I found a new piece of travel gear this summer which I’ll never leave home without any longer. As I raced through the Mongol Rally, my new Amazon Kindle was probably my most used travel gear after my camera. I used it constantly, yet I never finished a book during the whole 5 weeks of travel.
One of the most common questions I get when people speak to me about my participation in the Mongol Rally is “How did you stay connected? It seemed like you were always tweeting. Did you have a satellite phone?”
The surprising answer I give them is “I used my Kindle to stay connected.”
When I was in Seattle this spring attending the World Domination Summit, Dave from WhatsDaveDoing.com and I were talking about how I would stay connected during the rally. At the time I didn’t really have an answer. However that’s when he recommended and showed me his Kindle with 3G. As I sat and played around with it using the ‘Experimental Browser’ (this is seriously what it’s called in the menu dropdown!), I was intrigued. And I repeated somewhat incredulously to him, “You said the connectivity is free?”
“Yes” he answered with a mischievous smile as if he were sharing a secret to a hidden treasure.
I started to research this free 3G connectivity further on the Amazon website and found the following details:
Free 3G Wireless
No annual contracts, no monthly fees. Download books anytime, anywhere. Unlike cell phones, with Kindle Keyboard 3G there are no monthly fees or commitments — Amazon pays for Kindle Keyboard 3G’s wireless connectivity.
Global 3G Coverage
Travel the globe and still get books in under 60 seconds with wireless coverage in over 100 countries and territories.
I looked at the coverage map and to my surprise I saw that most of our route was covered in some way.
So I did it – I purchased the Kindle Keyboard 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 6″ E Ink Display – includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers
And decided to add it to my possible ways to stay connected during the Mongol Rally without draining my bank account.
As we left the UK and our Tep Mifi device behind I turned on my Kindle and immediately it picked up a 3G signal. I opened up the Experimental Browser and went to twitter.com and was able to follow hashtag streams as well as easily reply to tweets and post my own. Now the web browser is nothing to write home about but it’s perfectly adequate for checking and sending e-mail, looking stuff up, and reading mostly-text websites. Truly – the websites do need to be simple and no flash or Java script – but most of the popular websites offer a mobile version of their site that is pretty light and simple which makes it useable on the Kindle.
- Automatically finds 3G connections as you move throughout a country and cross borders without having to do a thing.
- It saves you money on ridiculous international mobile phone roaming charges. Allows you to easily check your email and social media accounts. It’s free!
- It picked up signals better than our unlocked mobile phones.
- Oh yeah, in addition apparently it allows you to store and read books too! Who knew?!
- The browser is really clunky. You have to be very patient for it to load the screens. It’s sort of like playing Atari again. Old school.
- There’s no touch screen functionality. Once again – think old school.
- No color
- The battery life is shorter when using 3G
There is a new color touch-version out of the Kindle that moves it a step closer to the Ipad but still places it in an affordable price bracket. Kindle Fire, Full Color 7″ Multi-touch Display, Wi-Fi
However – read the details closely. This new touch Kindle does not include free 3G. Amazon states,
“We apologize for the confusion. Our new Kindle Touch 3G enables you to connect to the Kindle Store, download books and periodicals, and access Wikipedia – all over 3G or Wi-Fi. Experimental web browsing (outside of Wikipedia) on Kindle Touch 3G is only available over Wi-Fi. Our Kindle Keyboard 3G will continue to offer experimental web browsing over 3G or Wi-Fi.”
The Kindle is my new favorite travel item! It helps me stay budget and connected; the two most important things I look for when I travel! The connectivity in addition to the fact that it lightens my pack by leaving my heavy travel guides and books at home is all I need to make it an essential travel item I won’t leave home without!
How do you plan to stay connected when you travel overseas? Share in the comments!