The 10 Biggest Surprises about Amazon’s New Kindles

New Amazon Kindle Touch web browser surprise

There’s been some unexpected discoveries in the details about Amazon’s four newest Kindles. I’ve tried to identify the 10 biggest surprises in the list below — starting with five bad surprises, and then five good.

1. There’s No 3G Web Browsing
“Browsing available only in Wi-Fi mode,” reads the incriminating words on the 3G version of the Kindle Touch. Reportedly over the weekend some Amazon customer service reps incorrectly told customers they could still use Amazon’s 3G network access for web browsing on the upcoming Kindle Touch. “We apologize for the confusion,” reads an official response Sunday night from “The Amazon Kindle team” in an online discussion forum at “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.” But… “Experimental web browsing (outside of Wikipedia) on Kindle Touch 3G is only available over Wi-Fi.”

2. Power Adapters Not Included
A USB cable is always included with any Kindle that you buy, so presumably you can always charge them just by plugging them into a USB port. But for both the new $79 Kindle and the Kindle Touch, Amazon’s not including a power adapter. (They’re sold separately, for $9.99).

3. One Miserable Keyboard
Originally I’d thought the $79 Kindle shipped with a touchscreen, because there isn’t a keyboard built into its plastic frame — just an on-screen keyboard. But apparently there’s no way to actually type letters into that onscreen keyboard — at least, not using the “touch-typing” that we’re used to with other devices. Instead, Amazon pulls up a picture of a keyboard, then lets you slowly nudge your controller key (up, down, or sideways) to gradually move a highlight across the keyboard — one key at a time — until it’s finally highlighting the next letter you want to type. (And then you press the controller one more time, to select that letter.)

79 Kindle keyboard uses controller instead of touchscreen
If you’re planning to input text to search Amazon’s Kindle Store, Wikipedia, or Google, and you’re buying a $79 Kindle — expect it to be a little awkward and time-consuming!

4. Your Personal Documents are now Stored at
Apparently now even if you e-mail a file to your Kindle, Amazon keeps a copy on their “cloud” servers. On Amazon’s interactive list on the “Manage Your Kindle” page (at, users are now seeing documents listed that they’ve e-mailed directly to their Kindle. They’re listed after selecting the “Personal Documents” choice from a pull-down menu labelled “Your Kindle Library” (along with more menu choices for books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, audible audiobooks, and active content). The only choice for personal documents is deleting the document from your Kindle — but it shows how committed Amazon is to the concept of a “cloud,” a virtual Amazon-controlled space where your documents are always waiting in limbo, for whenever you want to access them again. If the entire document is also stored, this creates an automatic back-up copy, but some privacy-sensitive users might already feel weird if a multi-billion dollar corporation has suddenly started creating lists of their own personal documents and photos.

UPDATE: One of my readers contacted me saying that “your personal documents are only stored online if you choose to do so. By default, the option is turned on, but you can turn it off…”

5. Amazon Prime not Included
You’ll only get a one-month free trial of Amazon’s Prime shipping service when you buy a Kindle Fire tablet. Maybe Amazon’s figuring it’s such an essential part of the tablet experience, most customers will still be willing to pay an extra $79 for a one-year subscription. But I’d thought Amazon would offer a much longer trial to try luring Kindle Fire customers into buying more things from Amazon’s store.

Now here’s five of the biggest good surprises about Amazon’s new upcoming Kindles…

1. Kindle Fire will have a NetFlix App!
Besides watching video from Amazon’s online video store, you can also use a Kindle Fire tablet to watch online videos from NetFlix! (Besides sending DVDs to your home, NetFlix also has a streaming video service that lets customers “Watch Instantly” online.) And one technology blogger noted Amazon was emphasizing this point during their big announcement on Wednesday. “The video service is one of four big developers – along with Pandora, Facebook and Twitter – that should have apps ready for the Kindle Fire at launch, Amazon has said over and over again…”

2. The Kindle Fire Supports Flash
It’s easy to take Flash for granted when you’re surfing the web from a desktop computer – but it’s a big deal to have this capability in a tablet. Apple’s iPad travelled a rocky road while trying to get its own version of Flash, but Amazon’s tablet will have it fron its very first day.

