After playing with the Kindle Fire for a couple of days now, I can finally put together my review. Usually, I don’t get all that much excited about a electronic device prior to its release on the market. But when I do, watch out! I will spend days and nights researching the product before its initial release and I tend to read up on other user opinions as well just to see how everyone is taking it. I’ll say it right now that although the Kindle Fire is everything I expected of it, I am fairly disappointed in Amazon for essentially releasing a product that just felt a little rushed. Many reviewers have already pointed out the flaws on the Kindle Fire in their own product reviews but at the end have always mentioned the fact that everything can be forgiven due to the Kindle Fire’s low price. Will I feel the same way as well? This will be a long review. You have been warned.You can purchase and find more information about the Kindle Fire by heading to the product description page.
Unboxing and Physical Features
There’s really nothing much going on inside the box the Kindle Fire arrived in. When you open the box, you’ll get your lovely Kindle Fire, a mini-USB wall charger and a really tiny “Gett Started” guide that you probably wouldn’t even look at twice. That’s it. Amazon does not provide you with a mini-USB cable to help connect your Kindle Fire to your PC. I’m not sure why so many reviewers left this part out in their review. If you want to be able to sideload books, PDF documents, videos, music, pictures and other media from your computer to the Kindle Fire, you’ll have to purchase your own mini-USB cable. The good news is that the Kindle Fire uses a standard mini-USB cable and not a proprietary one (obviously, since they would have to include one in the box). Before you go out to your local retail outlet and spend $20 for such a cable, I suggest you go online to either Monoprice or Amazon themselves to purchase this cable at a fraction of the retail cost. Although you are not required to purchase this cable to use the Kindle Fire, you’ll be glad you did later on when you want to sideload large files to the device.
The Kindle Fire measure in at 7.5 inches x 4.7 inches and weighs in at approximately 14.6 ounces. In my hands, I do think that it’s a teeny bit on the heavy side. However, once you start using the device day in and day out, the weight shouldn’t be that big of a factor anymore. Though I do have to warn you that if your primary use of the Kindle Fire is to read books and PDF documents like I am, your hands will obviously get more tired during those long reading sessions. I will go over this topic later on. The looks of the Kindle Fire is very low-profile and doesn’t stand out too much, which I definitely appreciate. On the back of the device, you sorta have a matte/rubbery coating that makes holding the device more comfortable. There is your usual Kindle and Amazon logo branding on it but trust me, it is really discreet. At the top, you have two mini output speakers. The left and right side of the Kindle Fire is bare. There is no volume rocker. At the bottom, you have your standard 3.5mm headphone jack, mini-USB connector and oddly enough, the power button. That’s right folks. The engineers of the Kindle Fire decided it would be best for you if they placed the power button at the bottom of the device rather than at the top or on the side as is more common. This is horrible in my opinion because the power button can be accidentally pressed while using the device. Also, unlike other devices where you usually have to hold down the power button for a few seconds prior to it turning on, the Kindle Fire will immediately turn on at the push of the power button. No holding required.
The Kindle Fire rocks a 1024×600 resolution IPS screen. All you need to know is that the screen is absolutely gorgeous. If watching movies on the Kindle Fire is one of your main priorities, I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed. Colors are vibrant and really stand out. The viewing angle is pretty good too. You can tilt the device at odd angles and still be able to see the contents on screen. I’m not exactly fond of the glossiness of the screen, however. I will definitely look for a matte screen protector to help reduce the glare. The Kindle Fire comes with 8GB of internal storage but only 6.5GB of that is actually usable. This can be very limiting to some users.
And no, the Kindle Fire does not have 3G, Bluetooth, microphone, micro-SD card slot and camera functions.
