The Kindle Fire as an eReader
After ordering our Kindle Fire, I was prepared to love this latest device from Amazon and embrace it as my favorite e-reader. Unfortunately, we got off to a rocky start! It was just a small thing – insteading of “swiping” my finger from left to right to activate the screen, I had to swipe from right to left. Hmmm… the first thing that entered my mind was that it was deliberately trying to be the opposite of the iPad. Could it be something that petty?? Anyway, I found this to be cumbersome for a left-handed person, but something I could certainly live with.
I love the color display of the Fire and I don’t find the 7 inch screen to be too small for web browsing, especially in the horizontal position. Unfortunately, I kept turning off the device when I held my hands on the sides while in that position. The on/off button is situated at the bottom of the tablet when in the vertical position, but ends up under your hand if you hold it horizonally. I had to be very careful where I placed my fingers. I also found the Fire to be quite heavy for something that small. It weighs 14.6 ounces, which is certainly less than the iPad’s 1.3 lbs, but the iPad is much larger so that the weight is distributed.
I think my favorite aspect of the Kindle Fire is that you can search for OverDrive books on our consortium’s web site and them download them onto the ereader without using a computer. This makes it convenient when traveling or out of the reach of your desktop. In this respect, it’s very much like the iPads and smart phones except that you don’t need to download an “app” from the Apple App Store or Droid Marketplace. I was able to work from our Library’s mobile web page and complete the entire process using our OverDrive page to check out the ebook and complete the download through Amazon. While I see this as a huge advantage, it’s another method of downloading using an ereader for our staff to try to remember. (Let’s see, there are now FOUR different procedures for our eight different ereaders.) Once my ebook was downloaded via wifi, all I had to do was “sync” my Fire and it appeared. The same Kindle ereader display appeared and changing font sizes, adjusting brightness was easy to do.
For all of the hype in the television ads about the advantage of e-ink on Kindles over the glare of backlit screens on other tablets, Amazon now has that same glare problem with the Fire. Personally, I’ve never had a problem reading a book on my iPad or Nook Color, so this screen didn’t bother me at all. I just think it’s funny that Amazon is now touting the screen on the Fire after past months of pushing the e-ink. The Fire also has the same shorter battery life of the Nook Color and other color tablets – about 8 hours of reading with wifi disabled. On the plus side, no external light source is needed for reading in bed at night!
I understand that one of the best features of the Fire is the ability to view videos but I chose not to take advantage of this, so I can’t review the quality. It also has a built-in Facebook app, but again, I didn’t use it. I found browsing the web to be a good experience in full color.
Overall, I liked the ereading experience on the Fire, but found the interface on the device itself to be confusing. After returning ebooks early, and deleting them on my Amazon account, they still show up on my Fire screen. There is no user-friendly, intuitive way to make them go away. The worst part for me is that they show up in the flowing display along with icons for games, comics, Facebook and other items. Call me old-fashioned, but I like the static icons displayed in an orderly way on my iPad!
Bottom line – Kindle Fire, I wanted to love you, especially with your pricetag, but I’ll stick to reading ebooks on my Nook Color and the Kindle app on my iPad. Sorry!!