Last weekend I found out that my Kindle 4, the non-touch, received a software update. One of the new features in this 4.1.0 firmware is an ”improved reading font that is higher contrast and crisper so that you can enjoy a paper-like reading experience”. I must admit to Amazon that it is true. It’s just like this new font is not using interlacing, and is sticking better to the boundaries of the pixels. Something that is very important on an e-ink display.
The second thing that improved for me, which is not in the list, is wireless connectivity. Somehow, with the old software, I was unable to connect the Kindle to my Huawei E5830 MiFi. I still don’t know why, but I tried every possible setting, even unsecured and fixed channel. The latter because the Kindle might be using US WiFi, which doesn’t support channels above 11.
But somehow, somewhy, I tried to connect the updated Kindle to my MiFi again. This time with succes. WPS setup still didn’t work but with a manual setup I got it working.
As a train traveller the Kindle is a great lightweight device with a very good readable screen. The screen exceeds active displays, like the iPad, by miles. And now the experience is even better. Because I do not only have the ability to read my e-books or Instapaper digest. But I can now also read my extensive Google Reader list and the Instapaper website through the onboard “experimental” browser. This experience is so good that almost forget to read my e-books.
The two connect, at least with 4.1.0, at every WiFi channel, including 12 and 13. However, I found out that the MiFi must have an internet connection. The Kindle tries not only to connect to the WiFi but also tries to connect to the internet. If the latter fails the WiFi will also not come up. I won’t downgrade my firmware, but I bet this was also the case with the 4.0.x firmware.
Update (tested and confirmed):
I spend sometime today testing this in my home network. The first test was to allow DHCP for the Kindle, but block it on the firewall to the internet. When I do that I see a successful DHCP session, so normally it should work, but the Kindle says it can not connect to the internet. This is an important notion I didn’t have before, it says the internet and not network or WiFi. Taking this a step further I set up a DNS server on the Raspberry Pi, configured the DHCP server to use that DNS server and used tcpdump on the Pi to see which requests were used. It turned out that the Kindle, when turned on, is asking for cloudfront.com, pins.amazon.com and todo-g7g.amazon.com, in that order. It ends up with a https connection to one of those, but I can’t check, because amazon.com doesn’t have reverse lookups configured.
You need internet connectivity to connect the Kindle to WiFi.