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Old 11-17-2011, 10:46 AM   #1
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Kindle Fire - Review For Those Who Dislike Small Screens

[Disclaimer: as you can see in my signature, I have used every Kindle made by Amazon, but I am not affiliated in any way with Amazon. I simply enjoy & appreciate the convenience of Amazon's "works right out of the box" approach - and never having to load or use any software on my PC to use the Kindle.]

Prolog 1: I am a "mature" reader, and have worn glasses since I was 3 years old. My eyes are extremely sensitive to light levels, glare, etc. I also suffer from migraine headaches, and thus have exclusively read on eInk screens. I read constantly. I use NoSquint with FireFox for reading on a PC, laptop, or netbook - to manage text size. I hate prolonged reading on a PC screen.

Prolog 2: I currently own an ASUS Transformer that I bought to use as an ereader for books with lots of photographs, maps, illustrations, etc. that cannot be fully appreciated on a smaller screen Kindle. I do not enjoy reading on it - I find the text display is not sharp/crisp/clear - and my eyes fatigue rapidly. (Ditto for my previous iPad 1)

So I decided to order a Fire and try it out.

My first impression of the Fire was "It's way TOO small! I made a mistake!"
Then the screen popped up - and it was gorgeous! I've never seen such a sharp, crisp, clear screen - the resolution is wonderful. So I've been playing with it to see how my eyes like it.

The short answer is "I love it". It ain't perfect, but it's a winner for me.

1. Form factor
This is the perfect size for portability and easy reading. The iPad and Transformer are (for me) 2-handed devices, and are just plain clunky to lug around. The Fire (in the Marware case with the elastic band for holding in one hand) is easily portable and light enough for prolonged one-handed use.

2. Interface
For whatever reason, "intuitive' user interfaces are not intuitive for me at all. Trying to figure out how to do things on the iPad or Transformer drove me nuts. I'm basically a RTFM person, and have a stack of "Missing Manual" books in my house. It's very annoying to me to have to repeatedly visit websites to learn how to manipulate the device in front of me.

I am not having any problems navigating around the Fire. I've not had a lot of experience with music in the cloud or streaming videos, etc. - but I'm having a ball - and so far everything is working!
I agree with other reviewers that putting everything you own on the Carousel is ridiculous, but having your most recently used items at the front of it is helpful.

3. Reading books
There are enough options to modify font, type size, line spacing, brightness, etc. that I have found a combination that works for me. I agree with other reviewers that the unit as a whole is too bright, and would like to see a resident Amazon app to fine tune the brightness level other than using the sliding bar. Books, magazines, and documents are displaying very nicely - and the resolution for photographs & maps is very readable. I have found that tapping to magnify images only produces one larger size - I would appreciate the addition of the ability to "stretch" images with your finger tips [if I've missed this & it's possible, please tell me].
The crispness & clarity of the type on this screen is extremely readable - I have not experienced noticeable eye strain or headaches. I read just using ambient room lighting, and have not had problems with screen glare from reflected light.

4. Music
I'm using my Nano earbuds - works great.

5. Movies
Just for the heck of it, I tried streaming a movie - since it's free with Prime. I have a "regular" speed Roadrunner internet cable connection [didn't pop for the turbo speed] - and YouTube videos regularly stall for "buffering" on my PC - so I wasn't expecting much. But -- WOW! The Fire really does work with your internet connection speed - there was a small initial delay and then the movie played without pause or lag. The Fire screen is superb for watching movies - but I did notice significant screen glare from reflected light when the movie scene was dark - I have ordered a pack of anti-glare screen protectors for this. Again, aside from the glare problem [had to tip the unit a bit] I did not experience any eye strain or headache from watching the movie. I was simply stunned by the rendering provided on the small screen.

I will continue playing with, errrr....investigating, the Fire, but I am very impressed already.
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Old 11-17-2011, 01:55 PM   #2
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Thanks for the review!
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Old 11-17-2011, 05:48 PM   #3
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I respect your opinion, pooh, so this intrigues me. My first question is...

