Exploring Techland (Kindle Fire Reviewed)

12/29/2011

So… I just got a new Kindle Fire from the bosses and VIPs at work! Such an awesome gift that they gave to probably 200 people overall. Pretty amazing, actually. So the learning curve begins. I don’t have an iPad to compare the Fire to, so it’s safe to say I am a “noob” to the world of tablets.

First off, the Kindle Fire has a beautiful display. It’s amazing how sharp and crystal clear picture quality has become in a short time. I once had a Powerbook, which was then eventually displaced by a Macbook Pro. I remember the first time I started the latter computer up after it arrived at the front door and being totally blown away by the stellar images that machine produced/still produces. The Kindle Fire has that kind of picture quality…

Now we get into the guts of the device. I get the bookshelf look on the main page, considering the Kindle’s rise from being just a plain ol’ e-reader to being an on-the-go, full fledged (not the best description) tech device. But the bookshelf is kinda clunky. The apps most recently opened are shown on the top shelf of the bookcase, and you flip through to find the want you want, like flipping through the pages of a….book. Since you are flipping through icons, to open one, the icon has to be laying flat, and you have to tap it just right. Otherwise, you will get options like “remove from device” or, now with the Fire’s update, “remove from carousel.”

I have streamed videos on YouTube, and the wifi connection seems fast, reliable, and the graphics still look awesome while in motion. I don’t plan on storing many videos on this guy, though – if at all – due to the 8 GB, non-expandable memory. These days, that just isn’t a whole lot. And there is just something that doesn’t feel quite right about storing everything on cloud services. How are you gonna trust that Amazon – or whoever – is going to keep your stuff around for perpetuity?

This little device is pretty cool overall, but it still has a long way to go. Downloading and installing that much-needed OS update was really difficult to install. Also, Project Gutenberg books won’t open in Kindle format… for those who don’t yet know about this, P.G. is a huuuggeee list of public domain (aka “the classics) source for free books… stuff that Amazon tries to charge you for because they can. Also, I downloaded my first app today on the Fire, and it was a big source of frustration. I couldn’t get the Yahoo! Mail app to download, and it was only giving me a “cannot open” error. As it turns out, you HAVE to input your credit card info on file with Amazon to download even free apps. Totally crappy. So that’s the reason the Yahoo! Mail app “cannot open.” And while on the topic of the Yahoo! Mail app, it’s probably less useful than just logging on to your email via the browser. There was no “sign out” button to be found, and there was no chat or SMS messaging to be found anywhere….so I uninstalled it. It’s gone and probably won’t ever return.

It’s funny how, at first, people were predicting the Kindle Fire would be an “iPad killer,” then it came out and everyone took a step back and said “ohhh, the Fire wasn’t designed to be an iPad killer.” It can be a useful tool, yes, with some getting use to… but don’t expect it to guide your way to the moon. If the Kindle Fire is what you can afford right now and a tablet would enhance your life, get it. But the most important point from my perspective is this: I bought a Macbook Pro for professional use. It’s an expensive machine that I originally purchased for data management/video transfer for a TV show, and now I use it to run pro audio software… but it’s frequently taken over by my lady, so it’s also become an expensive word processor/email sending device. I was excited about the Kindle Fire, as it seemed really cool, and I had also hoped I would be able to claim my laptop as, well, mine….. but that hasn’t happened. So, at this point, it seems a laptop in simpler to use and the Kindle Fire still has a long way to go.

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