Personal technology has continued to evolve over the past couple of years. Every year there seems to be new “it” products that set the world afire. In the past, these items used to do one specific thing like play music, let you read books, surf the Internet, but as time has gone on the newest trend has been to combine these functions into one super machine, therefore, the creation of the tablet and more specifically the Apple iPad.
The thing is as great as the iPad is; it isn’t for everyone especially when you consider the cost. That is why I was so excited that Radio Shack gave me the opportunity to try out the Kindle Fire. While available to purchase online from Amazon, I am a tactile person, and I need the opportunity to hold the product in my hand before I purchase it. That is why it is so great that the Fire is sold at Radio Shack, I get the opportunity to test drive it first before I buy. This is very important since Tablets/E-Readers are very personal devices; each one has their own unique feel that requires you to have it in your hand first before making any decisions.
The Kindle Fire is the latest in line of e-readers from Amazon. I have to confess that I have 2 other generations of the Kindle (the kindle keyboard (2nd gen) and the Kindle Touch 3G). The Kindle Fire runs off a special android platform, what that means to the rest of us is that it has a different App store than Apple and regular Android running machines. I have decided to talk about the Kindle Fire I got from Radio Shack from two different points of view 1) as a E-Reader and 2) as a Tablet.
I promise I won’t bother you on the detailed specification, in the end they don’t really mean a thing. All I am going to talk about are my impressions.
The seven inch screen is larger than the traditional E-Reader which allow for more reading space. The screen is also an illuminated LCD screen. While traditionally it has been said that E-Ink paper was better for the eye that a lit screen like the Fire it has been scientifically proven that it isn’t the case. The illumination obviously works great for those readers who read before bed or in the dark. In addition, LCD means color capabilities bring in the possibility of comics and magazines in vibrant color. When reading, the words was sharp and clearly defined behind the white background. Turning pages only required the swipe of the finger and was sensitive enough to my touch.
The one issue I did have was with screen glare. Light is clearly reflected off the polished surface of the Kindle Fire, making it difficult to see what is on the screen in certain situations. To combat this issue I purchased a relatively inexpensive matte screen protector.
One of the big indicators of performance for e-readers has been page turn speed. This was important for E-Ink readers because there usually was a lag between loading next page. This isn’t an issue for the Kindle Fire, pages turn fluidly without any load issue. Basically you are limited to how fast your fingers can move.
Upload of books
This is definitely a big plus, the Kindle Fire has full access to the largest collection of E-Books in the world. The one issue when compared to competitors such as the Nook Tablet is the lack of interactive children’s books. Unfortunately, the Kindle Fire does not have 3G, so you will need to have wireless access to download any books from the bookstore.
The Fire also caries about 5 GB of storage space, which is more than enough for just book reading.
In general, the Kindle Fire has about 6 hours of battery life. This is a significant change from the e-readers, who have been known to last close to a month of hard reading. The reason for this difference is due to the power needed for all the other functions of the Fire, which we will get into in our next post.
Size and Kindle Fire
The Kindle Fire is inch taller and wider than a regular paperback book but fits nicely in your hand and is not heavy enough to be an issue when reading for long periods. The Fire is thicker than previous generation kindle and It can be a bit bulky when you add in some sort of case.
While I don’t use the key board usually for the e-Reader function, others may want to add notes to their books or send a passage to facebook or twitter. In order to do this the user must make use of the keyboard. In my experience the virtual keyboard for the Fire worked without too much problem. There were time where the screen did not recognize my touch but this was probably a function of the screen protector that I added than anything else.
This is where the Fire was a bit of a letdown, older versions of the kindle allowed you to put various books in collections which made it easier to keep your library organized; the Fire doesn’t allow that functionality.
As an E-reader the Kindle Fire obviously has it great points and not so great points. For me, other than the organizational issues the Kindle Fire is the next logical progression for me. Especially since I have been reading more and more in the dark (due to Divina and the boys being asleep) and need a lit screen.
Up Next: The Kindle Fire as a Tablet
Disclosure: I recieved a Kindle Fire from Radio Shack to review. This post is my unbiased opinion.