Once you have the Fire in your hands, how much more money do you have to spend to get much use out of it?
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Old 11-17-2011, 05:50 PM   #4
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I respect your opinion, pooh, so this intrigues me. My first question is...

Once you have the Fire in your hands, how much more money do you have to spend to get much use out of it?
As of today $0.00 - I've been downloading stuff (books & music) I already own & exploring free streaming videos.
Oh - I've spent $10 for anti-glare screen protectors.
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Old 11-17-2011, 06:27 PM   #5
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As of today $0.00 - I've been downloading stuff (books & music) I already own & exploring free streaming videos.
Oh - I've spent $10 for anti-glare screen protectors.
So far I have spent $10 as well (Cover + Screen protector combo.)

Prime is $79 a year. Hubby says we will see if we continue it or not. Take advantage of it though. Now is the time to order your gifts and stuff from Amazon. Free Standard or 2 day shipping is great!
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Old 11-17-2011, 08:24 PM   #6
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One of the efficiencies of the Amazon eco system is that your collection follows you from device to device. I will probably buy one of these for each family member. Each will be able to play a copy of each game or book purchased and share a single Prime account. Coming from a Playstation/Nintendo handheld universe, this is a welcome improvement.
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Old 11-17-2011, 10:20 PM   #7
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So far I have spent $10 as well (Cover + Screen protector combo.)

Prime is $79 a year. Hubby says we will see if we continue it or not. Take advantage of it though. Now is the time to order your gifts and stuff from Amazon. Free Standard or 2 day shipping is great!
Prime is worth $79 a year just for the shipping. If you live in the states, maybe this isn't a big deal for you. But for us, having the assurance that something will get to our box in the states ON TIME is wonderful. I regularly check the "Prime" box when searching for something so that I only see Prime eligible items. I honestly don't care if some other vendor has it for a few bucks less, being able to get it on Prime is important.

Videos, shmideos. I'll watch a few here, but they aren't worth the cost of Prime, any more than the new eBook lending library is. But they are nice touches that make me appreciate my Prime more.
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Old 11-17-2011, 10:59 PM   #8
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Pooh, I haven't ordered a Fire partly because I didn't know if the 7" screen would be too small for comfortable video viewing. Your review has convinced me to check out the device at a local store! I know that it has some shortcomings but, overall, reviews have been very positive.
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Old 11-17-2011, 11:10 PM   #9
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Prime is worth $79 a year just for the shipping. If you live in the states, maybe this isn't a big deal for you. But for us, having the assurance that something will get to our box in the states ON TIME is wonderful. I regularly check the "Prime" box when searching for something so that I only see Prime eligible items. I honestly don't care if some other vendor has it for a few bucks less, being able to get it on Prime is important.

Videos, shmideos. I'll watch a few here, but they aren't worth the cost of Prime, any more than the new eBook lending library is. But they are nice touches that make me appreciate my Prime more.
Yes but my UPS guy wont leave anything so I had to be up and waiting for him each time. Seeing I sleep from 5AM to 1PM that's alot of sleep lost. I could see using Standard shipping for free which is by USPS of course I'd use 2 day for important stuff but I live in the boonies. My UPS guy would hate me if I got Prime and used 2 day all the time.
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Old 11-18-2011, 08:20 AM   #10
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Pooh, I haven't ordered a Fire partly because I didn't know if the 7" screen would be too small for comfortable video viewing. Your review has convinced me to check out the device at a local store! I know that it has some shortcomings but, overall, reviews have been very positive.
I too shared your concerns about watching videos on such a small screen (I used to make fun of coworkers watching movies on their phones during lunch) - but I was amazed at the clarity of the Fire screen - just last night I watched an episode of Midsomer Murders on my Fire (filmed in the beautiful English countryside) - with a decent set of earbuds - it was an enjoyable experience. But you will need the anti-glare screen protector for watching movies.