Out of Box Experience
As soon as you turn the Kindle Fire on, it will walk you through the initial setup process. Mainly, you’ll get to select your time zone and connect to a wireless connection. Once having done so, Amazon automatically helps you register the device. When you order the device from Amazon’s website, your Kindle Fire’s serial number is tied to your Amazon account. Therefore, you don’t have to retype your username or password. This cannot be said if you have purchased the Kindle Fire at your local electronic retailer (Best Buy or Staples).The Kindle Fire will then begin to download and install an update. Once that completes, you’ll view a simple tutorial of how to navigate the Kindle Fire. When you finish that, you’ll then be greeted with the Kindle Fire home screen and you’ll be on your own! Also note that once your registration has completed, your 1-month trial of Amazon Prime will begin. You will receive an email from Amazon stating so.
Navigating around the Kindle Fire is not difficult at all. It just takes some getting used too. You have your home screen and 7 different tabs at the top to help you get to your media. These tabs are Newsstand, Books, Music, Video, Docs, Apps, and Web. Within each tab with the exception of Web, you get to toggle the view of whether to look for media on the Amazon Cloud or locally on your Device. Amazon will happily store any digital content you’ve purchased from them on their servers. You can then choose to manually download that item on to your device if you so chose to. Remember, you only have 6.5GB of usable local storage. This is Amazon’s solution to the low storage problem.
Soft Buttons and Settings
There are no hard buttons on the Kindle Fire. The only physical button available is the power button. However, the Kindle Fire does incorporate ‘soft buttons’. On many Android based devices, you get the menu, home, back and search button on the bottom. The Fire also includes these same buttons but in order to use them, you have to tap the screen whenever you’re inside an app. The buttons will then pop out on the bottom of your screen.
The missing volume rocker is very disappointing. In order to adjust the volume, you’ll have to adjust it via a slider. Simply tap the navigation bar located on the top of the Kindle Fire to display the options. Here, you can choose to lock/unlock the screen orientation, adjust the volume, adjust the brightness, enable/disable Wi-Fi, syncing your contents with Amazon’s servers, and a More button. If you currently have music playing, you can also control the player from this bar. Clicking on the More button allows you access to more options and configuration settings. Such options include deregistering your Kindle, screen timeout, setting a lock screen password, date and time settings, keyboard settings, viewing remaining battery life and allowing the installation of ‘unknown’ applications.
The missing physical buttons is not that big of a deal, honestly. You get use to the soft buttons very quickly. Like many others, I am however saddened that Amazon didn’t include a volume rocker. I have no idea if this was to save on the overall cost of the device or not but the volume rocker is very important. The button detection on the Kindle Fire can also be considered pretty poor. Sometimes, you would click on the back button only to have it do nothing even though the button flashed. Controlling sliders can also be a challenge as the detection mechanism is not that good. This could be due to a limited amount of sensor placement which is again probably due to cutting the overall cost.
On the Kindle Fire home screen, you’ll see a search bar at the top and a row of big icons. This is called the Recent Carousel. Basically, any apps you open will get listed here with the most recent one in the front. Think of this as your activity history. For example, let’s say you open the Pandora app to listen to music. You head back to the home screen and the Pandora app icon will be listed in at front of the carousel. Next, you open up a book you’ve purchased from the Kindle Store. You finish reading and close the app. That book icon (usually the cover art) will now be listed in the front with Pandora right behind it. You can only open an app in the carousel bar is that specific app is in the front. If you find an app you want to open but is 3 apps away/behind from the main one, you can tap on that icon and that will bring that app to the front. You then have to tap the icon in the center again to actually open it. To uninstall an app here, simply long-hold the app icon and choose the appropriate option. Right beneath the carousel is your favorites bookshelf. You can place the apps that you use most here. To do so, long-hold an app icon in the carousel and choose the appropriate option. You can also rearrange the app icon placement to your liking here.
Many will hate the carousel feature because Amazon offers you no control settings for it. Sometimes, you don’t want your activity history to be shown (such as a thumbnail display of your last website visit). I find the idea pretty neat but navigating in the carousel is pretty awkward. It is very sensitive and in many cases, you’ll flip right past the app you wanted to re-open. Often times you’ll wonder why even bother with using the carousel and instead opt to just open the app either in your favorites bookshelf (which is just a swipe up) or in the Apps view.
