Which Kindle to buy as a South African (updated May 2012)

I have posted a few times in the last little while around my challenges in buying ebooks from Kalahari, then on converting ebooks for use on the Kindle, and more generally on buying ebooks in South Africa.

In response to one of these posts I received a question from Henriet van Rhyn, covering the most obvious question which I hadn’t covered : “Please advise which Kindle to buy, seeing that there are so many versions available on Amazon these days. ”

I answered in the the comments to the post where Henriet posted the question, and after some thought decided it makes more sense to convert this into a full blown post. So below I repeat what I had put into the comments, with a few minor adjustments and ammendments.

Looking at Amazon on  29 June 2011 (Updated 25 May 2012)  (as a South African), there are 5 (were 3) different Kindles to choose from. I don’t bother listed local re-sellers as I haven’t found any of them to be competitive and Amazon just make it so easy to order from them.

  • Kindle (WiFi) = $109  (6″ screen) (was $139)
  • Kindle Touch (WiFi) = $139 (6″ screen) (newly available)
  • Kindle Touch 3G = $189 (6″ screen) (newly available)
  • Kindle Keyboard (3G+WiFi) = $189 (6″ screen) (unchanged price)
  • Kindle DX (3G+WiFi) = $379 (9.7″ screen)
  • Kindle Fire is still not available in South Africa

As a USA resident you would also have the option of buying an advert subsidised Kindle for $114. This model is pretty much the same as the WiFi version ($139) but with adverts displayed at various points. Since this is not an international version and can’t be purchased here in SA I don’t cover this any further.

My first Kindle was the WiFi only version. I figured I had wifi connectivity around the house and had Joikuspot hotspot software loaded on my Nokia so had no need for 3G. Little did I know that Kindle didn’t work with Joikuspot (or most Android hotspot software). I lost that Kindle (left it on the plane and couldn’t get it back – thanks for nothing SAA).

Having had the wifi Kindle for 2 months or so before I lost it I knew I had to get another. I had also started using Calibre (download here) and had thought that the 3G could be used for delivery of generated e-magazines. Again, I was mistaken. 3G is only used to deliver notifications that I needed to hook up to wifi to receive my e-magazine. It did however allow me to order books directly from the device and have them delivered pretty much instantly. Great way to shop for new books if you are sitting in a coffee shop or somewhere away from home. There is also talk that the built in web browser can use the 3G connection. I have never got this to work very effectively but some may find this useful.

Having had both versions of the 6″ device, my thoughts are as follows. Both are wonderful reading devices which will serve you well.  If you are looking at the Touch version and you travel a bit or are away from home often, or don’t have wifi internet access at home, then go for the 3G version. If you can afford the extra $50 (R350) and don’t really think you need it, then go for the 3G version anyway. The 3G works through a built-in SIM card (via Vodacom I believe), you pay no monthly fees for this, never need to RICA this – it just works. However, if you are looking at the $109 Kindle, to pay the extra $80 to move to a 3G version is a bit much.

As to whether to go for the plain or the touch, the landed price difference (see below) is around R300. The touch is more modern, has twice the memory (store more books 1400 vs 3000 or PDFs on it), has twice the battery life (1 month vs 2 months – both rated with battery off) and is, well touch based. Since I haven’t owned one of these the followed extract from a review by Scott (on the Amazon site though) does give some insight : “Touch Capability – This is where the device shines. I originally thought it wouldn’t be that much better than the previous version, however I have found the touch function is so intuitive and much more useful than I would have thought. I like to use the embedded dictionary a lot, and it is a bit of a pain to use the joystick from the K3 to scroll down to the word I want and look it up. With the Touch, I can just touch the word and have it jump straight to the dictionary. This is a GREAT feature”

You MUST buy a (leather) case for your Kindle. Whether it is the deluxe one (with the built in light) for $60 (+- R420) or the plain one for $35 (+- R245), it protects your Kindle and is just a must.

For the most basic $109 device you will pay R949 + R269 shipping + R146 duties for a total landed price of R1365 (25 May 2012).

For the Kindle Touch Wifi, you pay R2000 at Dion Wired,or R1210 + R269 shipping + R186 duties for landed price of R1666.72 : a saving of R333 (or 20%).

Previous info (June 2011)

When you order the 3G Kindle ($189) with case ($60) from South Africa you are going to pay $27 odd shipping and another $48 for import duties, giving a total of $325, or R2313 (at current exchange rates).

This is a bit cheaper than what you can expect to pay in the shops here in South Africa (eg. R2199 at Digital Planet – without case) and is delivered by courier to your house. Some of the $48 may be refunded to you (I got a refund on the first Kindle I bought but not the second, no idea why).

If the R2313 is just out of the price range, then go for the wifi only, plain leather cased version ($139 + $35 for the case), $27 shipping and $33 duties, so $233 total (R1 665). Don’t forget this is with the case when comparing to local in-country prices.

The Kindle DX is quite a bit more expensive so I won’t even bother going through the same exercise. It comes out as $537.20 (R3828). If you have the cash and are reading more magazines and textbooks maybe it is worth the extra cash for you.

That’s it for the options. There are rumours of a colour Android based Kindle tablet to be released later in the year. It is likely to be quite a bit more expensive, and possible just below the iPad range in price. This would likely connect into the Amazon music store and the Amazon app store (for US based people) – probably won’t work in SA any time soon. If you want an electronic book reader, take the current Kindle. It is great.

Update on rumours of new Kindle’s (14/7/2011) (25/5/2012)

The kindle fire has been released long ago, it isnt available in SA and could be a long time before it is. I have seen and briefly played on one. Nice device. 

This morning there are a number of new articles bouncing around the net on this matter. The short of it is that the rumoured Android tablet is likely to be released before October (in September?). This will not signal the end of the current epaper Kindles, and in fact two new versions of the current Kindle could be released. One may have a touch screen overlay, no real news on what the other will offer. Perhaps a little cheaper? Faster screen updates (page turns?). There is also the possibility of better integration with the music store. There is also much debate as to whether peoples would want two devices, the Kindle and the Tablet. No real consensus on that. It is highly unlikely that the updated Kindles will have any new “killer” features, although they will be smaller/lighter/faster etc. I stick to my view, the current Kindle is great for reading, if you love reading, get one. Whether you get it now or wait for the new version you will be happy. Enjoy.

Link to news story on new kindles : Techspot article here

Looking for more information, take a look at the Kindle and Ebook frequently asked questions.