Just an update:
Found a Kindle 1 on craigslist here in Vegas for $60 so I grabbed it. Works fine, has a tiny hairline crack on the back (above and to the left of the power switch) but, it's functional, the wireless works fine - I live about 700 feet from a Sprint cell tower so the EVDO signal is about as strong as it can get - and for the time being it'll make the Wife happy.
I'm a bit disappointed in the audio playback, not the quality but the controls which basically are non-existent but, it is
an eBook reader first and foremost. Perhaps if B&N does roll out an improved Nook soon I'll consider getting one for myself and let the Wife take full control of the Kindle.
Thanks again for the input and suggestions...