Sunday, November 20, 2011

Technology Review: Kindle Fire

I love my new Kindle Fire!  I bought a Kindle a few years ago (similar to this one), when they first came out, and didn't like it.  I thought it was too wide for my hands, and I didn't like the buttons for clicking to the next page.  It also used so much of the device's space for a keyboard that didn't really seem necessary to me.  I also didn't like that you couldn't use it at night without an additional light. I gave it to my husband, who quickly became a convert to eBooks.  He has gotten a lot of use out of it.  Meanwhile, my husband keeps a sharp eye on technology in general, and decided it was time for me to try the Kindle again.  He even pre-ordered one for me.

It showed up and we took it out of its sleek box and it looks like, well, my android phone.  But bigger.  And heavier.  The heft is actually nice.  Everything about it is nice.  It is a touch screen, which opens up a world of options.  There are two ways to turn pages when reading~ you can slide the page over, or touch the bottom corner.  It is a full-color screen, too, which means you can choose if you want to read your book on a white background, or if you prefer cream or black.  When you highlight a section of what you are reading, it turns yellow.  You can add notes, too.  Highlighting helps negate the oddness of reading an electronic version of a book.  It is helpful to mark passages you may want to read again, since you can't flip back through.  

One super cool thing about the Kindle Fire is that there are Kindle apps for all of your devices.  I uploaded the one onto my android phone.  The process took a few minutes, but it was well worth it.  I had a few minutes free with my phone next to me and my kindle wasn't, so I easily opened the Kindle app on my phone and read a few pages of my book.  It automatically sync'ed where I was in the book to my phone and then back again. Awesome.  You could also do this with your PC.

In addition to being a good book reader, the Kindle Fire also has a full web browser.  The full color touch screen is nice for this, since it mimics a tablet computer quite nicely.  It is quick enough (not lightning-fast, but you don't wait that long), and responsive.  It is arranged intuitively, so the learning curve is steep.  I also liked reading a book that referred to websites and having them be actual links and being able to look at them right then and there.

It also has music and streaming video.  Unfortunately, if you want to upload your music, you need to spend $20/ year for the storage.  Too steep for me!  I just started using Google Music for this, and I can access my Google Music from the device, so no problem.  The streaming video is a cool feature you can use with Amazon Prime (an annual fee).  There are a lot of videos, movies, and TV shows available to watch from the device for free, or you can buy them to watch.  I haven't used this feature yet.

There is always the problem of content, though.  Amazon has found a way around this by pre-loading the device with books from Project Gutenberg.  They also offer, with Amazon Prime (an annual fee), one free book rental per month.  In addition to books, magazine and newspaper subscriptions are available.  Full-color magazines would be nice on here-- perhaps I should try one.  Then maybe I wouldn't feel guilty reading them and throwing them away...

It is a bummer to not be able to use library books or loan books back and forth with friends, though.  Although I just went on our local library website and they have Kindle books to loan.  I signed up for one that looks interesting; I am hoping the downloading and borrowing process is easy, because $4 to $10 per book could make reading an expensive hobby.  And Amazon, of course, makes buying content easy, either from the device or web browser, and they deliver samples to your device so you can read a few pages.

This device is really useful and cool in a way I wasn't expecting.  I have spent my life carrying around books and it is weird to me to enjoy reading without the feel of the pages turning.  But I like reading in the dark without waking anyone up, and I like being able to flip from a book to a web browser and back again.  I will need to get used to not knowing how far along I am in the book without feeling my progress along the pages (there is a percentage on the bottom that is available when you touch there).  I am also looking forward to lessening the clutter around the house.  

I love all of this, but I am going to keep reading to the kids from "real" books, at least for now.  

Pin It

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...