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Kindle 3G Web Browsing

Update: The newest version of the Kindle (the Kindle Touch) offers limited browsing over 3G. The Kindle Touch can only access Wikipedia and the Amazon Market over 3G – when connected to WiFi, the experimental browser can access any site. People with the older Kindle Keyboard 3G are grandfathered into a plan with unlimited 3G browsing.

Wouldn’t you like to know a bit more about the web browsing experience on the Kindle 3 over 3G? (If the answer is no, you’re reading the wrong article.) I want to review my experience on some specific sites to let you know exactly what you should expect. This whole review is about the browsing experience over the 3G network, not over WiFi.

Facebook –  The Kindle’s browser has a bookmark to Facebook Touch by default. The touch version works very well; it loads quickly and the picture viewer works. At the time I tested the only real problem was that you couldn’t like or comment on anything because the mouse wouldn’t jump to that button. You can also enter the URL for the full version of Facebook where everything but the chat works (chat doesn’t work on Facebook touch either). For some reason, the whole chat sidebar is missing.

Gmail – Gmail mobile is the slowest site I’ve found so far. It’s not that it takes the page a long time to load, but it take it a long time to render so you’re left with a blank white pages; when everything renders it all shows at the same time. Other than that it’s very responsive and you can send emails, check different mail folders, archive messages, etc.

Google Talk – GTalk works surprisingly well in the browser. Messages are sent and received almost instantly. You could have a whole conversation with someone (if you could type fast enough) and they would never know that you’re on a Kindle! The only issue is that Google Talk uses the Gray/Gree/Orange/Red circles to show whether or not a person is available, and they all look the same on the eInk screen. The only way to know if someone is online is if they appear out of alphabetical order (at the top of the contact list) or if they message you.

Google Maps – Google Maps works very nicely on the Kindle. You can move around the map, zoom in and out, etc. and the Kindle remains pretty responsive, all over the free 3G! Switch the Kindle into landscape mode (by using the text key) to see more of the screen. The only thing it can’t tell you is your location.

Google Music/Pandora/YouTube – You can’t stream music through Google Music, Pandora, or YouTube (even in HTML5 mode) on the Kindle 3G. On the bright side, you can read YouTube comments and look at the tracks you have available on Google Music.

Google Docs – I’ve had strange experiences with Google Docs on the Kindle, it works sometimes and it doesn’t work other times. I’ve had success editing a spreadsheet but couldn’t read a text document.

Dropbox – You can sign in to Dropbox with your Kindle and download files if they’re in AZW, PRC, MOBI, or TXT format, all over 3G.

Sparknotes – Sparknotes is great to get some chapter summaries and it works, but it is a heavy site and it does take a while to load.

Have another site you’d like me to test on the Kindle 3G? Leave a comment below and I’ll let you know how well it loads.

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Kindle 3G Review

Update: This is a review of the Kindle 3G Keyboard – the review was written when the device was called the Kindle 3G.

I’ve been playing around with a Kindle 3G and now I’m writing a detailed review to help you decide if you’d like to own one. I’ve noticed that some other reviews only lightly touch on the Kindle’s extra features and this is what I want to focus on. In this review I will go over performance, web browsing, MP3 listening, image viewing, and ebook reading.

Performance

The main advantage of the Kindle over some other ebook readers and tablets is the eInk screen. This technology gives is an amazingly clear, easy to read display and extremely long battery life. The display is so realistic that when you first receive the kindle it actually looks like there’s a sticker on the screen (and it’s actually the real screen). The refresh rate isn’t as fast as an LCD screen but it hasn’t bothered me; you can see how fast it is on video reviews.

Web Browsing

The Kindle 3G has free 3G connectivity in over 100 countries, and this one of it’s greatest features. 3G is provided by AT&T and allows unlimited web browsing. The Kindle has an experimental WebKit-based browser that has exceeded my expectations. You can use it for basic browsing – reading the news and wikipedia, but you can also go beyond that. You can use it to send emails, browse Facebook, and even use Google Maps! It even works perfectly with Google Talk.

However, I couldn’t find a way to work Facebook chat, and it won’t load flash so you can’t listen to Pandora or Google Music, and you can’t watch YouTube videos (although you can read through the comments). I tried YouTube through their experimental HTML5 but it still wouldn’t work.

The web browsing is still impressive; and  you can’t beat free 3G! I tried two different  javascript-based speed tests for the 3G and it averages at about 400 kbps.

Music

The Kindle 3 can play MP3s as well as an iPod shuffle. You don’t see song names or music information. You can start or stop the music and skip a song. MP3s can’t be downloaded over the browser so you need to paste them into the Music folder over USB.

