Reviews,  Travel Tips

Kindle 3 Review-Part 2

I’ve now had my Kindle for almost four months, taken it on a few trips, and thought I’d report back on my experience and share some new information. If you didn’t read my first post on why the Kindle is one of the best gadgets for travel and considered to be the best e-reader available, please check it out. In that post I talk about the difference between the Wi-Fi only and the Free 3G + Wi-Fi versions and about many of the basic features and advantages. In this post I’m going to go a little more in depth in terms of some of the specific uses in terms of traveling with the Kindle.

The photo above is of two of my bookshelves packed full of guide books from more than 10 years of travel. If I were to turn the Kindle sideways, it would disappear from view because it’s about as wide as a #2 pencil. As much as I love my books, I’m running out of room. I’m not sure I’ll ever buy a paper guidebook again if what I want is available electronically.

I recently downloaded samples (another great Kindle feature, the free preview: try before you buy) of the Frommer’s and Lonely Planet Cambodia guidebooks. I had the paper version of the Frommer’s book and I can say the Kindle version was pretty much the same. After looking at them, I chose to buy the Lonely Planet book because they have formatted it so that it’s easy to jump (via links) though the chapters and the Frommer’s book does not have this. They both have hyperlinks within the books which means it could take you out of the book and into a browser to see the website.

Lonely Planet also offers books by the chapter for Kindle which can be a money-saver. For example, many people may only visit Paris or the Loire Valley in France so the Lonely Planet The Loire Valley or the Lonely Planet Paris could be helpful. A full book is $9.99 and a chapter is $4.79.

Other Books:
Tho possibilities for books to read are endless. I rarely find something I want that’s not available on the Kindle. In fact, since I’ve had it, I’m reading more now than ever before. While many new releases are in the $9.99 to $12.99 range, I’ve read many free books and books by independent writers listed under $2.99 per book. Some of my favorite authors show up with free or discounted books too. 

Sharing Books:
One of the biggest complaints about the Kindle was that you can’t lend or share a book. But that’s about to change. Amazon announced it’s new book “lending” option which is coming soon.

“…later this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. “

There are a couple of other options for sharing books on the Kindle. An Amazon account can have multiple devices (Kindles, phones and computers) registered to it. Up to 6 devices can share books at one time as long as they are on the same account. Books can be read simultaneously. If two people both have Kindles (for example, couples or parent/child) on one person’s account, no problem as long as they are all listed on the same account.
But what if you want to share with a friend and have separate accounts? This is a bit trickier and technically “against the rules” at Amazon. The info is out there and it’s not that hard, though I haven’t tried it. Do a Google search if you want to attempt it.

Internet access on the Kindle:
When I first got the Kindle, I didn’t have a smart phone with email or web browsing so have internet access on the Kindle, especially with the 3G, was great for me. I have an Android phone now, so when I travel domestically, internet access on the Kindle might not be relevent. On the other hand, out the country, it still works in places where my phone might not work or charge high roaming fees for data transfer.

The “experimental” web browser (called “webkit”) works very fast compared to the 2nd Generation Kindle. Here are some examples of how I used it to get quick, free internet access.
First, I took it on a long weekend trip to San Francisco and was able to check email (Yahoo, Gmail, etc) from our room with it when the hotel wanted to charge $15 a day for wifi (this worked because my Kindle has 3G access, like a cell phone).
Next, I used it to do the same from LAX (where there is no free wifi, but I accessed it via 3G) and from the Taipei airport on the way to Cambodia (where there is free wifi, but no 3G access). One of the advantages to having the Kindle with both wifi and 3G is that you almost always have access. With the something like the iPad, if there’s no free wi-fi where you are, you’re either paying for internet access or you’re not connected.

When using the browser, mobile sites work better for email, Facebook and Twitter. Google Maps “works” but is way to awkward to use in any practical manner (my new phone with GPS is way better for this).

Kindle Apps:
Amazon offers free apps for just about any format you might want to read a book; Android, iPhones, iPad, PC, Mac, etc, it’s all there. This means you can sinc your Kindle to your phone or other device and always have a book, even if you don’t have the Kindle with you. The Kindle app works amazingly well on my Android phone.
If I want to read something on my phone, it’s there and when I pick up my Kindle at home, it knows where I left off. Today I bought a book from my phone’s Kindle app and sent it to my Kindle at home and there it was, instantly available on my phone as well.

One of the nice things about the Kindle is that you can email yourself documents either in Word or a PDF. Each Kindle comes with it’s own email address through amazon for this purpose (not for sending emails).

Before I went to San Francisco, I emailed myself a word document I’d put together which was basically my own personal guidebook filled with restaurants and sightseeing info for the neighborhoods we’d be in. I used to carry a paper version of this on each trip, but now I don’t have to. I used the email address to transfer the word document with convert in subject line (read about this on Amazon). It took about 30 seconds to show on Kindle. I also sent myself PDFs the same way.

