|terriko (terriko) wrote,|
@ 2011-12-18 10:32 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||book, geek, review|
Anyhow, point being that I bought the device even though that was pretty much not in character, and I want to talk about the things I like and dislike about it, because I saw some very weird reviews that make it sound like a disaster or a new holy grail, and it is of course neither.
Short version: I like it a lot, and the flaws that seem to bother many reviewers are non-issues for me, but I do have a few places I'd like to see improvement (and I well might over the next year or so!)
Things I like
1. I can borrow library books. This is the reason I have a Kindle Fire and not some other device or tablet. 90% of my reading is done through the library, so this program was the only thing that made an ebook reader appealing to me. Getting new, popular books for free and not just project guttenburg stuff is by far the biggest draw for this device.
2. Borrowing library books for kindle is EASY. This could be part of #1 but it's so impressive that it merits its own point. Borrowing ebooks from the library used to be a serious hassle like in this comic, with stupid drm hoops to jump through repeatedly. Borrowing kindle books from the library sends me to a page on amazon where I choose which device gets the book and then I'm done. My only complaint is that I can only borrow the book for 10 days at a time, which means I largely have to get books only when I'm ready to read them. But I'm adapting fine. :)
3. I can read scientific papers on the device. This is not entirely easy, as scientific papers are stupid to read, but I'm working on a setup with Calibre, etc. to make it better. However, it is entirely doable even without, if not much different from my laptop screen.
4. The amazon app store has a free app every day. It's stupid, but I'm loving the little "here's something new to try!" daily present aspect. It's very fun to have new things!
5. I can play games on it. A professor I worked with once postulated that all successful devices eventually run games. There are surprisingly few counterexamples.
6. The size. It fits in my smaller everyday bag just as easily as a book does, so I don't have to switch to the larger laptop/camera bag.
7. The screen. It is very pretty and colourful.
8. The fact that I can read books in the dark. For some reason I really being able to curl up in the dark with a book. I expect this will be lovely on dark plane and car rides too.
9. Being able to read LibraryThing review copies on the device. It's especially nice for member giveaways, where I'm almost guaranteed a book 'cause there's so many copies available. Yeay for reading new fiction from authors who support LibraryThing! And I feel like I'm maybe getting some more indie stuff that my library (which seems to be quite poor) would ever have been able to buy.
10. The price. Let's be honest, I didn't want a tablet enough to ever buy an ipad, or any of the android tablets, or a blackberry playbook. And I didn't want a straight ereader enough to even justify those despite the fact that they're under $100 nowadays. But a combo device with a price point in between? Well, more tempting. I still wouldn't have done it without the free library books, though.
Things that could be better
1. The lack of hardware buttons/slightly odd interface choices. I'm not sure if volume would be my #1 issue as it is for many reviewers (I personally adjust the brightness more often) but it'd be sort of handy to have a "bring up the kindle menu-ish overlay thing" so that I wouldn't have to constantly remember if I click in the middle of the page or swipe from the bottom or click on the top right or whatever to get it to do what I want. I know, hardware buttons are going the way of the dinosaur, but I feel like they could have been used to provide some sort of consistency that feels a bit lacking.
2. Handling of non-amazon documents is reasonably good once I've learned the ropes, but I've somehow gotten a bunch of documents that didn't work and won't go away easily, and it irks me.
3. The carousel thing they do with your most recent things just doesn't work the way I want it to. The biggest annoyance is that I want to be able to double-click something I can see and have it open, rather than having to single click, wait for it to come to the front, then click again. I hear rumours that they'll have some more user-customizable thing displays in the next software release, which should help. (I say "thing" instead of book because apps and music and stuff are all displayed in the same carousel.)
4. I'd really love it if I could see on the device how many days I have before my library book is due. I should probably feature-request this, as it's probably not that hard (the info's right there when I log in to amazon).
5. Amazon has done some things that I don't really agree with. (I thought the "scan stuff and get it cheaper" was kind shady and mean, to mention the most recent.) But so has pretty much every large organization ever (be it a company, government, religion, etc.) so until I become better at releasing myself from all material desires, I make compromises.
