Soooo, I bought me one of those new-fangled Kindle Fires a short while back, have had it now for a couple of weeks. Before we go any further I must disclose that I am utterly unable to speak in technical terms on these types of technical things. I know that it’s a tablet device and it has many fun computer-ish and internet-ish things. If you’re wanting anything much more than that on it’s innards and whatnot, you’d best get on over to its product page on Amazon, or visit the unofficial-yet-might-as-well-be-official Blogosphere tech guru, Jane of Dear Author. She’s already done at least two or three useful posts that I know of (How is she getting screenshots of the devices? I feel stoopid). I’m afraid I can only convey my feelwings and observations of my Kindle Fire, aka, Honey Child.
Angry Birds. I’m new to this one. It has sucked me in completely due to two of its versions being free apps. The Kindle plays this very well, except for when the app freezes, which isn’t Honey Child’s fault. Someone please come wrestle this device away from me if I go beyond thirty minutes of Angry Bird anger. The first time I played for two hours and didn’t even realize it till the next day. Time suck to say the least. Also, I am a weak, weak panda.
It gets a little heavy the longer you hold it (you just start to notice it the longer you hold it), but maybe I just have weak, sissy-baby wrists. After all, it’s been a while since I lifted my fellow cheerleaders into those pyramid formation thingies back in high school. My solution, rest Honey Child whenever possible on the fat, cushy arm rest of my living room couch, and hold it carefully while reading in bed because it has the potential to smack me just as hard in the face as a regular book. I have way too much experience with this, so…yeah. A Game of Thrones, even as a paperback, hurts when colliding with your face, and I think Honey Child would just as much.
The screen does have some glare. Depending on the amount of light hitting it, it might have a lot of glare. It’s not that lovely e-ink technology, but I don’t read in high light situations, so this isn’t really a problem for me. If you like to read outside on bright, sunny days, find some shade and read there.
The screen, at times, is hyper sensitive to touch. Yes, I knew going in that it was a touchscreen model, but I didn’t realize it would try to perform acrobatics when I touched it. This does make for reading a book, for example, a tad annoying. If I accidentally touch the screen the least little bit while holding the device, it flips pages and it’s not always easy to find my place again. I kind of wish Honey Child’s outer edges were a tad wider due to this so it was more comfortable to hold it and not touch that uber sensitive, cry-baby screen. A good case to hold it in might solve this, but the one I bought isn’t great for holding up while reading in bed.
On the other hand, when it’s on the home page of the device, the screen is surprisingly not as sensitive. I have to tap most apps or book covers multiple times usually to get them to activate. Not a huge deal, really, but it’s just weird what with how sensitive the screen is at other times.
It’s very distracting. If you want one for reading books, but you worry that all the other kewl things it can do will distract you from that endeavor, you’d be right. I will reference once again my new-found addiction to Angry Birds, which I’ve probably spent most of my time doing on it.
On the other hand, it’s still kewl that it can even do all those other things. Websites look beautiful on it, but not all handle the zooming in on of said sites well. It’s a little glitchy with some, but I’m not sure if that’s due to the device or the sites. I’m guessing it’s the sites and how heavy they are on graphics. Maybe.
Despite this distracting tendancy, I won’t be buying an extra regular Kindle just for reading books – as was suggested would probably be the case by an Amazon rep in an article I read somewhere.
App availability is very so-so so far to almost poor. I tried looking up several, and ones such as Gourmet, Foodgawker and several others that interest me personally just aren’t available for the Android platform that this model runs. That may or may not necessarily be Kindle’s fault. Android is apparently not an easy platform to develop for due to there being so many versions of it out there (it’s not regulated as Apple’s platform is). Therefore, a lot of developers don’t want to touch it. Therefore, it’s hard to even get a developer to develop an Android app. This info came to me via a coworker who works in developing apps for my day job company. That makes sense to me, but again, not sure who is to blame entirely. So far, most of the apps seem to be of the useless or purely mindless game type and don’t interest me. So if someone asks me what apps would be good to download for their Kindle Fire, all I can tell you is I’d like to know as well.
The apps I do have that I like so far are Yahoo’s one for mail – very easy to set up and use; Seesmic for viewing and interacting on Twitter – I usually use tweetdeck on my computer, but am enjoying Seesmic; Goodreads – I think the iPhone app is better made, but the Android version seems sufficient; MapQuest – it is what it is and seems to work well enough, convenient compared to having to get online to go to Google Maps.
Pulse is an app that comes with the device and seems after not much use so far to be pretty nice. It’s basically like a feed reader as it pulls news and stories from sites’ feeds. You can add, it seems, whatever sites you like to this by going to the Manage Source option available under that little icon that looks like a piece if ruled notebook paper (tap the screen to pull up the menu it’s on – which you do for any of the apps, books, etc. on the device). You can even organize through this feature what order you want them to appear on the app’s home screen or delete if you wish. I added some of my favorite book blogs, and it works the same for them as it does the sites already preloaded on the app (Wall Street Jornal, Techcrunch, Popular science, etc.). I can see this one being particularly useful, especially for all you folks who prefer your feed readers.
That’s all I’ve managed to find so far as useful apps go.
Angry Birds – pure fun and looks GREAT on the Fire. It’s glitchy at times and can freeze up, but a convenient Force Close button will pop up if that happens.
