In which I review my newest device, even though it’s already obsolete.
A couple of weeks ago I spontaneously bought a fourth Kindle — a tablet upgrade. My previous Kindle Fire worked fine and I didn’t need a new one. I knew they were probably going to announce a new model soon anyway. (Which they did. The very next day.) Pretty much the worst time to upgrade, really.
Luckily I found Amazon Warehouse Deals, which is the interface through which Amazon sells damaged, refurbished, and/or remaindered stuff, so I got the 8.9″ HD for less than a new 7″ HD.
The device is pretty awesome. The screen is great and the on-board speakers really are as remarkable as the reviews say. The device is thin and elegant. The opsys is stable. There’s a shitload of great content, especially if you have Amazon Prime.
But I hate the location of the hardware buttons. The power switch is right next to the volume rocker switch and it infuriates me to find myself pushing things multiple times just to get the device to turn on or off. The ports and buttons are horribly laid out: in order to charge the device while watching video (which you absolutely have to because the thing is a battery drain) you have to turn the device upside down. Of course the screen reorients, but then the buttons are on the opposite side… basically every time I pick the thing up I have to search for the on/off switch.
Ultimately my inability to memorize button layout is my own fault, but it drives me nuts.
The device I bought was returned or refurbished — the description wasn’t terribly clear — but it arrived in factory packaging and looked brand new save a few tiny cosmetic scratches I didn’t even notice until I’d had the thing for several hours. I love those little scratches because they knocked over a hundred bucks off the prices of the device!
I still use my older Kindle device, the Kindle Keyboard, for real reading, though. While the Fire HD is an excellent media consumption device — great for everything from email to social media and HD movies — it’s not half as comfortable for reading. The Kindle Keyboard isn’t backlit, is half the size of the Fire HD 8.9″, and is wholly superior for sucking down long-form works of text. With its nearly infinite battery power and the leather case complete with built-in reading light it’s an ideal reading device. (I would upgrade to the Paperwhite except I dropped a lot of money on that leather case and am not ready to make it obsolete quite yet. Also the thing is still receiving software updates and works just fine.) The Kindle Fire models are adequate for reading, but the size, weight, battery drain, and lit screen are all non-trivial issues by comparison.
Anyway, I gave the Fire 7″ to my brother. He immediately rooted it. I probably would have kept it and done the same myself — sometimes you really want access to the Google market — but I tend toward generosity when wine drunk and excited about new electronic devices.
I’ve ordered a Bluetooth keyboard to use with the thing. I don’t really need it, but it will make using the device for emails and blogging while traveling much more comfortable.
Update: It’s the last day of the year and I LOVE this tablet. Use the shit out of it. Still hate the button locations, but otherwise it’s a great device.