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Kindle Touch 3G Can Only Browse the Web on Wi-Fi

It appears that the Kindle Touch 3G, despite having 3G right in its name, will only be able to surf the web with Wi-Fi. The 3G capacity can be used to sync books and browse Wikipedia, but anything aside from those two activities will require a Wi-Fi signal. The weirdest part of that limitation, however, is that a previous Kindle model, the Kindle Keyboard 3G had, and appears to retain that very feature.

The limitation came to light after a clarification was posted on the Amazon forums. While the Kindle Touch 3G’s website touts “free 3G wireless” which is technically true, it doesn’t say anything about the restriction. The post on the forums, however, makes it perfectly clear: The 3G is expressly for syncing books and looking at Wikipedia. The “experimental” web browsing present on the Kindle Keyboard is going to stay were it is.

What this will ultimately mean for Kindle Touch 3Gs is still up in the air. The lack of 3G web browsing means that upgrading from the Wi-Fi model to the 3G model –a jump of $50– is going to be a little bit harder for most users to justify considering the only real benefit of the feature is 3G syncing. There could be any number of reasons behind the limitation but it is probably related to the fact that in order to provide “free” 3G, Amazon has to cover the cost of the 3G usage. If the Kindle Touch 3G doesn’t deliver as high of a profit margin as the Keyboard right out of the gate, it’s quite possible that Amazon just isn’t willing to foot the bill with these devices.

Regardless of the reasoning behind this restriction, one thing is for sure: This doesn’t affect Kindle Fire sales at all, since the fire is Wi-Fi only. It is likely to skew the sale of other Kindles in interesting ways. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not the touch capability will be able to beat out free 3G web browsing, and whether or not Kindle Keyboard 3G units will see a sudden spike in demand.

(via Ars Technica)

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