I used to live in the U.S. for several years. Back then I also started this site you are reading right now - I4U News. Since a couple years I live in Germany again, but continue along with my U.S. based colleagues to cover hot gadgets and technology news for the mostly American technology fans. Some gadgets available in the United States I miss out on living here in Germany are for instance the TiVo (I miss it so much!) and also the Amazon Kindle.
When Amazon announced the Amazon Kindle U.S. & International I ordered it right away and I got it handed to me by my friendly UPS guy today.
I was excited to open the small box and start using the Kindle eBook reader to see how the future of reading feels.
After opening the Kindle box, I was not sure if Amazon sent me the right one as it only has a U.S. power adapter attached to the USB cable. After reading the support document on "Using Kindle (U.S. & International Wireless) if You Live Outside the United States" on Amazon, I found out that this is how Amazon ships the Kindle international. Amazon does not care to provide country specific adapters, like Apple and everybody else. I do not mind as I have still several power adapters lying around. As early adopter you need this stuff (e.g.: I have Japanese PS3...). I assume that most other German Kindle customers will not have an adapter at home and they need to charge their Kindle on a PC via USB or buy a power adapter.
My Kindle was already registered to my Amazon account. Since I have also a Amazon U.S. account, Amazon set my Kindle to United States by default. I had to first change my location to Germany on the ManageYourKindle page to actually be able to buy books.
Once changed, I tried to buy The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, but I actually cannot buy it. I saw it listed when I had U.S. as location, but now with Germany selected, the new Dan Brown book is not listed at all. According to the Amazon support section availability and pricing of titles from the Kindle Store varies by your country or region.
Buying other books and magazines worked fine, but it only makes sense to do that on your PC and transfer the purchased eBooks via USB to the Kindle. Why? Because Amazon charges an extra $1.99 for each book purchased and delivered wirelessly. For subscriptions you have to pay $4.99 per week. I just switched off Wireless on the Kindle to avoid all surcharges. UPDATE: The above fees only apply to U.S. Kindle 2 customers who travel outside of the United States. I just heard back from Amazon and because I have used my US Credit Card to pay for the International Kindle they treat me as U.S. customer despite living in Germany. Now I actually have to return this Kindle and order again with my German Credit Card to be able to use Kindle without wireless fees in Germany.
If you live outside the U.S. and love American books the Kindle is great as you get access to very low priced books (sadly not all, see above). If you actually like to buy books in German or French you are out of luck. Kindle is now available internationally, which does not mean that the Kindle store carries now international book releases.
My verdict about the International Kindle after owning it a couple of hours is that it is a cool and appealing device. The screen and user interface are both nice and very usable. On the other hand to use the Kindle outside of the U.S. only makes sense if you are into reading American books. I for my part will continue using the Kindle as I love to get my hands on U.S. books and magazines fast and at low prices.
I am located a bit outside of Munich, but the wireless connectivity is still great with the Kindle. On my iPhone I do not get 3G in the house, but Kindle seems to get enough bandwidth to transfer books fast. I still would also like to see Wifi on the Kindle like the new B&N dual screen Android powered and Wifi sporting eBook reader dubbed nook has.
The new Amazon Kindle U.S. & International sells for $279 plus fees on Amazon.
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