A couple weeks ago, after much hemming and hawing, I took the plunge and pre-ordered the much-ballyhooed Kindle Fire. Last week, it arrived. Lots of people have been asking me what I think of it. Here goes.
This is my first foray into the world of tablets (aside from the paper kind that I scribbled on in grade school). If your bottom line is the bottom line, there’s no denying: the Fire is a steal. (I used an Amazon gift card from last Christmas to defray some of the expense, so it was even a better steal.) For less than $200, you get a smart, efficient, sturdy, classy little machine.
After a week of playing with it, I’ve realized something else: you also get what is essentially a smartphone on steroids, but minus the camera and “phone” parts.
Virtually everything I am able to do on the Kindle Fire I can also do, in a more compact form, on my Sprint EVO — though I do miss the 3G, and several times have ended up using my EVO as a portable hotspot to support the Fire. I can’t cut and paste, so blogging is tricky. But I’ve zipped off a few emails, played Angry Birds (which is more fun on a bigger screen), updated my Facebook status and checked my blog for comments, all without problems — though, again, I could do that on my phone, too. The touchscreen keyboard is, predictably, whacky and rather capricious. (Be careful what you type, and check auto-correct!). Like all of these keyboards, it takes some getting used to. But I appreciate the cute “clack clack clack” sounds that it makes when I type.
The inner workings need some tweaking, I think: page turns and movement of icons after they’ve been tapped is sometimes jerky and a tad slow. But the reading experience is a pleasure — everything I’ve come to expect from my old Kindle (the gunmetal grey slab that I got last Christmas) with the added enhancement of superb color and graphics.
Video, though, is problematic. Last night, I streamed a couple episodes of “Big Bang Theory,” and the highly touted Amazon Silk browser was less-than-silky. It took a couple minutes to connect to each episode, and several times the connection dropped, the screen went dark, and then it picked up where it left off. I haven’t tried downloading material to the device — since storage space is pretty limited, I’d like to avoid that — so that might be better.
I haven’t downloaded music yet.
All in all, I think this is a useful little tool. It’s not an iPad killer, and it has certain limitations, but it’s nothing to sneeze at, either. When the next generation surfaces, I imagine it will be even better.
But one thing that will never be better — and that is surely it’s biggest selling point right now — is the price. Amazon was very shrewd and canny about that — and it may be the one feature that makes this device spread like, well, wildfire.