Kindle's Wi-Fi Limitations

by Aaron Parson

One of its main selling points, the Amazon Kindle line of e-book readers supports Internet connectivity for downloading books and browsing websites. Though the device can access most of the Web, it is limited in the types of content it can display. The Wi-Fi-only models can only access the Internet when they're near a router, as opposed to the models that include 3G connectivity.

Internet Connectivity

Amazon Kindle models with only Wi-Fi connectivity sell for less than models with a 3G modem, but have the major limitation of only supporting an Internet connection while in range of a wireless hotspot or home wireless router. Beyond just Web browsing, this means unlike models with 3G, Wi-Fi Kindles cannot download new books nor sync your reading with your Amazon.com account while on the go.

Wi-Fi Adapter Limitations

The Wi-Fi adapter in the Amazon Kindle supports connections to home wireless routers and gateways that use B-, G- and N-type wireless connections at the 2.4Ghz frequency. Because the Kindle does not support the 5Ghz frequency, it cannot work with routers that exclusively use the older Wireless-A nor Wireless-AC modes, nor on the 5Ghz channel of Wireless-N routers. The Kindle also does not support enterprise router systems commonly found in offices.

Browser Limitations

The Kindle Web browser supports the majority of websites, but it cannot run Adobe Flash content or Web video, nor content that requires other plugins such as Java or Silverlight. The Kindle browser includes a limited ability to download files, only supporting books with the AZW, AZW1, MOBI and PRC extensions, as well as text files. While browsing the Web, switching to the mobile version of a website may alleviate any compatibility issues with the Kindle.

Advanages and Workarounds

The largest advantage to using a Kindle on Wi-Fi is unlimited browsing. Though Amazon.com provides free 3G service to supported models, it limits Web browsing to 50MB of data per month. Wi-Fi connections have no such limit. Amazon.com recommends users use a network of free Wi-Fi hotspots set up by AT&T to avoid this limitation or connect while out of the house on a Wi-Fi-only model.

About the Author

Aaron Parson has been writing about electronics, software and games since 2006, contributing to several technology websites and working with NewsHour Productions. Parson holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

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