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VINE VOICEon November 14, 2011
UPDATE November 2012 - With the Kindle Fire HD out now, I highly recommend it over this older version, as it fixes many of the problems I mention in my review. No one should buy this original version of the Kindle Fire unless you can get it for very cheap. I would also recommend the
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" over the 7" Fire, as I feel the increased size has a dramatic effect on the tablet experience.

The first and most important thing that should be said about the Kindle Fire is that this is not an "iPad-killer." It is not designed to be. I have seen so many articles and comments comparing this to the iPad, and surveys where people are asked if they will be buying a Kindle Fire over an iPad this Christmas. If you are expecting an iPad, or even a tablet, you will be disappointed. The main purpose of this device is to deliver Amazon content to you more effectively. It is designed for consumption, not creation. That is the reason it is so cheap and why Amazon is taking a loss on it. They are hoping to make up for that loss through sales of videos, music, books, and apps through Amazon's Web Services. You can also use it to view your own movies and media, but will find that it is more limited in that way than a regular tablet. Personally, as someone who has ordered several rentals from Amazon Video, and had to contact customer support for every single one of them due to problems with Amazon's Unbox player or purchases not appearing in my downloads, I can really appreciate this. But if you don't plan on using Amazon at all to obtain your media, you may want to take this into consideration before purchasing the Fire. Additionally, the reason this product is so hyped, and one of the reasons I like it so much, is due to the ridiculously low price. Amazon reviews shouldn't focus on price, but it is hard not to with this device. On price alone, this is a five star device. However when looked at the Fire overall, and when compared with other touch devices (what little there is to compare it to), I have to give it four stars, since there are a few areas I feel could use definite improvement.

FORM FACTOR - The Kindle Fire feels almost the same in my hand as my 3rd generation Kindle but it is a bit heavier. It might be difficult to hold it one handed and read a book for an hour or watch a movie. You're going to need to rest it on something. The display is made of Gorilla Glass, which is a highly damage-resistant. You can still crack it, but I have used a phone with Gorilla Glass for two years on it and it has zero scratches on it despite being kept daily in my pocket with my keys. The back of the tablet is rubberized, so it won't slide around and won't get scratched easily. It also feels good in my hand. Despite all the companies that will be selling them, I do not think you need a screen protector. I have scratched Gorilla Glass before, but it is very difficult to do.

CONNECTIONS/STORAGE - On the bottom are a headphone port (which will accept external speakers), micro-USB (for charging and file transfer), and power button. The Fire doesn't come with an SD card slot, with good reason. As mentioned, Amazon wants you to get content directly from them. It also reduces the production costs. You can transfer your own content to the device through the USB connection from your home computer. The Fire comes with 8Gb of storage, which is enough to hold about 8 downloaded movies, 80 apps, 800 songs, or 6,000 books. I filled mine up right away so I never checked it out of the box, but apparently it is closer to 6.5Gb as the OS is going to take up some of this. You have to really become adept at managing your content through the Cloud. Books won't take up much room, but magazines are around 250Mb and movies are a little under 1 Gb. Free videos available through Amazon Prime cannot be downloaded, only streamed. So unless you buy a movie from Amazon or transfer one of your own, you must be connected through a wi-fi connection in order to watch your movie.

AMAZON CLOUD - If you have not tried out the Amazon Cloud Drive, you will be pleasantly surprised. You get 5Gb (which they will probably increase in the near future) of free online storage to store anything you want, and you can access it from anywhere. This combines very nicely with the Fire. 5Gb isn't much for my collection, so I upgraded to a higher plan (rates are $1 per extra gigabyte per year). I can upload a playlist to it and listen to it on my home computer, then when I get to work the Fire can access it and pick it up where I left off. Any songs you get from Amazon Mp3 are automatically stored on the Cloud and don't contribute to the 5Gb storage space.

E-READER - This was going to be the big determination in whether I should get a Fire or the new Kindle Touch. Ultimately I ended up getting both since I prefer the E-Ink technology to the backlit display of the Fire. If you are the type of person who reads a lot and expect to spend at least 50% of your use on reading books, I don't think you will be satisfied with the Fire over your Kindle 3 or the Kindle Touch, Wi-Fi, 6" E Ink Display - includes Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers. It just isn't the same, and after hours of reading, the display would make my eyes hurt a bit (just like with any tablet). However it is nice not to have to use a lighted cover to see my books in the dark. The Kindle Fire is difficult to read in bright sunlight or on the beach. The touch navigation is very nice, but it doesn't function as nicely or quickly as it does on the iPad or even the Kindle Touch. This can be a problem for me, and the main reason I am using the Kindle Touch for reading books. Additionally, the Fire doesn't support real page numbers, even though the Touch does. So you have to use that ridiculous "location 121 of 16077 - 2%" format. A year of that with my last Kindle and I still don't understand what that means. They need to fix this in an update. Being able to touch a word and have it bring up the dictionary is incredibly convenient and takes less than 2 seconds. But still, the Kindle Touch handily beats the Fire for reading.

MAGAZINES - The Kindle Fire can also handle magazines, however the display is just too small to be an enjoyable reading experience. I tried out several different magazines, and the main problem I had was with the formatting. I tried to read an issue of Bon Appetit and my eyes were straining after three pages. There is no way to read a single article without zooming. The Fire handles magazines two ways: with Page View, which shows the original magazine display, and with Text View, which attempts to just provide the text of the article. A lot of magazines these days have several things going on in one page, with multiple columns, little sidebars and boxes everywhere, etc. I couldn't view a lot of this without zooming, the text is just too small. So Page View did not work very well for magazines like this. It is especially tough with magazines like Entertainment Weekly, Men's Health, GQ, etc. I found magazines like that unreadable on the 7" display. Magazines that focused mostly on the article, like Nature, Wired, etc, were handled much better. Some magazines even come integrated with embedded video and audio, which is a very nice feature, and one I can see being very useful for things like Men's Health, but I haven't had as much of a chance to use it yet. Text View is a very nice feature that works mostly well, but seems to get a bit confused with magazines that have complicated formatting, so it pretty much defeats the purpose since those are the ones I need it for the most.

