Amazon Kindle Wireless Reading Device (U.S. and International Wireless, Latest Generation)

Amazon has released a new version of the Kindle that works on cellular networks both inside and outside the U.S.

One big knock against the original Amazon Kindle models was that its built-in free cellular data access only worked in the U.S. (via Sprint's 3G network). Amazon has addressed that issue with a new world-friendly model that uses the GSM standard instead. When in the U.S., it'll access Amazon's online store (for wireless delivery of books, blogs, newspapers, and magazines) via AT&T; outside the U.S., it uses a variety of international providers. As of October 22, 2009, the internationalized Kindle replaces the U.S.-only model. It sells for $259.

Those planning to use this model outside of the U.S. should be aware of some caveats. First off, only some countries have Kindle-compatible wireless coverage. And even if cellular "Whispernet" service is offered, additional fees--anywhere from $1.99 per title to $4.99 per week--are charged for books and periodicals to be downloaded outside the U.S.--at least for U.S.-based Kindle owners who are traveling abroad. (Such surcharges can be avoided by downloaded Kindle content to a PC first, then transferring it to the Kindle via USB.)

Otherwise, the international Kindle is effectively identical to the previous Kindle model. However, prospective buyers should also note that the Barnes & Noble Nook, due to be released around Thanksgiving, looks to offer some stiff competition to the Kindle. Key step-up features of the Nook include built-in Wi-Fi (in addition to 3G cellular) and a second color touch navigation screen--neither of which is available on the current generation of the Kindle. The Nook will also retail for $259.

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About the author

John P. Falcone is the executive editor of CNET Reviews, where he coordinates a group of more than 20 editors and writers based in New York and San Francisco as they cover the latest and greatest products in consumer technology. He's been a CNET editor since 2003.


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