Here, you’ll find any Magazine subscription you’ve purchased from Amazon. They have a pretty vast selection of magazines for you to choose from. Many of these magazines have a 14-day free subscription so do take advantage of that offer. This allows you to get a feel for how reading a digital magazine on a 7″ tablet display will be. Pictures definitely look great and vibrant on the screen but unless you’re looking at a picture-only magazine, you’ll be doing a lot of reading. Sadly, a 7″ display is not big enough for this task. Words appear tiny no matter if the magazine is in landscape or portrait mode. You can either double-tap a column to automatically zoom-in or use pinch-to-zoom to manually enlarge it. Consider doing this for almost every page and it gets tedious very fast. Don’t want to do all that? Switch to Text mode and now the magazine will transform into an eBook where many elements of the magazine gets stripped and you’re presented with just the text. This is definitely easier to read but you lose that “magazine” feel.
My personal opinion of reading magazines on the Kindle Fire is not very pleasing. Although I don’t care that much about reading magazines on my Kindle Fire, I’m still disappointed with Amazon in this regard. Reading a magazine on the Kindle Fire can sometimes be down right frustrating. Page turns are somewhat slow and many a times, you’ll accidentally turn the page when trying to navigate around after you’ve zoomed in. Also, the magazine itself doesn’t even fully utilize all the screen estate of the Fire!Some magazines, such as Wired, comes with their own app. I find that the reading experience is 100x better than reading the magazine through Amazon’s built-in reader. I’m not joking. However, I only tried the Wired app (already a member). Not only do they use the entire screen estate on the Fire, the magazine was actually formatted correctly to fit. In fact, there is no zoom feature at all because you won’t need it! If reading every magazine on the Kindle Fire was like this, I’m sure customers would be a whole lot more pleased.
Being as the Kindle name is generally associated with reading books, the Kindle Fire doesn’t break tradition. Books you’ve purchased in the past from the Amazon Kindle Store will be in the Cloud view. To begin reading a book, simply tap on it and the book will download onto your device locally. You can sort your library by author, recency, or title. Because the Kindle Fire sports an LCD type screen unlike the pearl e-ink display of the regular Kindles, long reading sessions will be less comfortable. Add the need to hold the Kindle Fire with one hand during this whole time and you might consider wanting to either refund the Fire or pick up a e-ink Kindle to go along with the Fire and dedicate it strictly to reading. This was one of the biggest sacrifices I had to make when I sold my Kindle Keyboard for the Kindle Fire. The Kindle reading app is your standard ordeal. You get to choose from 8 different text sizes, lines spaces, margins and color mode. By default, you’ll read on a white background with black text. You can also chose the reverse of this (for night time reading) or a sepia colored background. There’s also a couple of fonts you can choose from. By default, it is set on Georgia. Turning a page is as simple as swiping your finger across the page or tapping on the edge of the display. Page turns is not the fastest in terms of speed but it’s not the end of the world. There is also no Text-to-Speech on the Kindle Fire. Readers who use this feature will definitely be disappointed. Luckily, I don’t use this but am still shocked at seeing this feature removed.
Not much going in here. Albums and MP3 purchases made on Amazon will show up in the Cloud section. You can easily download these songs directly onto your device in situations where you’ll be using the Kindle Fire without a Wi-Fi connection. The other neat thing concerning your music library is that your Amazon Cloud Drive library can also be accessed here. Amazon gives every user 5GB of free storage to upload their personal music and documents (you can pay for more storage if you choose too). At the moment, only your music files can be accessed on your Cloud Drive account natively on the Kindle Fire. Maybe a firmware update later will also allow you to access your documents, pictures and movies as well. Oddly enough, clicking the Sync button did not refresh my cloud library. I’ve managed to upload some new songs in my Cloud Drive account but they were not reflected on the Fire. I found out you had to actually go into the settings menu and manually hit the “Refresh Cloud Drive” option before the new tracks appeared. As far as the music player goes, you have your standard button navigation such as last track, next track, pause, shuffle and repeat. Very basic but gets the job done. And yes, you can listen to music in the background while you open other apps.
