Take Your Kindle 2 or Kindle DX Online with Whispernet - dummies

Take Your Kindle 2 or Kindle DX Online with Whispernet

One of the best features of the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX is their ability to connect wirelessly to the Kindle Store and other Web sites through a network called Whispernet. The Kindle isn’t a fully-functional Web browser, but it lets you browse Wikipedia and other text-oriented Web sites, where you can check your e-mail and perform other common functions.

It’s hard to overstate the significance of Whispernet, so it bears emphasis: the Kindle gives you free wireless access to the Web. And you don’t have to pay a monthly fee to use your Kindle to go online. You can use it to check your e-mail or browse a few Web sites without having to download any books or newspapers at all, if that’s what you want. It’s not the richest Web experience, but when you’re in a pinch, it’s pretty cool that your e-book reader can do double duty as a simple Web browser.

Whispernet is just a fancy term for Amazon’s brand of wireless technology as implemented in the Kindle. Whispernet makes use of the high-speed network established by the wireless cell phone provider Sprint. This network, in turn, uses EVDO technology, which is faster than other mobile wireless networks.

You’ll find a coverage map for Sprint’s EVDO network at www.showmycoverage.com. You need to be in Sprint’s coverage area to go online with your Kindle. Cell phone coverage changes regularly, and you might find that there’s coverage in some areas at all.

On the Kindle, the wireless status indicator — a set of bars like those commonly displayed on cell phones — appears near the top-right corner of the screen when you’ve turned on the wireless function. The more bars you have, the stronger the signal.

No wireless coverage versus better wireless coverage.
No wireless coverage versus better wireless coverage.

There’s high-speed coverage, and then there’s really high-speed coverage. The quality of your coverage depends on your location. When you activate a menu (by pressing the Menu button), your wireless status is indicated by a 1X or 3G icon that appears to the left of the wireless coverage bars on the top line of the Kindle screen. The Kindle uses the 3G network when it’s available; otherwise it uses the slower 1X RTT network. You may want to pay attention to the quality of your network if you’re preparing to download a large file or perform another time-consuming task; the process will go faster if you’re on the 3G network.

To maximize battery life, you may want to turn off the Kindle’s wireless function. You do so by pressing the Menu button, using the five-way controller to underline Turn Wireless On/Off, and then pressing the controller. When wireless is turned off, you see the word OFF on top of the coverage bars. To turn wireless back on, choose the Turn Wireless On/Off option again.