[Review] Kindle Fire

  • Fri 16 March 2012

  • Ever since I got rid of my iPad (first gen), I've been itching for an e-reader. Over 50% of my books and 99% of my technical books are in an electronic format. I do not like reading on a computer. A while back I purchased a Nook (e-ink). The obstacle I faced was a large collection of my e-books are in PDF format. I still don't know why publishers don't offer books in ALL the formats. This is largely why I love O'Reilly books. They have ALL the formats (most of the time). The books from O'Reilly's weren't the problems, the PDF's from smaller publishers were horrendous to manage. Between the Nook and my Android phone, I tried every possible thing I could try/find to put the PDF's in a format that produced an enjoyable to read format. Cut to the chase, the Nook was returned, there is still not an e-reader App on my phone. Jump forward about three weeks ago now. Maybe a little further back, I see a Kindle Fire at the local Target. I'm intrigued. I play with it (the Kindle Fire) for a few seconds, I like what I see. The wheels were turning. Go back a couple weeks later, play with it some more and I think to myself, Amazon did a nice job with this. Thought about it some more, and decided WTF. $200, easy return policy. I AM prepared to return it. What can go wrong? So, now about 3 weeks ago. It arrives. The packing leaves NOTHING to be desired. If you have ever unpacked an Apple, you will know what presentation is like. Kindle, exact opposite. Can't hate Amazon for this, they ship A LOT of packages daily, they've likely got shipping/packaging figured out. It essentially arrives in a plain brown box. Open it up, the Kindle and a USB cable. I wasn't impressed, but again, this isn't Apple, this is a $200 Kindle. Let it charge, come back to it later, connected it to the WiFi, it knew who I was. There were my Kindle Books, my Amazon Cloud music and the apps from the Amazon App Store. Even had my Amazon Prime / Video On Demand content available for viewing. No doubt about it, Amazon built a perfect device for their ecosystem. (More on this later). Firsts things first, I HAD to know, HOW does the Kindle handle/mange PDF-formatted e-books. THIS was why I bought it. PDF support would make or break this purchase. Amazon allows you to have an @kindle.com alias, you can e-mail documents to, it stores them in the Amazon cloud and the documents are available on the reader. I LIKE this! I e-mail one of my PDF books to myself @kindle.com. Few minutes later, I sync the Kindle. There is the book. No cover artwork, VERY ugly, but it's there. Function over fashion or something right? I open the PDF up, FAIL. :-( My heart sunk. SO SAD! Well F Me! If you've ever owned an iPad and you've e-mailed a PDF to yourself and opened it in iBook or iReader or whatever they call it, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. It doesn't matter the format you're managing, it "just works". Apple NAILED this. And NO ONE HAS COME CLOSE! So what's the problem on the Kindle? Each page, appears almost like an image. Font too small, pinch-to-zoom action to zoom in. Little fiddling with it, fits page width, great. Turn the page, back to "normal". Pinch-to-zoom, fiddle, great. You see where this is going. Screw this cracker jack shh. I'm not fiddling with this. OK. The primary reason I wanted the Kindle Fire failed. Strike One. But here is this multimedia gateway into all of my Amazon content. I'll admit I'm an Amazon whore. I have Amazon Prime, I buy 90% of everything I own on Amazon. I don't grocery shop, I subscribe & save on Amazon. Before Apple's iTunes had iCloud, I switched to Amazon MP3 because I hated how Apple managed their purchased items and the inability to download content more than once. So...Let's see how it does. WAY back in the day, I uploaded all of my music to Amazon's Cloud Music Player because I bought an album from Amazon and they gave me X Free GB (10GB? 25GB? Does it really matter?). So...hit 'Music' on the Kindle. BAM! Yay! My Music. I REALLY like the player, Android could take a cue from Amazon and "copy" the player (in the spirit of open source :P). Too bad the speakers suck. Suck is a harsh word. They're not horrible. In fact, for simply having it on your desk, and listening to music, they're OK, just