Images

You can actually look through images pretty well. I browsed around Facebook picture albums over 3G and pictures would load almost instantly in great quality. A Kindle isn’t the best device to view pictures on but it works.

eBooks

Every other Kindle review will tell you how nice it is to read books in direct sunlight and before going to bed. I want to touch on the text-to-speech feature. You can get the Kindle to read to you so you can just follow along. It has a text-to-speech engine that has room for improvement but is bearable. In English you can choose between a male or a female voice, with a reading speed of slower, default, or faster.

At the bottom of the screen you’ll get a percent of how much of the book you’ve finished. You’ll also see popular highlights (this is great if you want to see the important quotes to analyze, but it can also be disabled in the settings).

Kindle 3G Keyboard
Reviewed by w3techie.
Rating: 5
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Creating a WiFi Password

It’s important to secure your wireless network to keep neighbors and intruders out, ensuring high security and performance on your network. In this tutorial you’ll learn how to set up passwords on your wireless network.

First, you need to navigate to your router’s configuration page and log in. Next, navigate to the wireless security section, and then enter the password you want. Most people should use the highest level of encryption their router supports, as weaker protection (such as WEP) can easily be cracked.

Creating a WiFi Password on Belkin.Configuration options and layouts vary by manufacturer and firmware, but the setup should be user-friendly. You can consult the owner’s manual for more advanced security options, such as hiding your SSID or blocking/allowing certain MAC addresses.

Note: WEP keys can be cracked in about 5-10 minutes on high-traffic home networks. WPA2 is much more secure than WPA, and WPA2 AES is much more secure than WPA2 TKIP. Each higher level of encryption is exponentially more difficult to crack. In addition, using numbers or symbols in your wireless password will make your network much more difficult to crack using brute-force dictionary attacks.

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How to Enable Caching from htaccess

Allowing your visitors to cache objects from your site can vastly improve their load-time and also reduce your server load.

Some browsers may not cache files if the files don’t have an expires header. To quickly and easily enable sitewide caching, you can use your htaccess to tell your server to include the appropriate headers on cacheable content.

<FilesMatch "\.(ico|jpg|jpeg|png|gif|js|css|swf)$">
ExpiresActive on
ExpiresDefault "access plus 7 days"
Header unset ETag
FileETag None
</FilesMatch>

This is an example section of an htaccess file that enables caching. For all files that match those filetypes (jpg, png, css, etc.) your server will send an expires header of seven days after accessed.

The ETag is an optional header for cache validation. If an ETag is blocked (as it is in the example above) the cached versions of files will be served even if the source files have changed. Using an ETag, the client can check if files have changed before deciding to serve the cached version of a file or reloading the file from the server. The ETag value changes whenever the content of a URL changes – thus the cache will never serve stale content.

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It makes sense that linking to supplementary content for articles on your website will greatly reduce bounce rates. People visit a website to find information, and linking them to more information will get them interested. I wondered if, by using supplementary content pages to reduce bounce rates, visitors would be more likely to stay on a site after their second page. Is the second page psychologically the hardest to navigate to?

This was the scenario I wanted to test: If a person visits (that would otherwise bounce) visits a site and sees a link to a related article, if they click through to that related article, does that increase the likelihood that they continue browsing the site? In other terms, once a visitor has begun to browse around a site, are they more likely to continue browsing?

I looked at my visitor analytics (at w3techie) for an answer. I took a short time period of visitors to our forum to look at. During this time period, 82.83% of visitors only had one pageview. 6.68% had two pageviews and 2.41% had three pageviews. I exported this data into Excel and found cumulative values; I found how many visitors had one pageview or more, two pageviews or more, etc.  I found that the longer people had browsed on the site, the more they continued onto another pageview. I graphed my findings:

As visitors continue browsing, their exit rates decrease.

As visitors continue browsing, their exit rates decrease.

Only 17% of visitors in my sample group made it to two pages. Of the people who visited two pages, 61% made it to a third. Of the people who made it to a third, 77% made it to a fourth, etc. This supports my theory that the second page is the most difficult to navigate to, and that as a visitor browses longer the easier it is for them to continue browsing.

Now that I have established that the second page is the most difficult, I wondered if overall conversions could be increased by pushing a second page to be voluntarily accessed. This is where supplementary content comes into play. A visitor comes to a site looking for information – we will give him that information; but, we will also link him to a very closely related article which will enhance the information the visitor got. If the visitor clicks through to the second page, they are hooked and our goal has been accomplished.

How does this affect conversions? I believe that the more comfortable a visitor is browsing around a site, the easier it will be for them to reach your goal, whether it’s a sale, a registration, a subscription, a donation, etc.

What are the applications of this? If everything I said in this article is true, then website conversions can be increased with supplementary content (just like the title says). If a webmaster creates closely-related pages to supplement eachother, and if the webmaster interlinks these pages, then the bounce rates for the website could drop and conversions could increase.

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