Customer Review

11,122 of 11,621 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I want to love it, I really do. But I can't., November 15, 2011
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This review is from: Kindle Fire (1st Generation) (Electronics)
As a long-time Kindle fan I was eager to get my hands on a Fire. For the most part I've found that it does what I wanted it to, which is be the one device I can take with me anywhere. There are some great features; the reader app is excellent (though not without flaws), the app store experience is terrific, videos are fantastic, and the device is quick and for the most part dead-simple to use, all thanks to the services Amazon provides. And of course the extras that come with Prime membership really make it a real value - I won't be cancelling my Netflix streaming account just yet (watching Netflix on the Fire works very well) but I imagine within a year Amazon's free streaming video catalog will be just as good as Netflix. The free "lending library" book every month really is the icing on the cake though, and makes Prime membership a no-brainer. The hardware itself is solid and has a quality feel, it's just the right size for one-handed use, and the screen is fantastic (for an LCD screen) with good brightness and excellent color, and a very wide viewing angle. So as a reader, video player and music streaming device the Fire excels, and as an occasional browsing, emailing, game playing tablety thing it does pretty well.

But there are some downsides too; the small bezel size makes holding it without inadvertent page-turns difficult, the lack of buttons makes controls harder, the accessible storage memory is limited to just 5GB, which seems awfully small when carrying my own video content on a trip, and overall the interface of the system is just a little awkward and unfinished. Sometimes the back button doesn't work, buttons are hard to push accurately or launch the wrong function, navigation isn't exactly intuitive, etc. Particularly annoying are things like the way that almost half the screen is taken up by menu bars when browsing in landscape mode, the "momentum" of the browsing not stopping, menu bars that sometimes just pop up randomly while reading, and the navigation of Newsstand content like the New York Times is incredibly awkward. And then there's the jerkiness that happens when browsing or navigating other content; to me, this just shouldn't happen when reading a book. This is a Kindle, after all.

On the missing or unfinished side its disappointing that there isn't even a little bit of social media built in - no sharing clips of books or newsstand material via email, FB or twitter. Also missing is the "read out loud" found on other Kindles, and the new "X-Ray" feature found on the other new Kindles. There is no archiving or syncing personal documents - they have to be mailed individually to the Fire. And there's no page numbers in the books - c'mon, Amazon, this is even available for the old Kindles at this point. The browser lacks some basic functionality like being able to rearrange bookmarks, and other little annoyances. The email application is very basic, and doesn't always format text properly, and doesn't have simple things like a landscape mode to view a list of messages. But the biggest "unfinished" feature of the Fire is the Cloud integration; the Cloud doesn't work hand-in-glove with the Fire in the way you think it might. In order to access features like the video or the docs, you basically have to go through a browser the way you would from any other device. For the most part the Cloud acts only as a digital locker for items purchased from Amazon, not seamlessly as a repository for any kind of content you want to access from the Fire. The way the Cloud seems to be marketed, and the way it should work, is that the Fire and the Cloud should work seamlessly together for all kinds of content; if you upload your own movie from your PC to the Cloud, you should see it in your Video tab on the Fire, and be able to stream it or download it. If you upload folders of work documents to the Cloud, they should be available to browse and download from the Fire's Doc tab. But that's not the way it works. For whatever reason, the Fire's using a Frankenstein mix of the Cloud, Kindle digital library, the app store, and local storage to handle content needs. It just isn't quite ready for prime time, and it isn't what people are expecting when they pick up the Fire.

All of these little things add up to make what could be a great device merely adequate. Many will be able to overlook these problems and enjoy the Kindle Fire for what it is; an inexpensive all-in-one-entertainment device. I only point them out to remind people that they should not expect perfection from the Kindle Fire, at least not out of the box. Over the next few months it's possible (likely) that many of the problems I have could be fixed with software revisions - i.e. the bezel problem could be fixed by making the margins in the reader app non-active, for instance, and the problem with the menus taking up too much room could be fixed by making them accessible via swipe-up or swipe-down. Hopefully Amazon is already working on these things. Until then, I'm trying to learn to live with the Fire as best I can. Maybe I can learn to love it.

