The 3G Kindle Paperwhite is Too Expensive and is Pretty Much Pointless


Kindle Paperwhite

Today Amazon started shipping both models of the Kindle Paperwhite, the Wi-Fi version and the 3G/Wi-Fi version. Mine will be arriving shortly, and I promise I’ll post a video and first impressions review on Wednesday.

I was thinking about it the other day and it occurred to me that the 3G model is way overpriced and is pretty much pointless for most people unless you travel a lot or don’t have access to the internet at all on a regular basis.

Don’t buy into Amazon’s hype. It’s come to the point where 3G is a superfluous feature on a Kindle for the vast majority of people, and isn’t worth the expense.

The 3G Kindle Paperwhite sells for $179 with ads and $199 without ads. The Wi-Fi version costs $119. So that’s $60 more, a 50% increase, just for the 3G feature.

Sure, it used to be worth it when you could use the web browser to check emails and surf the web over 3G when you really needed to, but Amazon stopped allowing that last year when they started restricting the use of the web browser to Wi-Fi only, with the exception of Amazon.com and Wikipedia.

So basically Amazon wants you to pay them $60 more for a 3G Kindle Paperwhite solely so you can use it to buy more ebooks and other things from Amazon. Wow, what a deal!

Last year I made the mistake of buying the 3G Kindle Touch before knowing Amazon had stopped allowing the use of the web browser over 3G. It was $149, $50 more than the Wi-Fi model, and I’ve never once had to use the 3G feature. I just remember to download everything I need to read while I’m at home. If not, it’s generally easy to find a public Wi-Fi hotspot at a restaurant or a number of other public places.

Plus there are options for tethering a Kindle to a cell phone or a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. For example, NetZero offers a 4G Wi-Fi mobile hotspot for $50 and it comes with 200MB per month of free data for a year. Range is limited, depending on where you live, but something like that is going to be a heck of a lot more useful than 3G on a Kindle Paperwhite.

And this year the 3G price difference for the Kindle Paperwhite is even more than last year. Amazon added another $10 onto the equivalent price, $30 overall, of the 3G Kindle Touch despite removing the speakers, the headphone jack, and cutting the storage space in half from 4GB to 2GB.

It’s come to the point where the expense of the 3G feature is outweighing its usefulness. But apparently not many people agree. The 3G Kindle Paperwhite is currently #6 on Amazon’s best sellers list.

17 Responses to “The 3G Kindle Paperwhite is Too Expensive and is Pretty Much Pointless”

  1. I don’t know about Kindles, but I do know about NOOKs.

    The original NOOK was 3G/WiFi and all later models were (and are) WiFi-only. The big thing with the old 3G model is “it just works.”

    There are quite a number of complaints on the B&N forums about being unable to get NOOK WiFi to communicate reliably with various kinds of access points and various AP configurations. For a short time, B&N even set up a dedicated forum for WiFi connection problems. The newer NOOK models seem to have a lot fewer issues, so I assume that significant improvements have been made in WiFi compatibility.

    Even with perfect equipment, though, it’s surprising how many people don’t know their SSID and password. Their ISP set everything up.

    3G, though, just works. Take the reader out of the box, turn it on, and you’re connected. $60 does seem quite pricey, but for those people who aren’t WiFi-savvy, it can be worthwhile. And for an e-reader being given as a gift to someone who isn’t WiFi-savvy, it means you’re not giving the gift of frustration, and you won’t be getting calls to “come get this [expletive] thing working again.” 🙂

  2. I couldn’t agree more, Nathan! If one could browse the web and do email with 3G it would be a valuable feature…but as it is, I just don’t see the value.

    Thanks for expressing your opinion in such an unvarnished way!

  3. Amazon probably agrees with you, so they probably produced just enough for those who really need that feature while traveling, and are willing to pay a premium for it.

  4. Owning more than 1 Wi-Fi-Device, it might be easier, to setup an Access Point ( there are several 3G/4G available) or even your smartphone, if possible. Some regulations and restrictions from your provider may stop that, but both iPhone 5 and iPad (3) can act as a Wi-Fi-Access-Point, I am not sure, which older models have that ability.
    Regarding battery-life, an extra device as an access point with charger on hand might be the best solution, though prices vary widely (60-150 Us$). And you could use a different SIM.

