Two weeks ago tomorrow, I got my Kindle Fire. Now I’m that guy, the guy that has the newest toys, so it surprises no one that I got my Kindle Fire on release day. Since I’ve usually got an angle or two working, it also surprised none of my friends that I used a bunch of Amex points to get it for $40 with case. So I was pretty happy with it, and since I’ve been Amazon Prime for years, I took full advantage of the two-day shipping deal.So here comes my review, especially since I’ll be giving one away soon!
Two weeks later, here are my thoughts in a nutshell – super device, almost but not quite an iPad killer for me, needs better battery life. I’ve already sold off my old Kindle to a friend of mine because I just don’t see the use of having three devices to read on (technically four, since I do still read on my phone once in a while).
But let’s look at the things it does well, then we’ll talk about the issues.
Pro – Great e-reader. It syncs seamlessly to my Amazon library, and the interface is very easy to use. It’s a swipe page-turn, just like the iPad (and I assume the new Kindle Touch), so I was already used to that. I can’t say how much I love the library view of bookcovers instead of the old listing of books on my greyscale Kindle. It’s a beautiful display, and it lets those of us that care about book covers appreciate the covers to the books we buy.
Pro – Video is awesome – I got it with a case, and for video I think it would be nigh-useless without it. The case flips around to make it a stand so I can watch TV or movies without holding it, and that’s a good thing. The stand is a little cheesy, but I’m sure that better cases will come along.
Pro – sound is better than iPad. The internal speakers are better than the iPad, which makes it good to play music for a small room. The iPad just doesn’t have enough horsepower to fill even a small room and sound good, so this is a definite winner.
Pro/Con – Size – the 7″ tablet form factor is just better for a lot of things, including reading, movies and transport. Even with the iPad’s small form factor I’ve found it difficult to find a great position to watch movies on airplanes. The space between seats is just too damn small nowadays. I’m headed to Las Vegas on Thursday and am looking forward to seeing how the smaller device does, but I think it will be a better fit. But on the other hand, for some things you want the bigger screen. The Autodesk Sketch app is awesome for the iPad, but I don’t see it being very useful on the smaller screen. For those things that you want something the size of a sheet of paper to do, the iPad is the tool. For things that half a sheet of paper is a better size, then you use the Fire.
Con – Battery life – this is a big deal. I’ve yet to be able to read, surf and listen to music all day without having to recharge. I’ve been kind of a heavy user the past few days, because I’ve been home for the holidays, but I really wonder if the thing will last a four-hour plane ride. And that’s the acid test for me. I need a device that can last from Charlotte to Las Vegas and keep me entertained, dammit! I make that trip two to five times every year, and I want my toys to be able to hang for the whole trip.
Cons – Charger – the transformer is cheesy. I know, it’s a tiny thing, but the power adapter on the cheap-ass Kindle with Special Offers I bought a few months ago works as a power adapter AND disconnects to become a USB sync cable. The fact that this device can’t do the same sucks. I have to scrounge around and buy another USB adaptor, because the connector that fits the Kindle fits nothing else I own, so that’s a pain in the ass.
But those are the only two issues I’m having, and they’re not huge. I think for 95% of users, the Fire will be brilliant. And it’s almost brilliant for me. I can honestly say that in the two weeks I’ve had it, I’ve picked up my iPad less than half a dozen times, and my old Kindle not at all. The backlit display doesn’t bug me, and I read in low light much more often than I read in bright, glare-y situations, so that also is not a major issues to me. I like the compact size a lot, and the screen is awesome. I wish it had 2-3 times as much memory, but I admittedly tend to carry too much data. I wish it were a little lighter weight, but then I don’t think it could do the things it does.
The other pesky things to me are the lack of a manual volume button and no page turn buttons. I really liked the page turn buttons on the Kindle. And making two motions to get the volume control to pop up is a pain in the butt.
So there are my good and bad thoughts on the Kindle Fire, overall I love the device. And I think when you factor in the $200 price tag, it becomes a whole bag of awesome.
And don’t forget to register to win one, right here!