I also like to use for all my itinerary information. While I could access it through Kindle’s web browser, I didn’t want to have to, so I cut and pasted that info into a document and sent that to myself as well. This works very well for holding all my info like flight times and ticket reference numbers and other itinerary info. I referenced this quite a bit on both trips.

You can read more about Transferring, Downloading, and Sending Files to Kindle on Amazon.

Helpful Kindle Websites and Blogs:

Kindle Community Discussion Board on Amazon- I learned so much about my Kindle by reading this board while waiting for it to be delivered. There’s also lots of tips on free or discounted books here.

Kindle World Blog– This is one of my favorites about all things Kindle, and Andrys Basten who writes it, is an avid traveler too.

BlogKindle– The “unofficial” Kindle Blog.

Daily Cheap Reads- Books under $5 for Kindle

Disclaimer: I am an Amazon Affiliate. That means if you click on any of my Amazon links and buy something, I get a tiny commission and it helps support this site which is always appreciated!
That said, I’d be writing this post with or without being an affiliate because I think the Kindle is revolutionary not only in terms of travel, but for reading books in general. It also makes a great gift!


  • Erin

    This is a really helpful post and has just confirmed even more that I want to get one. Affordable books are so hard to come by in South America. We were planning to get one sent to Colombia but as it’s Christmas they aren’t shipping for another 7 weeks.

  • Kirsty

    I’m getting more and more and more and more tempted to buy one! This article hasn’t helped and made me just want it more, maybe santa will be friendly!

    Great review, I have mainly been looking at the wifi one as it is cheaper but think I will consider the 3g one after comments above

  • Akila

    Kristina, What did you think about the Lonely Planet guidebook on the Kindle? We found the guidebook to be pretty useless on ours because we like to flip through the Kindle and didn’t feel like the index was very helpful. We also hated the way the maps look on the Kindle, but we bought these guidebooks almost a year ago, so maybe they have upgraded the guidebooks. We love our Kindles, too! They are some of the best traveling gadgets we’ve ever bought.

    • wired2theworld

      Akila-I liked the quidebook on the Kindle, but it is a tradeoff between conveniences. Less weight/bulk vs. being able to flip through the book. However, I do find the Kindle’s “look-up” function to work quite well. Also, I never found the LP maps to be very good, even in the printed version, so I wouldn’t rely on them much in Kindle either.
      Since I do a lot of planning pre-trip, I rarely find myself bringing the books with me anymore, just my notes. This is a good way to do both.

  • Greg

    Are the maps in your guide books readable on the Kindle using some type of zoom feature? I purchased the Nook and the Lonely Planet Peru 7/E ebook and the maps are unreadable. I looked and looked and could not find a zoom feature on the Nook. If maps on the Kindle are readable the Nook is going back.

    • wired2theworld

      Greg, yes, the Kindle has a zoom feature. However, with the LP guides, for the maps, they break the page into quadrants, first showing the page as a whole and then 4 pages, more close up in succession. Frankly, I find the LP maps hard to use even in the books so I’m not sure they are the best feature in the Kindle. I still usually get a paper map for each city.

  • Cindy

    I too am very seriously considering buying a Kindle. Need one with both WiFI and 3G. I’m going to Greece on vacation in early Fall.
    Is there a particular travel guide book that handles maps better than other guide books? Also, what is the email functionality like? I need to read and respond to emails, including Forums postings, several times a day.

    • wired2theworld

      There have been some new Kindles released since I wrote this, however, I think that the version I have, the one they now call Kindle Keyboard is the only one with free 3G.
      The email functionality is clunky because it’s though the web browser interface, and then through your email’s web site. But it works. It saved me on my last trip to Italy when I was supposed to have a wifi hot spot which turned out to rarely work. With the Kindle I was able to at least look at my email and communicate (albeit briefly) with my husband back home. Forum postings might be trickier, but possible.
      To be truthful, if you need to do a lot of writing, it’s fairly awkward. If you know you will have free wifi for sure, you might consider one of the ones with a touch screen like the Kindle Fire.
      As for guidebooks, I don’t know which book in e-reader format handles maps the best, but again, I would presume the Kindle Fire would be the best option for which ever you pick.

    • Greg

      Hello Cindy,
      I tried using a Nook for a trip for Peru. We had to bring hardcopies of the maps because they were unreadable on the Nook. The Kindle is similar. When I go to Taiwan this summer I will bring a hardcopy of the guidebook and a Nook/Kindle for reading books. It’s just easier to dog-ear and make notes on a hardcopy guidebook.

  • Cindy

    Thanks for your advice. Still thinking about it.
    May break down and bring my laptop (heavy at 6 pounds) and Kindle.
    Time to go to the store and just play around with them all.
    Thanks again.

  • Dave

    Going through each Kindle and realistically looking at which one would be better. Thanks for your practical look at it. Biggest draw for me is actually keeping a collection of books since I don’t have place to store them.

    I know bookshelves can run out. But it’s not quite the same having a kindle on a shelf instead of some books. Unless one likes the minimalist look! But yes, it’s needed. Thanks again.

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