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Kindle Touch won't browse Web over 3G

If you're thinking about purchasing a Kindle Touch 3G, one warning: don't expect it to surf the Web over 3G.

Web browsing on the Kindle Touch 3G is a Wi-Fi-only affair. Sarah Tew/CNET

Over the weekend, Amazon broke a bit of bad news to prospective buyers of the upcoming Kindle Touch 3G, which starts at $149: you won't be able to the surf the Web using the "experimental" browser over 3G (outside of Wikipedia). Web surfing is a Wi-Fi-only affair on the device.

Amazon, as it sometimes does, delivered the news on its Kindle message board after someone read the fine print on the Kindle Touch 3G product page and noticed the small disclaimer, "Browsing available only in Wi-Fi mode."

Here's the official statement from the Amazon Kindle Team:

We apologize for the confusion. Our new Kindle Touch 3G enables you to connect to the Kindle Store, download books and periodicals, and access Wikipedia--all over 3G or Wi-Fi. Experimental Web browsing (outside of Wikipedia) on Kindle Touch 3G is only available over Wi-Fi.

While we can't confirm what deals Amazon has in place with carriers, sources suggest Amazon probably pays a small fee per kilobyte downloaded rather than a set fee per device sold (once you pay for a Kindle 3G, the 3G service is free). We assume that Amazon is concerned that more people will use the built-in browser--and incur additional data costs--if their Kindle has a touch interface, which makes inputting URLs and clicking on links easier.

It's worth noting that the confusion arose out of the fact that the third-generation Kindle 3G (now called the Kindle Keyboard 3G) does allow Web surfing over 3G and will continue to do so.

Is this a big deal? For most people, probably not. The truth is that the Kindle browser just isn't all that great, especially over 3G, and most people will be better off accessing the Web or e-mail with the browser or e-mail client on their smartphones.

Needless to say, however, some folks will be disappointed, for no matter how you look at it, that "free 3G" included with the Kindle Touch 3G (for $50 extra over the Wi-Fi-only version) looks a little less free now.

(Via the Beyond Black Friday blog)