You can also create your very own playlist as well. However, I found it a bit difficult to do so. When I tried to edit a playlist (namely adding songs), it showed me a list of all of my songs in the library. So naturally, I thought all I had to do was tap only the songs I want to add in the playlist. Well, that doesn’t work. In fact, nothing works. I can’t interact with the songs at all in this list. Tapping and swiping does nothing. To actually add the songs, I had to manually go to the song/album, find the tracks I wanted to add, long-hold the song and then finally choose to add it to my playlist. Very weird indeed. Not sure what I’m doing wrong here.
So far though, I’ve got no complaints here except for that weird playlist behavior. I’m not sure if its a bug or not. Generally, I’m very lax when it comes to this kind of stuff. As long as I can find my music and be able to play it in the background, I’m satisfied.
The Video section allows you to play movie content purchased through Amazon. If you’ve rented or purchased a movie, you are allowed to download it onto your Kindle Fire for viewing. However, note that movies you sideload via USB onto the device will not show up in this view! It was confusing at first because naturally, you would think movies you’ve placed in the Video folder will appear here. It doesn’t. To view your movies and pictures, you need to actually open up the Gallery app (pre-installed by Amazon). Only then will you see your files. Weird but that’s how it works. By default, Amazon only supports MP4 and VP8 encoded movie files. I’m sure most of you have no idea what the latter codec even is. Don’t worry, just stick with MP4 and you should be good. Of course, nothing is good if you have to convert your videos before being able to view them on your Kindle Fire. The actual video player, again, is your standard ordeal player. Nothing fancy. You do have a 10-second quick rewind button at your disposal. This is useful when you run into those what-the-heck-did-they-just-say moments in a movie.
If you subscribe to Amazon’s Prime membership, you are allowed to stream an unlimited amount of movie and TV episodes from Amazon’s Prime video library. You get a free 1-month trial of Prime with your Kindle Fire so please take advantage of this offer! I am amazed at how fast videos started to play on my Kindle Fire. Remember, Amazon Prime videos are streaming only. No downloads. Picture quality is pretty amazing. Although the video library doesn’t include new movies or TV shows, there’s still a lot of content to be had here. I’m also sure that Amazon is actively seeking ways to improve this library for Prime members in the near future.
Consuming video from Amazon’s store is very satisfying and truly is one of the best things about the Kindle Fire. What’s not cool is the lack of codec support. I really don’t get what’s going on but is it really that much more difficult to give consumers the chance to be able to play the majority of their media files without having to convert them first? Maybe they did it purposely to persuade users converting is just not worth it and so they should just buy the movie from their store instead? However, there’s a simple way around this ‘unsupported’ codec issue and that is to install an app that will allow us to play back those movies natively on the Kindle Fire.
Here is where you would find your personal document files such as PDF and Mobi formats. One of the main reason I decided to get the Kindle is due to me reading a lot of PDF documents. Sad to say it but the built-in PDF reader on the Kindle Fire is average at best. Reading in portrait mode still requires you to zoom in but things get a little better in landscape mode. The worst part when reading in landscape mode however is that scrolling up or down on a page causes that page to wiggle left and right as well. Usually, this only happens when you zoom in. I found the reading experience a whole lot better when I used the official Adobe Acrobat Reader app. You are allowed to read Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents but you would not find the documents inside the Docs view. Instead, you’ll need to open the QuickOffice app instead. This app is preloaded onto your Kindle Fire and I’m sure can cause some initial confusion because if someone dragged a document into the Documents folder on the Kindle Fire, then that file should appear in the Docs tab! This is similar to the video issue talked about above.