3. The Silk Browser is Incredibly Fast
There’s already been some complaints about how Amazon’s handling privacy in the new web browser they built for their Kindle Fire tablet. But it’s been designed specifically to provide faster web browsing, using Amazon’s servers to pre-format web pages before they even get to your tablet. “That provides a much better user experience,” an Amazon engineer explains in an online video, and another engineer even acknowledges their goal was “to kind of change the whole game, and really re-think how do you do web.” (“It’ll seem like a traditional browser — just a lot better and a lot faster than you’re used to working with.”) That’s a big claim, but there’ll be a lot of happy Kindle Fire owners if Amazon can pull it off. “We were only shown a brief glimpse of the new Silk browser,” reported the technology bloggers at Engadget, “but we must say the thing appears to deliver on its promises.”

4. One Special Offer Can Pay for the Cost of a Kindle.
Amazon knows customers don’t necessarily want ads on their Kindle – but they’ve worked hard to line up some very attractive offers. “[S]pending $114 on the Kindle saved me 20 percent on buying a new Apple MacBook Air,” reported one finance columnist, “a savings of $200.” He notes there’s been other discounts which exceed the original price of a Kindle with Special Offers, including a 20% discount on new LCD television screens. (“Some KSO buyers saved hundreds of dollars on their new TVs,” the columnist notes!)

5. Amazon’s Selling Kindle Fire at a Loss
Amazon’s also spreading around some other big discounts. The day after Amazon announced their new Kindles, their stock dropped more than $7 a share — a whopping 3.16%. It more than wiped out the 2.5% gain from Wednesday when they’d first announced their new Kindles. Amazon’s stock continued dropping on Friday — another 2.79% — but what’s bad for investors is often good for consumers. The stock drop is apparently tied to a report from an influential stock analyst who believes Amazon is selling each Kindle Fire tablet at a $50 loss.

On the big day when the new Kindles were finally announced, CEO Jeff Bezos posted a special message on the front page at “There are two types of companies: those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less…

“We are firmly in the second camp.”

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18 thoughts to “The 10 Biggest Surprises about Amazon’s New Kindles”

  1. “Apple’s iPad only recently got its own version of Flash”

    What planet are you on? There is no Flash on the iPad, which has certainly not slowed them down. News tip: Flash isn’t dead, it just doesn’t matter to people buying a tablet, or a phone, or a laptop.

  2. “Apple’s iPad only recently got its own version of Flash”

    Hi, sorry.

    What are you referring to here? There’s no version of Flash in any way associated with the common “flash on the browser” concept.

    There’s a possibility to run remote desktop which in turn run browsers with flash (these call themselves browsers, but aren’t), there’s the possibility to compile Flash apps into Native iOS flash (almost nobody does it, but it’s there) and there’s a few sites that work as proxies converting Flash videos (some, not all) into suitable HTML5 ones.

    But there’s no flavour of Flash for iPad that does Flash on the browser as such.

  3. “Apple’s iPad only recently got its own version of Flash”

    None of Apple’s mobile devices (iPod, iPad, iPhone) support Flash, so this statement is incorrect.

  4. Standard behavior for the stockmarket for decades has been to “buy on the expectation, sell on the reality.”

    It’s a convoluted guessing game, in which stock buyers perceive that other stock buyers will run up the price of a stock ahead of important corporate announcements. Then, they guess, everybody will sell to run away with their profits.

    Typically, all “good news” causes stock price increased prior to the arrival of the news, and a drop on the arrival of the news.

    It’s all perception, the biggest game of “liars’ poker” in the world.

    I doubt selling at a loss — if true — is mis-perceived as a threat to corporate profitability. Such loss leaders usually generate more than enough revenue to make the whole package a sweet one for long term investors.

