Category Archives: Products

Why a Kindle 3 is better than a “real book”

A few months on from buying my kindle 3 in Australia, I am very happy with the device. Before buying it, I was hesitant because I “liked reading real books” but now I am a converted kindle user.

kindle-australia-books

Explaining to a friend of mine (hi Sarah) the other day why she had to get a kindle instead of real books, my main points were:

  1. Highlights – The kindle 3 allows you to make highlights of text that you want to read again later. I used to do so using dog ears in books but unless I had a pen handy, it was always hard to know exactly which part of the page I was referring to when I went back to reread. Highlights allows me to go back after reading a book and read each of my highlights sequentially. It also let me upload them directly to my twitter and or facebook.
  2. Dictionary – I didn’t initially think i would use this feature very much. That said, whilst reading certain books, I have found that I don’t know the meanings of as many words as I thought I did. Being able to quickly highlight a word and have the meaning come up instantly has been quite useful.
  3. Read multiple books simultaneously -  This is one of the biggest features for me. Being able to decide on the bus in the morning what book I’d like to read (out of maybe 6-10 unread books on the device) is pretty cool. I used to take 2 or 3 books with me and now don’t have to carry as much around with me.
  4. Holds your place in the book – This is a bit of an obvious one but never having to think about where I am in the book is useful. No placeholders or dog ears required.
  5. Cost – So far, the most I have paid for a kindle book (out of maybe 15 purchased) is $15.99. This number used to average much higher than that buying real books.

Update September 2012 – Click here for the latest Kindle in Australia Buyers Guide.

Kindle 3 in Australia Review – My new electronic book (ebook) reader

I recently purchased the Kindle 3 wireless only ebook reader in Sydney, Australia after having it recommended by a good friend of mine.

Update September 2012 – Click here for the latest Kindle in Australia Buyers Guide.

As you might know if you know me, I’m not one for shameless promotion posts but overall I’m really impressed with the product. I was initially skeptical of buying an ebook reader as I had a tendency to enjoy holding an actual book in my hands despite countless hours of reading things online.

But after completing a $45 purchase (one of many this year) from Bookdepository (the cheapest place to get books I’ve found), I decided it might be nice to check the price of the two books on the kindle. As it turned out, they were going to cost 50% less. Whilst this may not always be the case, it inspired me to look further into it.

Kindle 3 Review Australian Ebook reader

I did so and the latest generation Kindle 3 looked like a really solid piece of technology. I read regularly and often various books at a time so it did provide a nicer way to do so than carrying around 3 different books everyday in my bag.

The initial things I noticed about the product were that it was cheap (especially with the AUD-USD where it is), the books for sale were on it were cheap and that it got excellent reviews. Google “kindle reviews” to get an idea of these.

I decided on the wireless version over the 3g + wireless because I figured there won’t be a time when i can’t wait 10-20 minutes between work and home to download a book. That said, travelling and whether or not you read newspapers on the device (which you can easily) might have impacted this decision if i’d thought about it more. I’d probably get the 3G if i was making the decision now.

The product was quick to deliver (i think 4-5 days) and was easy to start using.

The main things I like about the kindle 3 are:

  1. The long battery life (30 days or so apparently)
  2. The fact I can highlight things in ebooks that I want to come back to or share with others (I’m one of those types that puts dog ears throughout my books – though rarely comes back to them)
  3. The selection of books (so far there has only been one title I couldn’t find that i wanted)
  4. The design, lightness and feeling when you read it
  5. The clarity of the text and resolution is very good
  6. The lack of a backlight makes it nicer on my eyes (which spend some much time in front of an LCD screen)

The things that I don’t like about the kindle 3 are that:

  1. It is not touchscreen and it’s navigation is a little clunky as a result but still very easy to use if a bit old school,
  2. Some of the formatting in complicated books like the spanish lessons book i’m reading is not perfect
  3. It doesn’t come with a case!

Overall, I’d recommend it strongly to anyone that reads alot. I’ve put a link below where you can get more information about the product. A more recent review of the kindle 3 is here : Why a Kindle 3 is better than “real books”.

