Living the Well-Connected Life

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I didn't attend prep school with the Kennedys or schmooze my way into high society. But these days I'm feeling extremely well connected, thanks to mobile devices like Amazon's Kindle e-book reader and the Dash Express GPS.

What's unique about these gizmos is that they maintain a constant Internet connection, so I don't have to load a browser, wait for a connection, and then hunt down information on a tiny screen. They simply pull down data and present it to me when I ask for it.

In a few years, I believe, all mobile devices will be constantly connected. But I hope that the manufacturers of those devices will take appropriate steps to avoid some of the kinks found in the Dash Express and the Kindle.

Kindling Desire

Even voracious readers don't need a constant bookstore feed. So while you can use the WhisperNet connection of Amazon's Kindle Whispernet to download e-books, the device's real value is as a mobile blog and news reader. You can subscribe to nearly 350 blogs and more than 30 newspapers and magazines readable on the Kindle, sans advertisements. But at $1 to $2 a month per blog and up to $14 a month for selected articles from publications like the New York Times, the bill totes up fast.

The $359 Kindle also functions as a mobile Internet browser, though Amazon makes almost no mention of this important feature. You can call up virtually any Web site (including ones that charge a subscription fee), but they don't always display well, and my connection was inconsistent and slow (your mileage may vary). When it did work, it was great.

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