The Kindle eReader has long come with unrestricted 3G access on its more expensive models. This has been such an expected option that when Amazon stopped offering the feature on the newer Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch models it shocked many of us. Fortunately, for those who are still interested in the service, there is always still the Kindle Keyboard 3G. While they aren’t really being pushed as a current product any longer, Amazon still seems to have plenty of the older model with its unrestricted access available on their site.
The biggest problems with taking advantage of this feature for anything besides simply purchasing from Amazon have been tied to the shortcomings of the eReader itself. The Kindle Keyboard’s 5-Way directional controller is nice enough, but can be incredibly tedious to use. The web browser is extremely basic at best, and will almost certainly enough fail to load important pages or crash completely from time to time under regular use. Still, it is a free lifetime 3G connection that accomplishes the goal of keeping you connected to the Kindle Store no matter where you happen to be. It is hard to complain about that.
What was once just a convenience for people willing to spend some extra money on their initial Kindle purchase might now be a valid thing to keep around for emergencies, however. You see, somebody has finally worked out a way to make this free 3G coverage available to more generally useful devices via a tethering hack. While I won’t go into the details here (this is absolutely warranty-voiding and quite possibly illegal enough for action is abused), hacker Andrew D’Angelo has posted the complete method on his easily searchable personal web site. Using this method, you can now get your PC or laptop onto the internet via the Kindle Keyboard’s cellular connection.
I say that this is an emergency tool specifically because every bit of data sent through this connection runs through Amazon’s proxy servers. You are tagged with a unique ID number that can easily trace unusual activity back to your personal account. Since this is, as mentioned above, rather blatantly in violation of the Terms & Conditions for Kindle 3G use, chances are good that both the connection and the associated account will be shut down before too long at the very least.
This could be great to have around for those situations where a storm takes out the local communications, and I can think of some flooding a while back that I would have loved to have it available for, but it is not a tool for daily use. Still, it might be worth considering the 3G option on any new Kindle purchase now even if you have no interest in it as an aid to your eReader experience. $40 added to the purchase price for a cell connection with no monthly fee running through a device that only runs out of batteries once every month or two is great by itself, but being able to use that connection so fully when you really need to have that available is invaluable.