AT&T will begin selling the new Kindle 3G e-reader on March 6 for $189 at its retail stores, the first time the carrier has sold a dedicated e-reader device.
Potential customers will get the a chance to test drive the Kindle 3G at one of AT&T's 2,200 stores before buying the e-reader. Amazon.com began selling Kindle devices at Target, Best Buy and Staples stores last year to give consumers an alternative to purchasing the device at its online store.
The Kindle 3G, with a 6-in. display, sells for $189 at Amazon, which also offers a Wi-Fi-only Kindle, also with a 6-in. display, for $139.
AT&T provides the wireless 3G network support for Kindle, a job originally held by Sprint when the Kindle first appeared. With 3G, it takes less than 60 seconds to purchase an e-book, many for $9.99, and have it downloaded wirelessly to a Kindle for reading. AT&T doesn't charge a wireless fee on top of the purchase price.
The 3G model also connects via Wi-Fi. Customers can choose downloads from a selection of 810,000 books, magazines, newspapers and personal documents. The e-reader features one month of battery life and a Pearl E Ink display that allows reading in direct sunlight, two distinctions that Amazon draws between its Kindle devices and popular tablets such as the iPad and Galaxy Tab, which tend to reflect sunlight and burn through batteries in a day's use.
However, the Kindle is not a media tablet like the iPad or Galaxy Tab, which can be used for reading and viewing movies, Web browsing, game playing and running office productivity apps.
AT&T has gradually added specialty and embedded devices other than smartphones and feature phones to run on its network in the past three years. More than 940 different devices have been certified, with 11 million in use, a spokesman said. These other devices include netbooks , digital photo frames, personal navigation devices, as well as embedded devices used in telematics, home security and smart grids.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
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