Kindle Fire - after a week of usage - review

Kindle Fire – after a week of usage – review

Let me preface this “review” by saying that I have owned every single Kindle version since they came out. From that big ugly bulky white thing until now. I also have an Android phone that is rooted and has a custom ROM called MIUI installed and am a proud owner of an iPad and a rooted Barnes & Noble Nook. Therefore, I’m a power user and my opinions are heavily skewed in that direction.

Let’s get started.

What I like about the Kindle Fire

The size – I’m a big fan of the 7″ tablet. It is the right size to easily tote around and also comfortably read in bed with. The iPad is too bulky for comfortable reading. I’m not quite sold on the thickness of the Fire, but it will do for now.

The price – $199 for a *nearly* full functioning tablet is amazing.

Micro-USB – Mmmn.  I want the world to be charged with micro-USB.

Font controls in Books – Yeah!  I love that there are so many options to choose from in controlling my fonts, line spacing, margin spacing and  font spacing while reading.  Nice.

What I don’t like about the Fire

The Amazon App store – Fucking, G-Damn it. I hate super closed eco-systems. I thought that Apple was bad, but they look like a shining pillar of open source compared to the Amazon Nazi App Store. Seriously? I can’t get any Google Apps without rooting the hell out of my Kindle? I can’t get The Economist app? Instead of I would be forced to pay for a subscription *again* through Also notably missing, Dropbox, Skype, a Facebook app (it currently goes to the mobile Facebook website), Twitter (also to mobile site).

The screen glare – Wow. The plasticy screen throws off a hell of a lot of glare. It is nearly unbearable. I have ended up purchasing an anti-glare protector and will see if this helps some. I find it disturbing to stare at my own face when I’m trying to read something. The plastic screen also absorbs fingerprints like crazy. For some reason on the iPad or my phone, it isn’t this bad.

No hard volume controls – I really like that they designed the Kindle Fire to keep it simple. Steve Jobs might actually be jealous of the lack of any buttons, but I find that it is annoying to not have at least hard volume buttons.

Slide unlock screen – The slide unlock screen that makes you awkwardly slide to the left instead of the right. Is this because Apple holds some patent on sliding right or was this implemented just to be different?

No external micro SD – Grrr. Stop copying Apple and not giving users options!  This annoys me.  The Nook has a micro SD slot, BTW.  Thank you Barnes & Noble.

What I would like to see improved / added on the Fire

More Apps in the App Store – Obviously I want an App Store that doesn’t limit me based on Amazon wanting me to buy everything through them. I probably spend more money than 99% of the world at Amazon already, so please treat me like an adult and let me have some apps without rooting your hardware.

Battery Life – Not that great, should be better.

Touchscreen responsiveness – The screen is not quite as responsive as it should be.  Plus there is no pinch and zoom (Apple patent?)

Homescreen layout – The scrolling carosel of recent items is cute in theory, but actually quite cumbersome and annoying. Plus the web URL icons look like crap.

Reorder the Nav – Not sure why Newstand comes up first, but I don’t like it. I would prefer that it be ordered: Books, Music, Video, Docs, Apps, Newsstand, Web.

Magazine improvements – The magazine experience sucks. You might as well read a PDF. The only saving grace is that you can (after digging) turn an article to “text” mode that allows you to read instead of trying to pinch and zoom (which doesn’t work). There is no ability to bookmark or favorite and article. There is also no ability to highlight text in an article. Boooooring.

Overall Opinion

Even with all its quirks and faults, I still think that the Kindle Fire is pretty cool. The main reason I believe that is because the price point is so low that it is accessible in a way that an Ipad isn’t for everyone.  I think that the general public who can’t shell out $600 for an iPad won’t even know what they are missing and the Kindle Fire is just good enough that they will be happy.

I would definitely recommend buying a Kindle Fire for my Mom or my Nephew.

For Powerusers?
I do hate the Amazon closed eco-system, but I have already rooted my Fire and added a majority of the apps that were blatantly missing, so that has placated me for now.  I am excited to see what the developer community will come up with in terms of custom ROMs and other fun hacks.

Stay tuned for a list of the Top Ten Kindle Apps…