OK. Oooooh...but I has Prime, so, that means I have movies, and I also have TV subscriptions to current TV seasons. Let's see what this is all about. It's AWESOME! As awesome as it can be with Amazon's crappy selection (or lack there of) of content. BUT because I have TV series subscriptions, I am able to watch those! THAT part is AWESOME! The screen is great. Good viewing angle (better than a gTab x100!). It does show a few smudges, but not horrible by any means. Yay me! I love this! I'm not the social media whore I used to be. There was a point in my life (very shortly) I had ALL the social media who ha. Now, I use Twitter. Even being the Google whore that I am, I don't even log into Google+ anymore. Twitter is more than enough for me. So, I want twitter! Kindle obviously uses Amazon's App Store, which doesn't have everything the Android store has (this is good and bad). There is an "offical" Twitter app. Download/Install/Open. Fuuuuuu! It takes me to mobile.twitter.com. This is like Chrome "apps" that simply open a URL. Hey shit head! It's NOT an app! At least not to me. Strike Two. Bleh. Blah! It's HORRIBLE. Maybe a week goes by, and I get an e-mail from Amazon. "Thought you'd like to know, there is now an official Twitter app. Download now." YES PLEASE! In all honesty, it's the Twitter for Android tablet. I can't tell the difference between it and the app on my Thunderbolt. But WINNING! I now have a REAL APP for twitter. My want is fed. Remember earlier when I said Prime's amount of content (or lack there of) sucked. So yeah. I has Netflix. I actually got a subscription as a gift (I wouldn't pay for Netflix streaming with my own money!). I've pretty much watched everything I'm interested in on Prime and my show is only once a week, so I'm caught up. Let's see if there is a Netflix app. There is! Fantastic. IT SUCKS! OMG. I tweeted "Congrats Microsoft, you no longer have to worry about Windows ME or Vista. Netflix app for Kindle is worse" or something similar. It's honestly as bad if not worse than memories of Windows ME/Vista. Who would put that shit out? I wouldn't want my name on such a piece of shit. The Kindle Fire does have a dual-core processor, but only 512MB of RAM. No external SD slot to side-load content (I didn't say apps, yes it could be nice to side-load apps, but I want to be able to side-load CONTENT). Amazon simply says "use our cloud storage". With such little RAM, it DOES NOT nor do I think it was ever meant to multi-task. Much of that functionality in the OS seems to haven been stripped out. Battery life is AMAZING. For an Android. I think they say about 7 hours of video, truth. Reading? Who knows? I've never used it as a reader. Casual use in bed before bed, DAYS. Leave it alone, DAYS. My gTab. My Samsung 10.1 Tab. Leave alone for a day, DEAD. DEAD, DEAD, DEAD, DEAD. Not the Kindle Fire. Amazon got this right. If you've ever owned an Android, you'll understand when I say this. The Kindle is Android. Don't kid yourself, they put lip stick on a pig. It's still a pig. I like Android, so I don't care, but Amazon simply "skinned" Android. Nothing more. Their browser? It presents itself as Safari (not mobile) but doesn't have Flash 9, so I have run across sites that say "update to the latest version of flash" but there is no "Flash for Amazon Kindle" in the Amazon App Store. So it's better than an iPad in regards it does have SOME flash support, but it's not as good as something with newer version of Flash. But Flash is dead, Flash kills batteries. DEATH TO FLASH. Final thoughts. It's OK. If you don't have a fair amount of Amazon content like I already do, I'd think money could be better spent put towards a full-fledged tablet. Though, it largely depends on what you want. I would NEVER call the Kindle Fire a tablet. A tablet it is not. It's an e-reader with support for other digital content. Maybe I'm weird, maybe it's how it allows me to sleep better at night, but it's an e-reader, not a tablet. I've looked at the Kindle side-by-side to the Nook Color. Though I think hardware wise the Nook Cool may be better, it also has external SD slot, you could argue the Nook Color is better. BUT the Kindle has access to more content. Again, it largely depends on what you own, and what you want.

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