There are many misconceptions about international use of the Kindle Fire. Some people believe that the device simply will not work beyond the boundaries of the USA, others that you won’t be able to download books or browse the web.
In truth, there are restrictions to using a Kindle Fire in territories in which it isn’t currently available. However Amazon would be shooting themselves in the foot if they prevented its use – after all, it is basically an eBook reader – anywhere except the USA.
Let’s take a look at just what the situation is with using the Android-based Kindle Fire overseas.
I’m American and I’m Travelling with my Kindle Fire
If you purchased your Kindle Fire with a view to saving space and weight penalties when travelling, you would be pretty disappointed to find that you don’t have the ability to read books and watch videos on it!
Fortunately, this isn’t the case.
However if you are expecting to be able to purchase, say, Jurassic Park 3 from Amazon Prime to watch while travelling in Scotland, think again. Movie and music purchases are not available while you’re out of the USA.
(There are some users who claim that this can be overcome by ensuring that one-click ordering is activated and a US-based credit card and billing address is selected on your Amazon account.)
In this situation, you should purchase what you plan to watch before travelling and then download to your device. Books are a different situation, usually, although there are a few that might be region blocked. Should this occur, arranging for someone to login to your Amazon account back home – or connecting to your US-based PC via remote desktop – should allow you to purchase the title.
I’m European and Received my Kindle Fire as a Gift
Things are a little different if you’re European. Many people received Kindle Fire eBook reader tablets as gifts for Christmas, only to find that use of the device was restricted to browsing the web and reading books.
After setting up your Kindle Fire (thereby removing the US address of the buyer) you will find that media downloads are unavailable in the UK and Europe. Only eBooks purchased from the Kindle Store can be bought and downloaded to your device.
Fortunately you can browse the web, receive email and install apps from third party locations, although access to the Amazon App Store is blocked outside of the USA.
How the Restrictions Work
Restrictions using the Kindle Fire outside of America are controlled using two criteria. First is the credit card address saved on your Amazon account, which will of course give the Kindle a good idea of which country you are in. However if you have purchased a movie to download in the USA you would expect that it can be downloaded in the UK.
Sadly this isn’t the case as the Kindle Fire is able to block downloads from Amazon based on the Wi-Fi network you are connected to, due to differences in the way wireless hubs in the UK and USA allocate channels.
Overcoming Region Blocking
Region blocking can be overcome on your Kindle Fire using a service such as www.unblock-US.com, which is $4.99 per month and which offers a 7 day trial. Sign up to this before making the following changes – if you’re unhappy with the service, remember to cancel before billing commences.
In order to use it, however, you will need to install a second browser onto the Kindle Fire. One good option is Dolphin Browser HD which can be installed to your Kindle Fire via http://www.androidfreeware.net/get-dolphin-browser-hd.html – select the Mirror download option, ensuring that the Settings > More… > Device > Allow Installation of Applications option is set to On.
With Dolphin Browser HD installed, open Settings > More… > Wireless Network and select the active network, where you should make a note of the IP address.
Tap the darkened background area to close the box and then select Advanced Settings > Static IP settings > Use static IP, which you should switch to On.
Set your IP address as per the note taken earlier and enter the router IP which is typically the same as the device IP but with the last number set to 1 (i.e. if your device is 123.456.789.15 then the router would be 123.456.789.1).
Next, enter the Subnet Mask which is almost always 255.255.255.0. Finally, enter the DNS details for unblock-US.com:
DNS 1: 184.108.40.206
DNS 2: 220.127.116.11
Finally, click Home and then head to http://check.unblock-us.com/ in the Dolphin Browser HD to confirm connection.
You will then be able to use services such as Hulu, Netflix and Pandora on your Amazon Kindle Fire (assuming you have the apps installed) and enjoy streamed video and music!
Installing Apps – Could be Troublesome
Although apps are the lifeblood of most tablet systems – and there are many available for the Kindle Fire – you should note that outside of North America you will be unable to download apps via the default location, the Amazon App Store (Kindle Fire tablets ship without access to the Android Market).
Any apps that have already been downloaded and installed should work without any major problems, however.
Our previous guide on installing Android apps onto the Kindle Fire should give you all the answers you need.
Sadly the limitations of the Kindle Fire are found not in its hardware but in the way it can be used overseas. For an eBook reader and multimedia tablet this is particularly disappointing.
Ultimately the sooner the Amazon Kindle Fire is released beyond the USA the better for all owners.