NOTE: This review has been edited slightly since it was originally posted for the purposes of clarity and to answer questions that have come up in the comments thread to this review. Please leave a comment if you need clarification or think that something has been missed.

UPDATE NOV 30: a recent software update seems to have fixed several of the above problems, specifically the system speed and page-turning speed are better, and the button response is much improved. Random menus no longer appear when reading, momentum in the browser doesn't seem to be a problem anymore, and the carousel is much easier to use as a result of it having slightly more "friction" in paging through the most recent items used.
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Comments

Tracked by 36 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 909 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 15, 2011 2:01:01 PM PST
Real Name says:
I thought it has 8 GB not 5 GB. I am also worried about memory since I will mostly watch videos on planes -- and I was worried at 8 GB. I'd like to be able to take 10 hours of video with me (not HD and a relatively small amount of music, books, and other apps).

Posted on Nov 15, 2011 2:06:17 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 18, 2011 11:51:07 AM PST
8gb memory. sounds like hardware is bare bones to get that $199 price point. galaxy tab and ipad base versions have 16gb

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2011 2:09:11 PM PST
It has 8gb total, but much of that is used by the OS, and for caching streaming content, etc.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2011 2:12:57 PM PST
The operating system and preloaded software take up 1.5 gigs. Mine arrived with 6.5 gigs of free space.

Posted on Nov 15, 2011 2:18:37 PM PST
J. Gower says:
Yes, the Kindle Fire has about 6GB leftover of its 8GB internal memory. (I wish they'd just put the OS on its own memory and leave the 8GB for us, but hey it's a price issue.)

As far as video content, remember what you're viewing it on. If you have digital content formatted at a typical 720x480 (which is about DVD quality) and a relatively mild compression, a two hour movie takes up about 1-1.5GB, depending upon the video's complexity and how much compression was used. (I remember most AppleTV-purchased movies, when I used that service, ended up about 900k-1GB.)

So you can load in roughly 6 hours of video and leave enough space for a good stack of books and some music. Is it enough? It's really hard to say if it is or it isn't. For me, I can't sit and watch ten hours of video at a stretch, so realistically it's probably plenty for me. If you're within range of a WiFi hotspot, of course, it's not that much of an issue since you can upload extra videos to Amazon's cloud and then stream from there.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2011 3:16:13 PM PST
S. H. says:
It's both a price issue and cloud issue. Remember, Amazon is selling the tablet at a loss in hopes of making a profit on content sales. By limiting on-board memory but allowing free storage of *Amazon* content on the cloud drive, Amazon severely limits users' access to non-Amazon content. I'm not saying that to complain, though; I already get my content from Amazon, so I'll gladly keep doing so to get a consumption tablet for a great price.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2011 3:34:34 PM PST
Remember that some memory will be taken up by the operating system itself. I ended up seeing about 6.3 GB after installing Pandora, Netflix, and Comixology.

Posted on Nov 15, 2011 4:03:37 PM PST
"I won't be cancelling my Netflix streaming account just yet (watching it on the Fire is good) but I imagine within a year Amazon's free streaming video catalog will be just as good as Netflix."

Don't count on it.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 15, 2011 4:08:35 PM PST
8gb on the device, around 5gb actually available for content loading. In my experience with iThings a typical video take 1gb of storage, so probably 5 movies with a few other things.
Which is why Amazon has the cloud, so you can stream.

Posted on Nov 15, 2011 5:01:06 PM PST
Stephen says:
Billy,
There is room for improvement in this product. The should have given us a micro-sd slot. No doubt it will be on the Fire 2.0.

My son's immediatly noticed that there was no USB port and no camera, then they asked if it had Blue Tooth. Smart kids 9 and 11 years old already know what the consumers want. Why didn't Amazon figure this out?

I would have gladly paid more for these features and it would put it closer to the I pad.
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