Armen Chakmakjian

My new Kindle Fire — 24 hours in the Amazon Cloud

In Apple iCloud, iPad, Kindle, Literature, Science Fiction, technology, web 2.0 on November 18, 2011 at 3:07 am

I have a video which shows me opening it up for the first time. 

I’m actually impressed.  (hey it’s my own money…i better be)   Anyway, I’ve been playing with it  for about 24 hours and here are my reactions.

Packaging

Understated, and typically kindle.  The brown cardboard seems more green for some reason.  There wasn’t much in the box, but that was to be expected.

Powerup

Overall it took about 17 minutes for me to be fully functional.  This included setting up wifi and downloading updates.

Industrial Design

Minimalist.  There’s a power button and a swipe to get to the last page (or initially the home screen).

Carousels

So my existing kindle content was available for download.  I loaded a few things including my book.  Moving through the homepage carousel was intuitive, but it was  over accelerated.  I kept skipping over things.

Amazon Prime

This is kind of cool. I started streaming some free stuff, first of course was Deep Space 9.  I enjoyed watching the few minutes I indulged myself.  With my ear buds it was a usable experience.

Games

I loaded a couple of games.  I have to experiment more with them.  I didn’t see anything compelling.  Many copies of angry birds, and a zynga word game that looks like scrabble, but is multi-player

Books

All my content was available and in color, very cool.  Yes I would have had that on the iPad also, but this is a more manageable size.  As always, seeing my novel on the device cracks me up even if the sales not up to Stephen King standards.  I checked out all three backgrounds and my selected one is white text on black background.  That seems to be easiest on my eyes.  (that is essentially the inverse of an e-ink kindle)

Magazines/Subscriptions

I noticed one difference from my e-ink Kindles.  My subscriptions to Atlantic Monthly and Reuters were available and IN COLOR.  However, getting the color meant that I also saw ALL THE ADS that were purged for the e-ink versions.  I quickly reverted to my DX to read them for focus.  I believe in deep reading.  I can’t do that with Subaru hybrid ads that look like articles. I had some old issues of newspapers that I downloaded.  I wasn’t impressed with the rendering.  NYT  or FTL looked no different from Reuters.  Since the differentiation was low, I continued to be underwhelmed.

Silk

The new browser that comes with the Fire is Silk.  This is supposed to use some amount of caching and processing in the Amazon cloud to get better rendering and performance.  I thought it was ok.  It didn’t add or detract from the experience.  I will say that since this isn’t a high definition display, web page text (especially verdana) was tough to read with the backlight.   Facebook looked washed out with all the blue text.  Google plus was ok.  The WSJ was ok also.  I poked around at a few things, including the star trek sim where my character is an executive officer on a ship.  Some fonts are rendered so small that they tend toward the unreadable in landscape.  If silk fixes anything it should be rending in the form factor more efficiently and readably.

Display

Finger smudges happen rather quickly.  Have a cloth nearby

Pulse

There’s an app called pulse which aggregates a few news feeds.  I played with it a bit and thought that multiple lines of carousels was akin to those old sandwich machines that went out of style just about the time I was born.  It was interesting at first, then just drove me crazy.  To kindlengineers:  too much of a cool thing is confusing.  Overuse of a metaphor will drive people away.

Amazon App

The amazon app did what it was supposed to do.  I was neither underwhelmed or overly impressed.  I was able to quickly track my second package (the marware leather cover) within a couple of screen gestures.  I can see that between prime and having the store online/in your hand, Amazon is betting on the iTunes halo effect.  Have the store and action in one place.    I think this will turn out to be a boon for Amazon.  Essentially you have the store in your hand and if you are a frequent customer, you’ll get some benefits.

IMDB

I have yet to open it…I didn’t have a movie I wanted to look up.  Seems like an odd thing to have docked so early in the life of the product.  I know I should, but I don’t care yet.

Steve Jobs

So I recently finish reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs.  So when I was flicking through the carousel (you can see this in the video), there was Mr. Reality distortion looking back up at me from a kindle.

Music

I know that I get about 5G of space to play with in the cloud, and I’ll probably load some of the ripped mp3s in my collection to see what happens.  I played a few samples of songs that I knew in the store.  Seems like a pretty good selection.

 Overall

I think this is a pretty good device.  The lack of quick access to volume and brightness is kind of annoying, but I’ll get used to it.  Smudges a little too easy given the small screen size smudges are more of a percentage of the viewable space than on an iPad.  I think the minimalist features actually is pretty nice.  What this device does is give you media consumptions uninterrupted (not dissimilar to the e-ink  kindle reading experience).   I think this is where it beats the iPad.  Yes there are more apps on my iPhone, but that’s not what I’m doing on this device.

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