C.V. Hunt reviews the Kindle Fire

This information was collected from Amazon’s website, and is offered to help review the new Kindle Fire.

Connectivity: Wi-Fi Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or enterprise networks with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.

Content: 18 million movies, TV shows, apps, games, songs, books, newspapers, audiobooks, magazines, and docs.

System Requirements: None, because it's wireless and doesn't require a computer.

Content Formats Supported: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8.

Web: Amazon Silk cloud-accelerated browser

Display: 7" multi-touch display with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and anti-reflective treatment, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi, 16 million colors.

Battery Life: 8 hours continuous reading or 7.5 hours video playback

Charge Time: Fully charges in approximately 4 hours via included U.S. power adapter. 
Also supports charging from your computer via USB.

Storage: 8GB on device for 80 apps plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6000 books. Plus free cloud storage for all Amazon content so you never have to worry about running out of space.

Dimensions: 7” x 4.7” x 0.45”

Weight: 14.6 ounces

Interface: multi-touch

USB Port: USB 2.0 (micro-B connector)

Audio: 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, top-mounted stereo speakers.

Amazon Prime: Amazon Prime is an annual membership program that offers customers unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items, instant streaming of more than 10,000 movies and TV shows and access to borrow a Kindle book every month, including New York Times Bestsellers, with no due dates -- all for just $79 a year. Eligible customers who purchase a Kindle Fire will be given a free month of Amazon Prime.

I received the Kindle Fire in the mail a couple of days ago and have been playing with it ever since. This is the first tablet that I’ve ever owned; my previous Ereader was the second edition Kindle. There was nothing wrong with current Ereader, but there were some features that the Fire owned that I could greatly benefit from. So I took the leap in technology and decided to upgrade. I’ll go through each aspect of the Fire in order from the list above that was provided from amazon.

Connectivity: The Fire fell a little short in this areaL. Amazon has dropped the 3G capability on the Fire, and only allows Wi-Fi connectivity. I understand why they did this. Wi-Fi is faster than 3G, and with their new Cloud storage, it gives you the ability to stream items from their internet-based storage. By eliminating the 3G, they also eliminated any problems of TV and movies that were streamed having poor quality, choppy reception, or frozen vids. I think that they have room for improvement here. Mainly, I believe that they could bring back the 3G, but make the items that they are worried about unavailable on the 3G network. This would enable the customer to continue to shop, browse the internet, and access apps while away from home or hotspots.    

Content: There is more than enough content to keep anyone entertained and busy for hours on endJ. I will mainly use the Fire to read Ebooks, and that feature works great. I have downloaded one movie and the quality is awesome. Also I have fiddled with a few of the apps, which just like everything else, the apps are endless. I already used the Cloud for my music downloads before I purchased the Fire, so all of my music was already accessible as soon as the Fire was set up with my account information. Then there is the ability to read all kinds of docs, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

System Requirements: Amazon claims that the Fire does not require a computer. I’m sure that would be true if you didn’t need to transfer documents over to it. There is a small catch with this. Make sure that the Fire is powered on before plugging it into your computer, or your computer will not think that it exists. Also, you’re going to have to purchase the cord that connects it to your computer (not includedL).

Content Formats Supported: It speaks for itselfJ: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8. This is just awesome, and it is the #1 reason that I decided to upgrade. The ability for the Fire to read all of these documents is phenomenal for me. I write reviews, and sometimes an author doesn’t have their book available for sell yet, but they have it as a PDF or DOC. I want to read their book, but now I’m forced to sit in front of my computer to read it, and that is only when I have time. Being able to read these documents on the go now makes me give the Fire a huge thumbs up. I transferred two books that I received as PDFs, and I was really impressed. They opened and interacted no differently than any of my purchased Kindle Ebooks. This is something that I am very happy with, and also something that some of the other tablets need to work on from what I hear.

Web: Amazon invented their own web browser call the Amazon Silk cloud-accelerated browser. Although they say that it is accelerated, I really didn’t see much difference between it, and Google Chrome, which is what I use on my home computer. There is nothing wrong with it, but it is a slight disappointment after being told that it’s accelerated. It works… it’s a web browser… I’m happy with itJ.

Display: Amazon had to let go of their claim being able to read their products in the sun. The consumer wanted a touch screen LCD, and that is what they gotJ. I read some online complaints that the reaction time is slow, but personally I have not had any problems. I did buy an antiglare screen protector for it though.

