"Kindle Fire is a Good Alternative to Tablets"5.0 starson by Daniel2Golden
Pros: 1. Device feels solid and I don't worry about breaking anything on it
2. Display brightness and colors are nice, videos look fine.
3. Easy to transfer files to it from a computer
4. Excellent price for this type of device
Cons: 1. The speakers suck. I mean real bad. I had to put the volume to about 70% just to hear something.
2. It's a bit heavy. Compared to the iPad2
Summary: A month ago, I went out an bought the Kindle Fire. I had been debating between the older, e-ink Kindle or saving up for a tablet computer, such as the iPad. I wanted something I could easily read books on, which favors the Kindle, but also wanted something versatile enough to run some of the apps I really like, which favors the iPad.
Then, Amazon announced the Kindle Fire, which retails for $199. This intrigued me, as it apparently did many other people who couldn't afford the $500-$800 price tag for a true tablet computer. After much consideration, and just enough Christmas gift money to cover the cost, I jumped for the Fire.
The Kindle came with a nearly-full battery charge, which was great, since I didn't need to leave it plugged in for several hours before using it. (By the way, the power adapter that came with it is pretty powerful, and will charge quickly. But, it's constructed kind of poorly, feels flimsy, and I have doubts that it will survive with a ton of use.)
My first reaction to the Fire was that it is sleek looking, but heavy. The device in it's black cover is attractive. However, having used the e-ink Kindles, I did not expect the Fire to be that heavy (14.6 ounces). Nearly one pound doesn't sound like much, but it can get weighty when holding in your hand. Eventually, though, a user can get used to the weight.
Initial start up is very smooth, especially if you already have a Kindle account with Amazon. (I did, since I also use the Kindle app for my Android phone.) Once my account information was entered into the Fire, it automatically listed all the books I had purchased with my Kindle account. All I had to do was download them to the device, and they were ready in just a minute or so.
One of the reasons I went with the Fire over the slightly more expensive Nook was that many of the pre-1923 books are free. Amazon says there are two-million of them. That's pretty incredible. The 6 GB of space mean you can squeeze in about 6,000 books (minus all the apps). That's pretty impressive.
On top of that, buying in the Amazon marketplace is extremely easy, and probably the finest example of how to construct an online market.
I encountered a similar situation with the Amazon app market. I have it installed on my Android phone, and anything I had purchased on the phone was available for the Fire, provided the app had a Fire version available.
And that brings me to my first complaint about the Fire. I can appreciate that Amazon wants to ensure the app experience on the Fire is a good one, but they have blocked third party markets and non-approved apps, even though there is the option in the Fire's settings to install such apps. As a result, the user cannot access any of the apps from Google's original Android Market. This is disappointing, because there are some apps that are only available on the Android Market. Hopefully, Amazon will free up this ability soon.
I assume there are two main reasons for the third party app issues. 1) With Amazon approving apps for the Fire (much like Apple does for its devices), Amazon can guarantee the apps will work. 2) Amazon also prevents users from using competing software, such as the Nook app. That's just business, and I don't blame Amazon in keeping users of its device from going elsewhere to buy books.
To get around these restrictions, some people have rooted their Kindle Fire's to install a clean OS and drop the restrictions Amazon has placed on the device. I have chosen not to go that route, because at this point I am pretty happy with the Fire as it is. And, the issues I have with the Fire aren't great enough to warrant the time I would put into rooting...at least not until I replace it some time down the road.
I give the Fire high marks. The screen and resolution are very good quality, and respond properly to touch. The dual core processor really shows itself on some of the more demanding apps. Object flow is smooth within apps, and appearance is above my expectations.
The screen is big enough to easily view video for a single user or a couple of users sitting side-by-side. However, the 7-inch screen is not big enough to view well from a few feet away. Someday, I imagine Amazon will release a bigger version to accommodate parents who load their kids up in the van, and want to use a video to keep them calm.
One thing I didn't expect, but was pleased to find was the built-in speaker. It isn't the greatest quality, but it is what you would expect from such a device. A headphone jack allows you to get top quality if you need it. But, since Amazon went to the trouble to include speakers, I had hoped there would be a microphone. I was disappointed to find there wasn't one.
The speakers come in very handy when running apps or using an audio book. And that brings me back to books. One thing the Fire has that the e-ink Kindles do not is the ability to show color. My kids have really loved the picture books we have downloaded to the Fire. Plus, if you're able to find some books that have interactive parts, the Fire makes the experience even better.
For standard reading, the Kindle is wonderful. Flipping through pages is easy, and can be done in two ways: either a finger swipe in the direction you want to turn, or a tap at the right or left edge of the device's screen. The ability to highlight and bookmark are things you would expect, and the Fire does them well.
The home screen of the Fire when you first get it has a carousel at the top that shows all of your recently used books, apps and websites. A finger swipe allows you to scroll through these easily. Below that is a bookshelf with all your favorite apps, documents, books, etc. I'm not really a fan of the carousel. It is a bit too sensitive on the scroll, and simply looks better than it actually is.
Each section of the Fire has a bookshelf where all the different items are organized. Apps, Books, Documents, Web and others are all in their separate categories. This makes organization very nice and neat.
The favorites bookshelf is set up similarly, but not as easy to manage.
The Fire uses only WiFi, and has no other networking capabilities. This is a deviation from some of the e-ink Kindle models that provide free 3G service. I assume 3G is not included on the Fire, because data usage would be through the roof. Even still, Amazon should've made it available as either an add-on or a subscription service. I assume that 3G will be on future models with a data plan.
For what its worth, many smartphones today come with the ability to be a wifi access point. If you have that service enabled on your smartphone, then your 3G problem is somewhat solved.
The Silk web browser is okay. It gets the job done almost as good as the default Android browser. Again, this goes back to the third-party app issue. I would rather use a different brand of browser, but the ones I trust aren't available yet. The Fire's browser has a few minor issues that I don't really care for, but overall it will get the job done.
My other apps that use the network seemingly have little problems from the device's perspective. Any lag or other problem is either due to an app programming issue or heavy wifi traffic.
I do notice on my Fire that the device will turn off wifi when not being used. I haven't checked to see if this can be modified. Regardless, I like this feature, as it preserves battery life, and ensures an app on the device isn't eating up bandwidth when you aren't using it.
For all the chatter that the Kindle Fire is not a tablet computer, you can't tell it by some of its functions. One of my favorites is the ability to use the device while giving presentations.
When you register your Fire, Amazon gives you a kindle.com email address that is unique to your device. This is handy when you want to send a document to the Fire. Simply attach it to an empty email, and send to the Fire's email address. The Fire will download and save the file to it's internal memory.
I have used the Fire and this method to do a couple of presentations when I have spoken this past month. By eliminating paper and books, the Fire made it easy to do these presentations.
I really like the Kindle Fire. I'm sure that I would really like it if I rooted and did other things to it to make it more tablet-like. But, those things are not in my plans.
The Fire has room to be improved, and future versions will hopefully address some of the more minor issues.
All-in-all, I think it is a great product.
For reference, I am only reviewing the Fire and my expectations for the device. I am not comparing it to any other device unless that device is of similar build, price and capabilities. Hence, the rating above is an opinion based on my expectations.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
You can view more reviews and thoughts or check for best deal at my blog: Tabletpcreviews21.wordpress.com/kindle-fire/