Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Playing with Fire: the Kindle Way!

As mentioned in an earlier blog, I now have a Kindle Fire and have had about 3 weeks to play with it.  The Fire is just about the same size as the Kindle 2 that I had been using although it seems a bit heavier.  And I can still use it to download and read books.  But that's about where the resemblance ends.

Rather than using the e-paper technology for the screen that the Kindle 2 did, the Fire uses a color LCD touch screen display.  Text is still very readable; I can read for hours at a time without any strain.  One thing to get used to is that the page buttons on the side of the Kindle 2 are gone and pages are flipped by stoking your finger across the page.  Still easy to do but different.  There are actually no physical buttons now except for the power button.  All of the other controls are done by touching virtual buttons or scrolling on the touch screen.  I think navigation is a bit easier, but not significantly.  Managing the books in your library has become easier though.  The touch screen and graphical interface are much easier to deal with once you get them figured out.

But the Fire does much more that serve as a book reader now.  I can read and write email from both of my personal email accounts on the Fire, although the keyboard is still a bit small for my fingers; I still have to type with my thumbs.  Facebook works very similar to the way it does on my phone, except the screen is bigger and the keyboard is bigger, making status posts easier.  The Fire also includes a web browser allowing me to browse to all of the sites I normally go to, although some are a little out of whack.  And so far anything that requires Flash does not work.

The Fire comes with a free 1 month subscription to Amazon Prime, which provides access to thousands of movies and TV shows which you can stream to the Fire.  The promise of thousands of videos sounds much better than it actually is though.  I have scrolled through the list of movies and TV shows and don't find a great number that I would be interested in watching, but there are some.  Some of them are free with Amazon Prime and others cost from 99¢ to $3.99.  The list of movies and shows are limited to those that Amazon has obtained some rights to, so there are not many that are really current.  But those that are available are easy to stream and watch on the Fire.  I have watched a couple of movies and TV shows and find performance to be very good.  You will likely want to use a pair of ear buds though since the internal speakers are not very loud.

All in all the Fire is a very versatile entertainment device and I have enjoyed it so far.  There are a couple of things to be aware of though.  Where the Kindle 2 could go for a couple of weeks with moderate usage between charges, the Fire will not last nearly so long.  I have not timed it but I would guess about 6-8 hours will run it down.  The other is that to do anything with it other than read a book you will need to have an active WiFi connection.  It definitely needs that access to perform any of its magic.  It would be nice if you could use your cell plan to make connection to the internet, but that is not available at this time.  Although if you have a mobile hot spot with your cell phone you might be able to overcome that inconvenience.

Long story short: I like it a lot.

No comments:

Post a Comment