- November 23rd, 2011
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After a few reviews were out in the wild, I decided it wasn’t too much of a risk to pull the trigger on my own Kindle Fire. This should be prefaced with the fact that I see no point in tablets. I have computing ADD – if I’m using something that purports to be a computer it’d better be able to multitask its face off. Fortunately, the Kindle Fire seems to be marketed more as an eReader with some mobile entertainment features and not as a laptop replacing tablet. My intentions with this device are simple: reduce the weight of my backpack by purchasing engineering textbooks digitally. As an Amazon Prime member, the free content offerings from Amazon are a nice benefit. The question is, will this device do what I want it to do well enough that I feel like I didn’t blow $200 on something I won’t use?
A solid day of use may have provided some insight into my last question. Books that are published as print reproductions, which as far as I can tell is marketing speak for low-resolution image exports of page layouts, may not be of any use at all on the Kindle Fire. Magazines published this way are certainly not worth a second glance – full zoom fails to yield text that is in any way a joy to read. Viewing PDFs of lecture slides is not a problem, and for the last several semesters that’s how most of my required material has been delivered, so at least there’s that. Publications that actually take the time to format their content for mobile devices are excellent. While I’ve never used an original Kindle, and can’t comment on the differences, I will say that using Kindle-specific content is very enjoyable. Two such publications are Science News, and The New Yorker. The latter is delivered through a standalone application, rather than the Newsstand, but offers several features that make content consumption more dynamic for the user – namely the inclusion of links to multimedia content which the Kindle Fire happily plays. The former populates the Newsstand, and reads much like a Kindle eBook.
As far as the other features are concerned, the Kindle Fire seems plenty capable of handling most light tasks pretty well. Silk, the browser Amazon spent so much time talking about, is kind of a dud in my opinion. It’s certainly not the fastest browser I’ve ever experienced. It loads pages though, and renders most things pretty well. The browser does seem to report as computer rather than a mobile device, leading to some pages coming up in a less-than-ideal format. The Amazon Appstore leaves a lot to be desired, for instance Dropbox is not available. Fortunately, you can get the apk directly from Dropox and it functions just fine. Anyway, it’s not going to replace my desktop by any means. My laptop will still be coming with me in the event I need MATLAB or any of the other major software suites I have installed on it. For light browsing, chatting, video, audio (through headphones, the speakers aren’t that great), and the obvious Kindle features I think this device will work just fine for me. Your mileage may vary.