Battery Life and Charge Time: My previous Ereader had a very long battery life, the Fire is only 8 hours. That is mainly due to all the features and the LCD screen. I’ve charged it since I’ve gotten it, and have been playing with it off and on, and I still have more than 50% of the battery left. I’ve never messed with any other tablets so I can’t really compare how much juice it sucks, but I’m impressed. I thought I would have to charge it every day. Apparently I don’t mess with it as much as I thought it would, or my perceptions of batteries are offJ.

Storage: 8GB would be puny in the way of storage for a tablet, if the Fire didn’t also come with the Cloud storage. The Cloud - for some of you that don’t know - is an unlimited online storage data base for all of your content. The Fire enables you to stream your downloads from the Cloud, and never even download it to your device, in return saving you that space for other items. You can also download your items from the Cloud to your Fire’s memory, so that you can view those items when you are not connected to a Wi-Fi network, delete them at any time to save internal storage, and download it again later if you want. The Cloud is a secure backup for all of your contentJ.

Dimensions, Weight, and Interface: The fire is actually smaller than my second generation Kindle. The screen is larger and it does weigh more, bit it fairly compact compared to some of the other tablets that I have seen. I guess it’s a matter of personal preference on screen size for the customer. I like it. Even with it in a case, it’s about the same size as a small bookJ.

USB Port: This was almost a show stopper at my houseL. If you buy a Fire, you will open the box and find the tablet, and the power cord… that’s it. My previous Kindle came with the adapter cord and a nifty little attachment that plugged into the USB to convert it into a wall charger. People that own an iPhone (or other electronics) will know what I’m talking about. The Fire does not have this. If you plan on transferring docs to your Fire, you need to buy this cord; it is not included with it. Luckily my previous adapter worked. Also remember, that the Fire has to be powered on in order for your computer to recognize it when you plug it in.

Audio: I set up the Fire to play my favorite movie that I downloaded (Fight Club) in my kitchen, and then went about fixing supper. Here is another area that I think could use improvements. I found that over the noise that I was making, that I had to turn the volume all the way up. So in a noisy area, headphones might be recommended. Also, there are not external buttons to turn the volume up or down, you have to use the touch screen panel to adjust the volumeL.

Amazon Prime: Amazon gives you one month of Amazon Prime free for purchasing the Fire. At first glance, I want to jump all over this. The free 2-day shipping for one year on products purchased from them alone is enough to make me squeal, but on looking at it further, I’m not so sure if it would be worth it for me. For some people this may be a dream come true. With the Amazon Prime yearly package - which cost $79 year – you’re able to stream 10,000 TV shows and movies, and borrow one book a month for free. It sounded pretty tempting until I investigated further. The TV shows and movies that they offer for free are much older, and they only offer the free books from about 5,000 titles. That seems like a lot of books, but if you consider that Amazon boosts that they house millions of books, it’s really just a drop in the bucket. Free books, movies, and TV shows do nothing for me if they aren’t something that I want to watch and read. I’m sure that this is something that each person would have to investigate on their own to decide whether it is right for them. I personally would have to still have to pay for: Fight Club (movie), American Horror Story (TV episodes), and Frostbite by David Wellington (Ebook). And after looking at my purchase history, I would be cheaper paying the shipping charges on items that I purchased. Remember, the free shipping is for items purchased through Amazon, not the 3rd party merchants that supply a lot of items that are sold on Amazon.

With all of these cool features, Amazon almost forgets to mention their Whispersync technology. This is the ability to drop what you are reading on one device, and pick up in the same spot on another. For someone like me - that has the Kindle app on my phone - this is great. I can read a book at home and take off for an appointment, find out that I’ll be sitting in a waiting room a while, pull out my phone and pick up exactly where I left off. Then when I get back home to my tablet, it is synced up to spot where I stopped on my phone.

Overall I’m impressed with the Fire, and the pros more than outweighed the cons for me. My main purpose was to use it as an Ereader, and with its ability to read all kinds of docs, it has surpassed my expectations. On the tablet side of the device, there are areas that could use some improvement. In another words – I don’t regret spending the money on it, and I hope that it serves its purpose well over the years, just as my old second generation Kindle has. 

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