Going overseas? The Cheapest Way to Get Cash and Make Purchases Overseas

As I am about to go on my second trip to the USA this year, I thought some advice on accessing your cash overseas would be helpful to those out there wishing to avoid the hundreds of dollars in fees you can pay. I am not usually one to shamelessly promote a product, but when they are saving me hundreds of dollars in light of no clear reason to do so, I am willing to oblige.

Cliff notes : If you are not interested in the details, just go get yourself a GE Money Clear Advantage MasterCard (I am in no way affiliated with them and I don’t get a cent either way). Please note that since writing this article, the card has been renamed the 28 Degrees mastercard. As discovered by Choice and my trip to the USA in Feb 09, it is the “only credit card with no currency conversion fee and it absorbs the MasterCard charge so the exchange rate you get should be close to the market wholesale rates”. It also has no cash advance fee or annual fee unlike other credit cards. But, as with all providers, daily interest applies to cash advances until you pay your bill (this can be avoided – see below).

When i recently went overseas, I loaded my credit card up with cash before I went so i didnt even have to pay interest on the money taken out. The only fee you pay is that of the ATM you are using. Usually 2-4 dollars in the USA depending on whether or not you are in Vegas. This fee is paid regardless of what method you use if you are using an ATM.

[x] Success
[  ] Fail

For some more details on your other options, read that choice link above. Or see my summary below:

  • Bringing cash – If you buy around $1,000 worth of dollars before you get the airport, you are looking at around 2.5% worth of fees. Should you run out, or forget to do it before you get to the airport like most of us, expect fees between 7 and 11% (on a good day) from the kind folks at Travelex. Then enjoy the fun of keeping $1,000 safe, getting pickpocketed or needing more money at some stage (as you see below – it won’t come cheap).
  • Travellers cheques and DCC – Both come with decent sized fees (2-4% + )and are likely to be accompanied by more fees when you attempt to use them. Plus, they are annoying. Avoid.
  • Prepaid or Cash passport style cards – These are my favourite. Well, my favourite waste of money aimed at seducing the masses (see the google ads hitting you in the face when you search cash overseas – they dont come cheap but you pay for it). By pre-converting dollars onto a card,  “expect exchange rate margins when you load and close the card: these are not specifically disclosed by the providers (always nice), and vary from day to day, fees to load the card: up to 1.1%, or a flat fee of up to $15 (you pay for the right to give them money), ATM withdrawal fees of up to $3.75, An exchange rate conversion fee when you use the card: varies between providers. With Travelex the cost is from 5.95% to 8.45% when the withdrawal is in a currency other than what you loaded to the card.” Also please don’t forget that $23.45 that is left on the card when you get back. Good luck getting that back. If you reload or close the account, further fees apply (up to $10 to close the account).
  • Credit Cards – The friendly folk at your local bank would love you to use their card overseas. With currency conversion fees of 2-3.5% from the major banks (to give you the right to use the exchange rate they choose for you – which i have observed is worse than the rate that the GE Clearadvantage gives me the right to use for nothing). Remember to add to that 3-4.5% an ATM cash withdrawal fee and then interest on the money you are taking out and on your $3,000 holiday, you have kindly donated around $150 to your local bank for giving you the right to access your money overseas.
  • ATM and Debit cards – These used to be great. The secret trick of overseas travel. Until the local bank whacked a massive minimum charge of $20-25 for each ATM withdrawal. Now as much as I love withdrawing 2,500 from an ATM in Vegas (where I would have to pay the greater of $20-25 or 2.5% with most banks), usually I find myself withdrawing more meek amounts. With 5 withdrawals on your trip (plus some lovely 5% fees credit card dinners), you are again up to $150 wasted.
It seems like a very clear choice. I have one. it works. get one if you are going overseas. Or waste some money – whichever you prefer.
I can understand that international travel is something that our generation are lucky to have access to. I can also understand that to ensure there are 37 Travelexes at each major airport in the world, they need to make money, but there is no harm in finding the cheapest deal. For the sake of all those people out there who never think about these things, I hope that this GE card somehow increases competition and reduces prices across the board. Where is Virgin when you need them?