One more thing about apps – at this time you cannot delete the apps that come pre-ready-to-download on the device, that are available on the Cloud storage part of your Fire (Please don’t ask me how that cloud storage thingy works; I only know it’s up there. Somewhere. Storing mai stuffs.). So if you don’t like the Comics one or the ESPN Score thingy one, sorry, it’s not possible to chuck them in the trash. I’m not sure if they’ll allow for that in the future or not. It seems all techy devices come with similar drawbacks these days. I’ve also heard you can download apps from other sources, though Amazon apparently would prefer their customers not know that. I’m sorry to say I don’t know how to do that yet, though. I’ll update if I figure it out.
Battery life is sufficient for my needs, which is about 7-8 hours depending on what you’re using it for mainly. Obviously some functions on it will be more likely to use up the battery faster. Again, see Amazon’s product page, linked above, for more on that.
It plays music very well. At the advice when looking for something ridiculously obnoxious to test this part, one coworker suggested Sexy and I Know It by LMAFO. Yeah – that happened. The speakers, as a different coworkers noted, work better than his Apple sooper computer’s, and my sound wasn’t even all the way up. Purchasing music via Amazon’s MP3 store is as ridiculously easy as their books. In other words – tread carefully lest you empty your bank account in one day via this thing.
I haven’t tried any headphones with it yet, but I suspect they would work just fine. And if I listen to Sexy and I Know It anymore, you bet your sweet self those headphones will be on.
I have had surprisingly nice success trying to read one author’s PDF ARC book, which I downloaded directly from my Yahoo app on the device. It reads very well for me and if I change to the landscape/horizontal position, the text is just large enough for me to read. It is a little more awkward than reading a Kindle-formatted book, of course, but it’s more than I hoped for and light-years better on not making the formatting all craptastic like my Sony Reader does. The only problem is I don’t know where it downloaded the PDF to. It’s not in the Docs section of the device, so I’m not sure if I’ll have to go to my email app to “download” it every time or not. There was no option there to save it to the device, it just immediately began downloading when I clicked on the attachment. I was expecting to be asked whether to save it or not first.
Speaking of orientation, one cool thing is that the device, for some things, will let you view what your wanting to view whichever way you turn the Kindle. Some apps do not support this, however. Such as those Angry Birds.
Oh! The manual that’s ON the Kindle says I need to email my docs to a special Send-to-Kindle email address that comes with the device. I saw that somewhere, now just where. Hmmm. But that’s how that rolls. Thanks, handy manual.
Magazines look just as nice and crisp as websites. Or the one Food Network mag I downloaded does anyway. I’m not at all sure if it is different for individual magazines or if it depends on how each builds their mags for Android. Or if it even has anything to do with Android. I am, without a doubt, unsure of many things. This I am sure of.
But when it comes to using the magazine, and since I cook a lot from ones I get, I’m not sure of the Fire will be that useful to me in the kitchen. I think I’d be too afraid of spilling something sticky or liquidy on it, rendering it dead. And I don’t have a big enough kitchen to put it somewhere safe – I has all the space used most of the time, not to mention my hands are usually messy and who wants to touch a tablet device with be-floured hands. Not to mention you’d have to constantly be bringing the screen back up by activating the slider thingy and disengaging the screensaver. Not terribly convenient.
BUT, if all you want to do is read a magazine on the Fire, it will probably be a good experience for you. Again, the graphics are lovely and you can zoom in and out like you would for a website. It has a menu similar to book with a slider that also pops up page thumbnails below it, making access to any part of the magazine at any time reasonably easy.
The video section seems rather swanky – if you’re an Amazon Prime member you apparently have access to a wide variety of streaming movies for free. Purchased movies start at $2.99, TV shows from $1.99 (I’m guessing that’s per episode).I can see myself purchasing/downloading the new Grimm TV show ( and maybe that Once Upon a Time one) and am excited that being a Prime member gets me some other nice freebies.
I streamed Notting Hill and it started to play very fast. In seconds it was starting with that iconic Federal Warning to not do all kinds of nasties with it. And of course, no annoying commercials or previews (though I love those at the theater) to forward through. Tapping the screen brings up a menu to lower/raise volume or fast-forward (but only if the movie is loaded far enough of course. It continues to load while paused.) Loading is slow, but I’m not sure if that depends on the wireless network you’re connected to or not. There’s also a button in the upper left corner that backs it up 10 seconds. The picture quality is niiiice.
Observation #12 – Closing Thoughts
It’s really just a huge toy at the end of the day. This may not be anything new in tablet revelations, but since I’m new to any kind of tablet, it occurred to me that it’s a glorified toy, albeit one at a more attractive price than the iPad, which will likely never be an option for me in the near future. Though Apple might surprise me.
It can, of course, help cut down on personal consumption of paper products, which is highly appealing to many today.
All that said, I do love it. I’ve made no bones about being a fan of Amazon, and I’m glad I finally got one of their Kindle devices. My sister liked mine so much she ordered one of her own, and my husband and kidlet enjoy it a lot as well. It definitely has something to offer everyone and is as easy to use – for the most part – as Amazon claims.
I’ll probably update this post as I continue to use Honey Child. If you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them, though I remind you that I probably won’t be able to answer any technical questions. If you own one and have any useful info you’d like to share, or just express how you feel about yours, please feel free to do so in the comments. I’d really appreciate it.