COMIC READER - This is one of the main reasons I purchased the Fire. Amazon has a fairly extensive collection of comic books available for the Fire, including an exclusive deal with DC to publish many of their books. In addition to a proprietary comic reader that comes on the Fire, Amazon also has a Comics by ComiXology app available to purchase issues and subscriptions through. Although I initially thought the 7" display would be too small, it is actually decent enough to serve as a comic reader. I would definitely prefer a 10" version if they came out with one in the future. A 10" tablet is still the way to go for comics, but if you're looking for a cheaper option and portability, the Fire isn't too bad, and definitely beats a smart phone. It has a "panel by panel" feature that lets you scroll through the issue by different panels, which it will then zoom in on. You tap the panel when done, and it moves to the next panel. This is great for getting a larger view and working around the size restriction, especially since some of the text in the comics is just too small to read. Although it is fairly decent, if you are considering the Fire just for comic books, and you are a Marvel fan, you may want to hold off and look at another retailer's device which I think has a few more options. You can load your own .cbr comic files on the Kindle, but you'll need to use a third party app, like Comicat to do it.

AMAZON MP3/VIDEO - Amazon hopes that you will get the majority of your content from them. That is why the Fire is so reasonably-priced. Amazon music is DRM-free. DRM is copy protection. That means that the record labels haven't locked down the music you buy from Amazon to restrict how you use it. Amazon MP3 music is playable anywhere, even on your Apple devices. It also has a very high bitrate so you are getting great quality. You don't have to worry about not being able to listen to your music 15 years from now if Amazon goes under. It's yours forever. As far as video, I have always disliked Amazon's Video services. The prices are very reasonable and they now have a huge selection, but obtaining the videos is a huge pain due to Amazon's terrible Unbox player. That changes with the Fire, as everything is native and streams/downloads beautifully. If you make a lot of purchases with Amazon, or if you have several Amazon customers in your household, you should take advantage of their Prime program. In addition to the large selection of free videos now available to Prime members, the shipping advantages are amazing. I once had a 200 lb exercise bike overnighted to my house for only $3.99. Everything I order I get within 2 days. The Prime program seems expensive but it has certainly paid for itself over the years for me, and now is even better that it is integrated more with the Fire. The only problem I have with video playback is that everything I watched did not fully expand to the screen, and was letterboxed. Considering the small 7" display size, this was an annoyance for me. I know shows have different aspect ratios, but some should fit the display, and I think many users will be annoyed that they can't zoom or stretch the display to fit.

WEB BROWSING - This is another feature I was initially excited about. I like the idea of being able to use the Fire as a netbook. Amazon advertises "ultra fast web browsing" using Amazon's Silk browser. It is based off of technology that is designed to increase page loading times by pre-fetching part of the content. Sounds like a great idea, but doesn't work as well in practice. I tried out the Fire on several different connections and compared page loading times with other devices (all connected wirelessly). The Fire was one of the slowest. Amazon's own web page, which has actually recently been optimized to work with the Fire, takes an average of 7 seconds to load. Other major portals took a similar amount of time or slower. My iPad and my Xoom both load pages much faster. It is not slow enough to be a problem, but not fast enough to impress me or be worthy of Amazon's marketing regarding it. This needs to be improved. UPDATE - As of February 2012, page loading times are much improved. It can still be a bit slow and stutter at times, but you can increase this by following the steps at the bottom of this review. I am mostly satisfied with browsing now, although Silk still occasionally won't recognize it when I touch a link.

BATTERY LIFE - Amazon advertises 8 hours of reading or 7.5 hours of video playback. As an average, that's probably fairly accurate. During testing I got an average of 7.4 hours of continuous reading, and 7 hours of video playback over five tests for each. This is a big change over the roughly 30 days of continuous reading with the traditional kindle, so it may hamper you a bit if you're a voracious reader. I just got into the habit of charging it every night with my cell phone. You can shut down the Kindle or put it in sleep mode. I keep mine in sleep mode all the time because it is so efficient that it uses almost no battery. I can leave it in sleep mode for 2 days and come back and not notice any change in battery life, and since I don't have to reboot, it starts up immediately.

VS IPAD - As said, this isn't designed to be an iPad. I have an iPad and there is so much more I can do with it compared to the Kindle. The Fire serves a different (but sometimes similar) function. I just don't ever see Amazon building up the type of app store that Apple has, and that's where you're going to find the major differences. Additionally, the 10" display on the iPad makes a huge difference to me over the Fire's 7" display when it comes to watching movies and TV, and reading magazines and comic books. However, I think there is definitely room for the Fire to steal some of iPad's market share, as many people (I am one of them), will find the functions they want in a tablet can be covered by the Fire.

USER INTERFACE - The Fire uses a heavily modified version of Android. I really liked the interface, however I don't think it works as well on the Fire as it does on a full tablet device like the Motorola Xoom. Occasionally I would try to make a page turn and have it not register on the Fire, or have it register more slowly than I am used to. If you have a lot of experience with the iPad, you are going to notice that the software doesn't respond as quickly on the Fire as it does with other tablets. Although this is an inconvenience and something I definitely feel needs to be addressed, I can accept it given the lower price point. I will have a problem though if this is not resolved through a firmware upgrade in the future. The Fire's custom version of Android is very nice. The most recent applications or files accessed will display in a carousel format that you can rotate through. You can also set up commonly-used applications as favorites. If you want to access movies and pictures that you manually load onto the Fire, you have to open up the "Gallery" app, rather than accessing them from the "Videos" and "Photos" tabs. The gallery app does not very user-friendly at displaying these files. For instance, it just creates thumbnails for all your video files and doesn't let you view the file names when selecting a video. If you have dozens of videos from a single TV show, there is no easy way to organize them in the gallery. It's clear Amazon wants you to view their videos purchased from them rather than your own. I would really like to see them fix this through a simple firmware update but I doubt they will.

- No bluetooth and no HDMI. I could really use bluetooth for integration with bluetooth-capable speakers and so I can use bluetooth audio in my car. As a media player, I feel this really should have been included, and I imagine it will with future versions. This is especially important since the audio from the speakers is a bit tinny and weak. I have been using headphones with all my media-playing, which significantly improves the sound. There is also no physical volume button, which is a pain when you need to silence the device quickly (EDIT: You can sideload the "Volume Control" app by RubberBigPepper" from the Android Market for a great software workaround to this). I also would like HDMI output so I can take my Amazon video purchases and watch them on my TV. Another big disadvantage in a device that is made for media. This will also likely be included in a future edition, so at $200, I don't feel bad about possibly having to upgrade a year from now to get it.
- Only 8Gb storage space. As mentioned, this device is mainly designed to integrate with Amazon's Cloud, so 8 should be enough, but it would be nice to have at least 16. I imagine Amazon did this on purpose to force people to use their Cloud service.
- Touch capability can sometimes be sluggish. iPad and other tablet owners may be disappointed with the touch reaction time and some aspects of the software.
- Video doesn't include option to zoom or stretch the display to fit the screen.
- Very limited selection of apps from the Amazon App Store. Most of the apps are mediocre games. UPDATE - you can get around this by manually loading apps onto the Fire. Do a search for "sideload kindle fire." It is very easy.
- Web "Accelerator" is not as fast as other tablets.
- No Micro-USB transfer cable included with it. Another way for Amazon to discourage you from transferring your own files to the device. If you want to do that, you will need to purchase one separately, like the AmazonBasics USB Cable - 2.0 A Male to Micro B (6 Feet / 1.8 Meters).

