Kindle Fire – A Few Quick Thoughts

Everyone just stay calm and relax. The Kindle Fire is no iPad killer. However, it is an excellent device that gives you unbridled access to Amazon’s massive digital library. This is definitely an entertainment device. I’m not sure tablet is even the right word for it. I think player would be more like it. That’s "player", not "playa".

So here’s some of my first impressions:

I was able to get to my meager book collection without any problem. Each book cover is shown and you simply click to download. A few seconds later you can start reading.

Music is the same way. My relatively thin online collection was waiting for me and I could sort by album or artist. I could also click on a playlist, if I had one. Once again, it took a few seconds for the song to start but then it was off. The one thing I kept wondering was how would I control the volume, there’s no button? You do get a volume slider, but don’t expect too massive a sound out of those little speakers. But the process worked very well and that’s what it’s all about.

I haven’t set up a Prime account so I can’t say anything about the video quality yet. I might get to that later today. I will say the screen is bright and colorful. I’m sure it will look quite nice. I do expect I’ll have to listen to everything with headphones though.

The app store is a little lean right now, but I fully expect that to explode over the next few months. Amazon actually moderates their downloads so I’m sure plenty of apps are in the approval pipeline. One thing that did annoy me, when you type in a app name is can actually autocomplete it even though the app isn’t there. For example, type in "need for speed" and you get multiple choices. Unfortunately, they don’t have any of them. It’s sort of like a game as to whether an app really exists or not.

I did get email hooked up without any trouble, except for my own bad typing. The Kindle hooks right into Hotmail and Gmail no problem. You can also add Yahoo and AOL if you have those accounts. There is also the "Other" option if you can access your email through POP3 or IMAP. No connecting to your corporate Exchange Server with this I’m afraid, although I could have sworn I saw a bigger list of email providers last night.

There are two minor complaints with the Kindle so far. It probably just needs to be tuned a little bit more, but clicking icons isn’t as accurate as it should be. I have my finger right on the icon and it doesn’t register. Also, when you scroll through the list of recent items it doesn’t always stop where you want. Maybe it’s just the Rolodex style they’re using, but my books and CDs kept getting passed over when I tried to stop. I’m sure that will be fixed in time.

From a physical standpoint, when I hold the Kindle with my right hand, my pinky finger has a tendency to move down and support the very bottom of the screen. Strangely, this is where the power button is and I’ve inadvertently shut off the device more than once so far. One of us is going to have to work on that.

The Kindle Fire will not replace my iPad, but I do think it will make a very neat reader and cloud music player. It’s also a little more subtle than pulling out an iPad. I need some more time with it to unlock all it’s mysteries, but so far it’s pretty neat. And at $200, it’s a damn fine piece of machinery.

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