Amazon's Kindle is officially coming to the UK, with a new version of its flagship ebook readers available to buy on the UK store -- and this one won't require a second mortgage.
Like the iPad, the new Kindle comes in two varieties, one with 3G and Wi-Fi for £149 and another Wi-Fi only model pegged at £109. It's a clean slate, with no letters or numbers (like Kindle 2 or Kindle DX) -- this new iteration reverts to the original name, simply the Kindle.
The introduction of 3G, though a standard feature on the Kindle since its inception in the US, is a new feature for us Brits. The difficulty in securing agreements with mobile networks has meant eager ebookworms could only use the Kindle international edition's wireless connection to download books, and not browse blogs or online newspapers like its American counterpart.
What's more, the 3G connectivity won't require a contract or a data plan, and for only £40 more than its less well-endowed Wi-Fi only companion. Wi-Fi is a totally new addition to the lineage, though the product page on the Amazon Web site for pre-ordering mentions that the new Wi-Fi browsing is "experimental".
Both models of new Kindle come with a higher contrast eInk screen, double the previous capacity for storing "up to 3,500" eBooks and an improved battery life Amazon claims lasts up to one month even when frequently used. (This puts the iPad's eReader features to shame, as it lasts one month on a single charge without even using it.) It's now housed in a stylish graphite-coloured chassis and retains the 6-inch screen despite a 21 per cent smaller casing, by reducing gaps between buttons on the keyboard.
The models are available to pre-order now direct from Amazon and will ship on 27 August, when a UK-specific ebook store will open for business with some 400,000 titles, plus newspapers, magazines and over 1 million free books.
Update: We've had a quick hands-on with the new Kindle this morning. It rocks 4GB of storage, and the back end of the free 3G connection is handled by Vodafone. Amazon's international clout means you'll be able to instantly browse and download ebooks in a host of other countries with a 3G network. Other features include highlighting of sentences and passages, with the zeitgeist-tastic option of posting them to Facebook and Twitter.