SUMMARY: Bottom line, you will not find a cheaper device out there for streaming music, video, and books than the Kindle Fire. The reason that this device is so amazing is not for what it can do, but for what it can do at such a cheap price. The price tag, not the technology, is the story here. Although I definitely feel there is room for improvement and will be interested in seeing Amazon's second generation of this device (which I think will be significantly improved), the Kindle Fire is a solid start. If you can wait a year or more for Amazon to work out the kinks with the Fire (like it did with its 1st generation of the Kindle), you should definitely do that. The next version should fix a lot of the problems that keep the current Fire from being a "Five Star" product. Unfortunately, reviews shouldn't focus on price, so due to some issues with the form factor and touch interface, I can only give it four stars. It is just not "perfect" enough for me to say it is a five star product without taking price into consideration. But aside for that, there is really only one device you can compare the Fire to - The Nook. So for what it is, I would have no problems recommending the Fire to consumers who can take advantage of it. This product more than lives up to what it is DESIGNED to do. If you plan on getting most of your content from Amazon AND you have a Prime membership, I think you will really find this is a pretty incredible device for the money.

UPDATE 28 Dec 2011: After getting a new case for the Fire that makes it easier to hold, I'm starting to use it more for reading (although I still prefer my Kindle Touch for anything over about 45 minutes). Some magazines are now better adapted to the Fire liked my subscription to Wired, and some are still terrible and just compressed PDFs. An update released last week adds more privacy features so you can delete recent history form the carousel, and does improve noticeably on the touch sensitivity, although it can still be frustrating at times and not as smooth as something like an iPad. Browser loading times are still disappointing, but not as bad as they were at first release, and I don't notice them as much. I am continually impressed at battery usage for this device. Despite using it less than an hour a day, I never turn it off and only charge it a couple times a week. The rest of the time it sits in standby mode which is extremely efficient. If they could improve a couple more options I'd be closer to giving the Fire five stars.

UPDATE 7 Feb 2012: I have been able to update the browser significantly by doing the following: Open up the browser and select the menu button at the bottom, select the Settings button, and then change the following options:

Enable plug-ins: Change this to "off." This will disable Flash, so if you have any web sites that need it you can re-enable it (YouTube works fine).
Accelerate page loading: Uncheck this. If your wifi connection is decent, it's not really necessary.
Mobile (This one is optional, but I prefer to view everything in mobile mode rather than having Silk trying to force a desktop view on a 7" screen."
review image review image review image review image
5150+ comments| 28,613 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on November 15, 2011
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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Update: 12/14/2012

If you're interested I just purchased a new second generation Kindle Fire for my grandson and I have done a review on it discussing how it compares to this model and how to set it up right out of the box with a video to help you. I also discuss the new version's pros and cons. It may be listed a few pages back from the top but you can find it posted with the product link shown below:

Kindle Fire 7", LCD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB - Includes Special Offers


I picked mine up today at Best Buy. At home I plugged it in and set up the WIFI and my Amazon account and it immediately told me that an update was downloading. After about 10 to 12 minutes it rebooted and started working. I own an iPhone, iPad 2, HP Touchpad and a Kindle Keyboard version. This device compares with the Ipad. The reviews that blast the Kindle Fire as being no good are just not true. I am a retired CEO and computer Guru and have a great WIFI set up in my home. Here is my quick and dirty review:

WIFI fast and easy to set up and use

Keyboard types great, much better than the HP Touchpad and as good if not better than the iPad.

Display high resolution comparable to the iPad 2

The device downloaded my 100 books in minutes. Most books downloaded to the device in 3 to 4 seconds. A couple of large books took 5 seconds and I am talking about books with 800 pages!

Web browsing is extremely fast. I loaded up a dozen sites that I go to with complex screens and they took 2 to 3 seconds to load. The people who are complaining should fix their WIFI instead of complaining about the Kindle Fire. I see no problem and the speed on the sites I tested is comparable to the iPad 2. One site for a local TV station took about 8 seconds and the screens are complex and contain a lot of videos and changing photos.

Apps load and work great, Facebook, Words With Friends and the Weather Channel loaded fast and work quickly.

Scrolling works very fast and responsive on the capacitive touch screen. Better than the HP Touchpad

Video download is very fast and I have no complaints.

Sound is very good on the device. Much louder than on my iPad 2 device. I saw several reviews blasting the Kindle Fire and in my opinion the sound is better than the iPad 2.

I put the Kindle Fire into a case I purchased from Oberondesign and it fit tightly, but it did fit.

The Kindle Fire is more portable and easier to hold than the iPad and HP Touchpad.

The power button is bad. It is easy to bump and it is right next to the power plug. I have already turned the device off 4 times by accident while doing the testing. I was unplugging the power cable and touched the switch every time. This switch should have been on the top of the device.

Overall the Kindle fire is a 9 out of 10. For the price it is a 10 out of 10.

I am not a professional reviewer nor am I a paid reviewer. The Kindle fire is worth the money and it works well. What happens after 5 million users get onto Amazon is a new test that Amazon must prove they can handle.

Please look at one of my later comments on an excellent WIFI APP tool than could help you test your home WIFI system. Amamzon sells it and it is free!

Update 12-21-2011

Amazon has made an update to the Kindle Fire operating system effective today. Make sure that your Kindle Fire is fully charged or plugged in and press the power button for about 20 seconds. Turn on the Kindle Fire by pressing the on button again and it will begin to come on slowly. It will be downloading the update. After it starts it will shut down automatically and then restart again. When the swipe arrow comes on, swipe it and enter your password (If you have one) and your Kindle will start. Be patient when downloading this and wait for the Kindle Fire to totally restart!

The new operating system is number 6.2.1 and it was 6.2. You can check this by touching the small gear in the upper RH corner, touch "+More", touch "Device" and then looking at the entry for the "System Version".
Major changes that I can see:

-Memory is now segmented into two parts that are available to you. The first is Application Storage which is set at 1.17 GB. It will appear at the top of the device screen and you can see how much is used for Apps. This is the memory allocated for your down loaded and resident Apps.

