Sunday, November 20, 2011

First Week with Kindle Fire

My first impressions of the Kindle Fire are quite positive. In most ways, I cannot believe the thing only cost $199. I haven't tried everything, but so far I recommend the Kindle fire.

What I like:
1. Portability: It is easier to carry around than my K2 (even w/Marware case). For my young children, it is a perfect size.
2. Readability: The screen is easier to read than my laptop or the iPad1 for book text.
3. Speed: It is snappy. It makes our iPad1 feel slow
4. Browser: It just works. I need to learn a few more of the 'tricks' though. So expect a later review.
5. Second way to view books. This moved 3 books, already read, to the top of the TBR pile. I rather like searching by covers.
6. Value. The iPad in a child's hands is something one must watch (to keep it safe)
7. Setup. Just remember it will need wifi and a while on the charger for initial patch download.

What I am 50/50 on:
1. Battery life. It is trending towards 7 hours of battery life on mixed use (games and reading). Compare this versus 9+ hours on the iPad1. My family has used up the battery before the day was done. But it was needing a charge after we arrived back home.
2. The onscreen keyboard. Perhaps it is the 7" screen crimping the layout and my man fingers?
3. Eye strain. Its less than a laptop or iPad, but far more than e-ink. I've read three books on the Kindle fire with far less stain than other (non-Nook) LCDs. I intend to keep the K2 for most book reading.
4. Screen size. I love the portability, but the screen in landscape mode is only as wide as the iPad's in portrait. It is perfect for books. Ok, for simple games (angry birds, etc.), ok for browsing (in landscape only), and... Its ok.

What I do not like:
1. Highlighting text in the browser is done how? This crimps participating in blogs. In fact, I spend too much time on blogs to ever have a tablet be more than a second computer. This is true of our iPad and certainly true of the Kindle Fire.
2. No SD card slot. This would make life much easier.
3. Some of the commands have too small a difference between one command and the other and thus it is almost random
4. How do you turn off ordering without a password? Seriously, my three year old has figured out the store. How do I loan her the Fire without finding a hundred new apps, books, and videos loaded? I worry about the Amazon store integration too when loaning to a young child...

What I haven't tried:
1. Sideloading. So much of my Amazon content was available I haven't needed to yet. I will be moving over my mp3 collection soon as well has home videos.
2. Organizing my books. I'm just not seeing an easy way, so I'll have to Google how to do it. I wish my K2's collections had moved over... :( Why repeat that work...
3. Videos. We already, through other means, have free shipping from Amazon. I haven't been able to justify paying for Prime for the videos... I might in the future.

I've read some negative reviews on the Fire I just do not get. Ok, the navigation isn't iPad navigation; it took me a day to find all the tricks. If you've never used an iPad/iPhone, the controls will be just as easy to learn as Apple's. There are some quirks with the control interface, but only that notable if you come over from the iPad. The Fire isn't an iPad replacement; it is so cheap and portable it creates a new category that I believe will sell far more units.

In price, it competes with the 8GB iPod touch. But doing "screen area is proportional to diagonal squared," I couldn't imagine doing more than a 'snap read' on a 3.5" screen. Most of those I know who read on smartphones become annoyed at the page turns after ten to fifteen minutes of reading (the format doesn't 'fade away' as with a Kindle e-ink). With the Kindle Fire, it is suitable for an hour or two of reading. That said, for long reads I will turn it off and return to the K2.

For kids books, it is excellent! However, my three year old isn't able to navigate as easy as the iPad1. For books with graphs, the Kindle Fire works well too.

I've found is that due to its portability it is far more useful. It fits in my coat pockets or cargo pant pockets (again, it is smaller than a K2) so it is far more likely to travel than our iPad. My one regret? It doesn't have a cell phone interface! If it did (and a camera w/more flash storage), it would be an ideal convergence device.

I expect the Kindle Fire to sell out. For the price, it is that good.

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