After a two-year wait, New Zealanders can finally order an Amazon Kindle.
The latest model of the e-reader tablet was due for release on August 27 US time, but online sales are open now for NZ (and multiple other countries), ahead of schedule, Amazon spokewoman Stephanie Mantello told NBR this morning.
Well, sort of early. If you order now, Amazon promises delivery mid-September.
There are two models: one with wi-fi ($US139/$NZ198), one with wi-fi and 3G ($US189/$NZ254).
Shipping is $US20.98 ($NZ29.98).
The tablets and shipping are only listed in US dollars, so the price will fluctuate with the exchange rate, Ms Mantello said.
New Zealand lacking its own Amazon site, orders for the tablet will be taken via Amazon.com (whose NZ-specific Kindle page is here).
Amazon claims the Kindle's e-Ink display can be read even in bright sunlight, as demonstrated in this user test.
Vodafone to carry
Vodafone New Zealand will be the official carrier for the Kindle 3G (which also supports Edge/GSM). That is, every time a Kindle owner wireless downloads an e-book using their tablet’s built-in cellular radio, it will be downloaded - free - via Vodafone NZ’s network.
A spokesman for Vodafone NZ confirmed the telco was the official carrier but said the local operation was not familiar with the details.
The New Zealand contract was brokered between Amazon and Vodafone’s head office in the UK.
The new Kindle is the tablet's third major upgrade - but is known simply as "Kindle", not Kindle 3.
It’s hardware version supplement’s a Kindle software reader, which is available for iPad and iPhone.
400,000 Kindle-formatted e-books will be available via Amazon.com for the New Zealand market, plus various US and international newspapers and magazines.
Most New York Times best sellers and other new releases cost $US11.99 ($NZ16.13), while 175,000 older titles are priced under $US5.99 ($NZ8.06). All are priced in US dollars.
You can also copy your own files to a Kindle, via wi-fi (or a pricey 99 cents per MB via 3G).
Most New Zealanders have never sighted a Kindle, but Americans and Australains will note the new model is cheaper, and 21% lighter than its predecessor.
It can also hold more ebooks now, too - 3500 or 2000 more than the previous entry-level model.
Still no Kindle DX
The larger format, $US379 Kindle DX, which has a 9.7-inch screen (that is, the same size as Apple's iPad, which sells from $799) is still not available for New Zealand.
Kindle vs Kobo vs iPad
Pity - while NBR likes Whitcoulls $295 Kobo (which has the same size display as a standard Kindle) - it's six-inch screen will only display a couple of paragraphs, meaning you're constantly clicking to turn.
The Kobo can also be a touch sluggish, and has a tendency to freeze, necessitating a restart, when not used for a few days.
And while e-ink is easy on the eyes, and has remarkable batter life, the lack of any backlighting is a pain when you're reading in bed at night.
While sharing an e-ink, non-backlit display, the Kindle adds several feature the Kobo lacks, including the ability to bookmark multiple pages, plus a physical keyboard, and the ability to annotate text.
Using the software version of the Kindle reader on Apple's iPad (Apple's iBookstore is not yet available locally), NBR really appreciated the larger screen.
The ability to touch any word and instantly see a dictionary definition was another handy touch.
Yet you really start to feel the weight of the 700g iPad after just a couple of minutes of reading.
A standard Kindle is 240g; the Kindle DX a maybe-just-acceptable 536g.
A review unit of the standard Kindle is on its way to NBR, so watch this space.
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