What the Heck is EDGE coverage for Kindle?

I've been quite vocal about my irritation with Amazon and their Kindle device. Mainly because it runs on the Sprint network. And the Sprint network is practically non-existent in the rural, mountain west.

But, you say, the coverage map shows a much larger coverage area using EDGE wireless.

But what the heck is EDGE?

According to the AT&T guy I spoke with yesterday, EDGE is a wireless network acquired during the purchase of the small wireless carrier back in the late 1990s. And, according to a few sources, I have discovered the answer to the question that has thus far prevented my purchasing a Kindle: Just how fast (or slow) is the EDGE coverage compared to 3G Sprint?

The answer? It's about 1/6th as fast. When it's working at top speed.

Which means that it might take a few minutes to download your book instead of the 60 seconds or less Amazon's advertising focuses on. Books are relatively small files, so that's good news for download speed.

Still better than being chained to your home network via wi-fi. Still better than trying to find a hotspot. Trust me, if you live in an area without 3G, hotspots are rare. And definitely better than having to download to your computer first then transfer to your Kindle.

(Yes, I know, there is a Kindle wi-fi only version, but the ability to buy books on the go --away from the often elusive hotspots-- is a large part of the appeal of the device for me.)

So...am I going to break down and buy a Kindle? I'm still undecided. The idea of spending that much money on a device that is vulnerable to my klutzy, accident prone kids sends shivers down my spine. A ruined mass market will cost me about $8 to replace. A ruined Kindle? *shudder*

But at least I know that the wireless capability of a Kindle IS available for most of my area. Even if it works at a fraction of the speed urban readers experience.

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