Recently I won a Kindle Fire in a Hacker Buddy give away, sponsored by Tokbox. (Hacker Buddy is a site that connects hackers to other hackers with the goal of helping each other out, you should check it out)
I wanted to write up a summary of my experience using the device.
I’m not going to bore anybody with specs, information or detail. Enough information can be found online, eg. on the Amazon Kindle store.
My first impression and experience of using the Kindle Fire was actually pretty good. I had read some reviews and was prepared for the worst, but actually the whole experience was quite pleasant.
I turned it on, logged in with my Amazon account (I am an Amazon Prime member) and immediately I saw my Kindle books there, which was nice.
The first thing I tried doing was playing movies and TV shows. The search is great and navigation is very understandable. Streaming a movie is super fast and nice and there were no hickups. I watched a Star Trek episode and started playing some movies and it was just great. The image quality is very adequate for watching a movie or a show, the volume is nice, so for watching movies or TV shows there’s not much negative to say about that.
If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, I can imagine that buying a TV show for a few bucks can be a bit annoying, but Prime is totally worth it, so you should just get a Prime membership if you’re going to get one of these devices.
Reading books, pdfs
Reading books works just as well as on the normal Kindle. It’s not as nice to actually read for a long period of time, but I don’t really want to use this device to read anyways.
However I hoped that reading PDFs would be nice, but it actually isn’t. It could be but the only problem is that navigating a document is kind of a pain, especially since when you start dragging, the anti-aliasing of the text goes off. So the text flickers while you do that, and that’s highly distracting.
That was probably my biggest disappointment.
I’ve been playing angry birds (of course) and Cut the rope and both those games are super smooth. The touch screen works well and the graphics are very smooth. This is a great device for playing android games.
Apps and the Android market
The app store on the Kindle is a bit of a let down. I think it would be nice to have access to the real Google market, since there aren’t that many apps available. For instance the Twitter app you can get is just a shortcut for opening the Twitter mobile site. That sucks.
But there is some selection of apps, but it could be much better.
The user interface seems a bit lame. It probably looks good to a lot of people, but I just feel that there’s too much chrome and fancy animations all over the place. And not the kind that makes the usability better.
Searching is really strange thing on the device. Mostly because there’s a lot of search bars all over the place and they don’t search the same thing. It’s easy to get confused and not realizing where exactly you are searching, so that can definitely be improved.
Your personalized app list is kind of lame as well. You get this cover flow-type of UI for browsing the apps and your books (all intermingled, which I don’t know what I feel about yet) and there’s a secondary view that views them all in a row. It’s just a bit strange and arbitrary and I wish they had gone with a more traditional UI for that stuff.
Those are definitely obsessions and I bet most people won’t care at all about that and the UI will work just fine.
The Kindle Fire is a bit heavy compared to an ipad, but you get used to it pretty quickly. The battery life is fine, and actually exceeded my expectations. You can watch a couple of movies and play a game on the device before you deplete the battery.
Other than that there’s not much to say about the hardware. The only issue I found is that it’s a bit finniky to plug the USB cable charger into the device, but you get used to it.
I can’t help but recommend this device to people. Especially if you just want to try having some secondary device to lounge around in your sofa for a few hours a week. It works well for what it does, and that’s about it.