07 March 2010

Combat Kindle (Redux)

A lot of people drop by this site looking for information on the Amazon Kindle's performance in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've discussed my combat Kindle experiences a few times before, but here's a brief recap of some frequently asked questions.

(Links include my interview at The Kindle Chronicles with Len Edgerly, Reach 364 at Building Peace, and Gen X in Iraq)

  • Overall. I was pleased with my Kindle 2 in Iraq. You never know when you're going to run into a long stretch of boredom and inactivity: be it waiting for a flight, or being penned up inside waiting for a sandstorm to pass. For those moments, the Kindle is perfect, particularly if you're the type of person that usually keeps a lot of books in your "reading cue" at any given time. The Kindle allows you to take thousands of selections with you in a device which fits in your cargo pocket.
  • Downloading books. Since you can't use the wireless feature to download books in Iraq (even on the Kindle Global Wireless), you'll need to use a USB cable to transfer your e-books. This one can be a bit tricky, since the US military shut down the USB ports on all government computers within the last year or so. You'll need your own personal computer, and it will need to be linked to a civilian internet service. This is relatively simple on most of the big Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), which have services such as Sniper Hill internet. I can't speak much for the smaller outlying FOBs or Combat Outposts. If anyone can fill me in on the internet services at some of the postage-stamp sized FOBs, please give us some feedback. American service members stationed in Europe, however, do appear to get excellent coverage from the Kindle Global Wireless, with nearly all of Italy and most of Germany receiving service.
  • Durability. The Kindle 2 held up to the heat quite well, as you can see. It also seems relatively tolerant of abuse, but don't try to push the device to the limit. I'd highly recommend keeping the Kindle in its leather case and opting for the extended warranty for good measure. You might also want to see some really innovative combat-proofing of a Kindle 2 that one mother undertook for her son in Iraq.
  • Accessories. I really didn't use any Kindle accessories, save for the leather case. A number of people have asked me about lights for the Kindle. I'd actually recommend getting a headlamp instead, as it can be used for many different applications, such as reading your Kindle, pre-flighting the aircraft, and of course, late-night power outages.
  • Shipping. The last I remember, the Kindle is not shipped to APO addresses, which means it can't get from Amazon's headquarters to Iraq or Afghanistan. You'll need to ship the Kindle to a friend or family member, and have it shipped to you in order to read books.
  • Reading lists. Here are a few reading lists for all occasions to get you started...

The Kindles were quite popular in Iraq, particularly in the "ADACGs" (Airfield Departure and Arrival Control Groups--basically, military air terminals at forward operating bases, where troops might sit for days waiting on a flight). The ability to use the Kindle's charger in both 110V and 220V outlets is also a definite plus, as well.

So there you have it. I need to caveat this by stating that I haven't tried the Barnes and Noble Nook, nor the new Apple tablet thingy, so I can't comment on their utility in Iraq or Afghanistan. Please don't hesitate to weigh in if you've used either the Nook or the Apple Tablet in Afghanistan or Iraq.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Feedback from some returned deployers: For some of the smaller FOBs, internet is available. However, it's agonizingly slow and it's entirely possible that Afghan contractors will accidentally cut the cables while doing construction, leaving you internet-free.