Can You Use Your eReader Without Wi-Fi?
December 20, 2013 | 3:14 pm
By Joanna Cabot
Several users at Mobileread are reporting issues with their Paperwhites now that the Kindle ecosystem is managing collections through the cloud. A few people are complaining that the ‘cloud’ aspect is forcing them to wade through content they don’t care for—for instance, a collection belonging to a spouse or child who shares their account, which previously would be local to that user’s device only. A few others who prefer to sideload their books and keep Wi-Fi access minimized are reporting that their reading experience is being interrupted by nags from the device to connect to Wi-Fi so it can update the collections.
I have not seen these problems personally because I have been using a Kobo for some time. But I do feel the pain of the Wi-Fi-less eReader user. My Kobo is just fine as a non-connected reader once it’s been set up, but the setup—which is compulsory—does require both an internet connection and a Kobo account. You can’t get past that first welcome screen unless you do it. That might seem like a small issue, but there have been a few times when I have been out with the reader, it’s crashed and I’ve had to reset it. I had sideloaded books on there I could have gone straight back to on the bus ride home, but it wouldn’t let me into my library until I had hooked it up with my Kobo account online, so my reader was useless for the rest of the day and I spent my commute reading subway ads.
I appreciate that Kindle (and Kobo, and Nook) all have bookstore ecosystems which are meant to be part of the experience, and that they don’t per se intend for you to go off on your own somewhere and leave their little walled garden. Indeed, the posters in that thread who have the wireless always on and who only buy their books from the Kindle store had no complaints with their experience. But I do think that many readers still appreciate an off-line option. I have been leaving my Kobo connected, for the most part, because I have been making use of the new Pocket feature. But I do appreciate that I at least have the option to go out into the city, away from my comfy home Wi-Fi network, and read a book without getting nags from my device to go and find a Wi-Fi signal. Aside from the setup issue, which I do think is annoying but which thankfully does not come up very often, the Kobo seems quite happy to let me go online when I want to and stay off-line when I want to as well.