Friday, November 18, 2011
Kindle Fire - First Impressions
I received my Kindle Fire the day after the official release date. Truth to tell, I've not had a chance to do much with it, but for the sake of currency, here are my first impressions.
I have a Droid X smartphone, so my truly first impression was that the Kindle Fire is a 3X-sized Droid. Perhaps not surprising since the Fire runs the Android OS, as does the Droid.
The Fire fits snugly in the custom designed Malware (sorry!!! "Marware") protective case. Usually with portable devices I purchase an adhesive, protective cover. I did not do that with my Kindle Keyboard and I will probably not do that with my Fire. Big ol' screen, ya know--and it is touted as being extremely tough. We'll see.
If you have an Android phone, you will be immediately comfortable with the Fire's user interface. At times, I found myself reaching for the hardware buttons below the screen that I would find if I were using my Droid. Adjusting to a world of purely soft buttons is going to be a learning curve!
I do not own an iPod Touch (just a 160GB iPod Classic), but I have the feeling that the Fire is like a huge iPod Touch. It is a tablet, yes, but the emphasis is on entertainment. You've got your music, video, and eBooks. I've been a subscriber to Amazon Prime for a while so I already have the ability to stream any of their (many) movies and TV shows free of charge. A search for content using the phrase "Mystery Science Theater" turned up 76 matches. Impressive.
Downloading apps works very much like it does on an Android phone. The difference would be that, rather than tapping the Android Market Place for apps, you'd be tapping the Amazon App Store. There are some disturbing gaps here. For example, Dropbox is not available from the Amazon App Store. I've come across several sets of instructions for getting Dropbox on your Fire, but come on... this should be in the App Store! I've also read complaints to the effect that Amazon's App Store does not offer the latest versions of many programs. To some extent, I applaud Amazon's attempt to put a quality/security filter on the App Store. I just wish that the "major" apps were available in their most current incarnations on a timely basis.
From an ergonomic standpoint, I have few complaints. Using the Fire feels perfectly natural. So far, I've not found a way to install and enable the Swype keyboard, which is my KB of choice on the Droid. At times it seems like the soft buttons at the bottom of the screen are reluctant to respond to my touch--maybe my fingers are too dry... I'm not sure yet.
As for the comparison of Kindle Fire and Kindle Keyboard, I consider these two devices quite separate. If I want to read the text of a novel, I will use the Kindle Keyboard. The battery life is amazing and the screen is beautifully legible in bright sunlight. The Kindle Fire is my multimedia entertainment device and my portable web browser.
I tend to be suspicious of corporations mining my web presence for marketing data, but I consider Amazon to be one of the "good guys" along with Google. They're all business enterprises so, yeah, they're going to try to make money. As long as all the cards are on the table, I don't have a problem with that. When I read that Amazon's Silk browser caches content on Amazon servers, I'm like yay go, Amazon. They're trying to make the Fire web browser as responsive as possible. Technically, it's storing personal data that, in a perfect world, it should not. But hey, I could sit inside a cave with no electrical power (let alone internet access) and be smug as Shinola in my locked-down egosphere. I'd rather play it a little more loose than that, though. I'm not ready to move to Idaho just yet.
Okay, so... more to come (it says here).