- The remaining memory is called Internal Storage and it is now 5.37 GB for your books, movies and other storage besides Apps. It is listed below the Application Storage.

-When looking at the Settings page you will see a new access for "Restrictions" which allows you to enable a password to turn WIFI access OFF or ON. If you enable this you will be asked to enter a password, (Minimum of 4 characters) that will allow you to turn Off the WIFI access. You have now just enabled a "child" mode where you can play games, read books, or do anything that is installed on your Kindle Fire. You will not be able to get new email, browse the internet, buy anything, or communicate in any way to the Web as the WIFI is turned off. You will see a key in the upper RH corner where before you saw the WIFI strength indicator. The key symbol means the WIFI is locked OFF. DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSWORD! Remember you can do anything that is on your Kindle but you cannot download anything from the "Cloud" so make sure that your Kindle has everything you want to do on it resident in the Kindle memory. In order to enable the WIFI you must touch the key symbol, touch WIFI, touch WIFI "ON", enter your password and click OK. Your WIFI will reconnect in about 5 seconds.

-You are able to remove anything from the Carousel by simply touching it for a few seconds and then selecting "Remove from Carousel". This is a nice new feature and you can still access your books or Apps by using the menu bar items above the Carousel.

- Amazon states that operation fluidity and performance enhancements have be added but it is difficult to see what they are as the device does so much you don't know where to look for the enhancements.

-Amazon states that the touch navigation is more responsive and again it is difficult to see changes. I do seem to notice that the back arrow symbol on the bottom of the screen seems to be more responsive.

There is a post on Amazon to download this update using a computer and a micro-USB cable but I have updated two Kindle Fires using the method I discuss above without a problem. If you would like to look at the Amazon post look here:
Many people may not own a micro-USB cable.

I could not use the automatic update mode where it says to touch the "Update Your Kindle" button on the Kindle Fire under the Device page as that selection was grayed out. Cycling the power to do a hard reset forced the download automatically. You should receive this update automatically on your Kindle Fire in a day or two after it begins the automatic update roll-out.
5150+ comments| 7,757 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
I've had a chance to play with the Kindle Fire for a few hours now, and overall I think it is a great tool /toy when you factor in the cost of ownership and what you get. Compared to $500 minimum for the introductory price of the bottom of the line iPad2 (WiFi only), at $199 this is a great buy.

Using a Wifi connection at two different locations, the speed was pretty fast connecting to the Amazon server as well as to a couple of Internet sites. I had fast connectivity and display on Fox News, CNN, my personalized Yahoo page, and the website of the International Association of Penturners (hey, I do have hobbies!). I had slow connectivity at both Wifi locations with Google, ESPN, MSNBC, the Houston Chronicle, and the Weather Channel - I hope the unique app for ESPN and the Weather Channel are a lot faster, but I haven't loaded them onto the Fire yet. I will point out with the exception of the Google website, those other sites listed as slow are usually slow on my other handheld devices such as my Droid phone and my work iPad2 (yes, the Kindle guy owns and uses an iPad for work purposes). The web browser is called Silk, and it is nice and user-friendly.

Let's talk about what I see as the benefits first:

The screen size to me is just right for what I will be using it for - I have used an iPad and the screen is larger - but I did watch about 15 minutes of an episode of season 3 of 24 on the Fire and I didn't have screen envy or felt like I was missing anything. The sound quality was good, but I listened to it mainly with a set of headphones so I wouldn't wake my kids.

Concerning size of the overall unit - not too heavy or bulky and it fits nice in your hand. I have it in one of the Marware covers and it just "feels" right: that's not a firm statement for a review, I know, but what else can I say? Holding the iPad feels a little bulky at times but the Fire is just a little bit larger than my Kindle keypad, so I was pretty much conditioned to this size over the past few years. Compared to the iPad, the Fire doesn't generate near as much heat.

Speed of the apps as well as reading a book is VERY fast and responsive. I haven't tried a a challenging spreadsheet or Word document with the Open Office app yet, but then again I can't think of too many times where (based on my guesstimated usage) I will be doing those kind of tasks on my Fire: I like to keep my work separate from play. Maybe the time will come when business applications will become more prevalent with the Fire, but that's a story for another day.

Back to the pricing - $199 is an absolute steal for a unit with this many features. Compare that to an iPad2 at more than twice the price for a few more inches of screen space. Some people really want that, but it doesn't bother me. You will also receive a month free of Prime membership and I highly recommend you try out the benefits, which are more than free two-day shipping. You get full access to thousands of movies and tv shows for free. You can give them a test drive on your Fire and see if it is for you or not. I already rent a lot of movies to my Tivo via Amazon, and I can see the functionality of the free movies combined with the for rent options being able to be played on this device as very compelling for when I go on business trips.

And, for those of you I've been playing Words with Friends with, this morning's moves were made on the Fire - the touchscreen worked flawlessly.

I transferred some music to the Fire and it works like a charm. I haven't had enough time to really dive deep into this feature yet and come up with a playlist or jukebox list, but the sounds quality was nice: not too loud and not too soft.

Here are some potential negatives:

I don't think I will be reading too much on this device. Who knows, that opinion may change, but I REALLY like the Kindle for reading with its eInk screen. I read a lot outside or in bright light, and based upon my experiences with reading on an iPad the eInk is better than the full color for reading outside. However, my youngest child really likes the full color resolution as the books he likes to read has a lot of pictures in it (he's in elementary school). So, to each their own. I didn't purchase the Fire for reading, but more for entertainment.

As mentioned above, the screen is smaller than an iPad. That doesn't bother me (see comments above), but it may bother some people where size matters or they have to have the "biggest" of this and that.

I really wish they would have shipped this thing with a micro USB cord: if there is one in the packaging I missed it. Luckily, I have a few of them in the house, so I wasn't too put out. I imagine they did that to keep the overall cost at $199.

There are lots of apps available for the Fire because it uses the DROID platform, but Apple lovers will pound their chest and say "but we have over a million apps" blah blah blah. I think you should look at the QUALITY of the app vs. the quantity, as there is certainly a lot of junk in the iPad app store (as there is the DROID store), but your basic functionality for the apps I want / need are there.

Overall, at $199 this is an extremely great value to me and well worth it: Amazon has hit a home run with this one. If you haven't grabbed one now, get one before they run out before Christmas!


Okay, I've tried to add this twice and it bombed, so hopefully the third time is the charm. Email setup was very easy - it took about a minute to setup my main Google account, and I was able to send a test message to another account as well as receive and reply to other emails. I sent a picture via email to the Fire and it showed crisp and clear.
5150+ comments| 4,735 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on November 14, 2011

The Fire is an all-around excellent device, especially for the price.

