As an avid iProduct user, I was hesitant to even consider the Android market. The $199 price tag on the Kindle Fire and two girls, age 3 and 6, who always manage to wander off with my iPad2 caused me to walk into Target and part with the $600 needed to equip everyone in my house with Kindle Fires. I wrapped them and plopped them under the tree, eagerly awaiting everyone’s excitement when the Gingerbread wrapping paper turned into heaps of trash and the Kindle box stared back at them.
Fast forward to Christmas Day. My husband, a web developer, and tech enthusiast himself, was enthralled and instantly began downloading eBooks. My three year old, smiled and maneuvered her way to the Cut the Rope app. My six year old, looked at the book, looked at me, and said, “What?” Her face twisted into what I can only describe as a scowl akin to Ebenezer Scrooge on an early Christmas morning. She plopped it back under the tree and said, “Can I open something else?” When I responded that she could not, she let out a sigh, then picked up her old iTouch and began tapping away.
These three different reactions encouraged me to carve out some time with one of the Kindles to determine exactly what the pros and cons of this device were. I needed to write my own review.
The First Meeting
The first thing that I noticed was that the Fire is nowhere as responsive as the iPad2. Because my iPad2 is virtually attached to my hip, I have become extremely used to the responsive screen and the smooth way that any app eases open when I lightly tickle the screen with my finger, wrists, and sometimes a semi-moist dishwashing glove (I know, I know, bad news there). The Kindle and I seemed to be in a bit of a war. I would tap. It would stare motionless back at me. I would tap harder. The staring continued. Bam! Bam! I would thump it. Ahh! Now the app opened. After a few rounds of this, my husband peered sideways at me and took it out of my hands.
“Like this,” he smoothly touched the Kindle and it almost purred in response.
I mimicked his actions, but the Kindle continued to mock me. The staring contest began again.
Hubby tapped. Response.
I tapped. Nothing.
Hubby tapped. Response.
I tapped. Zilch.
This could seemingly go on forever.
Finally my husband, shook his head and lamented that I was ‘doing it wrong’.
I guess my fingertips have a marriage with the iPad2 and aren’t interested in any form of adultery–$199 or not.
So We Meet Again
The next time I met the Kindle, I tried a more patient touch and let my fingertips linger just a bit longer on the buttons.
Magic. I guess that now I was ‘doing it right’.
I navigated through the bookstore, parted with $30 on books that I did not even know that I wanted until the lure of the Sample told me otherwise. The Sample is a feature that allows you to download just a portion of a book for your library. If you like it, Amazon already has the Kindle set up with your Amazon Prime account and you are automatically on the one-click purchase system. This means that whatever means you use to pay for your normal Amazon purchases is accessed with one click of the button. I did not realize how much time that checkout basket buys me to rethink a potential purchase. Not with the one click service.
Hunger Games. Finger slide. I own it.
Dora’s Christmas Carol. Finger slide. I own it.
There are pros and cons to this system. On the pro side, it does allow for an easy and fast purchasing experience. Nice of Amazon to think of that. On the con side, I tend to suffer from Buy’s Remorse on a weekly basis. I cannot function in a world where just one fingertip and no movement from the sofa, no restarting the computer, no effort at all is required. I think that is like buying on QVC. Only you don’t pick up the phone. Just the finger slide. Let’s also remember that I have a three year old who can read the words Store and Buy. And she has fingertips.
Ignoring the instant parting with cash, I was de-lighted with my books. I could annotate, highlight, share with other Kindle friends, and even take a break and Kindle help my place. I could even touch a word and Kindle would let me know what it meant the synonym, antonym, and offer to take me on a trip to Webster’s for more information.
As Amazon Prime members, we also have access to lots of free videos. I had heard this before, but figured that this was a collection of D list cinema that I could scour You Tube for. Not so. I watched a bit of Lost, Arthur’s Christmas with my daughter, a Kevin Hart comedy special, and had access to pretty much every television series from the Tudors to Arrested Development. The connection was seamless and fast. The clarity of the movie was flawless. I actually lay in bed and watched television from the palm of my hand.
The Kindle Experience Expands
A great feature of the Kindle Fire is the collaborative nature of the product. All of the Kindles are networked through our one account. This means that I can download anything that my husband has on his Kindle to my computer and read it there, from my PC screen. I also downloaded the Kindle App for my iPad. Instantly, I can download anything that we have on the other Kindles and read it there. We also downloaded the same app onto our iPhones and my oldest daughter’s iTouch. This level of connectivity means that the Dora book I downloaded can be read in the car on the iTouch when we are on the go, on my work PC (if I am really into Dora for some reason that day), or on any of the other devices.
Kindle App Development
One downfall of the Kindle is that the Android market has only a fraction of the apps that the iMarket has. As a result, there are nowhere a many child friendly quality apps. Additionally, very few apps seem to cross over. My children like to play what I call Maker Game. These are totally pointless, but let the user create cupcakes—Cupcake Maker, pizza-Pizza Maker, and my favorite Fondue Maker. Silly, yes. Fun. To 3 and 6 year olds. On the Android market we downloaded a generic version to make cupcakes. The program did not even work properly. Clearly bugs are still being worked out. It was weird explaining to a 3 year old why the frosting won’t touch the cupcake.
This problem is one that IS fixable. With the growing popularity of the Kindle Fire, hopefully developers will flock to the platform and level this playing field more. While the iPhone market is growing, the Android market is growing faster.
My conclusion: The Kindle is a great piece of technology for the price. It should not be mistaken as a small iPad2, because that it is not. If it is looked at as what it is, an eReader with lots of great collaborative and networking perks, the lens changes. The potential for collaboration and sharing is dynamic. At the $199 price point, it is definitely a worthy purchase and addition to the tech world. With Amazon’s backing and reach, I imagine that the iPad and all of the other tablets and eReaders, probably can expect to lose more and more of the market share.