Amazon Kindle 3G
Rating: 9 out of 10
Price: approx. $230 (direct from Amazon.com) Contact: Amazon.com
Web: www.amazon.com

VERDICT: Amazon is still on top of its game for value, showing other Australian ereader makers how its done.

The new Kindle 3G from Amazon.com costs about the same to import into Australia from the US as some of the name-brand offerings available locally. And that’s pretty poor, particularly when you look at what the Kindle offers.

It’s thinner, lighter than most ereaders and Amazon claims it gives 50% better contrast than the previous version thanks to a new 6-inch e-ink screen. But when you throw in free 3G connectivity so you can buy books anywhere, anytime, it really is a clever piece of engineering.

If you can’t get 3G access, it also includes Wi-Fi so you can buy books or download free ones this way too.

You get MP3 playback support and there’s a 3.5mm stereo headphone socket in the base and stereo speakers on the back. The only thing it does lack is external storage. The Kindle 3G comes with 4GB of on-board storage (3GB useable) and built-in Lithium-polymer battery, which charges via the included USB cable.

Amazon has even had a crack at a WebKit-based web browser, calling it “experimental” at this stage but with access to sites like Twitter and Wikipedia, and access via 3G no less, it’s not bad.

That e-ink screen is also surprisingly fast, faster than the Kogan eReader with page-turns happening within a couple of seconds.

But it’s when you add up the features that the Kindle 3G does give its competitors a bit of a shellacking. If you don’t need 3G, there’s a Wi-Fi-only version available for approximately $170 including shipping – that’s cheaper than you can buy jus tabout any e-ink reader in Australia.

The one thing we don’t like is its lack of support for EPUB books – but there are reasonably easy ways to overcome that.



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