Feeds

Amazon tosses gelded Kindle at UK readers

Got GSM, but no browsing or blogs for Brits

High performance access to file storage

Amazon has finally provided details for the International version of its Kindle ebook reader, but even the most diehard fan may be nonplussed to find one in their stocking this Christmas.

In the USA the Kindle uses Sprint's CDMA network to host its Whispernet, but in the UK it's not clear which operator will be doing the heavy lifting for the GSM version. Whoever it is they haven't agreed to provide free carriage for web browsing or reading blogs, as Sprint does in the US, so those activities won't be available to those spending $279 on the UK-compatible version of the Kindle.

The Kindle International edition seems, based on the coverage maps provided by Amazon, to be using GSM technology only - so there are places in the USA where the Kindle will work, but the Kindle International won't. The UK coverage on offer closely maps to 3's network, though the operator tells us it hasn't signed a deal with Amazon.

Making a separate GSM model of the Kindle contrasts with iRex, which uses Qualcomm's Gobi chipset to provide support for both CDMA and GSM networks; and Sony, which has stuck with GSM only and damn the rural Americans. But the International Kindle will be cheaper than models from Sony or iRex, both of which are listed at $399.

That money pays for bigger screens (the Sony is 7" tall, while iRex offers 8.1" diagonal, both of which compare well to the Kindle's 6" of diagonally-measured screen), and screens that allow scribbling with a finger (the Sony) or stylus (Sony and iRex), which could be worth the additional $120.

The Kindle's keyboard is a strange thing to find on a book, and it was the keyboard that annoyed most of the Princeton students trialling the technology: adding notes in the margins and highlighting passages is a lot easier when one can scribble properly, but it's not clear if people will pay for the privilege.

Sony and iRex also both use Adobe's DRM platform, along with the half-dozen companies making non-connected ebook readers such as Cool-Er, which should make them more attractive. Amazon's market recognition is probably good enough to prevent people worrying about that this year, but it could be an issue if more brands join the competition as Barnes & Noble has done.

At $279 the Kindle International isn't much more expensive than those non-connected readers - the Cool-Er comes in at $249 with no wireless or notation capability, its only boast being that it's lighter than the competition. So Amazon can probably separate itself from the Sony and iRex devices by having the cheapest connected reader.

But Amazon can only do that thanks to its ability to make up for lost profits through exclusive access to the sales channel. Sony and iRex will have to decide if they want to fight on features (touchscreens to appeal to the geeks), or platforms (multiple book stores to appeal to the public), and it's a decision that could decide which ebook ends up under the tree this year. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month
... but don't worry, charter members, you're still in 'for life'
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.