Amazon's Kindle ebook reader is set for local release later this month, with Dick Smith and Big W stores launching both the WiFi and 3G editions of the Kindle on August 29.
This will finally allow prospective buyers to get their hands on the Kindle and assess its crisp 6 inch screen, compact size, light weight and overall usability before buying one, as the ebook reader has previously been available only via online ordering through Amazon.com.
Being able to buy a Kindle over the counter instead of waiting for international delivery is another bonus.
The prices work out to be roughly the same, although this is due to the lack of international shipping rather than local pricing reflecting an Aussie dollar that's stronger than the US greenback.
Amazon's price is US$139 for the WiFi Kindle and US$189 for the Kindle with both 3G and WiFi; 'shipping and handling' to Australia adds another US$20 onto the bill.
Dick Smith and Big W charge an outright $159 and $219 for the WiFi and 3G+WiFi Kindles, so while they're still pretending the Australian dollar is lurking in pre-parity land you're not about to get uproariously ripped off.
A popular travel accessory, the Kindle sure beats packing a chunky paperback to read on the plane or between flights.
It's found some hefty competition in the iPad, of course, and which is best for you depends on what you want to do. For books and nothing but, the Kindle can't be beat – as long as you don't mind locking yourself into Amazon's own ebook format rather than the industry-standard 'epub' format, which the Kindle won't accept.
The iPad is more expensive and arguably less suited for reading books due to the tablet's brighter LCD screen and heavier weight, but then the iPad does much more than just read books.
However, with rumours swirling of two new fourth-gen Kindles due for release in October – one being an even cheaper entry-level model, with the other to sport a colour touch screen and run the Android operating system so that apps can be loaded – it could be worth holding off on your Kindle buying for a little longer...
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.