Kindle Fire


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:

First screen of movie selection

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.

Reading a novel on the Fire

Reading a novel on Fire

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.

A page from Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant

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.

Those angry, addictive birds!

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?

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24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeannie Moon
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 16:16:32

    I bought myself a Fire and I love it. Get yourself on Words With Friends, Jolyse…we could have quite a game! Good luck with your gadget. :-)

  2. Maggie Van Well
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 21:07:22

    Sounds like fun! I might just have to get one

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jan 17, 2012 @ 11:07:39

      I really didn’t expect to like it so much. If you’re looking for an ereader, I’d recommend the regular Kindle because of the backlight issue. If you’re looking for apps, color movies, shows, and picture books…it fits the bill. :)

  3. Laurie Bumpus
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 21:09:33

    As a former teacher, any time you can turn on a student to the written word, I believe you have achieved success. Unfortunately, schools don’t have the budgets anymore to keep up with the ever changing technology. I’ve got a basic Kindle and, perhaps it’s my age, but I do enjoy holding “the book” in my hands…….but I will admit when I saw MY book on it for the very first time, I was downloading books like no tomorrow. Will be great to take to Europe. :-)

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jan 17, 2012 @ 11:12:20

      I love the immediacy of downloading that book you gotta have! I haven’t had an issue with the backlight (yet) but I agree with Tuere that the e-ink Kindles are preferable for the type of reading we do as adults. For reading picture books or a chapter at a time (like my son does), I don’t see an eyestrain concern with it.

      I’ve always loved my paperbacks, but it sure is nice having an ereader with a selection of books at your fingertips. I definitely plan to get one before summer, and use the Fire for videos, apps, and magazines.

  4. Julie Glover
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 21:10:27

    I got my husband a Kindle Fire for his birthday a few months ago. He’s loving it! In turn, he passed on his nook to me – which was all I wanted (an ereader). He reads books, keeps up with the news, watches videos, and play games on his Kindle Fire. It was well worth the money for us.

  5. Marcia
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 22:07:21

    I’ve wanted a Fire off and on. I’ve read a lot of negatives…the glare, the small keyboard and difficulty using it. After I read some of these reviews, I think maybe I’ll just stick with my Kindle keyboard. Now I’m reconsidering..again! Do you need Amazon Prime for the videos or movies? Aside from the cost of Amazon Prime, are there any other costs you’ve experienced? You have to have WiFi of be near it to use the browser, movies and apps, right?

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jan 17, 2012 @ 11:27:30

      I think you’re wise to have the Kindle Keyboard for your reading. The Fire is more geared toward apps use, videos, magazines, and picture books (anything with color!).

      You can purchase movies and tv shows through your credit card you used to register the Kindle. Amazon Prime membership adds free movies and shows as well as Amazon Prime discounts. I’ve ended my trial membership and decided to see how much I average each month in purchases before I decide to purchase the annual membership for $79. With my schedule, I have a feeling that I’ll spend less than that.

      If you download the movie, tv show, and/or app to your device instead of the “Cloud” you don’t have to be near Wi-Fi to use it. Otherwise, you do.

  6. Donna Coe-Velleman
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 23:04:30

    I’m a techno dud so I can’t give you any feedback but I hope you keep enjoying it.

  7. Rhonda Hopkins
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 01:39:57

    Thanks for the review, Jolyse! I was just talking about this with a friend tonight and we were discussing the different tablets and e-readers. She has a Nook and a Kindle. But she used someone’s iPad today and loved it. I had been thinking off and on about the Kindle Fire, but so far haven’t made my mind up about whether I want a tablet or just an e-reader. I do most of my eBook purchasing from Amazon, so it only makes sense to get a Kindle of some kind. And, I definitely like the Kindle app for computers better than the nook app.
    Rhonda

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jan 17, 2012 @ 18:06:11

      Hi Rhonda! I almost bought a Nook two years ago, but held off, waiting for something better and worrying about not being able to use Amazon. I haven’t used the I-Pad yet, so I cannot make that comparison. However, the Fire is plenty wonderful for me and it has me wanting a Kindle ereader for all my books (and this is coming from a die-hard book lover!).

  8. Tuere Morton
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 02:39:21

    Quite of few of my buds got Kindle Fires for the holidays this past year. As loyal to the authenticity of books as I am, I actually SERIOUSLY considered it. They’re pretty awesome! But, after doing some reasearch, I’m holding out with the hopes that some geek somewhere out there is working on developing an iPad that has the ability to give the reader the “e-ink experience” along WITH the ability to swich to a fully funtional computer with a regular back light, if the viewer so chooses. It seems we’re advanced enough in technology that I’m pulling for them ;)

    I didn’t care for the whole Kindle exclusive to Amazon vs. Nook exclusive to B & N business either. And with some books, the difference in price between the device and an actual book in hand was too nominal. I’m all for their occasional freebies but it’s moot if they’re not books I’m interested in reading. The palate is getting so particular in my old age :)

    From what I understand, there’s no comparison between the iPad and Fire/Nook because of that back light or lack there of. Devices with backlights cause eyestrain. No Bueno. And e-ink devices are better for the kind of reading “we” do.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jan 17, 2012 @ 18:09:06

      Great points, Tuere. I was waiting for the price to come down on all the ereaders and the I-Pad. But my son wasn’t willing to wait for someday. Once I used his, I wanted one for me, too.

      As I mentioned to other commenters, I’m likely to buy a regular e-ink Kindle in the near future.

  9. Nicole Basaraba
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 03:52:13

    Hmm, maybe children can type easier on the Kindle because they have smaller fingers? :) The Kindle Fire sounds pretty good, but I’m currently quite happy with my tablet. Can’t wait to read through by TBR pile in paperback (there’s a lot to go), then its on to e-reading for a change.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jan 17, 2012 @ 18:13:07

      I have quite a TBR pile of paperbacks to still read, but I may soon be an ereader convert, Nicole. It’s really nice to pull out a thin tablet with a selection of books at my fingertips.

  10. Jayne Ormerod
    Jan 17, 2012 @ 10:12:23

    I am just getting used to my Kindle (still don’t know how to make a bookmark…grrr…) so I don’t think I’m eligible to graduate to the FIRE level yet, but I am just constantly amazed at the technological advances in society. I remember going from black and white to color TV. That took almost my entire childhood. Now we’ve got new advances almost daily. Amazing. When will it all end? Scary thought.

    But thanks for the post..you’ve got me thinking maybe my more techno-savvy hubby would like one.

  11. Catie Rhodes
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 18:27:47

    I have an iPad (1st generation–so not the cool new one). When the buzz about Kindle Fire first started, I thought I wanted one. Then, I realized it was basically the same thing as an iPad, and I realized what I really wanted was a dedicated e-reader.

    However, I am so happy you posted this. The pictures gave me a good idea what the screen looks like and the size of the device. I am also thrilled you talked about what Amazon Prime is. I didn’t realize it came with free streaming video. My husband is thinking about getting a Roku (??) so we can watch amazon video on our TV.

    Good job, girl! :D

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jan 18, 2012 @ 19:52:56

      Hi Catie. First of all, thanks for modeling the correct way to write iPad. If you have one, you probably wouldn’t need a Fire. The free streaming video may make the annual fee a good deal. I don’t know anything about Roku–will have to check that out. I’d love to hear your take on it if you end up getting one.

  12. Trackback: Get Lost…in a Book « JOLYSE BARNETT'S Margarita Moments & Other Escapes
  13. Trackback: Kindle Fire Obsession Update « JOLYSE BARNETT'S Margarita Moments & Other Escapes
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