Kindle Fire: We're Just Not That into You
The hype's been going on for months -- the new Kindle Fire is supposed to be the best thing to hit the sub-tablet/amped-up book reader market ever. This is not the typical book reader with a plain old black-and-white screen, the Fire is touted as a movie-watching/book-reading/game-playing/Web-surfing marvel with a brilliant color screen.
The Kindle Fire
We have to admit that we were smitten with the idea of the Fire and were anxious to try it out. Is the new Fire a mini iPad? Or just a book reader on steroids? We took it on a test drive for a few days to find out. Our criteria for the trial was simple: ease of use, speed and availability of content/apps. Our verdict...we'll get to that in a minute.
Day One: We were giddy opening the box and ready to fall in love with the Fire. We immediately and unhappily found out that Fire isn't perfect; the slim Fire comes in a huge box, which doesn't seem very green-friendly. As we turned a blind eye to the over-packaging and pulled out our Fire, it felt like a disappointing first kiss. Deep breath, move on, maybe it gets better.
The sleek-looking Fire was ready to use as soon as it came out of the box. It was already registered to us (via our charge card info), and took only a few keystrokes to sign into our office Wi-fi system. It was less than two minutes from opening the box to downloading our first e-book (a free book, as it happens, since Art Attack had a zero budget for this particular test).
We went to Amazon's Kindle bookstore first. We immediately found free dictionaries (okay, so we're a word nerd), and fiction titles. We picked a couple and downloaded them. The transactions took about 20 seconds to complete and the books were available immediately. Sometimes the on screen buttons were slow to respond, and we had to tap them two or three -- or four -- times. Still, so far so good.
Next it was app time. Same deal, lots of choices, quick transfer time. We downloaded a puzzle app, but the images of both the pieces and the finished puzzle were tiny on the small Fire screen and we couldn't enlarge them, so we quickly dumped the app.
Next it was movies and our first real hiccup. Signing in to our Netflix and Hulu accounts was difficult because the pop-up keyboard had such slow reaction time the characters in our passwords were either skipped or entered twice. Okay, that could be human error (although we've never typed too fast for any other device).
Then it was our next, and really big, hiccup. Actually, it was more of a WTF? moment: Downloading the second film, the screen froze into a white page that responded to none of our commands. Not even the on-off button. We put the Fire on our nightstand and went into the den to watch cable television. We checked on it an hour later and the screen was still frozen and unresponsive.