The Kindle Fire: A Year Later & What I’d Do Differently

Last year about this time I was struggling with what tablet/ereader device to buy. I eventually settled on a Kindle Fire.

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The core question came down to spending the money on a device that would only read books, or spending a little more to get a device that would also play movies, music and games?

On the whole, it’s been wonderful to have a device that does all that. When I took a business trip, all I needed in my carry on bag was my Fire. I could watch TV1, read a book, or play a game. On the return trip, I was dog tired and not up for much reading. I turned on my Google Play Music app, leaned back (as much as possible in those seats) and enjoyed the flight home.

Fire as an eReader

I have loved being able to download a variety of ebooks during the year. Ebooks tends to be much more economical than print, and there were a few books that I could only get as an eBook, or books that had a free Kindle version.

One of the reasons I wanted a Kindle was that we were simply running out of space in our house. My wife and I both enjoy reading and as you might expect we have a bookshelf full of books in nearly every room in the house. Even our kids’ rooms have bookshelves (albeit smaller ones).

I’ve download a couple of books for my wife. She loves cozy mysteries, and is always looking for new authors. She loves Agatha Christy, Mary Roberts Rienhardt, Richard Castle and has recently gotten into a series by Joanne Fluke (that has GOT to be a pen name).

She’s not big on technology and wasn’t interested in the Fire, but I was hoping she would warm up to the idea once she had the Fire in the house. She has been reluctant to try the Fire as an ereader and she still prefers to get real paper books from the library or bookstore.

Glare

The biggest problem I’ve had with the Fire as an ereader has been glare. I thought since I read so much on my computer screen and on my phone that glare wouldn’t be a big problem. I could not have been more wrong. I tried to do some reading on our trip down to Florida this summer and it was nearly unusable. My wife tried to play one of her games and had to put a blanket over her head to see. Inside the house, its fine, but anywhere with natural light turns into a problem.

There’s an App for That, Maybe

One of the concerns with the Fire was Amazon’s App Store. It has a more limited selection than Google Play.

On the whole, I haven’t had much trouble with the Amazon app store. Most of the time, I’ve been able to find the app I want. There have been a half dozen instances where an app that was available on Google Play wasn’t available on Amazon. This is somewhat mitigated, in my mind, by the fact that Amazon offers one paid app for free per day. This is how I got Cutie Mini Monsters Counting Game, which quickly became my 3-year-olds favorite game on the Fire.

Sharing is Caring

Not long after I purchased the Fire, I accompanied my wife and kids to one of their doctors’ appointments. I brought along the Fire to read. My three-year-old got bored fast and started getting into all kinds of trouble. He saw me reading the Kindle and tried to climb in my lap. At first, I was reluctant. I wanted to read my book! But eventually it was clear that unless he was happy, nobody else woudl be. I downloaded an ABC game he had played on my Droid RAZR, and let him play. The game kept him relatively happy the rest of the visit. He now has several games on the Fire.

My wife and daughter both have their favorite games and my daughter loves using the Watch Disney Channel app and Tiny Death Star. My wife’s favorite it Word Wrench. I’m hoping that playing games is a first step to her using it as an eReader.

I do LOVE Kindle FreeTime. I setup a profile for each kid and control the apps, music and books they can see.

The downside of this sharing is the Fire has become more of a family device. When I go to read a book on it, I first have to find it, and then most likely plug it in to charge. I’m reluctant to take it to work to read a book on my lunch break because I know my kids or my wife might want to use it as well.

Conclusion

I don’t regret the getting the Fire. As a tablet, it does the job very well. The limited app store didn’t end up being much of an issue. I haven’t used Amazon Prime, nor have we watched any movies on it. I’d need someway to hook it up to the main TV or Laptop. 7″ screen seems a little small.

Regardless if I had bought the Fire or another 7″ tablet, it doesn’t function as well as an eReader as I had hoped. I still would like to have a dedicated eReader device (like the Paperwhite), and I will probably buy one soon.

 

image: Amazon.com

1Direct TV supplies Wi-Fi satellite TV on most Southwest flights