My first impressions of the Kindle Fire were for the most part positive. My initial reaction was that this was a super sweet toy. I was almost over-excited to get it in my hands; the day it arrived at the office was like Christmas morning to me. I’m not entirely sure if it was because I fell into the hype and early adopter reviews or if it’s just because I like new toys. More than likely it’s the latter.

When you first turn on the Fire, it seems magical. Once you start using the main carousel though, the magic slowly started to dissipate and reality set in that it isn’t as easy to navigate as I had hoped. Scrolling through the carousel, it isn’t hard to bypass the book, app, or video you want.  You get used to it, but I expected it to more responsive.

The 7” LCD screen has a resolution of 1024 x 600, which is great.  The colors are vibrant making it perfect for web browsing or watching videos. Amazon’s website states they included an anti-reflective treatment to the screen but I haven’t really noticed. Another pet peeve is that the screen gets really grubby with finger prints and other marks. I found I was constantly wiping the screen. Of course, an obvious fix would be to get a screen protector; and there are plenty of products to choose from.

Reading eBooks on an LCD isn’t my personal preference. The reading experience on the Fire wasn’t what I had expected either. I was really anticipating a new and innovative way to read eBooks and that is not the case. The reading experience on the Fire isn’t any different than any other tablet-like device. It’s not bad; it’s just not introducing anything new to the reading experience itself.

The Kindle Fire is running Android 2.3 Gingerbread but looking at the device you probably wouldn’t have any idea. I was able to cause the Fire to have a hiccup – I had the web browser running and then started reading a book. Trying to close out of the book caused the Fire to freeze for a few minutes while it thought about what it was going to do next. Granted this particular issue only happened once. Perhaps this is due to this particular device not having the software upgrade that was made available earlier this week.

Truly, the Fire is a cleverly designed multimedia consumption toy to make you buy more. It isn’t really a tablet like many consumers thought it was going to be. The Amazon buying portal is super simple to use and could easily cause your bank account to get depleted; rather rapidly if you aren’t careful.

I’ve been getting my music from iTunes for approximately 8 years now. I’m pretty much stuck with Apple and although I’m highly intrigued by the Fire, what will I do with all my music? I’m sure there are other customers out there who feel the same way. Sure I can convert but that requires work and I’m a lazy consumer.

As interesting as I think the Fire is, I wish it had a few additional features; primarily an HDMI out-put, SD slot, external volume controls, and a camera. Those would be my wish list items to add to truly make this a device that I’d run out and purchase. These additions, in my opinion, would make the Fire a true iPad/tablet competitor. In its current state, I feel that it is more of a consumption toy. While I am sure some of my comments above might not appear as positive, I did have fun with the Fire. And at $199 the price point is very appealing when compared to other true tablets. But that’s the key:  you’ll need to determine what you really want; a tablet or a really fun toy.

Megan Greer is an account specialist for OverDrive.

8 Responses to “Device Review: Kindle Fire blazes onto the scene”

  1. Ken

    But have you been able to download an ebook from an Overdrive site yet? My wife uses the Ohio eBook project which is based on Overdrive’s technology. Our library has Kindle titles but we could not find any titles that would allow us to checkout via the Fire even ones we knew, from using a PC, were flagged as Kindle format. Has left us a bit frustrated since friends and family with the lower end Kindle models work fine.

    • Brianne Carlon

      Hi Ken, You may be viewing the mobile version of the website and therefore, not seeing the Kindle titles. Please take the steps below to resolve the issue:

      1. Open the Internet browser on the Kindle Fire.
      2. Press the ‘Menu’ key and select ‘Settings’.
      3. Scroll to the ‘Desktop or Mobile View’ option and change this setting from ‘Automatic’ to ‘Desktop’.
      4. Clear the web browser’s cache and cookies.

      After performing these steps, attempt to browse the library site again and checkout a Kindle title.
      Brianne

  2. Melissa

    Thank’s for the review. A lot of people have been asking me in my library about the differences between the devices. We really haven’t had a chance to work with the Fire yet, so it is nice to know what to expect.

  3. Peter Bromberg

    Hi Megan,

    Thanks for the review. I’ve heard/read the gamut on Kindle Fire from love it to hate it, and in the end I guess it comes back to how each individual uses a device and what they want/need from it.

    Regarding your music in itunes, a possible solution: I’m in the same boat (tens of thousands of songs in itunes) and I recently discovered google music https://music.google.com. You can upload up to 20,000 songs for free, then access them anywhere. It works like a charm! I have it set on my laptop and home pc to upload any time I add new music to certain playlists. Since it has a very user friendly interface based on html5 you don’t need to download an app, or need flash. It should work well on any device. Hope this helps.

    Thanks again for all of the informative blog posts in 2011. All the best to you and everyone at Overdrive in 2012!

    -pete

  4. Susan

    How does it work with Overdrive? Is a computer still required to check-out the book, or can this be accomplished right from the Fire’s web browser?

  5. Linda Hart

    Brianne,

    I learned this about Kindle Fire from the NH Downloadable Books blog. Is it possible to get the Android app on the Nook Color? I recall mention of a Nook app coming.

    I’ve read about safe rooting of the Nook with an SD card, but I doubt that your average patron wants to do that.

    • Brianne Carlon

      Hi Linda, at this time we have no news on an app for the NOOK Color. Please check back for updates. -Brianne

  6. Rose Peterson

    I was able to download Kindle e-book titles to my Kindle Fire without a computer. I have not tried audio books yet, that is next. Rose