Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Kindle Fire (UPDATE)

I've had the new Kindle Fire in my hands for the past few hours now. Here is my first impression: It's a fun, reasonably priced entertainment tablet.

Everyone wants to compare the Kindle Fire with the iPad on a level playing field. You can try, but (in my humble Apple fangirl opinion) the iPad wins hands down. But what about comparing the iPad at $500 with the Fire that sells at $200? When you factor the lower price into the mix, the Fire starts to feel like a pretty good purchase.

After taking advantage of my free one-month trial of Amazon's Prime membership and watching an episode of Grey's, I finally got around to checking out the books section of the device. I had no problem obtaining the Kindle books I'd already purchased or the eBooks I'm currently borrowing from the NHDB library site, but I had some trouble obtaining new library loans checked out directly from the small web browser or from my computer's browser.

[A while later...]

I'm embarrassed to say that it took me a while to figure out how to get the eBooks to load on the Fire. In order for new books to load on the device, you must tap the small settings icon (it looks like a small cog) in the upper-right corner of the device and tap "sync."

And how is it to read on the device? I haven't done more than a page or two of reading, but I'm very impressed with the page formatting. It really does remind me of viewing a page of a book. It's a nice size page for reading. (If you've ever read on the iPad only to think that the page is too wide, you'll probably appreciate the Fire's size.) My complaints are the weight of the device (lighter than the iPad, but significantly heavier than the E-ink Kindle) and the power button at the bottom of the device. (I've turned it off by accident too many times to count already.) I'm not sure how I'll feel about holding it for long periods of time yet.

Just based on the few hours I've had it I'd recommend the following: If possible, try the Fire before buying it. Do you like the weight? Do you find it comfortable to hold? (I'm finding that I prefer to hold it horizontally, versus vertically.) Will you make use of the Amazon videos, the web browser, the games? Do you have wireless internet in your home? If you answered "no" to many of these questions then this might not be the right eBook reader for you. But if you answered "yes," you might have decent, low cost entertainment tablet for your Facebooking, videos, music, and eBook reading.

And a few other notes about checking out an eBook on the Fire...
  • The device displays the full site on its web browser -- not the mobile site. 
  • You can check out a Kindle book and send it to the Fire all from the Fire. 
  • Remember to sync the device to get the Kindle book loans to load on the device. 
  • To delete expired titles from the device, it appears that you must visit the "Manage Your Kindle" page from the Web browser and delete the titles from your account. Then run sync on the device. 
Update: I've had the Kindle for a couple days now and wanted to share a few things:

  • The wireless internet connections can be slow and spotty. I have no problem at my house, but the device had trouble connecting at my office (where the connection is weak) and at a library today where the connection wasn't too bad. Here's an example: At my office where the wireless is weak, I was able to stream video on my iPad 2, but could barely get the Fire to hold a connection. 
  • Our site loads as a full site on the small device instead of the mobile site. It can make navigation of the site a little difficult. I had hoped that it would be possible to get the mobile site on the Fire by changing the part of the URL from [10/411] to [40/20] as is done on other mobile devices. Unfortunately, the page does not load correctly. The solution? Remember that double-tapping the center of the screen zooms in.

I hope this helps!