6. It's US only. This included me needing a credit card from a US bank attached to my amazon account in order to download even free apps. This could have been exceptionally bad for me, as the US refuses to recognize foreign credit scores (even though I'm from Canada and we've got trade agreements and such), but as it happens my local credit union has been treating me like a real person, so it worked out. This also means I can't get Canadian library books easily for it (though I may well be able to work some hard way of doing it).
Things I don't care a fig about
... that other people seem to thing are the End of The World.
1. The power button is on the bottom. I admit, being a smartphone user, I reach for the top sometimes, but I've seen reviews complain that they turn the thing off by accident all the time. I don't see how this is possible unless you are compensating for your lack of virility by wearing such a huge belt buckle, which you then use to balance all your books. I don't get this issue at all.
2. The speakers are on the top in portrait mode, meaning that your sound all comes from one side in landscape mode. Ok, weird choice, but it doesn't seem to affect me (likely 'cause I'm not much of a video watcher), and I actually find it kinda handy to muffle them quickly with one hand given the lack of hardware volume buttons.
3. The touchscreen. I have seen multiple people complain that it is not very sensitive, but I have this problem in exactly one game, which leads me to believe that this is the problem of one game, and not a flaw of the device. Mind, my Nexus One has a terrible touchscreen, so maybe my standards are low, but given that I use an apple touchpad all the time, I'm guessing they're not *that* low.
4. The weight. I admit, it's heavier than I'd have thought, but I only notice if I think about it.
5. The backlit screen. I've been reading off laptop screens since I was a teenager, and I've never really understood how people get such eyestrain with them. I have to adjust the brightness semi-regularly, that's about it. In a similar vein, I've never really understood the e-ink thing. That stupid flashing between pages annoys me to no end, and I haven't noticed my eyes feeling any better after reading them. So... aside from the coolness of a lower-powered device, there wasn't much draw for me to older e-readers anyhow, and this has held up in practice through several books, an entire pass of plants vs zombies, etc.
Some final thoughts
This is not a flaw of the device, but I have to say that it looks so nice that I feel *incredibly* uncomfortable taking it out on the bus, as it feels badly like I'm over-flaunting wealth in my poor city on a transit system that's regularly used by homeless people as a cheap way to have a nap somewhere warm. (Seriously, the cops show up to escort people off the bus if they don't wake up by the time we get to the transit hub. Presumably there have been violent incidents with dangerously unstable folk to warrant this.) So, um, yeah. America!
I've noticed some of the articles about the Fire commenting that it's getting panned in the reviews but is a huge commercial success. This surprises me not at all: reviewers are the sort of people who've used ipads extensively, and this is most clearly not an ipad, thus there's some negative skills transfer and general weirdness above and beyond what I've talked about. But the kindle fire isn't really aimed at the ipad market exactly, it's aimed at the people like me who wouldn't have ever justified an ipad (or the equally expensive equivalents) but might give a cheaper tablet a try when it's got a company backing it that's likely to expect you to hold onto the device for more than a year.
What do I mean by that? Tech and phone companies have a terrible history of support and updates, as shown in these graphs about the support for android phones, since they rely on selling you new tech (or at least a new contract to upgrade that phone...). Amazon, however, relies on selling you books and games and video, and they're reportedly taking a loss on the tablet, so they're way more likely to make sure you can get new content to your device as long as possible. And they've got enough clout to encourage developers to support it. So that's one reason I think the Kindle Fire is more appealing than some other Android devices. We'll see if it pans out in practice, though.
Of course, this matters very little to me as I expect I'll move back to Canada in a couple of years and may or may not be able to use the device then (certainly, Canadian libraries cannot yet do the Kindle loan thing). I'd say I'm trusting Amazon to get that fixed up, but honestly I'm expecting I'll have an overpriced plants vs zombies device at that point and I'm willing to accept that risk.
In the end, I now have a library book I can play games on, which pretty much meets most of my leisure needs. ;)