January 24th, 2013, 02:58 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2010
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An initial review
So I ended up with a Kindle Fire HD 7" (if I'd had more chance to think about it and Google had dropped the price earlier, I would have had a Nexus 7 instead). If you have a lot of digital stuff via Amazon (or plan to) then it works pretty well. You can access all of it via the cloud. If you don't then it is a bit awkward and you have to manually load everything.
For reading books, it works very well. Finding the free books (mostly stuff that is out of copyright) on Amazon is not easy though, there is no free section or even a way to sort books based on price. The easiest way I have found is to enter the name of a book that you know would be free (Frankenstein for example) and then scroll through the list of similar items from that page. Almost every free book has a paid version, so make sure you avoid those. My local library allows me to check out books completely online. It takes quite a few button presses, but it is not difficult to do.
Amazon Prime seems like a nice deal, it's like Netflix in that you get free access to loads of movies and tv shows. Unlike Netflix, there are sneaky costs for a lot of content. Anything recent will cost you an extra few dollars, premium tv shows also cost extra. And so do lots of other old movies. I can't compare the selections between Amazon Prime and Netflix, so it may be the case that Netflix simply doesn't have those videos available at all. Made me worried I was going to accidentally buy a video when I thought it was free (actually I was more worried about my kids doing it, so I password protected all the payment options). I won't bother renewing when my free month runs out, there's not nearly enough that I would watch that is included. If you have a NAS or a PC with shared files on it, then you can access those files using a file manager like ES File Explorer. This means you can stream music and video to your Kindle, assuming you have an appropriate player for the filetype. I've not had any luck with finding an mp4 player that can handle multiple audio streams, so some of my anime DVD rips come out silent (not yet sure if it is worth reripping them or converting them). VLC should be able to do it in theory, and does for some, but it is still in beta (you'd need the ARM7 tigra version IIRC).
Sideloading is the way to get hold of apps that aren't available in the Amazon store (although you may be surprised to see how many apps they have). I used Airdroid to copy the .apk files from my smartphone to a PC, then copied them onto the Kindle. Using ES File Explorer, I could then install them. This was when I discovered that the Kindle doesn't have a GPS, so location-based apps don't work well if they need your GPS (I was hoping to use Google Skymap, not worth it without GPS) so its only location it knows is where your wi-fi is connected to (as long as your router isn't too new to be on their map)
*The "on" button is hard to find for the first few days. It is flush with the case so it is hard to find by touch without just blindly pressing in along the edge. The volume keys are next to it, so you might hit them instead.
*You don't get a wall socket charger with it, you have to buy one separately. The special one that Amazon sells works fine, but it has edges sharp enough to cut a diamond! A little smoothing would have been nice.
*There is no documentation supplied, just a few vague pages on how to use it when you first turn it on.
*You don't get ANY demo stuff to start. I opened it at xmas in a place with no wifi and I couldn't try out anything on it. One book, one mp3, one video would have been nice.
*You don't get many apps. Apart from Skype and the browser, and the hidden apps to read books and play music (they don't seem like apps since you don't select them, just click on the item in the appropriate section), you don't get much.
*The sound and image quality are very good. You might have to dim the screen a bit if you start reading a book, but that's easy. You might end up covering a speaker with your hand if you are holding it, which muffles the sound a bit, they aren't the best location.
*Skype works fine, although it would be nice if there was something to indicate if you are online or offline, missed a few calls one day because of it. More of a failing of the Skype app though.
*Not sure if the built-in camera can be used for anything else, not got any other apps that use a camera, not sure if any are worthwhile anyway (too dark to take good pics inside, too bright to see the screen outside).
*The adverts that appear when you turn on the screen aren't all that annoying.
*Everything on the device is geared towards you buying more stuff from Amazon, and it's not subtle. This is my biggest annoyance. Maybe if I fill out my library a bit more it will seem a little less like I am having "Buy this for $2.99" shoved in my face every time I do a search, and it is far too easy to almost buy something accidentally. Plus, even when you buy free stuff you get an email from Amazon to confirm your order, so I ended up with 20 emails in my inbox when I downloaded 20 free books.
Overall It's far more useful than I thought it would be, seriously considering buying another tablet so that it doesn't have to be shared between the four of us, although I would get a Nexus 7 instead and just stick the Amazon app on it. (sorry this is a wall of text, the forum seems to ignore all my forced paragraphs)
Last edited by txrxio; January 30th, 2013 at 02:22 PM.
Reason: Trying to fix paragraphs