Kindle 3 3G in Canada
August 17, 2011 6:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm in Canada and planning on buying a kindle, and am currently deciding whether I should buy a Kindle 3G, or stick with the Wi-fi only model. I'd like to use it at the cottage, where there is no Internet Access, but (not-so-great) 3G coverage. It seems like there are some restrictions on international kindles that don't exist in the U.S.

Here are my main concerns:

* I'd like to use the built in browser over 3G, but I've heard this may not be possible for international Kindle units. I'd mostly just use it to check gmail, and perhaps the local newspaper. Twitter would be nice too.
* I need to be able to download/purchase books over 3G as well. From what I understand, the store is always available, though.
* As a heavy Instapaper user, I understand I can sync with my account there. Will this work in Canada too?
* It sounds like I can subscribe to magazines and newspapers - I'd like to be able to access these with 3G as well.

Not 3G specific:

* How easy is it to convert non-kindle format books to kindle format? I'd like to get books from the library, and don't think they're Kindle-ready. Calibre seems to be well regarded for this - does it work well?
* As a new e-reader owner, I'd appreciate any other knowledge on the subject.
* Also, are there any advantages to buying it through Amazon? A few brick and mortar retailers are starting to carry it as well, and I don't think there'd be a huge price advantage either way.

I know the Kindle 3 has been out for a while, and that a new model (or tablet) is probably forthcoming, but I'd like it for an upcoming trip in September, so I can't really wait.
posted by backwards guitar to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have a Kindle but my friend (also in Canada) does. He upgraded to the 3G because he had issues with his home WiFi (apparently Kindles are not compatible with Apple's AirPort wifi?). Anyway, he is currently on a trip in the UK and has been using it for internet access there -- although now that I'm writing this down I'm not sure if he's using WiFi or 3G for that access. I hope this is marginally helpful info!
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:02 AM on August 17, 2011

One of the big advantages to buying a Kindle through Amazon is their customer support. My first Kindle developed some sort of issue (locking up/freezing at random). Since I was still under warranty, I called Amazon's customer support (this was around 10 PM on a Tuesday night). I explained the situation, and the representative told me they would ship me a new Kindle promptly and I could return the old one. Sure enough, Thursday morning a brand new Kindle arrived on my doorstep.

The Kindle store is available 24/7, so you can purchase books, magazines, newspapers, etc. any time you wish.

One of the biggest draws for me is the fact that the Kindle can handle PDFs. Sometimes I come across an article or blog post on the Internet that I want to save for later reading. With the SendToReader bookmarklet, I can send any web page to my Kindle free of charge, properly formatted for reading.
posted by Telpethoron at 7:10 AM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Not sure if I'm much help to your question as I haven't used my 3G as much as I thought I would. It's been most useful for me when travelling.

I had the globe & mail and a few magazines (cdn & us) for awhile - again, convenient for airports, planes etc. I get a little annoyed with the layout, having to scroll across or zoom in or simple the elimination of graphics or lack of colour etc...

Downloading newspapers & books has been relatively fast - but for the most part, I've tended to stick to the amazon recommended downloads. I've downloaded some books from other sites and some have successfully transferred to kindle - many have not.

Sorry - haven't had the need to use email on it and no experience with Instapaper. I didn't really buy it for the Wi-fi, and when at home, I don't even look at it.

Prices have dropped considerably - it's a good travel tool.
posted by what's her name at 7:13 AM on August 17, 2011

I have a UK Kindle, which means that if I buy books from, they are more expensive than the exact same edition, because we have 20% VAT (sales tax) on e-books, which are classified as software in the UK. The free books on the US website are also different from the UK site. There's a way round this though, which would also probably work for you from Canada.

- in my Amazon account, I've added a new address to my address book, which is a friend's US address, but with my name. Then, if I want something from the US Kindle store that's either not available in the UK or is much cheaper, I switch to that address as my primary address, and then I can download any of the books (free or paid) from I get a little message sent to my Kindle reminding me that the 3G is free, but that there are charges to download certain things (Word documents, etc.). The fact that my credit card is billed to a UK address does not appear to be a hindrance - I think all Amazon does is to check that there's a valid credit card linked to the account. When I've downloaded the books, I switch back to my UK address as primary.

- I use Calibre to convert books. Some are more successful than others. .pdfs don't seem to convert to .mobi too well - you can end up with the page numbers, book title and author's name in the middle of a page, which is really annoying. But the Sony ebook format converts perfectly well.

- as far as I am aware, you can use the 3G browser anywhere, although I've found it to be really slow.

- buy a good case for your Kindle. I have the Tuff-Luv Tree of Life case, and it's great. I particularly like that, because it's a flip-over cover, you can use the little snap at the back to hold it firm and create a sort of Kindle glove into which you can slide your hand - particularly useful if you're strap-hanging on the train.
posted by essexjan at 7:17 AM on August 17, 2011

First, Amazon Customer Service applies whether you buy it from Amazon, or from a bricknmortar. I purchased mine at a Target Store in the U.S. and had some problems a few months in, Amazon replaced it immediately.

Although I purchased mine in the U.S. I use it in Canada a number of months a year. We travel, so having 3G is almost a must (Mr. B. has a Kindle also). We do check our email, facebook, and weather on it. The Browser is cumbersome and slow, using mobile sites is best, but it works, which is the key when a computer or wifi is not available. I use SendToReader, but have heard other users recommend Instapaper, so that works on it too.

