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I'm a Kindle Convert!
Member Name: MrsD76
Advantages: Great to read books on, and you can play games, listen to music and more
Disadvantages: I hate the homescreen, and a few other minor niggles
I absolutely love books, and have done for as long as I can remember. When the first e-reader was launched, I found the idea of reading an electronic version of a book to be completely ridiculous, and wanted nothing to do with them. Then my husband received one as a gift and I read a book or two on it - which I liked, but I still wasn't quite converted...
But then the Kindle Fire was launched and I did start to think about taking the plunge and buying an e-reader. I deliberated about it for ages, and finally decided to give it a go.
The Kindle fire
Amazon sells a range of Kindle e-readers, from the very basic version that my husband has, which costs £69, to the Kindle Fire family. I bought the most basic version for £120ish, but there is now a wider range available and all seem to have an HD option.
Despite myself, I was pretty excited when my new Kindle arrived! I found it really easy to set up - I connected with ease to my home wifi, and then synched up with my existing amazon account. I then had to get to grips with using the Kindle...
Hating the homepage
So at the bottom of the Kindle is a small button that you use or switch it on or off. Then the Kindle homepage has an ad on it (although you can pay extra to not have these ads, but they really don't bother me as this is the only time they appear). Simply swipe the screen to unlock, the ad disappears and you are onto the 'Carousel' homepage. This is actually one of the main things I don't like about the Kindle. In the centre of the screen is the carousel itself, which are icons displaying the last thing you looked at on the Kindle. So if my daughter plays a few games on here, the icons will appear as the first things I see when I unlock the Kindle. Although you can remove these icons from the carousel, the next time someone opens the game or whatever, the icon appears again. I personally don't really like this, as I would like to choose my own homescreen icons, rather than it being a bit random. The most useful thing on the homepage is a list along the top with each of the different things you can use the Kindle for - so Books, Apps, Photos, Web, etc. At the bottom of the screen, the Kindle recommends stuff to you - so books based on other things you have downloaded, or games, etc. Again, this is something I could do without, and I find the fact that this screen can't be customised a bit of an annoyance really and is definitely the main downside of the Kindle.
Although I bought the Kindle ostensibly to read books, I did find myself very distracted by the fact that I could download free apps and games! And even now, I find that I go to read a book but get sidelined quite easily. There are loads of different apps and games to download, and this is great if you want more than just books - although of course the apps and games vary massively in quality - and there is a lot of rubbish out there! I also stick to the freebies, but there are plenty of options you can pay for - and also loads of games try and get you to make purchases after the game has been downloaded, so if you have a young person using your Kindle then make sure you go to the settings and disable this option, so you don't find yourself with a big bill for stuff you never wanted!
I really like the apps and games element of the Kindle, and as well as stuff for me I have found a few fun games for my daughter to play too which is nice. The games that you can only play so much without buying add-ons do irritate me, but something I can live with.
Surfing the worldwide web
I sometimes use the Kindle to go online and surf the web. Personally I prefer a full size screen to do this but if I want to look something up very quickly, check the news, or have a quick browse at a shop's website or something, then this does the job. It certainly isn't a primary function for me but it is an added bonus, and it's certainly preferable than trying to look stuff up on my Smartphone. I quite like browsing online if I'm in bed and wouldn't really want to be on my laptop - it is good for a bit of online window shopping!
Read all about it!
So onto the books, which is the main reason I bought my Kindle. I really enjoy reading books on here, and although it did take me a while to get used to it I now like reading on my Kindle as much as I like to read traditional books. You can simply buy books from amazon and they appear pretty much instantly on the Kindle, so you can start reading straight away. You can adjust the font size, change the background colour, change the font and so on so you can easily tailor the look of the 'book' to your own needs and preferences. To turn the page you simply tap the right hand side of the screen, or to flip back you tap the left hand side. You can also highlight a word and get an instant dictionary definition, as well as see how far through the book you are by percentage, and how long in hours it will take you to complete the book. You can add notes and bookmarks if you want to, and once you've finished a book you are automatically taken back to the amazon page to write a review if you wish.
So overall it is really easy to upload and read books on the Kindle, and I really like reading on it. The one thing I did expect was that Kindle books would be cheaper than 'real' books, but in the main they are not and prices vary and are really random. However books do tend to go on offer and you can often find books for a few quid and even less. There are also lots of free ebooks. The free books include lots of classics, as well as a lot of self-published books. I have read a few of the self-published freebies and I have to say that in the main these haven't been great - I have read some books with spelling or grammatical errors in literally every paragraph! So watch out for those. Another bonus is that you can download free samples of books from amazon, so you can check out a few chapters of any books before you splash the cash on them.
All your books - and in fact anything else you download on the Kindle - is also saved on the amazon Cloud drive, so once you have read a book you can, if you like, delete it from your Kindle, but you still have it saved online. I would actually like a way to organise books on the Kindle, such as into ones I have read, and so on, but as it is everything goes into one folder of books. I would also like to be able to do this with my apps, because I seem to have lots on there so it would be useful to be able to create a folder for, say, my daughter's games, but this is sadly something that can't be done.
Strike a pose
There is a folder on the Kindle where you can store photos - I did upload some of my pics onto here when I first got the Kindle, although to be honest it is kind of pointless! However it is good to know you can store your pics on the online Cloud drive as a back-up.
Charge it up
In terms of charging the Kindle, this comes with a cable that you can plug into a PC or laptop to charge the Kindle. There is no mains adapter and you have to buy one - amazon recommends its own super-fast one. And - call me cynical - but the charger that you plug into a computer charges really slowly - no doubt in an attempt to force you to buy the amazon charger. I am lucky that my phone charger works to charge the Kindle, but again this is really slow. So I would say this is one downside to buying the Kindle, and you may want to factor in having to buy a charger. You also definitely need a case to protect the Kindle - I bought a cheap one which has done the job perfectly so don't feel obliged to buy the amazon recommended ones!
All in all I really like my Kindle Fire and think it is great for the price, compared to other tablets. I really enjoy reading books on it and I find it's really convenient and easy to use, and it is great for travelling. The downsides are the homescreen as I personally don't like the carousel, and the fact that I can't organise my books and other downloads, but this is something I can live with and doesn't spoil my overall enjoyment of the gadget. I also think it's a bit cheeky of amazon not to include a decent charger! But overall it is a thumbs up from me. It is the perfect tablet for someone who doesn't need loads of flashy stuff and also wants to read books!
Four and a half stars.
Summary: I love my Kindle!
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