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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Kindle Fire Review – Half A Year Later

We can acknowledge that the Kindle Fire has already had a profound effect on the tablet industry at this point.  From the moment it was officially announced prices have been falling and everybody is scrambling to catch back up.  No other Android tablet has come close so far.  There has definitely been enough time now for the media tablet to have lost some of its novelty and it might be useful to look at how the Kindle Fire has fared in the meantime.

Image: Business InsiderI will admit that, as much as it makes little sense to me personally, the Kindle Fire has become a fairly common aspect of the eReading world at this point.  Maybe it’s the fact that there is no Kindle with GlowLight, maybe it’s the fact that the Android system allows for installing apps that will open any eBook regardless of the format.  Maybe I just over-value dedicated reading equipment.  Whatever the case, the Kindle Fire has proven a popular reading accessory with some surveys reporting that as the most common activity among all Kindle Fire users.

Durability has held up well.  While initial tests, such as that done by Andrei, indicated that the Kindle Fire’s screen was almost humorously scratch-resistant it is always good to see that sort of thing last.  The majority of Kindle Fire owners I have come into contact with indicate that their devices are in roughly the same shape today that they were when first unboxed.

The Kindle Fire’s Android fork has remained relatively successful.  Amazon’s Appstore for Android is still home to slightly less than 10% as many titles as Google Play, but more developers seem to be deciding that it might be worth jumping through some of Amazon’s hoops to get to a store that is more likely to attract customers to a given product and that can be trusted to reliably pay developers for those sales.  Google’s selection might be better and their update process more streamlined, but none of that matters if they continue to offer the lowest return on investment of any major app store.

The biggest failure is clearly the Silk Browser.  After the hype and high expectations right around the time that the Kindle Fire launched, there has been nothing good enough to be worth noting.  All of the improvements that they tried to bring to the table ended up serving to slow down the browsing experience far too much and it remains to be seen if any real effort is being made on an overhaul at this point.

I would say that, for what it is, the Kindle Fire has lived up to most of the hype.  It was always meant to aid in consumption and it does so admirably.  The battery doesn’t wear out particularly quickly, the device can take a beating, and the software is sufficiently diverse that you can load pretty much anything you might have an urge to take in.  Amazon is always looking for ways to bring even more to the table, of course, as demonstrated by their recent deal with Paramount, but that only emphasizes how valuable the small investment in a Kindle Fire can be.

Kindle Fire a Huge Hit This Holiday Season

Amazon reported record breaking Kindle sales this holiday season.  The Kindle Fire was a major player in making those sales possible.

My sister got a Kindle Fire, so I thought I’d grab it and give my thoughts on it.  First off, I was shocked at how small it is.  It is not that much bigger than my Kindle Touch.  I guess the size came as a shock because I’m used to the iPad.

The Kindle Fire is the best of two worlds.  It is compact enough to tote around in your purse, but it yields a bigger screen than a smartphone.  So, you don’t have to squint to see what you’re reading.  Plus, there’s no data fee each month on top of the fact that the Fire is the same price as most smartphones with a contract.

The display is as crisp and vibrant as described in the product description.  I like how some of the most prominent navigation buttons are bold or in a different color to make sure you don’t miss them.

Now, here’s where the Fire could use some improvement, and I have to say that I am biased because I am a staunch advocate for user friendly technology.  The Kindle Fire is very appealing to the masses because of its price and features, which is Amazon’s goal.  That sentiment can certainly be proved with the rush of new Kindle Fire owners this Christmas.  However, there are a few aspects of it that make it counter intuitive.

The app wheel that spins the apps on the home screen is cool, and it allows you to quickly zoom into the app that you want. But, the home screen in general is a bit cluttered with apps and links.  It took me awhile to figure out where I needed to go first.

There is only one button that switches the tablet in and out of sleep mode.  My first instinct was to find the physical “home” button, but that is actually on the screen in the bottom left corner.

As for the web browser, I like that the text does not require scrolling, and it reads down the page regardless of whether you flip the tablet vertically or horizontally.  I am visually impaired, so I have to zoom in on the text that I am reading.  I couldn’t find an easy way to do so in the Kindle Fire’s web browser.  I also had a little trouble with the tabs.

Accessibility is something that Apple excels at, and integrating it would take a little more effort on Amazon’s part.  It would probably also ramp up the price because of the extra time.  But to truly appeal to everyone, a device has to include features that make it usable for people who cannot access it the conventional way.

So, to sum it up, there are aspects of the Kindle Fire that are awesome, and there are others that need improvement.  It is just like any other new technology that will improve over time.  So for now, I am quite pleased with my Kindle Touch, and with my iPad for more heavy duty stuff.

