Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kindle Fire: Why I Returned Mine, But Still Recommend It by Linda Rohrbough


Editor’s Note: The opinions in this article are that of the author, and do not imply endorsement of any particular product by the Pikes Peak Writers.

When the Kindle Fire was announced, I ordered it the same day. And waited over a month to get it. I returned it recently, but I still think it’ll be a success. Here’s why.

Why I Ordered
I have the second generation Kindle. When the first one came out, I passed because it looked clunky. And it turns out it was clunky. The second one looked like it had promise. And what I discovered is the main beauty of the Kindles (up until the Kindle Fire) is you can always connect to the Kindle store. No WiFi needed. Which means you can always get something else you want to read. Doesn’t matter where you are or what time it is. No planning ahead required.
Since I travel a fair amount, this is important to me. I usually have a series of books I am studying by a fiction author, reading them in order from the first to the most current title. (I just finished studying Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series and am starting on Allison Brennan’s books.)
Now, I figured the Kindle Fire would be the same way. My mistake. You must have WiFi available to connect to the Kindle store. I knew the Fire would browse the web, and I figured Amazon was smart enough not to provide every Kindle Fire customer with free, unlimited access to the Internet. But I thought the thing would operate like its predecessors and allow me to download Kindle books any time, any place. Nope, I was wrong.

The iPad Nixes the Fire
Playing with the Kindle Fire, my conclusion is that if you have an iPad, you don’t need a Kindle Fire. Fire does most of what the iPad does, including a lot of the same Apps, but it’s clunky. (It’s the Droid operating system, so there are a lot fewer Apps, but still enough to be respectable.)
What do I mean by clunky? It’s elegant when it first starts. But when you drill down some, that’s when I noticed the problems. For example, where I wanted to scroll through a list of Apps on the screen, instead of a smooth, rolling motion, it’s a jerky, pot-hole-filled ride that is hard to track. Plus, for web browsing, it’s harder to work with than my iPhone even though the screen is bigger.
I kept my Kindle Fire for a month on the nightstand next to my iPad. And when it was new, I picked it up first because I was curious. But later, after fat-fingering choices I didn’t want on websites and clunky scrolling that made me cross-eyed, when it came time to reach for one or the other, I found myself reaching for the iPad.
You can also watch movies on the Fire, through Amazon. But that requires not only WiFi, but another $79 a year for Amazon Prime. Prime offers other perks like free priority shipping of items purchased on Amazon.com and a best-seller lending feature, although Amazon is in a fight with publishers over that. I did get 30 days of Amazon Prime free, but it wasn’t enough of a draw for me to plunk down more dough. I must say, though, the return process for the Fire was hassle-free and didn’t cost me anything.

I Still Recommend the Fire
Price is the big upside to the Fire. The other big contender, the Barnes & Noble Nook, while smoother, won’t allow you the same Internet access or let you download Apps. (You can “root” the Nook, and turn it into an Android tablet. But that means getting inside the case to pull the SD card and tweak the code on it, which I suspect voids the warranty along with any support from B&N.)
For just under $200, the Fire is a great choice for an e-reader that does more, given that’s less than half the cost of a low-end iPad. And Amazon says sales of the Fire are good, so it’ll be widely supported, which is another big perk. The bottom line is my recommendation for someone new to e-readers, who wants something inexpensive and cool, is the Kindle Fire.

About the Writer:  Linda Rohrbough has been writing since 1989, and has more than 5,000 articles and seven books to her credit along with national awards for her fiction and non-fiction. New York Times #1 bestselling author Debbie Macomber said about Linda’s new novel: "This is fast-paced, thrilling, edge-of-the-seat reading. The Prophetess One: At Risk had me flipping the pages and holding my breath." She recently won the 2011 Global eBook Award and the 2011 Millennium Star Publishing Award for her new novel. An iPhone App of her popular “Pitch Your Book” workshop is available in the Apple iTunes store. Visit her website: www.LindaRohrbough.com.