17 November 2011

Initial Kindle Fire impressions

I've had my Kindle Fire for just about a day now and thought I'd offer my initial impressions.

First, as so many others have said, if you're looking for a replacement for a laptop...don't.  This isn't meant to be that or an iPad killer (whatever that's supposed to mean.)  What it is meant to be is a solid little tablet that you can read, listen to music, watch videos, and surf the web a bit and it does this really well.

First off books:  I've only played with other ereaders before, but I really like how they display on the Fire.  The screen is easy to read on no matter where I've been (office/home/a bit outdoors) and it's easy to navigate through the pages.  I really enjoy how easy it is to find specific titles of new books and they offer some nice lists of top free books (mostly things out of copyright so a lot of classics) that are easy to get to.  I've also tested briefly and been able to access the books without wifi, even though they don't seem to be actually stored on the device (don't ask me how I'm not sure...)

One thing that I have been curious about is how comics/graphic novels would show up on an ereader, since so many of them weren't designed with the ereader in mind.  And I've tested it briefly and it isn't bad, but it's still not as good as having the actual book.  You have to double tap on images to get them to expand and then they're a bit blurry.  Not the fault of Amazon, just how the publisher encoded the books.  So for me, reading comics is still a bit of hit or miss on this device.

Movies: This was one of the features that intrigued me was being able to watch movies on the device and it works really well.  Clear, crisp colors, it displays well on the screen and it's easy to navigate through the Amazon library.  I've also tested the Netflix app (which is a bit buggy) but it worked well also.  The sound came out perfectly clear on this as well.  I can imagine using this feature anywhere where I can access wifi just to entertain myself for a bit.  I've not tried extensively with streaming sites, such as Hulu or the History channel, but brief test with free Hulu doesn't work on this device (not the fault of Amazon though...)

Music is easy to use and I love that it connects to the Amazon cloud.  It's easy to store all of your CD's there and purchase new ones and have access through one device instead of putting it on multiple.  If you're going somewhere without wifi though you'd have to download it to the device and that uses up storage so it's a bit of a mix there.  The sound quality for some of the songs that I listened to came out a bit tinny.  I'm not sure why it was different than the shows, but just something that I noticed.

The one thing that does bother me a bit is that there isn't much actual storage space on the device, especially if you want to download movies/music to use while you don't have wifi.  It's only about 6.5 gbs of free space which isn't a lot.  But the nice thing about the Fire is that as long as you have wifi you have access to the cloud so everything is there, which I actually like a lot since wifi is becoming more and more prevalent in the places that I visit.  Would it be nice if it had 3g? Yes, but then we wouldn't have gotten the price that we did.

I found it fairly easy to browse and surf the web and the speed was decent enough for what I was looking at.  I wasn't waiting more than 15 to 20 seconds for most pages to load and it was easy enough to make the page a bit bigger to look at the ext.

Since I'm a librarian I have to take a moment and look at it from a librarian perspective.  And for my two cents this is a great little device for a librarian to have handy (as long as your building has wifi.)  It's easy to browse and surf the web and would be a great little device to have handy while helping patrons in the stacks.  Not only that it's a nice device just to show people how ebooks work, what it's like to stream a movie or music from the cloud.  For my money it's a good device for a library to ease into the tablet market without spending too much.

My one issue is that the controls are a bit buggy sometimes.  I've having to press the button three or four times for it to actually go back, go home, or switch to a different menu.  I'm not sure why this happens, but judging from some of the other reviews and comments I've seen online I'm not the only one.  Perhaps this can just be a software fix somewhere along the way, but I wouldn't let that stop me from recommending this to someone.

This is a great product at a great price.  I had been looking at getting a Kindle or an ipod touch and this device is a good merger of the two.  Other than the somewhat buggy controls it works well, easy to handle, easy to navigate and fits my needs perfectly.

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