A while ago I blogged about the Kindle Fire and how excited I was about their Silk Browser. Well, I ended up getting one and have had two months to really dig into it. Here’s what I discovered, it’s really a cloud device rather than a true tablet. I’ll start with what you expect from a tablet and then dive into what makes it a cloud device.
Why Kindle Fire is a barely passable tablet
So yes, the Fire is a tablet. It has a 7 inch screen that works rather well for its size. It runs a variety of Android apps without a problem. It allows you to do things like video playback, etc. Here’s the breakdown on the items:
The Fire runs Android apps no problem. Of course, ANY attempt to hit the Android Market redirect you directly to the Amazon App store. At first this caused a bit of a problem for some of my more used apps but then I discovered the following:
- In the past two months, I’ve noticed an upsurge in the apps available from the Amazon Market. That could be one main reason why Amazon chose not to go with Android Market. (one of many I’m sure)
- The Kindle Fire does allow you to check a setting to download apps from other locations. For example, I was able to hit the LDS Tech wiki to download several of my more used applications. It works just fine but you take responsibility for whatever you download. You also shouldn’t expect things like automatic updates.
It has an ok music player. It lets you sort by playlists, artists, albums, and songs. You can play, pause, and whatever you wish to do.
Ah yes, the item I was most excited about and the one which didn’t live up to it’s promise. Don’t get me wrong, I timed the page load times against my Android phone I bought in 2011 and the Fire is faster……….. it’s just not that much faster. I’ve hit a number of sites and html5, flash, and a variety of other standards seem to be supported. As a browser I find it a better experience than what I found on my old iPhone and on my current Android phone. It’s just not blazing fast, fantastic, knock your sock off.
I’m only going to focus on your current video library for now. It has so far played all my videos from my itunes library. At least it plays all the non-DRM’ed videos. It’s a piece of cake to plug the USB cable into the Mac and transfer video files. I will say that you can chew through your memory pretty quick so you won’t be storing lots of videos. You also have one downside, out of the box, it doesn’t have a video player app in the app library. I had to get the aVia Media Player from the Amazon App Store. Once I ran the app, all videos showed up and played. It wasn’t pretty since no nice movie title icons appeared but the playback is flawless.
Why the Kindle Fire is a cloud device
The image above says it all everywhere you go, you have access to Amazon’s cloud. I have over 150 books in my Amazon Kindle library. It’s so easy to find a book and download it. All you do is click on cloud and everything is at your finger tips. Amazon makes it a piece of cake to transfer books from one device to another. Compared to the e-ink readers, it’s as good as you can expect from an LCD. I still prefer to read on e-ink but navigating and getting books is much easier. Now add in the Kindle Prime Lenders library and you have a homerun.
Amazon makes it easy for music too. You can transfer files manually but I find it easy to buy everything on Amazon and load the rest of my library via a few supplied applications. After that, you can switch from cloud to device with a simple touch. It downloads what you want and makes it easy to get access to your music. It even streams from the cloud for those of you who are always connected.
Any video you have purchased from Amazon is available via their cloud. They give you free storage for anything you buy. Again, a single touch lets you transfer video between the cloud and your Fire. My biggest beef, you cannot upload a video to their cloud and have it show up in the video library. You can still download it and use the aVia Media Player but that has an old school feel to it compared to the cloud.
The Newstand works well. You purchase a subscription of a magazine like Popular Mechanics and it just shows up on your device when there’s a new edition. I won’t say the 7 inch screen lends itself well to magazines. It doesn’t. You simply need a bigger screen. However, the individual story view works well for 80% of your reading.
So I find myself spending more time with the content from Amazon available via the cloud than anything. I have inadvertently become the target of a bunch of marketers because I have slowly started to buy all my content from Amazon. It’s just too easy to buy, backup, and use the books, video, magazines, and music. So yes, it’s a far better cloud device than a tablet.