DO BUY IT, without hesitation, if you want to consume media by yourself or with one other person (max). For example, if you read books and other Kindle content, surf the web, look at photos and want to watch Amazon Instant Videos (Movies & TV) or web-based video sites, then the Kindle will serve your needs well.

DON'T buy it if you consume as a group or want to do any creation other than the occasional social media post. Watching movies with many other people is hard (7" isn't that big), and the lack of keyboard options, Bluetooth, etc., makes this a very focused device that creators will soon tire of. Doing anything with maps is difficult or impossible, as are all the nifty apps that require a camera, so if those limitations are a deal-breaker then look at a Samsung Galaxy Tab (to stay small) or iPad (big and expensive).

+ The IPS screen is nothing short of fabulous. I've spent several hours staring at it now and am still amazed. It makes my friend's iPad 2 look grainy. Using this as a high-end photo frame on your desk is actually tempting because the colors are so rich. The screen is very close to 16:9 (15.36:9) and fits movies much better than a 4:3 iPad screen, which negates much of the 2.7" screen size difference between the two (but the reverse is true for old videos that are not widescreen). Overall, the video experience is good enough that you soon become immersed in the movie and you forget about the medium. Plus, since it's so small, you can carry with you more often.
+ The overall feel and construction is super-solid. The rubber/silicone backing gives such peace-of-mind; at this price, I don't plan on buying a case for mine in the foreseeable future.
+ Compact size. It's about the size of a "steno" pad. You can throw it in your backpack, purse, or coat pocket. Overall the Fire is a great balance between usability and portability--much more screen space than a smartphone (at about the same price) but lacking only one typical phone storage option: in your front pocket.
+ Simplicity and UI polish of the overall experience is tight. I wouldn't hesitate to give this device to a total tablet novice. This is a great gift idea for even the most technologically-challenged individual.
+ Speed is perfectly adequate for anything I've had to throw at it. I've tried at least half a dozen games now and they are buttery smooth. The crisp display and saturated colors make it such a joy to re-examine all my old apps.
+ The email client is slick! I have used apps like TouchDown and want to cry because they are so ugly and complicated. Not so with the Fire! Even though this is not a "creator" device, I am glad that they didn't skimp on a full-featured email client that actually looks nice.
+ Silk web browser! Side by side on the same wi-fi connection vs. my dual-core Android phone, the web browser doesn't seem that much faster. HOWEVER--they were both *very* fast! Keep in mind two things: 1) Silk is taking away bottlenecks, but if your existing wi-fi connection is already super-fast (i.e. no bottleneck), you won't notice the difference. 2) The "cloud" improvements will only begin to work when there is a large group of Kindle users who are sending data to Amazon so that they can start proactively caching. It should get faster and faster as more people start using it, so don't feel bad if you're not seeing any speed change out of the box.
+ Content, content, content. What sold it for me was the new Kindle Owner's Lending Library. For my $79 Prime subscription I'm getting access to a ton of shows that were are least partially available elsewhere, but no one else is giving away a book a month. I've seen at least a dozen titles I want to read, so my schedule is "booked" (sorry, couldn't resist) for a year solid. I was already a Prime member, but had never purchased a eInk Kindle because, so now I will have a "Kindle Device" that will qualify me to read a free book a month.

-No GPS or Google Maps is a disappointment. I wanted this thing to be a huge GPS to take in the car, but without a GPS chip that can't happen.
-No Bluetooth limits its use as a creation device. The $30 Bluetooth keyboard I use for my Android phone is useless for the Fire. Please, someone, make a MicroUSB keyboard that works easily with the Fire or point me to one that already works with the Fire and I'll update this section (I couldn't find any on Amazon).
-Lack of hardware buttons was at first a turn-off, but after the tenth time of accidentally hitting the home button playing a game on my Android phone, I now appreciate this minimalist approach taken by the Fire. There's the power-button that you may occasionally bump by accident, but you just need to turn the whole thing upside down and the power button is then at the top--problem solved. The remaining complaint is the missing volume button, but I can also understand the reasons behind that. The original iPod touch lacked volume buttons, but they eventually included hardware controls on subsequent devices.
-Content Lock-in. This is the flip-side of the coin for having so much Amazon content. Since there's no HDMI, any movies you buy are going to be stuck on the device unless your TV also supports Amazon Instant Video streaming. I think the strength of selection outweighs this, but it's something to keep in mind!
-(Minor) Does not play WMV files. My Android phone does this--why is this codec missing?
-Battery life--The specified battery life is really a best-case: you'll want to charge this device at least every other night. It's terrible compared to an iPad 2 and great compared to a typical dual-core phone. It remains to be seen if the competition from the large bricks and mortar book store's new tablet is any better, but on paper they say theirs is longer.

+ Fitness. Use your new Fire as an indoors exercise companion for treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical machines, etc. Make yourself a commitment to not watch TV until you've worked-out first (while watching/listening/reading on the Fire, of course). It's the perfect size to strap-on or permanently adhere to your home fitness apparatus. This device and a Prime membership is about the same cost as two months for a personal trainer.
+ Schools and home schools. With the number of education apps out there (and ease of development), expect the Kindle Fire to become THE device for kids to use in their studies. This device, in 2011 dollars, is about the same price as my fancy graphing calculator in high school during the early 90s, so we can only guess what kinds of cool education-centric applications will come from this new class of gizmo. For parents, see a variety of great sites (like mine, Learn Richly) that make it easier to evaluate very fun products that make learning a breeze!
+ Small business elegance. What if your customers in the waiting room were each given Kindle Fires instead of magazines? How about giving your next sales pitch or presentation as an interactive HTML5 web page that allows your client to engage with the content even as you're explaining it? This also becomes the perfect Kiosk device because it's so open, inexpensive and ubiquitous.
+ Lists and reference. Putting a $700 iPad in your shopping cart while you check of grocery items makes me nervous, but somehow I'd feel safe doing that with my rugged-feeling grippy-backed Fire. Use it around the house for the kids' chore chart or as a "dedicated" to-do list while at work (what good is the task list in Outlook if I never look at it?)--this price point makes all sorts of things feasible, and especially if you buy multiple devices to establish a community of users in your office or home.

