Me and my Kindle Fire

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.

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17 responses to “Me and my Kindle Fire”

  1. I should have added that point, Mike:

    No. At least, not yet. Which is disappointing. I have the Daily Missal and the Liturgy of the Hours both on my EVO, but right now there isn’t an app for them for the Kindle Fire (nor is the LOTH available as a downloadable book for the Kindle, either).

    Dcn. G.

  2. I ordered a Fire on day one and got it last week. Your assesment is fair and perhaps your video experience could improve with adjustments to your WiFi signal. Mine sure did!! I have never used an iPad but at this point I would prefer a Fire and $300 in my pocket. I am looking forward to using it on my patio next summer. I’ll save half the cost of the Fire by not printing so many photos. Now I can show 5×7 images.

  3. Gregg …

    It doesn’t appear the first link is for the current edition of the LOTH. And the Universalis e-reader needs to be regularly downloaded every few weeks 🙁 . Hopefully, apps will be forthcoming that I can use on the KF. (There are several good ones I use on my ‘droid, including Divine Office, which is superb.)

    Dcn. G.

  4. I have a Nook Color that has been rooted and reloaded with Android Gingerbread that I really like. I have also downloaded both the Nook reader app as well as the Kindle reader app – best of both worlds.

    I believe that Liberalis allows you to download the LoTH hours for the year in ePub format, which is for the Nook. If you have access to the Android Market you can download the Nook reader. I can’t believe that the Kindle is so short on memory that it wold be a problem.

    Also, there is a program for PCs called Calibre which is free and has the ability to translate one ebook format to another. You might find that helpful if you want to translate something to the Kindle format.

    I find that the Nook, and I assume the Kindle also, has just about everything that the iPad has with the exception of the wireless contract bill every month :).

    Hope you enjoy it.


    Mike L

  5. I also decided the price on the Kindle Fire was too good to pass up and like you, I also have a smartphone. This is my second Kindle product. When we travel I do lots of reading on the web on my iPhone and I wanted a larger screen. I haven’t tried using my phone as a hot spot yet. Last night I watched a really good movie from Amazon Prime with no glitches. In my opinion, the Kindle Fire will be introducing a lot of people to the android environment and probably Netflix and Hulu Plus. I purchased mine at Walmart the first day that they were available. When I was there recently they still did not have a display of any kind.

    After you have time to explore Amazon Prime for a while, I hope we can look forward to some movie and TV recommendations.

  6. I am a solid ipad user and my brother just got his Kindle Fire. If money is important, the kindle might be OK, but if time is important, the Kindle would drive me to distraction. I can do so much more with my ipad because it would seem that there are a lot more useful apps that are not on the Kindle at this point. I also like the larger screen. I also love my new ipone4 which I just purchased last month. life is good. You have to love how technology is taking off, but it is painful to see some folks trying to use the stuff who would be better off with a pad and pen. I helped a fellow worker who had his stuff so screwed up that it was virtually not working and had nothing to do with the product.

  7. I have some questions for the Kindle Fire owners
    I am interested in this for a few reasons: prayer book and student research tool.
    1) I would like to turn it into a prayer book:
    Bibles (RSV-2CE) & others, (using Kindle reader?)
    Liturgy of the Hours, Daily Missal, more…
    (I can wait for the Applications to be released…)

    2) I am a part-time theology student (one class a semester):
    I would like to Research/look-up topics in Catechism of the Catholic Church and highlight/bookmark
    Read Documents of Vatican Council 2, and highlight/bookmark (PDF documents)
    3) Read books for theology class (using Kindle reader?)

    Are these doable on this? I have an iPod Touch, but it is too small for a student research/study tool. Any thoughts on using Kindle Fire verses traditional paper books for a theology student?

  8. I just got my first cellphone three Christmases ago, and frankly, I still haven’t learned how to text or use most of the (minimal) features. I’m always afraid I’ll lose it, and I can’t imagine investing a bunch of money in a smartphone that I would inevitably lose in the first couple weeks. Or the huge phonebill for data. (Shudder. I don’t use up the twenty bucks for three months plan, so I certainly couldn’t afford to spend a hundred bucks or more just for a phonebill.)

    So my basic feeling about tablets is that at least they’re big enough not to lose; it’s more likely that they don’t include a phonebill at present (except in the original cost), so at least you’d know upfront what your costs were; and no drunks will be calling your tablet at 3 in the morning asking for Jennifer.

    OTOH, obviously a desktop computer is still the superior typing experience; and any device more oriented to consumption than production is bleh.

  9. I am also interested for similar reasons, I would like to doen load, edit and possibly us it for homilies and the my notes for teaching. I know the Ipad and several other pads allow this, I just can’t bring myself to those prices, this would be the best of both worlds if possible

  10. DcnFab…

    The Kindle Fire does have a function for downloading and creating documents, but I haven’t used it.


    There are no applications as yet for the LOTH or Daily Missal 🙁 But I hope that changes, soon. I have both on my EVO Smartphone, and they work beautifully. I’m not sure how many theology books are readily available on Kindle. The list of what you can find is somewhat selective, and confined mostly to bestsellers or books for a mass audience that are relatively new.

    Dcn. G.

  11. I ordered my FIRE and then cancelled it because I wanted the flexibility of Apps that come with the IPAD. Then I thought about it. Why not grow with the FIRE. Won’t they eventually offer all those Apps they promised? I hope we ALL keep each other informed on the how the FIRE works. I would eventually like to take this with me as a preaching tool. Also, if you try to use this with your slingbox solo or Pro, it won’t work. One cannot make a portable TV player out of it ….. yet. Your thoughts?

  12. I tend to agree with you, Denny. The Fire is new, and growing. In time, I suspect many of the iPad apps (and Android apps) will also be available in some form for the Fire. There’s clearly a market out there for it. And I imagine further tweeks to the software and hardware will be coming in future iterations. Stay tuned.

    Dcn. G.

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