Daily Archives: November 22, 2011

Ready, Aim, Fire!

Kindle Fire, that is.

I received my own Kindle Fire in the mail this past Friday.  For those who might not know, the Kindle Fire is a tablet device produced by Amazon (the online book and everything else seller) and sold for $199.  A $199 tablet?  How does this compare to Apple’s $499 base iPad?  Or any of the other tablet computers out there?   Here’s a link to a number of reviews on the Fire from around the internet.

Getting this device gives me a chance to remind folks that all Kindle devices (including the new Fire) now provide ready access to free Kindle books through Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Overdrive service.

The nice thing about accessing Kindle books through Overdrive is that it requires just a few quick steps, and is a little less unwieldy than the ePub format accessed via Nooks and other devices.   Now I also own and love the Kobo, a dedicated eReader that does nothing but read ePubs.  I’ll likely keep using my Kobo to read eBooks, and use my Fire for eReading, watching streaming video, and listening to MP3s.

Here’s a short list of things I like about the Fire:

  • The Tablet and screen interface provide adequate navigation and bright, clear visuals.
  • The Wireless connectivity delivers speedy browsing results, including handling Netflix downloads with ease.
  • Accessing library Kindle books is easier than ePub format materials.

Here’s a short list of things I do not like about the Fire:

  • The marriage to the Amazon “cloud” makes it hard to add non-native content.
  • $199 means a bare bones product: no micro-USB cord, no case, and no internal camera creates an austere device.
  • Battery life is low–only about 5.5 hours before a re-charge  in my experience.

One thing that every reviewer agrees on is that owning a Fire marries you to Amazon’s online content distribution network.  As long as you’re OK with this, you can also use the device to read PDF’s and do other things that a tablet device allows, but you’ll have to buy an Amazon micro-USB cord to add any “non-native” content.

So if you’re curious about the Fire, read some reviews, check it out at a local store that sells it (you can buy them in person at Staples and other places), and make up your own mind.  A $199 tablet does have some drawbacks, but you might also find that it does the job you need it to do.

–Scott

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