This past Christmas, I received a shiny new Kindle Fire and I was pretty ecstatic. Having received the newly named Kindle Keyboard the previous year, I was already a full blown member of the Kindle Cult.
I’ve been eyeing the new tablet since that exciting press conference that Amazon put on last year and have been planning on getting once from the start. My quests up front though were a bit conflicted. The biggest question of them all; could I give up reading on e-ink. That’s a tough call to make as I happened to feel that e-ink revolutionized ‘electronic reading’ already. It was easier on the eyes and the battery life was amazing. Another question I had; would I actually be able to use the Fire as a full fledged tablet. Internet browsing, games, apps, etc. etc…Would it satisfy over other tools such as an iPad or a bunch of Android tablets? And the final question…would the weight and battery life be a factor. Having spent a good two weeks with the tablet now, my questions are now answered and over all…I’m pretty thrilled with said answers.
Tablet Vs. E-Ink
My biggest concern going in was if I would still enjoy reading on Kindle Fire. As you can see with the podcasts and everything else…I read a lot. Normally, you can guarantee I’ll get in at least an hour of reading every day, more commonly up to two hours in a full day. So it was a pretty major thing to work out.
By default, I wasn’t in love with reading on the Fire. It wasn’t horrible by any means, but reading black text on a glaring white background is a definite adjustment when you’re used to a year of reading on e-ink. Thankfully, this is a quick and easy fix though. With a couple of clicks, I was able to adjust the display style to white text on a black background, which was a good fit for myself. (You can also set to black text on an off white background, but the black was the magic ticket or me.) With the options dialed in, read was nice and I was good to go.
Keep in mind; these are all a matter of personal taste, so your mileage may vary. You could be perfectly fine with the default settings and I know in the case of my wife…it was fine for her as well. After reading a book or two, I noticed another problem that was starting to creep in with reader; it was heavy. When compared side by side to the Kindle Keyboard, the Fire has a huge weight difference. This is to be expected since the device is packing a lot more hardware in there, but still and adjustment all the same. I always read in bed before falling asleep. Lying on your back, holding the Fire up to read, it starts to weigh down over time. This is easily remedied by shifting position, but it was a problem I never had to deal with on the Keyboard.
With all of these considerations, for straight up reading, I wound up going back to the trusty old Kindle Keyboard. It’s light, it’s e-ink screen is great and hard to pass up. Really, there is nothing about the Kindle Keyboard (Also known as the K3) that I would change as far as straight up readers go. It goes with me everywhere, so weight is a factor. Another big factor? I can read to my heart’s content and still only have to plug-in the K3 once every other month for a charger. With heavy use, the Fire lasts me a day.
Now, having said all that… don’t you dare walk away thinking that I wound up not liking the Kindle Fire. That’s not the truth at all. For a straight up E-Reader, I prefer the classic K3. When looking at the Kindle Fire as a tablet? For that function, I’ve been nothing but happy.
For starters; I’m not a user that would consider a tablet a ‘need’. When contemplating a tablet, I’m thinking pure luxury item. I want to browse the web, I want to play games and I want to watch movies. For those items, the Kindle Fire works great.
Paired with the ‘free paid app every day’ program at Amazon, I’m to the point that I have games lined up in my account that I haven’t even downloaded yet. From what I have played, the games all run quite well on the Fire’s hardware and make for a good time. Some are buggy mind you…my mahjong game that you see in the top picture, it decides to crash out at random every now and again. I’d place that blame on the developers and not the Fire itself.
For movies, I’ve yet to pony up the $80 a year for the Amazon Prime account, so I rely a lot on my Netflix account. Again, this works great. Paired with a nifty Android Video player app that I found called BS Player, I can now play all my local divx and MKV files straight from a shared folder on my PC as well. Without transcoding too. (< — That’s a big deal.) The video playback is surprisingly good, even on 720p encoding videos. Mix in the gesture based controls, and I’m pretty happy.
There’s been a lot of talk about the Fire’s Silk Web Browser and I’ll be honest…I don’t really get the technology. I.E. I don’t know what’s supposed to be special about the Silk Web Browser. That’s okay though. For my needs of browsing forum boards, reading blogs and stuff like that? It works pretty great. It’s fast, though no faster than say… the browser on my phone, but still fast enough.
Okay, I’ll be honest… It works pretty great reading web comics in bed.
In The End
Ultimately, the Kindle Fire; it’s a great tablet for $200. I’m not going to be jumping into a $600 iPad any time soon and frankly…I don’t really need to. The Fire covers my needs, centered around media consumption, quite well. The Fire could have some use in my day job as far as productivity and such, but again, it’s not a need. Many in the corporate world are in love with the status symbol of an iPad when they’re in a meeting, but my cell phone works just as well for that, so I see no need to lug the fire into a conference room with me. I’m not too worried about remaining a two device man with my Kindle Keyboard and my Kindle Fire…both server specific needs, and they serve them pretty damn well.
You’ll have to pry my Kindle Keyboard from my cold dead fingers though.