I’ve owned a Kindle for a couple of years now. I love it. I have since it first arrived and though I love my paper books and my full bookcase, most of my book reading has been on the Kindle over the past year or so. So, when I went to Amazon a few weeks back and saw the Kindle Fire announcement, I was pretty stoked.
Now, I’m not a gotta-have-the-newest-tech kind of guy. Didn’t get an iPhone until last year. (and you’ll only get it from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hands) And even though I love the concept of the iPad and all things Apple, I just can’t imagine what I would use it for so I am iPadless. When I saw the Kindle Fire, I thought, “Wow. That’s cool.” But I didn’t think I’d get one. After spending some time researching the Fire and all of its features, I decided to make the leap and ordered one.
It just arrived and here are my initial thoughts:
First, it shipped and arrived from Amazon about a week before they said it would. Super Saver shipping was free and it took less than 4 days for it to arrive in my mail box – here in Alaska, no less.
I opened the box. It contained: 1 Kindle Fire device. 1 charging cord. 1 playing-card sized card with quick start instructions. Huh. Simplicity in its purest form.
I knew I had to register the thing so I anticipated a lengthy process involving passwords and possibly a call or email to tech support. Well, Amazon came through yet again (like they always seem to do for me). I hit the “on” button and it fired up, automatically downloaded the latest software and registered the Fire to my account. Bam! I didn’t have to do a danged thing. Off to a good start, me thinks.
It’s important to take a moment to talk about Amazon Prime. One of the features and a big selling point is the inclusion of a free one month Amazon Prime membership with your Kindle Fire purchase. Your free month starts automatically, as soon as you fire up your Fire for the first time. When your free month is up, the annual fee is $79 if you choose to continue.
Amazon Prime benefits include:
- Access to over 10,000 TV shows and movies
- Free 2 day shipping for all your Amazon purchases
- Access to the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library
10,000 TV Shows and Movies
I have to admit that this was one of the reasons I bought the Fire. I’ve already spent a lot of time looking at what’s available. If you’re looking for first run, current movies as part of your Amazon Prime membership then you will likely be a bit disappointed. If quirky, sometimes classic, sometimes “B” movies are your thing then you are going to feel right at home. Sample titles: A Clockwork Orange, Time Bandits, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The TV shows are every bit as eclectic as well: Lost, Gilligan’s Island, 24, The Wonder Years.
Before you purchase the Fire, go to Amazon and you can look at and search for virtually all of the Amazon Prime titles.
Free 2 Day Shipping
A no brainer, really. No price minimum like there is with Super-Saver shipping.
Kindle Owner’s Lending Library
Every month, you can download and read one free Kindle book. There are lots of titles available and quite a few of them are best sellers.
Okay, on to the rest of the review.
The first real test happened within a few hours of registering. My 8 year old daughter (who was more excited than I was about getting this, I think) got home from school and immediately wanted to download a movie. I went to the video section for her and she took it from there. She started streaming “The Iron Giant” all on her own with *zero* help from me.
Here is how the videos work: Amazon Prime titles are streamed. This means you have to be connected to a wireless source. Amazon Prime titles cannot be downloaded to watch later. You have to stream them. This differs from the other movies and tv shows available for rent or purchase on Amazon in that those things that you rent or purchase can be streamed from the cloud or downloaded to the device for future viewing. Being able to download to the device is kind of a big deal for those of us who have kind of a sucky internet provider plan that sticks it to you for usage overages. Being one of those unfortunate souls, I plan to use the “free” wireless at coffee shops and such to download any purchased movies and otherwise occasionally stream an Amazon Prime show. Along these lines (and it is not a criticism of the Fire), it would be nice to know how much data a particular movie or TV show is prior to downloading or streaming. Thus far, I can’t figure out how to figure that out.
Truly, the thing I will use the Fire for the most is as an e-reader. I have a bunch of Kindle books already and like I said, it is how I read most of my books these days. The Kindle Fire kicks all previous versions to the curb. Big time.
When you go to the Books tab, all of your Kindle titles are there. Now, they are all in the cloud, so they are not in your device yet. If there is a title you want to read, you have to tap on the cover and it will then download to your device. Also, with the Whisper-Synch technology, the book will be synched to the last page read, even if you started the title on your earlier Kindle.
There are a lot of improvements over previous Kindle devices. The most significant improvement is the ease of use in terms of changing the font size and such. Tap the screen and the menu is right there. Change font size, typeface and the background color. You can customize your reading experience and ain’t that grand.
One of the things I’ll have to get used to is the screen. Much like an iPhone, there is a definite glare. It hasn’t affected my reading experience yet, but I need to try it under different light conditions.
- The touch screen works pretty well, but it doesn’t tend to work as smoothly as the iPhone.
- I would like to see a scroll bar. There isn’t one and I’m used to having it.
- Even when you put the Fire in “sleep” mode, it appears the battery drains and I haven’t figured out if it still stays connected to the wireless in sleep mode.
- You can load videos, music and pictures from your PC to the Fire using a micro-USB cable.
- I love how you can watch or read things in wide screen just by turning the Fire sideways.
- I haven’t had the Fire long enough to know about battery life yet. I’ll probably end up posting another review after I’ve had it a month or so. This also goes for the web function. I’ll play with it and let you know.
I’m pretty happy with the Kindle Fire so far. For 200 bucks I think it’s a good deal. Also, my sense is that I will sign up for the Amazon Prime once my free trial is done.
If you have been on the fence about getting the Kindle Fire, I hope this helps.
Please feel free to leave specific questions in the comment section