Built-in you will find already downloaded:
+ Kindle Reader App (with more layout options, such as line spacing and margins, than the current phone Android Kindle app)
+ Amazon shopping app
+ Integrated Music, Video and Web browsing (Silk)
+ "Docs" tab that takes documents you email to your @kindle email address and puts them in Kindle format
+ Audible audio books app (Amazon subsidiary)
+ IMDB (internet movie database) app for information about movies, actors, etc. (Amazon subsidiary)
+ Contacts app (looks like standard Android with Fire skin)--will sync with GMail contacts and probably others
+ Email app with built-in support for Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and "other", i.e. POP for my ISP worked (not sure about IMAP). Attention: NO MS EXCHANGE/OUTLOOK :(
+ QuickOffice, which is a *viewer* for PowerPoint, Excel and Word--no editing at all
+ Gallery app for photos--looks like you'll need a MicroUSB cable and a computer to do much with it, though
+ Help & Feedback
+ Facebook--seems to be a link to the mobile site
+ Pulse--good, possibly great, news aggregator/reader
+ Other various popular apps/games that are links (but not already downloaded)--may be trials or ad-supported and you can get them from the AppStore anyway. Thanks for not installing them Amazon! This device is refreshingly free of "bloatware"

- Task list & Memo / note- taking--I recommend ColorNote Notepad Notes that has both of these functions
- Alarm clock--I recommend Alarm Clock Xtreme Free
- Calendar--too many choices to recommend a replacement, but you'll probably get one with a paid Exchange email client
- Calculator--I recommend Calculator Ultimate Lite
- Weather--AccuWeather for Android or My-Cast Weather Lite both get good reviews

Anything else I've missed? Comments welcome, thanks!
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on October 15, 2013
I received the Kindle Fire for Christmas almost 2 years ago. I had my first one 6 months, and it refused to charge. The port came loose. I received a warranty replacement, but here I am less than 2 years after my initial purchase with the exact same problem with the replacement Kindle. Of course, it is out of warranty now. I am not a heavy user of the Kindle, and it is charged when sitting on a table. There is no practical reason that my charging ports have become loose. It is a defect in the design, and Amazon doesn't care about it.

I won't ever buy a Kindle again. I enjoyed it while I had it, but there are better tablets out there that have more features, that are a more open system, and that do not suffer quality issues. I think I'll spend my money elsewhere.
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on November 15, 2011
I've been a long time fence-sitter in the tablet wars, but I finally decided that the Kindle Fire was what I was looking for. I had previously purchased the original iPad for my son, but he never used it so I was very worried about spending that much cash for what I feared would be an expensive toy.

I was primarily interested in tablets for mobile web browsing, watching some videos now and then (I have a ton of digital movies), and that's about it. I have a very small music collection, which I've moved to both Google Music and Amazon's cloud storage, so I'm not what you'd consider a big mobile entertainment guy.
So far, from the time I've spent with it, the Fire is going to fit the bill nicely.

1. WEB. The Silk web browser is fast enough. I don't bother running side-by-side tests, as all I worry about is whether or not I'm going to become irritated by page loads. Thankfully, that's not the case. The text IS a bit dithered (blurry) in some places, which I assume is an artifact of Silk's server-side rendering, but it hasn't seriously affected legibility. Web videos load pretty darned fast, and the entire browser experience just works.

2. VIDEO. I streamed one of my Amazon Unbox videos as soon as I opened the Fire, and was very pleased with the speed at which the video appeared as well as how quickly the controls just got out of the way so I could enjoy the flick. It's going to be an EXCELLENT device for videos.

3. MUSIC. The streaming music store works pretty doggone flawlessly. The only complaint I have so far is that I can't seem to find any difference in the equalizer settings. Beyond that, since I'm not terribly into music, it suits my purposes just fine.

4. BOOKS. Kindle Fire's weak spot, imo, and the reason I give it four stars. But to be fair, it was never going to compete with my Kindle 3. E-ink really is just that much more comfortable to read versus a (relatively low resolution) LCD screen. Text just isn't that crisp and the backlight actually interferes with legibility. I've read rumors that the NEXT Kindle tablet (due in 2012) might just feature a dual LCD/e-Ink display or even a Mirasol display, which would remedy this nicely. For now, though, I didn't expect miracles from LCD and, by golly, I didn't get them. :)

5. APPS. I'm not a big gamer anymore. (I used to be huge on Gameboy, but I got older and slower.) The App store, curated by Amazon, is exactly what I though it'd be. Some might complain about it not having a billion apps, but I really do think everything that the casual user would want is there. (But if you're not sure go browse it and see BEFORE you buy the Fire.) As far as accessibility goes, it's easy to get in and out of.

As far as the Kindle itself, it's a SOLID little brick. It's not fancy, nor would I say it has that "Apple aesthetic" going for it, but it's a shick brithouse of a tablet. Amazon might just decide to advertise it as a personal defense device, if they decide the tablet business isn't working out. It's got a nice, rubberized back. It is, however, a bit heavier than I expected and is likely to be less comfortable for long-term reading than the (significantly) lighter Kindle 3 or Touch. The onscreen controls are easy to get to, which stood out to me since I saw some reviews complaining about the lack of physical buttons.

Overall, the Kindle Fire is snappy if a little quirky. I figure it's early and that we've got plenty of time for Bezos 'n co. to tweak the software. The Silk browser WILL get faster as more users use it--which is the beauty of cloud storage/computing--and in the long run, I really think the whole Amazon/Kindle ecosystem is just plain excellent. If four and a half stars were available, I'd have shaved only a half a star for the e-Reader functionality, since I knew coming in that it simply couldn't replace my Kindle 3.

If you're a Prime member already, this thing's a no-brainer. If you don't have another tablet and you weren't sure about the costs, it's a great time to get your feet wet. Amazon's always been incredible about returns if you don't like it, but I think if you're like me and you wanted a good little media consumption device that works pretty intuitively, does the main things you want it to, and doesn't break the bank, the Fire is a doggone great deal for the cash.
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on November 15, 2011
This will be a review that will be updated as I continue to use the Kindle.

SHORT BACKSTORY: I own a 1st gen Kindle, and despite its original design flaws, I have put it to great use. I am a Prime member. When I saw a tablet(ish) device with a modded version of Android, made by Amazon, with a dual core processor and a smaller, more portable form factor than the iPad for sale at the easy on the wallet price of $199, I pre-ordered immediately.

FIRST IMPRESSION: The packaging it comes in is very simple. The Kindle came in a brown cardboard box, which I expected to open and see a Kindle box, but rather opened and saw the Fire itself. Underneath was the Micro USB charger. I immediately plugged it in and fired it up. First thing it asked was to connect to WiFi (it showed every network within at least a 300 ft radius (my office floor is shared with a few others). Connection was hassle free. Then it asked me a few questions, registered quickly with Amazon, and then updated the software. After that 5 minute process, I was free to explore.

