Using the Kindle in Tokyo, Japan as a “Poor Man’s iPad”


Kindle in TokyoAs noted in a previous post, I am using my trusty Kindle in Tokyo, Japan(Amazon Kindle DX 2 – the older version, without Wi-Fi),. I use the built in Whispernet connection only occasionally to view the Amazon store and download books. For most other Kindle in Tokyo services, I download files to my laptop, and then transfer the files to the Kindle via the USB cable. I used my Kindle this way because there is a service charge for using the Kindle in Tokyo to download personal files. From the Amazon website:
Whispernet Service Options and International Fees
Fees for some services available via Whispernet may apply depending on where you live and access Whispernet. We also provide FREE options for each of these services if you choose not to access Whispernet.
Personal Document Service
·         Kindle (U.S. Wireless) users: We'll send personal documents to your Kindle viaWhispernet while inside the U.S. wireless coverage area for a fee of $.15 per megabyte.
·         Kindle (Free 3G) user living in the United States: If you transfer personal documents to your Kindle via Whispernet while inside the U.S., the fee is $ .15 per megabyte. When traveling outside the United States, a fee of $.99 per megabyte will apply.
·         Kindle (Free 3G) user living outside the United States: We'll send personal files to your Kindle via Whispernet for a fee of $ .99 (USD) per megabyte anywhere in the world you access Whispernet service.
·         FREE transfer of personal documents: You can send your personal documents via e-mail as attachments to “name” We'll convert them to a Kindle-compatible format and deliver them to your computer at the e-mail address associated with your account login. You can then transfer the document to your Kindle using your USB connection.

Looking at that “$.99 per megabyte” charge, I decided to avoid using my Kindle in Tokyo as a “Poor Man’s iPad”. However, my research has shown that the fee does not apply to all services. It appears that the Experimental Web Browser is exempt from these fees.

While reading the always interesting My Money Blog, I saw a post that touched on the same subject. The post was about getting discounts on the Amazing Amazon Kindle. In the comments section were questions about using the Kindle in Tokyo or overseas. Several readers chimed in and noted that the Kindle can be used in a lot of countries. I added comments noting that I have personally used the Kindle Whispernet connection in the US, Colombia, South America, and Japan.
Jonathan, the blog’s host, asked if we could use the Kindle to check email and various web sites using the Experimental Browser built in to the Kindle. I had never tried that, having access to a laptop. The question intrigued me, so I performed a series of tests of the Kindle Experimental Browser, from my Tokyo location.

Kindle in Tokyo: How it works for me

The built in Browser worked fine, if slowly, over the Whispernet connection. I was able to search and view websites. My Google page came up as Google’s US page instead of the local Japanese page. This is probably the result of registering my Kindle in the US prior to coming here.
I then visited Gmail and was able to view my messages and even send a short test message to prove email sending worked over the Whispernet connection.
I struggled to read my emails and found that I needed to change the Browser setting from Basic to Advanced. This is done via Menu -> Settings -> Switch to Advanced Mode. After making this change, my emails were much more readable.
My research indicated that Google now has a mobile optimized site. The site has links to mobile optimized versions of most of Google’s offerings, including Gmail. The site’s URL is:
Unfortunately, as soon as I tried to use the mobile optimized site, I received a message stating, “Sorry, the Gmail application is not supported on your Kindle 2. However, you can try installing the J2ME version, but it may not work correctly on your device.” The newer Kindle versions will be able to use the mobile optimized site. And, as noted above, you can still view Gmail through the web browser. I was also not able to download and install the J2ME application as the Kindle only allows certain types of downloads.
While browsing the web and using Gmail appear to be free (for the moment), I will keep a close watch on my Amazon account to ensure no extra charges show up. Downloads, as opposed to web browsing, are on the pay per megabyte plan shown above.
Amazon also has the option of transferring, via Whispernet, your newspaper, magazine, and blog subscriptions for a weekly fee. From the Amazon website:
U.S. Customers Accessing Whispernet Outside the United States
Kindle (Free 3G) customers from the United States can travel internationally and still get books in less than 60 seconds. Customers have the option to wirelessly receive periodicals via Whispernet for a fee or transfer files from their computer for free.
·         International Subscription Service: Receive all of your newspaper, magazine, and blog subscription content via Whispernet for a weekly fee of $4.99.
·         FREE transfer of Kindle Store purchases: Select “Transfer via Computer” from the Deliver to: pull-down menu on the product detail page at the time of purchase. We'll save the item to your computer so you can copy it to your Kindle via the USB connection. 
Since I only have two magazine subscriptions, I decided to forego the weekly fee.
Note that these fees only apply to Whispernet connections. If you have the newer, Wi-Fi model Kindle, you will be able to connect and download just as if you were in the US, as long as you are in a Wi-Fi Hotspot.
Of course, the problem with doing these tests is that now I am lusting after the latest Wi-Fi Kindle. Now that I know the newer model has a better browser and Wi-Fi, at the current $139.00 price it is almost irresistible.


Overall, Using Kindle in Tokyo as a “Poor Man's iPad” is not a bad idea after all.