My mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year (well, last year) and without having to think too much I jumped at the idea of an e-reader. I have friends who have them and love them and now that I was officially graduated and had time to read again I gazed on them with longing in shop windows. In particular the highly publicized release of the new Kindle’s were making my mouth water. In a technology kind of way.
Now when my mother asked which Kindle I wanted I naturally set about the process of rigorously examining all the options, weighing the cost-benefits, and examining which device would be best for me. In the end I basically told my mom, “Surprise me! But I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get the Kindle Fire.” (I know, it’s like I have a passive aggressive wish list). I was nervous about this decision, however, since my presents are on a budget and a Kindle Fire was pretty much the whole budget. I was afraid I blew my wad (so to speak) on a present that I’d end up not using, or being frustrated by, Mac fangirl that I am.
Turns out I chose wisely. Here we are, four months later and I am using the hell outta my Kindle Fire, and not just for books. The pro/con breakdown is as follows…
- Amazon Prime. If you have a Kindle you should have Prime. In short, it gets you access to the Amazon Lending Library to “borrow” books for free, up to one a month. It’s pricy at $70/year but students get it for half-price and you also get free shipping so if you’re a frequent shopper on Amazon it’s doubly awesome. Annnd, the awesome keeps on rolling ’cause you also get to stream bunches of movies and TV for free. And you can rent the movies and TV that aren’t free, which is a nice alternative for getting the things you want that are newer and not available on Netflix yet. These are available for viewing both on the Kindle Fire, and online. I dropped Netflix in February.
- Amazon Cloud. Ahh, the Cloud. Amazon now give you 5GB of free storage space for whatever files you want to save in your Cloud space. It’s very much like Dropbox, though on the downside it doesn’t integrate as well with your computer or iDevices (yet). The best part of The Cloud is the music part which is kind of separate from the rest. Amazon will not charge your 5GB of space with music that you get from Amazon. Or, for a mere $20/year you get unlimited storage space for your music. I finally have all my music in The Cloud and guess what? My Kindle Fire can access ALL of it (with a wireless connection, of course).
- Apps. I wasn’t able to embrace the iPad very well since it was a work iPad, and the crossover between personal and professional was difficult to manage on that device. On my Kindle, most everything is personal, but I can use apps to check and respond to email and to take notes and save them to my work Google Docs account. So while this is my device, I can carry it to meetings and get stuff done for my job. Oh, and there’s games. I spend waHAY too much time playing games on this thing.
- Books. Oh, holy book options, Batman. Now not all the books I want to read are available from the Amazon Kindle library but most are and many others I can find elsewhere and send to my device (you can email pdf documents and ebook reader files to your Kindle). Amazon will also let you “sample” a book or a magazine subscription to see what you think. And it’s just so simple! One tap of a finger and it’s purchased and downloading and you’re ready to go.
- It’s just so simple! One tap of a finger and it’s purchased and downloading and you’re ready to go and DEAR GOD I’VE JUST BOUGHT ANOTHER BOOK! I am very afraid to go back and add up what I’ve spent on books in the last four months. And at this point it’s just too easy. I am way behind on my reading- there are at least 4 unread books on my Kindle, just waiting. MUST. STOP. BUYING. BOOKS.
- Same with Apps. And you’d think I would have learned by now- I’ve had an iPhone for years! But if anything, it’s even easier to purchase things with the Kindle.
- It’s heavy. Just before the holiday I read the Steve Jobs book and appreciated (all over again) the effort he made towards good design. When I got my Kindle Fire I marveled at the nice design and packaging and the logical flow of the interface. But the part of me that was thinking like Steve admitted I was disappointed in the weight and thickness of the device. Steve wouldn’t have let this go to market. That being said I carry my Fire with me almost everywhere.
I think the biggest pro is just the way it’s made books available to me all the time. I’m now excited to go places where I can sit and read. Time to get the car inspected? Hell, yeah! I can read in the lobby! Doctor’s appointment? Woot! I’ll go early and get some reading time in the waiting room. Yes, yes I am aware how lame that sounds.
To address the most common question, the issue that diehard Nook and Kindle Touch fans harp on: yes, I am occasionally bothered by glare on the screen. But thus far it’s happened in only one setting, on a car trip. I don’t spend a lot of time at the beach or sitting around a pool so the glare issue doesn’t come up much. And, for me, it is outweighed by the ability to read at night, or in a darker setting.
So there you have it. I give my Kindle Fire two thumbs up. My only concern is how to get the millions of dollars of books I’ll no doubt purchase for this device onto to my next one. So go forth, give Amazon your money and get lost in a good ebook.