Best Amazon Kindle Feature? Free International Web Surfing

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The wife and I just got back from a cruise. It was unforgettable! I won’t be able to forget it no matter how hard I try. The food that hovered somewhere in between airplane food and wedding food? Unforgettable. The compulsory 15% tip for everything plus the expected extra tip plus the $12 per person per day tip that’s added to the bill? Unforgettable. The $20 travel size tube of sunscreen at the public beach in the Bahamas? Unforgettable.

Also unforgettable, in a good way, was that I found out you can use the international mobile data connection on the Amazon Kindle e-book reader to surf the web on any compatible network in the world for free. We were out in the middle of nowhere just off the coast of the Bahamas and I thought I’d see what happened if I fired up the Kindle’s normally-free mobile connection and was greeted with a message that basically said the following:

If you want to get your newspaper and magazine subscriptions abroad, it’s a flat $4.99 weekly rate. Not bad, but I didn’t have any magazines or newspapers I wanted to read. If you want to e-mail documents to yourself, it’s 99 cents per megabyte instead of 15 cents per megabyte. Okay, great.

But here’s the best part:

“There is no charge for wirelessly receiving books, receiving single periodical issues, browsing the Kindle store, or using the experimental web browser while traveling internationally.”

Now the web browser is nothing to write home about but it’s perfectly adequate for checking and sending e-mail, looking stuff up, and reading mostly-text websites. Considering international mobile roaming charges on your cell phone can cost a million-skillion dollars and—ahem—certain cruise lines think it’s okay to charge a $4 connection fee plus 75 cents per minute to surf on what feels like a tiny step above a dialup connection, being able to use a device you’d already have in your beach bag to hop on the internet for free seems like a godsend.

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