Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fire review

I received my Kindle Fire on November 16 and decided to use it for awhile before posting a review.

The Fire is similar in size to my Kindle 2. The Fire is a bit narrower but twice as thick. It is also much heavier. In general I don't have too much problem with the weight since I usually have it laying on a table or my lap when I'm reading. 

I love that the Fire is a multitasker. I tend to get bored rather easily and like to have multiple options to occupy myself. While the Kindle offers books and some games maybe a little background music, the Fire offers that and much more. The addition of apps makes the Fire a winner. I can check the weather, surf the internet, read and write email, shop and play games. Books download super fast. It is constrained to wi-fi connectivity which is probably the biggest downside I've found. With the addition of 3G this would be killer.

The touch screen took a little getting used to. I hate hate hate the unavoidable fingerprints all over the screen and keep a microfiber cloth in the case to constantly clean it. I did put a screen protector on it as soon as I got it but took it off after a week because it made the screen a tad blurry. Naked, the images are crystal clear although (as you can tell from the picture) the screen is quite reflective which is a problem in sunlight. 

I purchased a hard cover for the Fire to help protect the screen. I chose a convertible cover since the Fire is also an excellent video player. I stream videos all the time. Streaming is smooth (if you notice lagging in your playback, reboot and it will solve the problem). The sound is great with built in stereo speakers (my iPod Touch has horrible, tin-ny sound without external speakers). 

I'm not enamored with the Carousel, the Fire's feature that shows all of your recently accessed content on the top row of the display. You are not able to remove items from the Carousel, hopefully this will be available in a future update. I like to keep my stuff uncluttered and this is quite annoying. The flipping action is also irritating. Although you can see 4 or 5 items on the row you can only open the left most icon and I frequently scroll right past what I need. I generally just ignore the Carousel and tap the menu bar to go to the content I want be it books, apps or web. You can pin favorite apps to your home screen as well. You can see I've got mail, weather, Pulse (blog reader) and You Tube pinned to my first shelf. I'm not sure how many shelves you get since I've not really pinned too much yet.

My last complaint is the power switch. On the Kindle the switch is a slider at the top of the device. It's pretty darn hard to accidentally turn it off. On the Fire the switch is a push button at the bottom of the unit. I have no idea what brainiac came up with this ridiculous idea. I find if I'm holding it like a book I frequently push the button and put my screen to sleep or worse, reboot it. The option, of course, is just to hold it upside down. Once the device is taken out of sleep mode the screen automatically adjusts itself to the orientation you are holding it in. 

All in all I LOVE my Fire. Would I recommend it to replace a Kindle? Depends on what you want to do. The Kindle is by far a better reading device. The screen is much easier on your eyes. Page turning is easier. In my opinion buttons are way easier than tapping at exactly the right spot to turn a page. Plus, I fell asleep reading on my Fire the other night and must have had my finger resting on the screen. I found my spot had jumped from 17% to 85% when I woke up! That couldn't happen on a Kindle. To my surprise (and disappointment) they did not include page numbers on the Fire's reader even though it is available on other Kindle reading apps. The Kindle is much lighter in weight so if you like to read for long periods of time or if your eyesight requires you to hold your book at a certain distance a Kindle would be a much better choice. Another big advantage to the Kindle is being able to organize your library by collections. Fire doesn't offer any user-driven organization of your library (again, hopefully this will come in an update at some point). If you are looking for more of a multi-function device, though, I wholeheartedly recommend the Fire!!

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