The Kindle Fire

It’s been a slow weekend for blog posts. The reason was that Friday was my birthday! I took the day off and got started early. Then there were no blog posts Saturday because I was recovering from Friday, watching the Hogs beat Mississippi State, and attending a friend’s going-away party in South Main. There was one other thing that kept me away from the blog Saturday – my new Kindle Fire.

The Fire is Amazon’s high-end Kindle. Unlike the other Kindles, it is not merely a reading device; rather, it is a tablet computing device. It runs a version of Android (2.3 Gingerbread) with Amazon’s user interface laid on top of it. To get apps for the Fire, you visit the Amazon Appstore rather than the Android Market. Apps in the Amazon Appstore have been tested and optimized for the Fire.

Setup was quick and painless, under a minute. Basically all I had to do was give it my Amazon account ID and password, and I was off and running. It immediately pulled in every Kindle book I’d ever bought, and put them on the home screen, as shown above. (That front book, by the way, Pepper Jack, is a murder mystery based in Memphis, with events happening at the Blue Monkey and other well-known locations around town.) I opened a book, and text and images were crisp and clear, and turning the page was easy. I bought a new book last night and read it in bed for a while before I went to sleep.

You get a month of Amazon Prime free with your kindle, giving you access to movies and TV shows. A few movies I could watch for free through Prime included Speed, Babe, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Last of the Mohicans, and You’ve Got Mail. TV shows on prime included Arrested Development, Lost, 24, and The Wonder Years. You can also purchase additional movies beginning at $2.99, and TV shows beginning at $1.99. You’re not tied to Amazon’s platform for delivering video; there are Netflix and Hulu Plus apps available if you subscribe to one of those services.

Lots of apps available too. The newest one I’ve been hooked on, which I mentioned a few days ago, is TuneIn Radio. Gives you most radio stations in town, NOAA weather radio, and police and fire scanners for free, and you can access 50,000 radio stations around the world. I got this app for my iPhone on Thursday and got it for my Kindle Fire Friday. Over the past 3 days I’ve come to realize what a great station WEVL is, which is weird because it’s not like I didn’t own a radio before I started my collection of mobile devices. My only regret is that I discovered the app at 10:45 on Thursday, missing a chance to hear Kerry’s “Mystery Train” show by 45 minutes. Other popular apps are in the Appstore too, including Facebook and Twitter (but use Tweetcaster, it’s better than the Twitter mobile app), Angry Birds, Words with Friends, etc.

There’s also a Newsstand where you can subscribe to popular books and magazines to be read on the Kindle. I haven’t purchased any subscriptions yet, but I have a feeling it’s coming, which is exactly what Amazon wants me to do.

What’s missing on the device that you’d find on an iPad? Well, it doesn’t have a camera, but if I need a camera I have my iPhone, or for that matter, my camera. It doesn’t have 3G/4G, so I have to be able to hit a wireless network. That will limit my choices if I want to take the Fire out to lunch with me. It also lacks a GPS, so no checkins on Foursquare or cool mapping programs.

One thing I really, really like about the Fire is its size. Where the iPad has a 10″ screen, the Fire’s is smaller, at 7″. That’s small enough to fit in the inner pocket of my leather jacket; to fit in the pocket of my PBR hoodie; to fit in the pockets of a pair of cargo shorts. It will not be hard to carry this device with me.

The Fire is $199, whereas the cheapest iPad 2 is $499. So, which would I recommend? Well…

1) If cost is a huge factor, get the Kindle Fire. For $199 I promise you won’t be disappointed. Budget a little more than $199, as you likely will find yourself purchasing movies, books, and magazine subscriptions.

2) If cost is not a huge factor and you already own an iPhone or iPod Touch, get the Kindle Fire. It’s different than iOS and worth experiencing.

3) If cost is not a huge factor, and you don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch, get the iPad. There’s nothing as elegant as iOS. Everyone should know what it’s like to use an iOS device.

Buy it here: Kindle Fire

By the way: The links to Amazon products in this post are affiliate links, so click on through and make me some money :D