Monday, November 21, 2011

Fire Burning in My Hands

I'm a spoiled child. A grown child, but a spoiled one nonetheless. See, my mother knows me very well. She knows I love gadgets and such and that I take care of my things (in other words, she can buy me something and know that it won't broke within a week). So when Amazon announced the new Kindle Fire, without me even having to ask, my mother bought me one. She intended to give it to me for Christmas, but since it arrived so soon (she thought it would have been delayed), she decided to just give it to me now.

And I couldn't be happier!

Here it is:

Beautiful right?  Yeah, I know!

When I mentioned I was getting the Fire as a gift, I received a lot of requests to "tell me what you think of it."  Who am I to say no?  I think I've played with it enough over the weekend to give a bit of a review.

I will start with the bad to get it out of the way.

  • My biggest issue is that the Fire is wi-fi only. I'm one of those instant gratification people and if I have something that can connect to the internet then I want it immediately.  I don't want to have to go searching for a wi-fi hotspot. Then I thought about. Aside from when I'm out in the street, walking around (and obviously NOT using the Fire), everywhere I am, or would be, has a wi-fi connection - work, school, Starbucks, library, and, soon, even the subways. So really I'm covered. I can get over it.  And if worse come to worst then I can always turn my phone on and make it a hotspot.
  • The glare.  I've gotten used to my regular Kindle (which I will NOT stop using) and it's wonderful glare-free screen.  It's not horrible, but just slightly annoying. I haven't tried it in the sun, but I'm sure it will be a bit problematic. But... I got used to it with my phone, I'll get used to it with the Fire.
  • There isn't an easy way to access the internal storage. Granted, you couldn't do this with the regular Kindle either (then again, the interface there was pretty much the file management tool), but since this is a tablet which has more functionality, it should be easy to access. The only workaround I've found was to download a file manager app. This solved the problem, but really, it shouldn't have been an issue in the first place. Of course, the reason I even had to do this...
  • When you transfer documents, videos, photos, from your computer to your Fire, they are supposed to go into their appropriate tabs based on their file extension. I've noticed, though, that some files do NOT even appear. They are stored in the Fire, but just not visible.  This happens most with .DOC files.  I wanted to save my resume on the Fire (hey, you never know when you're out and someone wants a copy of it), but it doesn't appear in the Documents tab (where personal docs would go) though I can access it using the ThinkOffice app (which comes with the Fire) or Documents to Go (which I downloaded). Also of note, if you create a document, it doesn't appear in the Documents tab.  Boo!!!
  • Minor pet peeves: The Recent Items Carousel feature is pretty cool, except it's always on the Home screen and you cannot hide it or delete items from it, so be careful with what you read and watch.  If you let someone else use it, they may see that you've recently viewed something, ahem, naughty.
  • Another minor issue is that the Fire, while it comes with the charger, does NOT come with a USB connector like the regular Kindle to easily transfer files from your computer to your Fire. I was lucky enough to have one (well two, because of my Kindle and my phone), but for those that do not, you can work around this by emailing any documents/videos/other files to your Kindle Fire email (generated when you register) and syncing the items to your Fire when you have a wifi connection again.
  • One last, really minor issue - not all the apps are available for the Fire yet. This isn't a big deal for me since I'm not much of an app girl, but for others that love their apps or can't live without certain apps, just be advised that some may not work just yet.  I'm sure that will be handled soon as apps get updated though, so don't fret too much.
So,did I scare you away?  I hope not.  Here's what's good and wonderful about it, in no particular order.

  • It's beautiful! Okay, I got that out of the way...
  • It's not heavy at all and it's nice and small (small enough to fit in my petite hands), but substantial enough that you know you have it with you at all times.
  • You get ONE month FREE of Amazon Prime! Okay, that's not a lot and we all know Amazon does this to suck you in and buy Prime after the month is up, but really, it's worth it (and $79/year for Prime? that's not so bad). And if you don't want to pay for prime, well there's a Netflix app and it works lovely.
  • Apps are easy to download and they download fairly quickly (as long as your wifi connection is strong enough).
  • The Recent Items Carousel, despite what I said above, is pretty cool.  You don't have to go searching for a document, book, or video again, it'll be front and center (assuming, of course, it hasn't been weeks since you've last viewed it).
  • Books, documents, etc. are bookmarked just as in the regular Kindle, remembering your place when you last viewed it.
  • Email set up was a breeze (for AOL and GMail) and, you can sync your GMail contacts to your Fire. I assume you can do this with the other email servers, but most, if not all of my contacts are on GMail anyway so I never bothered to check.
  • It's able to recognize a load of files, the list is here: recognized files. It still doesn't support EPUB, but it does read MOBI.
  • The video and sound quality are excellent. I tested a video on the Netflix app and it was very clear. Little, if no, pixelation at all, which means the resolution is awesome.  As for the sound, I didn't test to see how loud it was since, for the most part, I will use my headphones with it anyway.
  • The reader is pretty amazing. You can change the size and font of the text (for MOBIs, AZWs only of course, no PDFs) to your preferred style, which I thought was pretty cool.  But even better was the text/background change. You can have black on white, white on black, or brown on beige, which looks most like a page from a paperback. With PDFs, you can use the finger squeeze (or whatever it's called, I swear I'm a techie!) to enlarge or shrink the page.
  • Cloud access is quick (assuming, again, a strong wifi connection) and this also gives you an additional 5GB of storage on top of the 8GB (really 6.5GB with the OS taking up the rest), or more if you choose to pay for it. 
  • The web browser is like most any browser.  It loads quickly, though it will load a mobile version first if it's available, but you can always change this to the regular page. The browser is tabbed also so you can open up several pages at a time.
I can't think of anything else right now, but if I do, I may or may not update this.  Also, anybody reading this (and any Amazon people reading this), if you can answer any of my issues above (maybe I'm missing something), please let me know.  I assume things will get better as Amazon receives feedback from their customers, but really, there are few improvements needed which is pretty darn good for their first attempt at a tablet.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go play with Fire...


  1. hmmm.... I'm sticking with my Nook. I dont want a tablet yet... too much "stuff"

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