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Old 11-18-2011, 08:27 AM   #11
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Wow, given the preface, I expected this to be a thoughtful review on why the Fire didn't work for you. Instead it was a thoughtful review on why the Fire did work for you. Glad you're enjoying it!
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Old 11-18-2011, 08:37 AM   #12
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Wow, given the preface, I expected this to be a thoughtful review on why the Fire didn't work for you. Instead it was a thoughtful review on why the Fire did work for you. Glad you're enjoying it!
Like I said - when I opened the package and saw the size of the screen - my jaw dropped and I was already making sure I hadn't torn up the box too badly to return it!

Then I took it for a spin.

People really need to play with this gadget in their homes to truly evaluate it with the media they want to view. The screen is the best screen I have seen yet - and (as my review explains) - I am VERY picky on screen issues.
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Old 11-19-2011, 08:53 AM   #13
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Yes but my UPS guy wont leave anything so I had to be up and waiting for him each time. Seeing I sleep from 5AM to 1PM that's alot of sleep lost. I could see using Standard shipping for free which is by USPS of course I'd use 2 day for important stuff but I live in the boonies. My UPS guy would hate me if I got Prime and used 2 day all the time.
I find the holidays are a perfect time to have a heart to heart discussion with your UPS / FedEx delivery person. I like to begin the discussion with a holiday envelope. In my experience, this enables him/her to find a creative way to leave packages, even those that require signatures. Assuming, of course, that it is safe to do so.

Alternately, if you live in an area where there really isn't any way for a delivery person to leave something, consider renting a box at a local "UPS Store" or equivalent. Then you can pick the package up at your convenience.
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Old 11-19-2011, 10:21 AM   #14
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Yes but my UPS guy wont leave anything so I had to be up and waiting for him each time. Seeing I sleep from 5AM to 1PM that's alot of sleep lost. I could see using Standard shipping for free which is by USPS of course I'd use 2 day for important stuff but I live in the boonies. My UPS guy would hate me if I got Prime and used 2 day all the time.
UPS drivers have several criteria they have to follow before leaving a package. Some drivers follow the rules more strictly than others. You can almost guarantee the driver will leave your package (assuming it's not signature required) by providing him a location that is out of plain sight, and out of the elements.

I bought a large plastic patio box and placed it alongside my front steps. It's big enough for most deliveries, and it has a lid which protects the contents from rain. I then left a note on my door telling the driver he could put deliveries in the box.

He took to it right away, and he remembers, even years later. Fedex and USPS also learned to use it (sometimes after leaving another note). That was several years ago, and it's been working great. I am a very heavy Amazon user.

I had a quick chat with the UPS guy last year, and he commented that he wished more people would do what I did, which was a nice validation. Understand that the UPS guy wants to get rid of his packages, but he also doesn't want to get in trouble when a package is reported missing. If he leaves a package in plain sight, then he can be held accountable.
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Old 11-19-2011, 12:25 PM   #15
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About half of the books on my KDX are PDF'S. These are mostly technical books. on PDF'S text is not reflowable -- so reading them on small physical screens can be problematic -- it depends on the physical target page size that the PDF was created for. If your reading screen size is equal to or greater than the PDF'S target page size, then the reading experience is great. On the KDX with its ISO A5-sized screen, the experience is OK for most textbooks -- less OK for things targeted at 8.5x11 (like magazines, etc). On balance reading PDF'S on the KDX was merely OK.

So I approached the KF with its small screen with some trepidation. Amazon has a new PDF reader on the kf. In general I have to say the experience reading PDF'S on the KF is at least as good as on the KDX, and in some cases better. This is due to two reasons: color and pinch to zoom.

I had not realized how much I was missing in many technical books by not being able to display color (in some cases on the KDX, turning colored text into a grey-scale shade severely degraded readability.

But the real advance comes with pinch to zoom and the generally very good responsiveness of the KF screen. This gives one the ability to make maximum use of unused margin space, and in the few cases where a page will not fit on the screen, the ability to quickly pan out and back or zoom out works reasonably well.

I have mostly been trying the KF out on textbooks printed on page sizes close to ISO A5. I have not yet looked at larger sized material like issues of Scientific American -- although just getting color there will be an improvement over reading SCIAM issues on the KDX.
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