Even where there is not 3G covereage, but standard cell (edge, etc.) the Kindle still can go online, it's just slower. To us, it is well worth the extra money to get the wifi/3G model, as that gives you cell coverage for the life of the device, no monthly charges.

If you live close to the U.S. border, and if money is an issue, you might consider a U.S. visit to purchase your Kindle. Be aware though, in the U.S. a "special offers" Kindle is available, at a $25 discount, but it has advertising on it, offers that would not be available to you as a Canadian (look on box for "KSO" ... and lower price). U.S. store prices for regular Kindle wifi only is $139 and wifi/3G is $189, for reference.

nthing the need for a case ... the screen in particular is a bit vulnerable to twisting or crushing. We use booklike cases with an easle stand, but there are many available.

Calibre can convert, but only books that do not have Digital Rights Management (DRM). At this time, Library Books are not available for the Kindle, but that feature is said to be coming by end of the year. There is a lot of reading material for free though, including public domain books from gutenburg, and many offerings on Kindle (some worth it, some not).

Also agreeing with essexjan that if you can use a U.S. address to set up an account, active content (games, calendar, etc.) will be available to you, and some of the deals and books that are not otherwise.
posted by batikrose at 7:56 AM on August 17, 2011

I just bought a Kindle 3 3G edition through a month ago. The questions I can answer:

* I'd like to use the built in browser over 3G, but I've heard this may not be possible for international Kindle units. I'd mostly just use it to check gmail, and perhaps the local newspaper. Twitter would be nice too.

I've had no problems using the built-in browser over 3G, and I usually get access just about anywhere (a friend of mine even managed to get access when we were way out in the backcountry in a national park). It is slow, but fine for checking gmail; I haven't tried it with a newspaper or with Twitter, but it can handle Google Maps and Facebook and I can't imagine that those would be any more demanding.

* I need to be able to download/purchase books over 3G as well. From what I understand, the store is always available, though.

Yep, the store is always available. The option to convert books by emailing files to your "kindle email" is only free if you use WiFi, though, so if you are getting books from another source you will probably want to put them on the Kindle before heading out to your cottage.

* As a heavy Instapaper user, I understand I can sync with my account there. Will this work in Canada too?

It seems like it should work, but I haven't gotten it to sync up with my account yet. I think it's my own fault though/some setting I haven't chosen right, so if other answerers have had success go with that.

* As a new e-reader owner, I'd appreciate any other knowledge on the subject.

I second buying a case. I was lazy and got the standard lighted case through Amazon. The light is nice, but I probably could have gotten a better case for a similar price elsewhere.

Leaving 3G on eats up the battery like nobody's business. With it off, you could probably go more than a month on a single charge; with it on, it's usually dead within the week.

Enjoy your new ebook reader!
posted by daelin at 8:15 AM on August 17, 2011

I have a Kindle 3G in the UK. Instapaper works great, and usually looks great as well. I subscribe to the free edition of the Economist through calibre. Both of these work by emailing your address, which only sends over wifi, at no charge (to ensure this set your maximum charge for 'receiving personal documents' in your Amazon Kindle account to 0. This automatically uses wifi to send non-Amazon documents. Of course, since you don't have wifi you may be willing to pay).

Calibre's subscriptions have some problems: some blurbs and side bars come into the main text flow sometimes, for instance, but on the whole it's a pretty good reader experience. The graphics are surprisingly good, even in black and white and on a small screen.

Calibre makes conversions very easy. There are plug ins online if you want to remove DRM. If you like fiddling around with these things, you might also want Sigil, which is an ebook editor and great if you want to get rid of a particularly hideous book cover or a niggling formatting issue.

Oh, and I use the Kindle browser. I don't have a smartphone, for instance, so I use Google Maps quite a bit, and have been known to check my Gmail account. While you're still in the presence of a decent internet connection I'd suggest bookmarking some frequently used sites. is a good one for Google Maps, and I sometimes use the site for shopping lists, etc.
posted by tavegyl at 8:35 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'll also chime in that I bought my Kindle 3 (3G) in the US and have been using it in Canada for months without any problems. (Or, rather, with the same problems everyone else is reporting -- it's a bit finicky and slow with webpages, but it basically works as an emergency email/wiki checking device.)

Instapaper seems to work in Canada, although I haven't quite got the settings set up right, it seems. Also you need to be logged into wifi if you want to get documents delivered to your Kindle for free.

I've been using a bubblewrap CD mailing envelope for a case and that has been working well, but if you want to spend the $40 or whatever on a proper case then that's probably also a nice idea.
posted by Casuistry at 8:36 AM on August 17, 2011

I find browsing the internet on the Kindle to be kind of painful. Also using leaving the 3G on cuts the battery life from a two or three weeks to under a week for me.
posted by gregr at 9:11 AM on August 17, 2011

Thanks all for the answers. I've marked daelin's as best just because it answered my main concern - which was whether the browser was restricted at all while running 3G, but the additional information in the other answers was very helpful too.

I don't plan on doing a ton of browsing with it, but when I'm at the cottage, it'll be handy to be able to check a few things every day or two. Will keep 3G off when I'm not using it.

I tend to keep my devices naked, but it sounds like I should look into cases now, I suppose. I like the one essexjan pointed out, but I'll see if any local retailers have anything interesting.
posted by backwards guitar at 10:03 AM on August 17, 2011

Oh, I just realized one more thing I should add - make sure the sites you want to go to don't open things in a new window. When I try to click on a link such as that, I get the message "The browser does not support opening multiple windows", so it would render a news site useless if every article popped in a new window, for instance.
posted by daelin at 2:28 PM on August 17, 2011

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