Feb 1, 2012

Kindle Fire Review

A few weeks back, Gia gave me the wonderful gift of a Kindle Fire from Amazon. She's been an Apple gal forever. A bunch of Mac computers in her past. On her third iPhone, but still using the first iPad like a fucking savage. ;)

But this Kindle Fire tablet is my first real gadget for the sake of having a gadget.  I NEED my laptop PC for work...and for play. I NEED my not-so-smart phone for work...and for play. But really the only reason I would get a tablet, of any kind, is for play and for play alone.

The Kindle Fire does that well. It does it very well. It ain't perfect, and I'm not saying it's as good as an iPad. But for my purposes, it works just as well.  Let's do a quick round of Sergio Leone's favorite game, shall we?

The Good
  • The e-reader it top notch. It's exactly what I wanted an e-reader to be when the first Kindles were introduced. No buttons, just swiping.  And the size of the screen is relatively the same as a paperback, which I what I normally read anyway. Sure, the e-reader (and the Kindle app) on the iPad work pretty much the same and look just as good. But for hundreds of dollars less, you get the same functionality. 
  • Watching films or TV shows thru Netflix or Amazon Instant is fast, bright and convenient.  The screen size is just about perfect for watching a film in bed or waiting in a reception area. It's much better than I thought it was going to be.
  • It's ultra-convenient to carry around. I haven't found the cover that I like yet, but I have a number of jackets that have a handy pocket or two that it slips into rather nicely.  And having it by my side when I'm watching a TV show and I want to quickly look something up on the Internet is ultra-convenient as well. Very easy to swipe it on and type a few characters for the answer. Much more so than opening up my laptop for the same exact thing.
  • Plenty of useful and free apps available from the Amazon Store. Too many for me to even consider reviewing right now. Mostly because I haven't done anything with them yet. But I will. I'm sure I will.
The Bad
  • For right now, I'm pretty much using it for brain candy right before I go to bed. A quick game of this or that, filtering through my feed reader, reading what my Tweeple are saying. And that's all fine.  The mobile versions of Twitter and Google Reader work great on it. But for a lot of other websites out there? Not so much. Even just a simple Google search is...awkward on the Kindle Fire.  Maybe iPad users experience the same thing. I don't know, but I much prefer serious web surfing on my laptop PC to the tablet experience so far.
  • No 3G. Oh well.
  • No camera, blue-tooth, GPS or mic either.  Oh well, again.
The Ugly
  • As I kinda alluded to above, I hate typing on the thing. I've always been a physical keyboard guy, and I'm finding the touchscreen keyboard difficult to get used to. Hell, even my phone has a physical keyboard for texting and what-not. I'm a touch typist, and a pretty darned fast one at that. So going back to the old hunt and peck for typing on the touchscreen always makes me shake my head a bit. 
  • The Android operating system is a bit buggy. Not overwhelmingly so, but enough to make the Ugly list for me. I've encountered several screen freezes or application problems that seem to be tied directly to the operating system. I don't know if Amazon will be doing any system upgrades or fixes, but for right now I'm not thrilled with the performance of the system itself. More to follow on this one.
  • Flash is supposed to be supported on the Kindle Fire, but most of the flash sites I've come across don't work or are EXTREMELY buggy. I think an operating system for a tablet, whether it's this one or iOS, should work with every internet site out there. Regardless of whether or not Flash is a good or bad product. I don't care. Everything that is on the Internet should be available on the device in full working condition. That's all I'm saying.
So that's it. My quick and mostly meaningless Kindle Fire review. It's a great toy, and just about perfect for what I intend to use it for.  It may not have all the bells and whistles of the iPad...I actually don't know because I've only used Gia's iPad on several occasions. But it seems to be an earnest attempt at a well-made, much cheaper alternative to Apple's tablet. 


Dave2 said...

I've played with one twice and wasn't impressed. For a reader only, I'd rather have the e-ink display, and for everything else, I'd rather pay the extra money for an iPad. Still, I admit the price point is pretty impressive.

Verdant Earl said...

Dave2 - Odd that you would prefer the iPad. ;)

RW said...

Bought one for my wife for Christmas as it was on the top of her list. All I've heard is how great it is, but I'm sure neither of us pushes the boundaries of our technology's capacity. I've got a MacBook and barely know what its ultimate capacitiea re.

Slyde said...

can you get me one? thanks...

sybil law said...

Get me one, too, while you're out getting Slyde's. That way you won't have to make 2 trips. :)

Verdant Earl said...

RW - I don't push tech boundaries either. So it's great for what I use it for. I just really hate typing on the thing.

Slyde - No.

Sybil - Make a trip? To the Amazon store? Silly...

Unknown said...

I've kicking the idea can around on this one.

I am soooo no a techy person so I don't know if it would be a waste of money for me, overall.

Thanks for the review. I'll take Slyde's. He wont' mind.

Ren said...

My impression is that for most people, unless the size and/or the price is the killer feature, they'd be better off ponying up the extra for an iPad. The logic goes basically like this:

* Unless you're specifically tied to the Amazon brand, the Nook Tablet is easily worth the extra $50 over the Kindle Fire. I believe it's a much faster and more mature device.
* Once you're there, definitely search for deals on first-gen iPads. A quick search found that Apple has the WiFi+3G 16GB model for $400 (refurb). It's worth the extra $150.

Of course, if it's $200 (or $250) or nothing, then that rules out the iPad. Also, once you're at $400, it's difficult to not view the extra $100 for the iPad 2 as worthwhile, though in this particular instance that would be without 3G.

Don't forget my commission! :-)

Verdant Earl said...

Annabelle - Done! You can have Slyde's non-existent Kindle. :)

Ren - Seems logical. What's your percentage? ;)

But yeah, I am an Amazon guy. Prime membership and what-not. And I'm not an Apple guy at all. PC to the core. Not that the Kindle is either. It's probably closer to the iPad than I care to admit since android basically copied iOS. But I'd hate to give in now to the inevitable Apple Zombie apocalypse. "One of us. One of us. One of us..."

Avitable said...

I have one that I bought when it first came out. I like some aspects of it, and my Prime membership ties into it nicely for all the free streaming. I don't like that the display is not in HD, and I prefer reading books on my actual Kindle because the e-ink gives it the tangible feel of a book.

I like the price and I like how it handles, though.

Water Logged Canine said...

Fuck a fire.

marty mankins said...

Great details on your initial use of the Kindle Fire. No bluetooth means there's no other options for an external keyboard.

The Flash buggyness seems like they should have spent a little more time on the browser.

Verdant Earl said...

Adam - I know the e-ink is better for your eyes as well, but I like the swipe functionality of the Fire.

Doggie - Fuck a Apple.

Marty - My browser on my Palm Pixi works better, although much slower. Seriously.

Bruce Johnson said...

I have an iPad2, and I have no desire to use anything else.....except the iPad3 when it comes out in March.