Friday, December 16, 2011

Tips and Tricks: Using MiFi Mobile Hotspot to Add 3G to Your Kindle Fire

There are a lot of people out there who wish the Kindle Fire had 3G internet access that would allow them to surf, download, and play even if they're out traveling somewhere. Unfortunately, the Fire will always be a WiFi only device, but that doesn't mean you can't get a WiFi signal anywhere you go with a 3G network. How do you do it? By using a MiFi mobile hotspot card.

MiFi Mobile Hotspots are little devices for providing a WiFi signal that are thinner than a pack of playing cards, and people frequently get them in conjunction with the Fire if they know they'll be traveling. Like having a 3G device, there are fees for the amount of usage you use from a phone carrier, and there are a number of these on the market with different options. After looking at the options, there is one that stands out from the rest, the Novatel Wireless MiFi Prepaid Mobile Hotspot from Virgin Mobile.

Now, what I like about this one is that it's a prepaid card, meaning that you only pay for what you use, with the smallest option being $10 for 100MB worth of data. The Novatel MiFi is currently $80.00 off (with free shipping) as well, making it less than you'd pay if the Fire had 3G in the first place. Easy to connect with up to 5 devices, no software to install, easy to add minutes if you're about to take a trip.

If you have Virgin Mobile (Sprint) for your wireless already, that makes it easy too, because you might have an idea of how good the service is in places you already go. There are some negative reviews with some people having to get replacements, but this review from just a few days ago is what convinced me to feature it.

John Huddleson says: "I got this portable wifi hotspot to use with my wife's Kindle Fire and my Samsung Galaxy 7.0 Plus, both of which are equipped with wifi, but no 3g or 4g. Most of the time We have wifi available, both at home and at many locations we visit. Occasionally when we travel wifi is not available, but it's not worth $350 or more per year plus a hefty $ 150 or so extra buy-in for a 3g equipped tablet, to have 3g or 4g always available. This device allows me to purchase 3-4g service in weekly or monthly chunks for a small fee when I'm traveling, only when I need it, to keep up my email, browse the web, "buy from Amazon", etc. Once you complete the setup (admittedly a little complex, but it only has to be done once) it works just like any wifi hotspot in your home, at a businesses, etc. You log in with a secure password, so others can't scam off your connection unless you want them to. You can have up to five devices using the hot spot at the same time and the included Sprint coverage seems to be pretty wide-spread, Sprint got a good rating in the latest CR magazine review of 3-4g services."


Note that there is also a similar Novatel MiFi from Verizon Wireless, but that requires a $60/month contract. 


If you're someone who really feels the lack of 3G with the Kindle Fire because you travel or are often in places without WiFi, this could be the solution for you. It's pretty clear that this isn't perfect technology, though neither is cell service for that matter, but it will give you internet access anywhere you go. 


And since we're talking about WiFi, I can again plug one of my favorite free apps, which everyone should have: WiFi Analyzer. And I just found a great free app to give you a little light in the dark, Candle Free.

10 comments:

  1. When you get the WiFi Analyzer, does it explain what all the numbers mean? How is this helpful if you only have your home wifi?

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  2. Hi maryc, thanks for your question. WiFi Analyzer is most useful when you're choosing between different networks, like if you're at a cafe somewhere and there are different signals. If you just have one network that you always use you might not need it. As for the numbers, they are most likely for the IP address and all that, which does require a little technical knowledge.

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  3. I just got my MiFi from Amazon (thanks for that tip, by the way--I'd been wanting to get one, but wasn't willing to spend $150--Amazon's sale made the price much more reasonable). I'm traveling tomorrow, so it will be a good chance to try it out. I also can't get WiFi at my office, so I'm hoping this will work there, too.

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  4. Glad we could help, Marie. I hope it works out well for you!

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  5. Does this include travel outside of the US? I am interested in options on the KindleFire when traveling to Mexico or the Caribbean.

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  6. Hi Annie, thanks for your question. I'm not 100% sure, but I'm really guessing that it doesn't work for outside the U.S. That said, your Fire will work fine as long as there's Wi-Fi even if it's outside the U.S.

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  7. Hi gadget,
    I was just in Punta Cana where our resort offered wifi in the lobby for a fee. I was not able to connect to it on the Kindle fire. The guy next to me could connect on the iPad. I am seriously considering returning it. It is a brick if you cannot connect with the wi-fi available.

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  8. Hi Annie, there should be no reason why you were unable to connect to a WiFi signal anywhere in the world. I would definitely call customer service about that. It should work fine. Sorry to hear about the trouble!

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  9. Dont know if this is the issue?

    http://gdgt.com/question/does-the-kindle-fire-support-http-proxies-hbg/

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  10. Thanks for sharing that, Annie. I can't say I'm familiar with http proxies and the Fire, but I'm sure that wouldn't be necessary to access WiFi at a hotel somewhere. I'll keep my ears open and do more research on this.

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