pay for itself. My husband says they'll probably monetize it in a few years. Will you get $50 worth of use (that you can't get any other way) in the next few years, assuming a worst-case scenario?

As you can see, I'm coming down on the cheapest version and will supply my own wifi connections at home and abroad. But for you, if the $50 is a small amount, you may find it worth it. especially with the travelling, where you could use it for email as well as estore access.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:38 AM on October 3, 2010

3G or not: Do you need to buy a book anywhere, anytime? Are you often out of WiFi service? If yes, you need 3G. Otherwise, forget it. It's a cheap option though. And since you'll be traveling, I might say go for it.

PDFs: The Amazon online converter is hit-or-miss. It did a terrible job with an illustrated Hunting of the Snark. Since scrolling around on a Kindle is painful, layout is super critical and the PDF converter didn't handle it very well. Hopefully others will share their experiences.
posted by chairface at 11:41 AM on October 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried the online PDF converter. For most text-based PDFs I work with I just plug the Kindle into my laptop and drag the relevant PDFs across, then usually read them at "fit to screen" size, but with the Kindle in "landscape" orientation rather than "portrait". But these are PDFs consisting mainly of normal-sized text paragraphs, or PDFs I've created from text I've cut and pasted from elsewhere. For more complex or "designed" PDFs this may not be viable.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:50 AM on October 3, 2010

I just bought the one without 3g and uploading pdfs isn't a problem you can transfer them with your cable or email them directly to your kindle. I dont think the 3g is free it charges your for every transfer you make .15cents I think.
posted by tke248 at 11:50 AM on October 3, 2010

Not really answering your question, but for converting other document/book types to Kindle's format, calibre is your friend:
posted by sinderile at 11:53 AM on October 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

tke248, in the research I've been doing, the charge would be for wirelessly transferring a purchase to your kindle - see "charges apply" on this page.

There's usually a way to do it for free, usually involving sending it to your home computer and dragging it to the kindle from there. But it's a good point - if you're buying the books via the free wifi, you'll pay a charge to take delivery of it. The wifi is still free, but the delivery isn't.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:59 AM on October 3, 2010

I have a second gen, so no wifi -- what I love about the 3G connection is that I can always get my newspaper subscription delivered. So, you may want to consider if you'll be subscribing to any periodicals when deciding.
posted by hilaryjade at 12:01 PM on October 3, 2010

If you're going to be buying books from Amazon, keep in mind that a portion of the book price is paid as a subsidy to Sprint for 3G service. If you buy a WiFi model, the books are the same price, so you're effectively paying for something you're not getting.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:19 PM on October 3, 2010

But it's a good point - if you're buying the books via the free wifi, you'll pay a charge to take delivery of it. The wifi is still free, but the delivery isn't.

That's not true — you're only charged for personal documents you email to your Kindle, not for books you buy from the Amazon store (even if they are priced at $0.00). And you are only charged for documents emailed via 3G, not via wifi. You have two email addresses, and — if you email your document to the latter, it will not be delivered via 3G (even if you have a 3G unit) but will be delivered the next time you have a wifi connection without charge.

I bought the 3G one because it seemed worth it to be able to use the web once in a while.

Regarding PDFs, if you have text-based PDFs you will have a better reading experience if you convert them using Calibre or something similar. If you have PDFs that are page-image-based, you won't be able to convert them — you can read them as-is on the Kindle, but you probably will need to view them in landscape mode, and even then the text can be very small if the original PDF was formatted for 8.5 x 11 pages. You can zoom, but then you end up having to pan across the page with each line and it just gets to be really painful really quickly.
posted by enn at 12:20 PM on October 3, 2010

I have the wireless version (it was a gift), but if i had bought it myself, I would have bought the 3G. For me, the difference is being able to check my e-mail while on holiday for free, when O2 charges me a fortune for iPhone roaming rates. The Kindle browser's not too bad for a quick e-mail check, and Google Maps even works, albeit slowly and in black and white. I think it's worth the extra money.
posted by ukdanae at 12:50 PM on October 3, 2010

D'oh - i meant i have the WiFi version, not wireless.
posted by ukdanae at 12:50 PM on October 3, 2010

I don't know if you've considered it, but my awesome husband recently got me the nicest, newest nook (wifi, 3g), and it handles PDFs BEAUTIFULLY through adobe digital editions. If you haven't looked into the nook, it might be worth a looksy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:04 PM on October 3, 2010

Reading PDFs on a 6" Kindle 2 is unpleasant enough that I don't ever do it. Reading PDFs on a 6" Sony reader was less annoying than it is on the Kindle but still not a great experience. Reading PDFs on the DX is hassle free and pleasant. The extra screen size is what made the difference.
posted by rdr at 9:49 PM on October 3, 2010

I'm told that Calibre will handle the conversion from PDF to a format that the Kindle can use reasonably well.

Having said that, a friend recently reported that it doesn't work for her - so sounds like the conversion may be a bit hit and miss.
posted by mr_silver at 3:50 AM on October 4, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I didn't mark a best answer, because it didn't seem anyone had a definitive answer, but they were all good.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 7:17 AM on October 4, 2010

I have an original Kindle, from before it was a choice between wifi and 3G. I love being able to buy a book whenever I want, from wherever I may be. Do I use it very often when I'm on the go (i.e. somewhere where I may not have immediate access to wifi)? Honestly, not really.. but having the ability to do so at need makes me happy.

Also, for what it's worth, I've had good experiences using Calibre to convert PDFs to mobi files.
posted by Kattiara17 at 8:18 AM on October 4, 2010

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