While I am disappointed with the built-in PDF reader, I did manage to salvage the experience by using a different app. This is obviously not the ideal situation but I have no choice. This furthers my argument that the Kindle Fire needed a lot more tweaking before its public launch. If you are going to be reading lots of PDF documents on the Kindle Fire, take a look at the official PDF reader app from Adobe. The only bad thing about it is that you can’t bookmark a location.
In this view, you’ll see a list of all the apps either ready for you to install from the cloud or that which is already on your device. The view here is very simplistic. You have the same bookshelf view as in your Favorites area on the home screen. Each row contains 5 apps. The bad news is that you cannot manually rearrange the icons here! Your only options are to either sort them by recency or title. Amazon baked in a couple of apps onto your device that you can’t easily remove. This includes Quickoffice, Facebook, Audible, the Amazon app store, and the Pulse rss news reader among others. The Facebook app is a joke because all it does is take me to the site’s mobile version via the Silk browser. It other words, it’s just a URL shortcut. With the Kindle Fire, you are restricted to using only Amazon’s app store to purchase and install apps. Amazon is without question improving their app store as you read this so as time goes by, you should see more and more apps. If you want an app that is not available in the app store, you’ll have to manually sideload and install the app’s APK file (think of APK the equivalent to Windows .exe). The app store is easy to navigate and includes the usual categories to sort the apps by. Each day, Amazon includes a free app-of-the-day download and will be listed at the very top of the store for everyone to see. This is a great way for users to rack up apps without having to spend money on them.
It’s no question that apps can either make or break a tablet. Although the official Android Market includes hundreds of thousands of apps, many of them are pure rubbish. Amazon’s app store, although fewer in number, actually helps weed out the more useless apps. At least that’s how it should work in theory. Some of your favorite apps might be missing so if you really need them on your Kindle Fire, you’ll have no choice but to manually sideload them and install them that way.
Amazon’s browser, called Silk, has garnered a lot of publicity and is actually one of the highlight of the Kindle Fire. The Silk browser is suppose to help web pages load faster because part of the processing is actually done on Amazon’s powerful web servers. My problem is not with the speed at which a site loads. I don’t think of myself as that important of an individual that I can’t even bother waiting a extra few seconds. My main gripe with the browser is in the navigation itself. When scrolling through some websites, you’ll often notice “lag” and jerkiness. Scrolling just doesn’t feel smooth. This isn’t apparent when you load the mobile version of a site. But when you begin loading the full desktop version though, you’ll feel it. The Silk browser is flash capable so obviously, it’s going to take extra juice to load some websites. You can turn flash off in the settings menu if you prefer. The slowness is not a deal breaker. It’s definitely bearable and like I said, it’s not always apparent. Other than that, I don’t really notice websites loading that much faster. Right now, the more people using Silk, the more data Amazon can gather and therefore, the better it can cache the more popular websites. If you don’t want Amazon processing your websites, you can obviously turn this feature off as well.
Right now, I am completely ditching the Silk browser and have instead opted to sideload the Opera browser in its place. Scrolling and zooming in on websites feel a lot faster. Again, I really don’t care all that much about how many seconds a page can load faster with one browser or another. I am positive that Silk will get better over time and I am even hoping a future firmware update will improve its speed. If a third-party browser can be so smooth, I don’t see why it should be acceptable for Amazon’s own browser to feel so sluggish operating on the same hardware.
Amazon’s default email client is pretty barebones but it gets the job done, unless you need Exchange support. You’ll need an app for that. For the casual users, the email client should suffice. I’ve set up my main Gmail account on the Kindle Fire with ease. The email client does support IMAP but there are two things you have to configure before it will behave like actual IMAP. First, you have to go into the settings menu of your email account and select the option to also delete the emails on the Gmail server when you delete them on the Fire. If not, you’ll notice that emails you delete on the Fire will still be inside your other email clients. The purpose of IMAP is to synchronize your actions across all your email clients. I’m surprised this was turned off by default. Secondly, by default, emails you delete on the Fire will be dumped into a new folder called Trash. Your email account most likely already have a folder dedicated to email trash so in the settings menu, you have to tell the email client to dump the emails you delete on the Kindle Fire in the existing “trash” folder.