  5. 2 #1. This has been the case for a while now. I’ve purchased four or five Kindles in the last six months or so, and all of them shipped without the wall adapter.

    5 #1. Rather than get a free Prime membership, you’re getting a tablet that’s priced $50 less than its closest competitor (NookColor).

    5 #2. iSuppli has pegged it at a $10 loss. I’ll believe those guys — who actually tear the thing apart — over an analyst’s back-of-envelope figuring any day of the week.

  6. I came here from Teleread, where i posted this same comment:

    OK, wait! the Kindle Fire doesn’t currently HAVE 3G, does it? Also, the “AC adapter” for the Kindle Touch is the removable plug part of the Kindle cable as implemented with the Kindle 2. If you own a Kindle 2 or Kindle 3, you already have this plug.

  7. Thanks for the news about the Kindle Fire shipping with NetFlix support. I wonder if that concession to the competition means that Amazon will be open to the Fire having B&N and Kobo ebook readers? That’s hard to imagine.

    I wouldn’t worry much about the on-screen keyboard on the $79 model. I’ve got a Kindle 3 and I actually prefer entering text on-screen using the Sym on-screen mode. It beats working with those tiny, stiff keys whose letters are hard to read.

    What Amazon really should do is end all the gripping about keyboards by enabling the Bluetooth mode in the WiFi chip they use and creating keyboard and mouse drivers for all their Kindles. The latter would let people with disabilities turn pages with a $9.95 mouse rather than a $300 robotic gadget.

    Also, your personal documents are only stored online if you choose to do so. By default, the option is turned on, but you can turn it off. Just be advised that it can take minutes to hours for personal documents to appear online, long after they’ve been transferred to your Kindle.

    You didn’t mention a major plus for cloud-stored personal documents. It enables you to markup and synch the last-page read of your own ‘stuff’– such as business documents and that novel you’re writing–just like you’ve been able to do with Amazon-bought books. Right now, that feature only works with Kindle hardware, but Amazon seems to be hinting it’ll be added to free Kindle apps.

    That last feature surprised me as much as library checkout. I’d assumed that Amazon intended Kindles to be used almost solely to generate retail sales. It appears that they have enough business sense to realize that getting people to buy a Kindle to read library ebooks can be a gateway to using it to buy ebooks. I can only hope that they make a similar conclusion about the Kindle Fire. I hope they see that making it app-rich, including productivity apps and the all-important Dropbox (for synching with Macs and PCs), will make the Fire a gateway to more Amazon sales.

    It’s not a zero-sum game. The more reasons people have for keeping a Kindle with them on the go, the more Amazon-bought content they’ll consume on the go.

  8. “[S]pending $114 on the Kindle saved me 20 percent on buying a new Apple MacBook Air”

    Damn, I just bought a new MBA last week, would defntly have gotten the k-fire if I’d known about said offer.

  9. I don’t understand the point of keeping the personal documents. You’re only allowed to delete it, so it’s not a true “backing up.”

    At least allow the option to resend the document if need be. Otherwise, there’s no need to back it up at all.

  10. Wall adapters seem to be an extra with ebook readers in general. Both my Cool-er and my Pocketbook 360 just came with a USB cord, and I think that my Nook did as well.

  11. I will say this if you thought the $79 thing was touch screen then you didn’t watch the same press conference I did. But to let you know it is not time consuming I received my baby kindle( that is what some of us are calling it on FB) today. This is a gift. I love it I might keep it and give my K3 to my girlfriend. Yeah the key board is might seem cumbersome to some. But I can type my name faster on it then I can on a old PS 2 tiger woods game using and game controller. it is smooth. But the size of this kindle is unbelievable and it feels more sturdy then my K3. I want to throw them and see which one survives just by fell I would say the little baby at $79 would come with the less of a beating. I will keep my K3 and give the woman the baby since I have a fire coming. Ps I found the speed of the experimental browser on the baby much quicker and easier to you use.

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