Thursday, December 22, 2011

Life with my Kindle Fire...1 Month in and Counting

Well, it's been a month now with my Amazon Kindle Fire. There's been lots of critics of the Kindle Fire, as many compare it to Apple's iPad. But that's not really a fair comparison as the strategy and target audience between the 2 are different. But last week, Amazon said the Kindle family of products is selling over 1 million units a week. And the Fire was the best-selling item on Amazon the moment they started taking pre-orders. Not too shabby.

From the moment I got it, I noticed Amazon was treating the Fire a little differently. The box it came in was not like my usual giant Amazon cardboard boxes. Instead it was a small, specially-designed (but still) cardboard box that had the Fire fit snuggly in.

It was a bit like Apple packaging because it was not as nice as this:

Inside, the Kindle Fire is presented cleanly. No instruction manual. Just update the software (which took forever over Wi-Fi) and then you log in with your Amazon credentials. It was cool how my Amazon Cloud Music, Apps, and Kindle books loaded automatically. It reminded me of how seamlessly all my Google services synced up with my Droid 3 smartphone upon Google login as well.

The screen is beautiful. Like other critics, I found the touchscreen to be not as responsive and accurate as the iPad or even my Droid. Luckily, I don't have fat fingers.

The Fire has actually altered my behavior and encouraged me to consolidate my music and apps on Amazon services, which was their goal. And the shopping app is well-optimized for the Fire and led to me doing most of my Christmas shopping on it this month. Again, Amazon's strategy worked on me!

It is a drag that they removed the Android Market for apps, but there are only a few apps I have on my Droid that I couldn't put on the Fire. The Amazon Appstore is actually pretty good. And I like how once I get an app on Amazon's Appstore, I can use it on my Droid and Fire because I log in with the same Amazon login.

One major app not in the Appstore nor available on the Fire -- YouTube. This is probably because Amazon is pushing its video services for streaming and purchasing. Of course, one can still view YouTube via the mobile browser. Speaking of the browser, the Silk technology, which supposedly speeds up surfing, is not noticeably faster than my smartphone or iPad browser.

I've gotten over the lack of a hardware solution for sound control. It's really like how PCs are. There's no sound buttons on the monitor or CPU. The volume control is easily accessible in upper right of every screen. Get over it people!

I also just downloaded the WSJ tablet edition for the Fire. The UI is very good. And full issues are downloaded.

Some of my friends ask me how I like my Fire and if I would buy it again. I would because I use it differently than an iPad and my smartphone. It's something I leave at home and the in-between size makes it easy to carry around with an acceptable screen size (which may be making Apple consider an iPad Mini). Plus, I feel more comfortable about handing over the Fire to kids than an iPad.

An over-the-air update is apparently rolling out now, so I look forward to that addressing some of these issues.


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