I don’t have too much complaints about the email client. Again, casual users should have no issues with emails on the Fire. One odd thing is that you cannot zoom in on emails. This includes either double tapping or pinching.
The Kindle Fire comes pre-loaded with the Comixology app. You can easily purchase new comics in this app and read them on the Kindle Fire. I have to say that the reading experience is pretty satisfying. The Kindle Fire’s screen can display almost 16 million colors and so comics being the colorful pictures that they are, really stand out. In many cases, the text will be too small to read in either landscape or portrait mode. There is no pinch-to-zoom feature here. However, you can simply double tap the screen and the app is smart enough to automatically zoom in on a comic strip. You then swipe the screen (right to left) and you’ll see either the next comic strip. I really like how this works. I’m not a big comic expert but I was a Spawn fan back in my high school years and so this should get a me a bit more interested agian. The Comixology app includes many free comics for you to download and read. At certain times, I sort of wished that reading magazines on the Kindle Fire would be similar to reading comics. Rather than having to manually focus and readjust the the zoom level for every page, all you have to do here is double-tap and that’s it!
Things I Don’t Like
There are a couple of issues that while it wouldn’t totally ruin your experience with the Kindle Fire, it’s still there nonetheless and can get frustrating at times.
Lack of Multitasking. I’m not expecting a tablet to replace my laptop but that doesn’t mean a user don’t need multitasking features! With an a previous Android device I used, I could simply long hold the menu button and a window would appear listing the previous 4-5 apps I’ve opened. Switching to any one of them was a simply click away. With the Fire, I have to head back to the home screen, open the second app, head back to the home screen and re-open the first app. I take a lot of notes when reading PDFs and having to constantly switch between the PDF reader and Evernote on the Kindle Fire is a pain.
Lock Screen. You are allowed to password protect your Kindle Fire by requiring the input of a password on the lock screen. You can either use alphabets, numbers, or a combination of both. The bad news is that the keyboard on the lock screen does not rotate to the correct orientation. It’s in a fixed position. Also, most users like to use only numbers for their password. However, the Kindle Fire makes this a hassle because the keyboard defaults to only showing the alphabets. To access the numbers keypad, you have to change the keyboard view first. The slider also doesn’t rotate to the correct orientation as with the keyboard. Oh and for some reason, the slider only slides from right to left. Maybe they were scared of a future infringement lawsuit?!
Button Detection. This definitely has to be a bug of some sort. Sometimes, pressing the back button (or Home for that matter) does absolutely nothing even though you were sure you tapped it correctly. Other times, due to lag, nothing happens at first so you press it again. You’ll then noticed that the button was actually pushed twice. This can get frustrating because you don’t know if you should press it again or not if the first time it didn’t succeed. Sliders can also give you some problem. Certain times, you were dead sure that you clicked on the slider circle. However, when you move the slider from left to right or vice-versa, nothing happens. Of course, no one is perfect and there are times when I also experience this issue on other devices but I notice it more so on the Kindle Fire.
Random Screen Refresh. Another bug I’m thinking. This doesn’t happen a whole lot but I’m sure you’ll catch it eventually. Sometimes, the screen will just refresh on you without warning. Nothing bad really happens as the icons just disappears for a second or so and then returns to normal. This might not be a bug in that maybe the Kindle Fire is doing something in the background (closing unused apps?) to force that refresh.
