Today’s post is about my new mini-escape, the Kindle Fire. After reading Catie Rhode’s blog post about the Kindle Keyboard, I started thinking about my new high-tech crush. I don’t profess to be a gadget diva, by any means. I don’t have email access on my phone, I didn’t know what Angry Birds was until a month ago, and I haven’t figured out how to use Word 2010–writing my books using an older version. Please feel free to comment, educating me and bringing me into the twenty-first century with the rest of you! That being said, here goes:
The Kindle Fire took me by surprise. Sure, I had heard the hype. This was Amazon’s little I-Pad wannabe, for a fraction of the price. I hadn’t taken it too seriously, though, until our son began nagging us with his tech-filled wishlist a few months ago. The Fire’s $200 price tag appealed to Santa, but we didn’t fall in love with this tablet until setting it up in anticipation of Christmas morning.
Not only does the Kindle Fire come at a reasonable cost for its abilities, it includes a trial period of Amazon Prime. This provides you free two-day shipping on many Amazon purchases, access to instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows, and ability to borrow one free book per month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. After your free month, you can opt to purchase an annual membership at $79. I believe this membership would pay for itself if you order often from Amazon and need a quick turnaround time, if you enjoy and have time to watch favorite movies and older tv shows, and use the Kindle Library monthly. In short, crunch the numbers first to see if it’s worth your investment.
If, like me, you don’t already have an I-Pad, another Kindle, or a phone with apps, the Kindle Fire is incredible! I love the size and weight of this tablet for lying in bed watching a movie or reading a book. I thought the backlight would bother my eyes, but I’ve read three full-length novels (indoors) so far without any problems. I even read on the train yesterday during daylight and didn’t experience the glare other users have mentioned. I’d still bet that the other Kindles are better suited for reading in strong sunlight, however, and will likely buy a Kindle Keyboard or Touch by summer for outdoor use.
If you have a child who resists reading, the Kindle Fire can be a great way to jump-start or renew interest. The color, variety, and low cost of picture books and early chapter books amazes me. My son willingly reads Magic Tree House books now, and has even asked to buy other books he browsed in the Kindle Book Store online! (We uploaded his Amazon gift cards to his Kindle account, and I get email notification each time he purchases an item.) The beautiful color translates nicely for older teens and adults for reading magazines and newspapers.
Of course, the Kindle Fire is just plain fun, too. It has all kinds of apps that can help fill waiting time at appointments, during travel, or at the grocery store. Our family likes Angry Birds, but we also enjoy simpler apps like tic-tac-toe and hangman. In addition, you can download music. In public, my son copes with sensory dysfunction by listening to music (through earbuds attached to the Kindle) reading Kindle books.
The one drawback to the Kindle Fire for me is its onscreen keyboard. This tablet has a web browser, but it takes a certain finesse to hit the desired key. You also have to hit keys to move back and forth between symbols/numbers and upper/lower case alphabet. This can be tedious. You may prefer reading emails and other social media on this tablet, but turn to your laptop or other high-tech device for keyboarding anything substantial. Children seem to be much more adept at using the Fire for writing than adults. Maybe it’s a generational thing?
As a writer, I don’t believe any gadget will ever replace my laptop. However, for non-writing activities, the Kindle Fire is terrific. Now, if I can only figure out the pros and cons of downloading to my device vs. the using the Cloud.
What’s your experience or view of the Kindle Fire compared to other high-tech gadgets?