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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Mezrich’

Is the new Kindle the ultimate travel companion?

How do you like to pass the time on a long flight? I know some people like to watch movies, play Sudoku, sleep, or read. Melissa, the voice of the Friendly Planet Travel podcasts, likes to read a lot. She just took a trip from Philadelphia to Los Angeles last weekend and got to use her new Kindle 3G.

She knows that I’ve been searching for the perfect travel gear, and offered to write a guest post about her new favorite travel gadget. She thinks it’s the best invention since sliced bread. But read on to see what she says and see if you agree.


I wouldn’t call myself a nervous flyer, but I do like to stay distracted when I’m soaring 35,000 feet up in the air. The less I think about how far off the ground I am, the better. The best way to do this I’ve found is with a good book and some magazines.

I’ve been traveling a lot recently and realized how much space books (especially large, hardbacks) take up in my carry-on bag. Not to mention all the extra weight they can tack on.

I had been eying the new Kindle 3G since the day it came out, and thought it would be great gadget to eliminate carrying books on the plane. Luckily, someone was kind enough to get it for me as a gift just in time for my trip to California.

When I put the 8.7 ounce e-reader in the palm of my hand, I was instantly infatuated. It is so light! I’m able to hold it with one hand without that hand falling asleep. And the battery life is incredible. Turn off the WiFi and you can go a month without charging. I had two weeks to familiarize myself with it before my trip, so I started playing with my new travel gadget.

The 3G model gives you Internet access anywhere, anytime. So having access to the Amazon Kindle Store is a huge plus. You can download a preview of any book you want in the store. If you’re as indecisive as I, you’ll really appreciate this capability.

I perused the sections of the Kindle Store and downloaded a handful of books to preview to determine which book I wanted to read on the flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. I was also able to download previews from my home computer. You can look at books in the store from your own computer and send them to your Kindle. It’s pretty cool and very convenient.

I started reading my first book on my Kindle and was impressed that the display looks identical to a page in a book. Its contrast is set just right and it doesn’t hurt your eyes. It kept getting better from there.

You can move your cursor throughout the page to highlight text and make annotations. By far, my favorite feature is when the definition of a word appears at the top or bottom of the screen when you put the cursor in front of it.

After familiarizing myself with it for a few days, I chose the book I was going to read, “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich. “The Social Network” just came out, so I had to read the book that the movie was based on first. ;) I also decided to subscribe to Businessweek on the Kindle, which is about $10 cheaper annually than the print edition.

So on the morning of my flight, I packed my backpack with the necessities I needed on the plane. I was astonished at how much lighter it was without all the books. I knew I was going to fill that extra space with some souvenirs from Cali. So with my lighter backpack I headed for PHL.

After I found my seat on the plane, I woke my Kindle up from its sleep and started reading. Then I realized that when we were asked to turn off all of our portable electronic devices, that meant my Kindle too. The words “Uh oh” came out of my mouth. Take off is my least favorite part of the flight for me. The loud engines, ears popping, the movement of the plane, are all things I try to avoid experiencing.

This was definitely the one downside of using a  Kindle versus a book. But I quickly grabbed a SkyMall magazine and looked at the crazy gadgets in it until we were allowed to turn on our electronics. For the next few hours I nestled in my seat and just read.

My eyes didn’t get tired. My wrist didn’t hurt. I was able to hold the Kindle comfortably for hours. And I didn’t have to reach into my backpack to grab a magazine when I needed a break from my book. I simply clicked the Home button on my Kindle to get my Businessweek.

By the time we were asked to put our tray tables up and our seat in its up-right position, I was finished my book and watching a California sunset. When I looked at the battery life, it barely nudged during my flight. It’s a relief to know that I don’t have to carry my charger around with the Kindle.

If you like to read and read a lot, the Kindle is what you want when traveling. I know some people are hesitant to make the shift from books, but give it a try. You might end up loving it more than you thought. That’s exactly what happened with me.

And its new pricing makes it even more tempting. You can get a Kindle with WiFi starting at $139. Or if you want coverage all the time, the 3G model is just $50 more. If you’ve been using a Kindle for some time, or also just got a new one, I’d love to hear what you think about it. Leave a comment on this post and we can swap Kindle tips!

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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