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My Kindle's on fire
Member Name: Huomenna
Advantages: e-reader side of it works well, kindle store easy to navigate, stylish looking
Disadvantages: only comes with USB, finger prints everywhere, screen glare, poor battery life, sharpness not good
I have to confess I was against the idea of e readers from the moment they were first introduced - I LOVE real books, the way they look, feel and even smell is all part of the reading experience which completely get taken away by reading on some sort of electronic device. I love real books so much I have three big bookcases full of the things and it's still not enough!
How does any anti e-reader like me end up with a kindle of all things?
Anyway I was browsing books (funnily enough) on amazon one day and noticed that there were some free kindle ones that looked interesting, but were on the expensive side to buy physical copies of. Being one who finds it hard to resist a freebie, the cogs in my mind started turning - I get vouchers through work, I can pick Tesco vouchers, Tesco sell Kindle, I could buy a kindle with vouchers ergo free kindle, free books... So after acquiring myself some Tesco gift cards I set off to my local large Tesco to have a look at the available options. Initially I was just planning to buy the basic model for just shy of £70, however this didn't seem to have a light on and my boyfriend always whinges about my reading in bed keeping him up so I looked up the scale and noticed the Kindle fire allows you to do all sorts of things including having a photo section. As a photographer this appealed as it means I can have an extensive portfolio on me at all times (incase of last minute or impromptu meetings) or even just my most recent images that I haven't yet printed out to show any potential clients. There was the Kindle fire HD above this at £159, but as I just had £100 in Tesco gift cards a kindle was looking like less and less of a 'free' purchase and HD seemed like a bit of an unnecessary extra.
Why a kindle and not an alternative e reader?
The answer is as simple as the fact that I know kindle will be compatible with whatever I download from amazon, and it seemed much simpler to buy one of them then any possible faffing about with other brands to get everything to sync up, especially when technology frustrates me so easily.
Is it all in the looks?
I have to say the Kindle fire is rather attractive - black all over with a matt finish rear and gloss black 'framing' to the front, the whole thing is quite shiny and screams new and modern. At the base you have a small power button next to the USB connection and a small jack I'm guessing is for headphones.
Nice shiny screen ay?
As the Kindle fire range are a gloss screen as opposed to the 'lower' models from the instant I saw them I thought it would damage easily and as there's no screen protector provided I bought a case for it there and then - I'd recommend everyone do this right away or you'll kick yourself when you get a nice big scratch right down the middle of the screen. One other point about the gloss finish screen - yes it looks lovely but the damn things drive me mad with finger prints, from the instant you first touch it there are nasty greasy finger smears regardless of how clean your hands are. Why on earth can't they make a good quality colour screen with a matt finish?! It just seems so backwards and it's maddening.
What's in the box?
Not a lot! Honestly I can't remember the last time I bought a product with less in it - there's basically just the kindle itself and a USB cable. I have to say I think it's pretty stingy of amazon not to give you any sort of mains adaptor, as it comes you can't charge it away from a computer. Luckily my phone charger has a USB plug so I just use mine for that purpose. Furthermore there were no instructions!
No instructions? A travesty! Whatever shall we do?
Ok so it's not the most complicated thing to get up and running, you just turn it on and follow the set up process on screen but there are things I'd have liked to have known like a) does it come fully charged? (still not sure if it did or not, I just plugged it in anyway), b) how do you get the screen to flip (I'm assuming it does this as otherwise annoying viewing landscape photos in a portrait orientation and it would be useful for web browsing, either way I can't find anything in the settings) and c) can you delete things already loaded on the kindle? (I have no interest in reading 'The New Oxford American dictionary' but can't for the life of me figure out how to get rid of it).
Any other irritating niggles?
Unless I've missed it entirely, the screen doesn't seem capable of auto adjusting brightness, I've got so used to this feature on mobiles that I find it irritating having to do this manually according to changing lighting conditions. Another glaring (quite literally) problem with the screen is that in bright sunlight you can see your own reflection really strongly, regardless of the brightness settings. I found this so distracting while reading in the car (don't worry I was the passenger) that I kept finding instead of concentrating on reading I kept looking at the reflection of my nose and thinking how horrible it looked from that angle!
When it comes to photos the colour and contrast reproductions are very good, but all the pictures look soft even though in reality they are bitingly sharp, this is fine at a distance but no good for close scrutiny and I guess is something the HD varient deals with better. For all other purposes the screen is more than sharp enough.
Battery life, in my opinion, is nothing to shout home about, infact I think it's pretty poor - if you're going somewhere with no access to mains electricity then take a real book, you'll need it if you like reading and are away more than a day! I took this with me to cumbria for the weekend, charged it up before I left (which takes a good few hours) and read for maybe 6 hours before the battery died on me, at least we were nearly home again by that point (and I had taken a real book too). I believe the cheaper/e reader only kindles, have much better battery life as they're less power intensive.
So what's good about it?
As the fire is evolved from other e readers you'd expect the book reading experience to be simple and it is. Pages fill the whole screen, text is easy to read (size adjustable), flicking pages is quick, you can keep track of percentage read, easy to book mark, you can change the colour of the 'paper' etc. Books are also organised in order of what you last downloaded/looked at so you shouldn't have to keep scrolling through a huge mass to find your current read.
Web browsing is easy with the keyboard easy to type on, which leads me nicely onto my next point - the touchscreen on which responsiveness is excellent. The kindle store is generally easy to use to, if you know what you're looking for you can find books quickly and downloading is just a simple click and takes meer seconds, my only problem with the store is you can't seem to refine the sort order by free/price.
Wifi connections are quick to set up and once you've logged into one it seems to automatically connect when you're in range.
You paid how much?!
At £129 this is far from the cheapest e-reader on the market, however as a tablet computer it would be considered cheap. The HD version is currently retailing for £30 more.
So should you buy one?
Despite all the pitfalls I'm still fairly happy with my purchase and wouldn't say it's a bad product. If you just want to read on it I'd suggest buying one of the cheaper priced kindles - they should have better battery life and not suffer from fingerprints or glare issues. If you want to display photos or watch videos, consider pushing the budget up to the HD one to get that sharpness this model is lacking.
Summary: nice, but plenty of room for improvement
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