So, new Kindle Fire users, what do you have to say about it?

 

Kindle Fire Review (Pre-release)

I’ve been speculating here about Amazon’s entry into the Tablet PC marketplace for months now.  Finally, we have the Kindle Fire to actually look at.  Sure it might not be here in person to play with yet, but what we know now is enough to come to some real conclusions for a change.  Obviously this new Kindle is going to have a big market, and has already been changing the way tablets are priced, but what will it really bring users that is worth the hype?

The first thing to do is figure out what you want from a Tablet PC.  To me, they are designed perfectly for passive computing.  That is, anything you choose to do that requires minimal user input, be that movie watching, reading, listening to music, or browsing the web.  I would not, for example, prefer to be writing this review on any tablet if I could help it.  It is nice to have the option to do things like play games or edit documents when necessary, but there are (and in my mind will likely always be) better-suited choices for those activities.  This assumption will color my perceptions here, and should you have other preferences my points might not make sense.

That said, I think that what Amazon is bringing to customers with the Kindle Fire is the cohesive media consumption experience.  Most passive computing tasks obviously revolve around media.  The Fire’s default UI  highlights magazines, books, music, and videos without preventing more interactive usage.  It is an all-in-one platform for shopping and usage tightly integrated with the Amazon store.  That said, everybody will be using their tablet differently so it might be helpful to break down the potential uses and how they stack up for the price.

Video

This is clearly where Amazon has been going with the Kindle Fire.  Not only has the Amazon Instant Video service been significantly beefed up recently with selections from big names like CBS and Fox, but the Prime Instant Video streaming options are being highlighted through the bundled Amazon Prime membership preview every tablet will come with.  While I am a big fan of the benefits of the Prime membership anyway, right now it doesn’t do much in terms of digital content distribution besides facilitate movie watching.

The Kindle Fire has a 7″ display with the same sort of wide viewing angle technology that the iPad makes use of.  It’s supposed to be fairly anti-reflective, though that’s something better inspected in person, and looks to provide a great picture.  Its local storage is sufficient for a few hours of video when you’re away from reliable internet connections, and the streaming through the service has proven reliable on other devices already.  While it is a small screen and it would be nice if they had included some form of HDMI output, the video experience should be excellent.

Audio

There’s not too much to say about the anticipated audio capabilities of the device.  It will have internal speakers and a headphone jack.  Music will be playable both from local storage and through the Amazon Cloud Player.  I think it is a safe assumption that the App Store will fill in gaps with things like Pandora and Last.fm, so selection and affordability probably won’t be too much of an issue, and Amazon regularly runs promotions for free songs along with larger purchases if you happen to do much shopping through the main site.

Reading

There are two sides to the question of reading that have to be talked about.  First is the standard reading experience such as we are used to with existing Kindles.  This will almost certainly be less enjoyable on the Kindle Fire due to its back-lit display, but since it uses the Kindle Cloud Reader the experience will be familiar and enjoyable aside from that.

In addition, we finally have real color reading capabilities.  This means the Kindle Fire is the Kindle of choice for all sorts of things from Kid Books to Magazines that wouldn’t work quite right on the monochrome Kindle.  Expect to see a big push with regard to these types of publications in the weeks leading up to the launch of the device.  Amazon has already got a number of deals going, including exclusive deals on a decent selection of magazines and comics.

Web Browsing

The big surprise at the press conference announcing the Kindle Fire was the Silk web browser.  It is essentially a modified Android browser that will offload most of the work to Amazon’s servers.  This has the potential to speed up browsing significantly and may even reduce load on the device itself, increasing battery life.  The biggest advance that it brings to browsing is a predictive analysis of browsing habits that Amazon claims will speed things up even more by preemptively caching the data you are most likely to need next.  We’ll see how it pans out, but it’s a great idea in theory.

Applications

Beyond making the observation that the Amazon Android App Store already has a great selection of apps to choose from, there’s not much point in talking about the app experience.  It’s just too large a topic to generalize on.  From what we have seen, though, the Kindle Fire will be bundled in with an email app and document reader app, both of which seem to be capable of doing the job as well as might be hoped for while maintaining the overall theme of the OS.  Hard to argue with that.

Overall, this is a $200 tablet that seems to offer more functionality than anything else available for less than $500.  It isn’t perfect.  There is no 3G option, the hard drive is small enough that people without reliable internet connections to take advantage of the cloud storage might want to think twice, and the fact that it is a first generation device might mean there are some bugs to iron out in the first months after release.  Even so, I’m of the opinion that the Kindle Fire offers great value for what it does and will make users very happy so long as they know what it can do and what they want out of it going into things.