  5. A 3G dongle would be useful, along with USB host, so the ereader companies could concentrate on better features and leave the 3G to third parties.

    The dongle could save cost, power and weight for the ereader, could come in 4G and other newer modes, and could have a bluetooth option.

  6. Nathan: is anyone else offering a 3G E-Ink e-reader? Or does Kindle have that market all to itself?

    • There might be a couple of obscure options left in parts of Europe and Asia, but as far at the US goes, yeah Amazon is it for 3G.

  7. Doug

    You know, you sounded a little like Justin Bieber when you said “I don’t know about Kindles, but I know about NOOKs”! 😉 Anyway,(this is to Nathan) I just rooted MY nook glow, and since I FINALLY found an active post, I’m wondering if I can use like an Apple keyboard or something like it for typing on my nook, cause it’s getting pretty old to use that same old virtual keyboard… however, if ur still doing stuff on the Nook Glow, download the app “Hidden Lock”! You can completely destroy the old “drag to unlock your NOOK” lockscreen and get either a 4-digit PIN code lock OR you can get the signature “hidden lock”! You may have already found this feature, but I just did yesterday and now I’m ECSTATIC!!!!!!

    Last thing, BOO AMAZON KINDLE! You guys are such copiers of NOOK!!!!!! 😉

  8. The problem is coupled to the ever declining price of the Kindle’s. When the price was higher Amazon likely got to buy (pre-paid) much more bandwidth from the celluar service provider.

    Couched as 3-4 years of limit pre-paid 3G service it was an OK value proposition.

    The solution Amazon could engage is to make it so that people could pay for the “wide ranging” 3G. Similar to how the 8.9″ Fire HD with LTE has a plan for $50/year for 250MB/mo. (that has cloud storage space and $10 credit also). Perhaps $40/year for 3G and no Cloud extras with similar bandwidth cap.

    If Amazon and Wikipedia didn’t count toward data cap it would be useful limited usage. Email is probably a stretch, but limited web look-ups would work.

  9. “…Amazon wants you to pay them $60 more for a 3G Kindle Paperwhite solely so you can use it to buy more ebooks and other things from Amazon. …”

    I think this focuses a bit too much on the ebooks. For anyone that travels frequently 3G is a good way of picking up the daily newspaper subscription push that happens daily.

    That’s $60 for deliver of all newspaper subscriptions inside the world-wide coverage zone for the lifetime of the device.

    It is a corner case for a few. However, coupled to selling 3G, there is broader value.

    As personal hotspots and “share everything” plans become more pervasive perhaps this will loose added value, but for folks who travel (commuter train, on the road, etc. ) 3G is still more pervasive than WiFi.

  10. It’s even more interesting when you realize that Amazon charges the _publisher_ for delivery of the content. Their excuse for doing this is that they have to buy 3G bandwidth. Does Amazon waive that charge when books are sent Wi-Fi? Heck, no!

  11. The 3G is great if you can check email and maybe even browse static pages on the web. But if it’s just access to Amazon and Wikipedia, then it’s not worth it. I’ll pay for it if it’s only $30 more.

  12. In India the product has failed to take off, i have not seen one till now…. and the emptiness in front of Kindle paperwhite display stand, while the crowd throngs Apple and Samsungs in shopping malls here, is something Kindle should take note off.

    Snob pricing wherein the limited 3G one comes for 14000 Rs. that too without any freebies like cover or charger, shouts no-value-for-money.

    Alas! it could have been a hit product and brought reading to lots of people, had not Amazon fancied itself as Apple, and forgot that Paperwhite is no play thing, but a shopping apparatus.

  13. Michael Tillapaugh October 10, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Will wifi only version of the Kindle Paperwhite connect with 4g lte wifi hotspot cell phone. IE Samsung Galaxy 2 Skyrocket.

  14. I just won a kindle as a door prize. Since I use my public library as my primary book provider, I am questioning whether I should bother to keep this device which is locked to one provider and does nothing my netbook does except weigh very little.

    For very little more an inexpensive tablet combines the benefit the benefits of a reader and a computer.