Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tech Whacko Gets a Kindle Fire

I think Amazon has a brilliant idea here, but we will have to see how this works out for them in the end. My Kindle Fire finally came in last Friday, and I couldn’t wait to play with it. Of course a house full of company put a bit of a damper on that so I get to explain the whole “playing with Kindle on the sly” factor for any geek out there who has to hide their geekdom at times.

Once I plugged the thing in I could immediately see that I had gotten a tablet worth far more than the $199 price tag and from the reports on the ground it cost Amazon more to make it than to sell it to me. In all honesty if it only cost them about $209 to make it then they also got a bargain, because right off the bat it is far superior to the $250 Nook Color units I had seen. The completely black finish is beautiful and with a snip of the overlap on a normal Kindle case I was able to make my old Kindle leather fold over cover fit it beautifully. Past the aesthetics we get to the real meat and potatoes of the Kindle Fire though, in the fact that it isn’t just an Android tablet, but a redesigned Kindle.

Once the unit was plugged in and powered on it immediately showed me the “Bookshelf” designed start page, with a smattering of simple apps. E-mail, Web Browser, and the user manual were sitting there waiting for me. I noticed quite quickly that the cross engineered Android that the Kindle Fire uses is so much easier and seamless than the normal Android that say my Samsung Epic 4G uses. For those that are acquainted with Android it will be a hit or miss proposition considering that you won’t be going into the actual “Android Store” for your apps but the Amazon App store for them. Yes this will give you a much more limited source of Apps but at the same time a far more “Apple” like experience. As I was getting to we all know what it is like to have a locked up Android device because certain Apps won’t let go of their resources, and this is one of the main sticking points to those that have sold their soul to the ease of an Apple product. So far I haven’t been able to lock up this unit and as a dork I really tried.

Now before I get into all the spec sheet crap on this unit I just want to explain why I got one. I really had no intention of using my Kindle Fire as the tablet replacement for the iPad {to which I don’t own one and never will, I just don’t like Apple slavery like most people accept} but I wanted an e-book that could do more if I wanted it to. Shockingly enough my needs were more geared towards getting my magazine subscriptions under control. They get reasonably pricey after a while and all that wasted paper even affects a non-green compliant person such as myself. I had no clue how much it would affect the cheapskate in me as well. One of my favorite magazines in the whole world, PC magazine had all but disappeared from the news shelves around here, but for a whopping $1.49 a month I have it transported effortlessly to my Kindle Fire. I averaged it out to about $.69 an issue, and it is in all of its beautiful color, but with the added advantage of being easier on my old eyes to rescale and read. They even keep all the advertisements in it which is half the joy of the magazine.

An Apple-O-Phile would immediately point out that this is something they have had all along in their iPad, but I paid $199. The average Apple-O-Phile paid $499 for the first iPad and then we all know they ran out and paid another $499 for the updated one and will pay another $499 in a year or so when they release the next one and the next one etc. That’s fine for them but it really does take away from the “App for that” mentality if you think about it. Don’t think that Amazon doesn’t have an Apple like reason for all of what they are doing either. The Kindle came with a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime, which is the “big kill” for Amazon. They hope to get you to become a full time subscriber to Amazon Prime. Of course for around $75 a year it took me about 24 hours to see that it is a bargain, especially if you order a lot of things from Amazon since on top of the ability to “borrow a book every month” and access to tons of streaming media, you get free 2 day shipping on absolutely everything you order.

Ok now here is the geek talk and how it relates. It will also explain why this was an e-reader with a lot of pleasant surprises as opposed to what I would want in a power tablet. It comes in at just under a pound. It has 8 gigs of storage and although it stores all Amazon content in the cloud it is a bit tricky to keep items on the Kindle itself {for say a long airplane ride, as I did, with no internet access} but the 8 hours of battery life even playing Angry Birds {yeah I tried it} is quite amazing. It was one of the things I feared as Android is a lot more power hungry than the wimpy iOS that the iPad uses. The screen is just under 7 inches which trust me looks beautiful playing the games you have been playing on your Android phone but is NOT going to really be sufficient playing the new generation of Android games taking advantage of the larger screens on Motorolla, Toshiba, Samsung or Acer. Again I didn’t get mine for those reasons and if you did then that Motorolla Xoom is going to be your dream machine.

For those that are wondering. I also typed out this entire blog entry using the Kindle Fire as I often do when explaining a new product. I didn’t get used to the spell check so enjoy my larger than normal blunders in spelling and grammar.