Kindle Fire Obsession Update

A Tropical Drink to Chase Away Winter Blahs

Happy Margarita Moment, everyone! I’m excited to share a couple of fun travel posts, pics/music, and news I discovered on the web this week. But first, here’s that update I promised.

It’s been two months since I purchased a Kindle Fire. In that time, my crush has become a full-fledged obsession. In fact, it’s hard to imagine life without it–or at least my late evenings, weekends, waiting rooms, and car rides. Amazon Prime’s promotional month of free movies and tv shows was a nice perk. As I shared in my initial post about the Fire, I was hesitant to pay the $79 annual fee until I knew how often I’d actually use the service.

Here’s my Fire money breakdown for the past month:

$11 on movie downloads

$30 on ebook/music downloads

If I were a Prime member, I would have had unlimited streaming access for three of the four movies as opposed to a 48 hour rental window, saving $8. At that rate, I’d save $96 for the year, coming out $15 ahead. Not a huge difference, but I know I would have watched 3-4 more movies had they been “free.”

The exciting news for parents of kids with Kindle Fires came on February eighth. Amazon announced a deal with Viacom that brings a number of Nickelodeon, MTV, TVLand, and Comedy Central shows as part of Prime’s package. Considering my son spent $41 of his Christmas gift card to own a complete season of a favorite Nick show, a $79 investment can very well save money in the long run–in addition to more viewing options.

Be cautioned:  Unlimited streaming only works when the Fire has Wi-Fi connection. You still need to purchase and download tv shows and movies to view them offline. Let’s say you want to watch The Bodyguard, one of Amazon Prime’s new listings. As a member, you can watch this Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner flick via Wi-Fi as often as you wish until the movie is removed from the Prime listing. (I’ve only owned the Fire for three months, but I haven’t noticed any movies taken off the roster yet.) If you aren’t a member, you can download it or watch via wi-fi for $2.99 in a 48 hour rental period.

Fire Text Customization Features

Let’s talk ebooks.

I’m so excited to finally have an ereader and instant access to my favorite authors’ work. As you may remember, I discovered a new contemporary romance author, Abigail Strom, and consumed all four of her delicious titles. Since then, I’ve read Jan Rome’s ONE SMALL FIB romantic comedy and began THE CHASE IS ON by Maggie Van Well.  I haven’t had an issue with eyestrain or awkwardness holding the Fire. I actually prefer the backlighting for reading at night, and I figured out how to customize the ebook by background color, font, letter size, line spacing, and margins. Just click on bottom of screen and a pop-up menu appears. (Not all custom features are available with all ebooks, however.) As long as the Kindle Fire is indoors or in shade, visibility is excellent.

Now, for your Margarita Moment Mini-Mashup…

I follow Nicole Basaraba’s blog faithfully, not only because she’s a kindred writer spirit, but because of her awesome European travel posts. Check out her recent trek to Alicante, Spain. You won’t be sorry!

In the same vein as my recent youtube video, Livin’ on Key West Time, is this relaxing slideshow of Mexican vistas by Adinasadventures.

Last, but not least, is this article about a Long Island couple who recently won a $3 million scratch-off jackpot. After paying off their bills and taking care of two children’s weddings, guess where they’re taking a little trip? In their words, they’re going “heaven on Earth…Key West.” I couldn’t agree more, and I wish them all the best.

Until next time, I wish you all the best too. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a little slice of heaven on Earth wherever you are this week.

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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