OS: Intuitive and easy to navigate. A lot of cool little nav helpers come up to explain the various navigational aspects and preloaded apps. It immediately showed all the books in my library.

TOUCHSCREEN: Seems very responsive. Keyboard typing was easy enough, especially when laid out landscape. I know other Android devices can bring up different keyboards, so I'll be looking into this.

PROCESSING: Haven't opened up anything super intense, but navigating between apps is smooth and doesn't stutter.

INTERNET: Took about 6 seconds to fully load a Reuters news page. I've read Silk gets faster with more use, so I'll expect that, but for now, it's definitely fast enough.

CLOUD CONNECTION: Awesome. I love everything about it. All my content was readily available and I know my usage of this will go up now that I have this device.

MEDIA: I quickly threw on an episode of 24. It looked very crisp and had no trouble whatsoever with streaming. I'll dive into Hulu and Netflix a little later.

That's all I've gotten through at the moment. I put this at 5 stars because it MET MY EXPECTATIONS. I read all about this device before buying it, so I knew exactly what I was getting for $199 dollars. It has met all of my expectations of a small form factor tablet that is intuitive, media friendly, and has great processing capabilities. I did not expect an iPad, so there is no comparison in my mind.

My next update will go a bit more in depth into EMAIL and Document capabilities as well as exploring some apps. I hope you enjoy this as much as I am!




NICE: Email setup is a breeze for GMAIL (including IMAP) and they present a unified inbox view which is nice. However, they don't thread the emails, but that's not a huge issue.

BUMMER: Native Email app doesn't support MS exchange, had to download an app. Again, it's not a big deal, but would have been nice to get work emails on this.

Sent a PowerPoint Presentation to my personal email and opened it on the Fire. It displayed perfectly in hi res...I am a happy camper at this moment :)


APPS: This is my first Android(ish) device and as such my first experience with the Amazon appstore. App store is coming up shallow (in variety of apps) esp. in the finance apps department. That is just my initial response and I may not be entering the right search strings (for finance, I tried Bloomberg, finance, finance apps). I'm SURE as more and more Kindle Fire's come online, the developer community will focus on improving and optimizing more apps.

Free APP a day program is very cool and I will be sure to set a reminder to look into this every day.

I would gladly take any suggestions for finance (news, stocks, charts etc.) apps or any others.


Loving the Pandora app. And the Cloud player! And just discovered that you can upload UNLIMITED MP3 files to the Cloud just by upgrading to the 20GB plan ($20 annually...). For me, that's over 60GB of music available anywhere + 20GB of anything else. Awesome.


Now that I've spent a great amount of time with the Fire, I can honestly say that I'm very happy with the purchase. It functions fantastically as a tablet device. It could rival the iPad due to the plethora of media streaming options, portability, CLOUD capabilities, flash availability, and basic functionality (but don't set your expectation on this, it IS NOT positioned to be an iPad competitor).

I downloaded the TouchDown Exchange app for receiving work emails. The Accuweather app is much more functional than the native Weather Channel app. Thompson Reuters News Pro is a great reader, especially for financial news. Netflix and Hulu + both work very well and I have had no issue in streaming content for both. YouVersion still needs some refining, but it looks great on this tablet.

I am starting to realize that the lack of 3g will be a bummer moving forward, but it is not a blocker yet. If the developer community picks up the popularity of the Fire, I will be excited to see a plethora of new apps coming online.

Again, overall, I am pleased at how functional this is as a tablet.


No issues so far (3rd day of ownership). This thing doesn't leave my side (at home or the office). Amazon's free app a day program is awesome; today downloaded an email app that is normally $10 for my favorite price...free99. My biggest gripe at the moment is that they don't have multiple keyboard options (outside of landscape or portrait). This was available on other tablet devices with Android OS and would make typing a bit easier. But please...for $200, this thing kicks ass.

UPDATE (as of DEC. 19th)

The FIRE is working great. I stand by my initial 5 star rating.

Not thrilled with Amazon's app store, but like I said before, it will get better as more developers come on line. All of my previous comments still stand. Amazon's free app a day program should not be overlooked as its utility has been fantastic. The BEST thing about this is its form factor. I didn't realize how important this was until I found myself carrying my Fire with me everywhere. With the amount I use it, I'm happy that it is light and almost pocket sized. Battery life seems to be about 5 hours with heavy use, 7.5 with reading. I charge this thing every night along side my iPhone, so it's not a burden. This makes a great gift for any electronics fan looking for a reader and mobile media player.
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on January 26, 2012
A month ago, I went out an bought the Kindle Fire. I had been debating between the older, e-ink Kindle or saving up for a tablet computer, such as the iPad. I wanted something I could easily read books on, which favors the Kindle, but also wanted something versatile enough to run some of the apps I really like, which favors the iPad.

Then, Amazon announced the Kindle Fire, which retails for $199. This intrigued me, as it apparently did many other people who couldn't afford the $500-$800 price tag for a true tablet computer. After much consideration, and just enough Christmas gift money to cover the cost, I jumped for the Fire.

Initial Thoughts

The Kindle came with a nearly-full battery charge, which was great, since I didn't need to leave it plugged in for several hours before using it. (By the way, the power adapter that came with it is pretty powerful, and will charge quickly. But, it's constructed kind of poorly, feels flimsy, and I have doubts that it will survive with a ton of use.)

My first reaction to the Fire was that it is sleek looking, but heavy. The device in it's black cover is attractive. However, having used the e-ink Kindles, I did not expect the Fire to be that heavy (14.6 ounces). Nearly one pound doesn't sound like much, but it can get weighty when holding in your hand. Eventually, though, a user can get used to the weight.

Initial start up is very smooth, especially if you already have a Kindle account with Amazon. (I did, since I also use the Kindle app for my Android phone.) Once my account information was entered into the Fire, it automatically listed all the books I had purchased with my Kindle account. All I had to do was download them to the device, and they were ready in just a minute or so.


One of the reasons I went with the Fire over the slightly more expensive Nook was that many of the pre-1923 books are free. Amazon says there are two-million of them. That's pretty incredible. The 6 GB of space mean you can squeeze in about 6,000 books (minus all the apps). That's pretty impressive.

On top of that, buying in the Amazon marketplace is extremely easy, and probably the finest example of how to construct an online market.


I encountered a similar situation with the Amazon app market. I have it installed on my Android phone, and anything I had purchased on the phone was available for the Fire, provided the app had a Fire version available.