Wireless Reconnection. When you are not using your Kindle Fire and have turned off the screen, after a very brief time, it disconnects from your wireless access point to help save battery. When you unlock the device, it will automatically reconnect. However, it’s not as fast as I would like. Sometimes you forget about this issue and quickly launch an app only to be reminded that you are not connected online. Eventually, you’ll train yourself to watch for the wireless icon to reappear after unlocking the Kindle Fire prior to launching an app that requires Internet. I do notice that if I’m streaming Pandora and turn off the screen, the wireless connection will not turn off.
Recent Carousel. By default, the carousel on your home screen displays everything you’ve opened up recently. This can be a problem where website browsing is concerned because the last website you’ve visited is shown as a thumbnail here on the carousel. This isn’t a problem if you’re not doing anything you don’t want others to see but if not, be careful. Besides private websites, other items such books and videos can also cause you some embarrassment if someone saw them inside the carousel. The worst part? There is no way to change the default behavior of the carousel. This issue surely has to be dealt with in future firmware upgrades. Also, being able to limit the amount of items showing the carousel would be great as well. I highly doubt a user will scroll through 20-30 apps in the carousel just to find an app.
Keyboard. I’m not really digging the on-screen keyboard. I’m not an expert typist when it comes to handheld electronics but I’ve gotten a lot better at typing on my iPhone now than when I first got it. It should be concerning that I have more problems typing on a 7″ device than on a much smaller one. It’s really hard to describe this. The Kindle Fire keyboard just feels really sensitive to the touch.
Hotness. The battery of the Kindle Fire gets hot. I’m assuming the battery is located at the bottom of the Kindle Fire because this is where I feel the heat. It doesn’t get hot enough for me to be too concerned about it as I’m not the only one experiencing this. Also, this doesn’t happen during every use.Some of you are wondering why I didn’t list the many missing features of the Kindle Fire as a negative. Well, understand that Amazon never, and I mean never once advertised the device as having those features. Therefore, you cannot list it as negatives when those features weren’t even suppose to be there in the first place! People who complain about this clearly bought the Kindle Fire without going over the product description page.
In the End…
I definitely feel that there is a lot to like about the Kindle Fire, especially for the price you’re paying for it. Yet, the device clearly shows that it has a lot of irksome bugs to work out. The good thing in my opinion is that many of these irksome bugs can be fixed by a firmware upgrade should Amazon acknowledge those flaws. For $199, you can have your own tablet to help you consume your media whether on the couch, bedroom or on the go. Your music, movies, books, or magazines can all be purchased from Amazon and quite easily I might say. Amazon really did a great job baking in their digital content services onto the Kindle Fire. With that being said, you’ll still get a pretty decent experience even if you don’t exactly tap into Amazon’s economy. Just know that underneath the Kindle Fire lurks the Android 2.3 operating system. Whether or not Amazon will update this in the future remains to be seen.
While the Kindle Fire is very usable out of the box, I feel that you’ll get a lot more out of the device if you poke around the web and learn how to sideload third-party apps which isn’t included in the Amazon app store. Sideloading apps is not difficult at all and requires you to switch just one option in the Fire’s setting menu. Being that this is Amazon’s first entry into the tablet market, I do get the occasional feeling of being a beta tester. Like I said, the Kindle Fire is far from perfect and so you’ll need to put some work in to improvise. The built-in Silk browser and PDF reader is such examples in my scenario. They’re not bad. It’s just that there are better alternatives out there.
To sum up this ridiculously long review, my advice to you is to your research prior to buying the Kindle Fire! At $199, this tablet isn’t meant for everyone. What the Kindle Fire can do is provide you with an affordable tablet to help you consume your digital media. Because the device does not have 3G capabilities, you’ll have to think about what to actually store on your device prior to heading out. There are sacrifices you’ll need to make if you do indeed get this tablet and right now, the only saving grace for all things wrong with it is knowing the fact that Amazon is behind it. As time goes by, more apps will make it to Amazon’s app store, better movies will be available for Prime members to stream and more importantly, software bugs will be ironed out and new features will be implemented or exiting one’s improved upon.