And that brings me to my first complaint about the Fire. I can appreciate that Amazon wants to ensure the app experience on the Fire is a good one, but they have blocked third party markets and non-approved apps, even though there is the option in the Fire's settings to install such apps. As a result, the user cannot access any of the apps from Google's original Android Market. This is disappointing, because there are some apps that are only available on the Android Market. Hopefully, Amazon will free up this ability soon.

I assume there are two main reasons for the third party app issues. 1) With Amazon approving apps for the Fire (much like Apple does for its devices), Amazon can guarantee the apps will work. 2) Amazon also prevents users from using competing software, such as the Nook app. That's just business, and I don't blame Amazon in keeping users of its device from going elsewhere to buy books.

To get around these restrictions, some people have rooted their Kindle Fire's to install a clean OS and drop the restrictions Amazon has placed on the device. I have chosen not to go that route, because at this point I am pretty happy with the Fire as it is. And, the issues I have with the Fire aren't great enough to warrant the time I would put into least not until I replace it some time down the road.


I give the Fire high marks. The screen and resolution are very good quality, and respond properly to touch. The dual core processor really shows itself on some of the more demanding apps. Object flow is smooth within apps, and appearance is above my expectations.

The screen is big enough to easily view video for a single user or a couple of users sitting side-by-side. However, the 7-inch screen is not big enough to view well from a few feet away. Someday, I imagine Amazon will release a bigger version to accommodate parents who load their kids up in the van, and want to use a video to keep them calm.

One thing I didn't expect, but was pleased to find was the built-in speaker. It isn't the greatest quality, but it is what you would expect from such a device. A headphone jack allows you to get top quality if you need it. But, since Amazon went to the trouble to include speakers, I had hoped there would be a microphone. I was disappointed to find there wasn't one.

The speakers come in very handy when running apps or using an audio book. And that brings me back to books. One thing the Fire has that the e-ink Kindles do not is the ability to show color. My kids have really loved the picture books we have downloaded to the Fire. Plus, if you're able to find some books that have interactive parts, the Fire makes the experience even better.

For standard reading, the Kindle is wonderful. Flipping through pages is easy, and can be done in two ways: either a finger swipe in the direction you want to turn, or a tap at the right or left edge of the device's screen. The ability to highlight and bookmark are things you would expect, and the Fire does them well.


The home screen of the Fire when you first get it has a carousel at the top that shows all of your recently used books, apps and websites. A finger swipe allows you to scroll through these easily. Below that is a bookshelf with all your favorite apps, documents, books, etc. I'm not really a fan of the carousel. It is a bit too sensitive on the scroll, and simply looks better than it actually is.

Each section of the Fire has a bookshelf where all the different items are organized. Apps, Books, Documents, Web and others are all in their separate categories. This makes organization very nice and neat.

The favorites bookshelf is set up similarly, but not as easy to manage.


The Fire uses only WiFi, and has no other networking capabilities. This is a deviation from some of the e-ink Kindle models that provide free 3G service. I assume 3G is not included on the Fire, because data usage would be through the roof. Even still, Amazon should've made it available as either an add-on or a subscription service. I assume that 3G will be on future models with a data plan.

For what its worth, many smartphones today come with the ability to be a wifi access point. If you have that service enabled on your smartphone, then your 3G problem is somewhat solved.

The Silk web browser is okay. It gets the job done almost as good as the default Android browser. Again, this goes back to the third-party app issue. I would rather use a different brand of browser, but the ones I trust aren't available yet. The Fire's browser has a few minor issues that I don't really care for, but overall it will get the job done.

My other apps that use the network seemingly have little problems from the device's perspective. Any lag or other problem is either due to an app programming issue or heavy wifi traffic.

I do notice on my Fire that the device will turn off wifi when not being used. I haven't checked to see if this can be modified. Regardless, I like this feature, as it preserves battery life, and ensures an app on the device isn't eating up bandwidth when you aren't using it.

Other Uses

For all the chatter that the Kindle Fire is not a tablet computer, you can't tell it by some of its functions. One of my favorites is the ability to use the device while giving presentations.

When you register your Fire, Amazon gives you a email address that is unique to your device. This is handy when you want to send a document to the Fire. Simply attach it to an empty email, and send to the Fire's email address. The Fire will download and save the file to it's internal memory.

I have used the Fire and this method to do a couple of presentations when I have spoken this past month. By eliminating paper and books, the Fire made it easy to do these presentations.

Final Thoughts

I really like the Kindle Fire. I'm sure that I would really like it if I rooted and did other things to it to make it more tablet-like. But, those things are not in my plans.

The Fire has room to be improved, and future versions will hopefully address some of the more minor issues.

All-in-all, I think it is a great product.

For reference, I am only reviewing the Fire and my expectations for the device. I am not comparing it to any other device unless that device is of similar build, price and capabilities. Hence, the rating above is an opinion based on my expectations. You can view more reviews and thoughts at my blog, [...].

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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on April 8, 2016
This Kindle Paperwhite was the ninth (and last) Kindle I have bought from Amazon. Since 2011, I purchased every new Kindle version, and I enjoyed them all tremendously. This latest edition is undoubtedly the best of them all. The Bookerly font with improved character spac-ing makes reading very easy. The built-in front light prevents eye strain because light does not shine into the reader’s eyes. There is really nothing I don’t like about this reader.
Why then was this the last Kindle I will ever buy?
A short time ago, one of my Kindles got lost or stolen. I informed Amazon and expected there would be support in locating the device, or that at the very least, the serial number would be blocked, so that nobody else could register the missing device in his or her name.
Nothing of the kind.
In response to my notification the Amazon customer support person wrote: “I’ve marked your Kindle device under ‘lost device’ category.” Unfortunately, this does not prevent a find-er or thief to register the device in his or her name once it was deregistered, and there was no support offered at all in locating or securing the lost device.
Even though Amazon assured me that nobody would be able to make purchases with my credit card linked to the missing device, I read in the forums that this has happened to people. So as a precaution, I had to go through the hassle of changing my credit card.
I have been an Amazon customer since 2000, and a very good “Prime” customer, I might say. Records show that I placed orders nearly every other day. I was convinced that Amazon was one of the best companies to buy from. But after this lack of customer concern I regretfully had to change my mind.
As a mother, I am doubly upset. This Kindle was used by my son who is a cancer patient. He had much cancer-related information on this device that he cannot replace, and also books he was reading during chemotherapy.
I felt so bad for my son that today, I went and bought him iPad Pros for son and for myself. After what happened, I have lost all enjoyment in using a Kindle. From now on we will stay with Apple devices. If an iPad is lost or stolen, at least we can use the “Find My iPad” feature to help locate and secure the devise.
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