Friday, December 16, 2011

I still *heart* my Kindle

I know. It's been forever. I hope I haven't lost my touch :)

I love books. Particularly a good fantasy novel, but I'll read just about anything that tells a good story or teaches me something new and fascinating. When the Kindle first came out, it seemed like a natural fit. But I delayed. E-books don't have the wonderful feel and smell of paper! E-books won't fill up my bookshelves! Until finally, I had so many books that there was no more space. I could always go back and read my favorites on the old fashioned medium, but it was clear that I needed a more compact solution moving forward, so I bought a Kindle.

It was love at first sentence. The ability to download books in seconds, and take a whole library of reading material any where I go won me over in a heartbeat. I was a Kindle aficionado. When rumors flew that a color Kindle was going to be released, I immediately started a "new Kindle fund". With my Fire pre-ordered the first day, I not so patiently awaited its delivery. And finally the day arrived. My Kindle Fire was born. I named it Sam.

Having read a dozen books on Sam, and read a small army of disparaging Kindle Fire reviews, I want to put my $0.02 out there.

The hardware:
I really enjoy the LCD screen compared to e-ink. I don't have to fuss with a book light to read at night, and turning pages is noticeably faster. Carrying Sam around is no more difficult that any paperback. The 7" size works for me. I don't miss a camera or any other high-end tablet features. Yes the Fire is less powerful than my smartphone. It also cost less than half the price.

The software:
Amazon's locked down version of Android has left me between a rock and a hard place. Half my life is organized around Google: gmail, google docs, gtalk, the list goes on and on. To make Sam really useful as a tablet, I need access to those apps. I don't have it.

About 2 minutes after realizing this, I looked into rooting Sam. I was all set to go for it until I read one critical sentence: Rooting a Fire removes access to Amazon Prime functionality. Sigh. Here's my not so guilty, not so secret: I buy tons of stuff from Amazon. I got a Prime membership the first year they were available. The $80 more than pays for itself in "free" 2-day shipping. I see the library of downloads as an added bonus. One that doesn't justify the Prime membership, but also one I don't want to lose on Sam.

So, Sam remains unrooted. I use him to read books, very happily. He is not a fully functioning tablet though, and that may prompt me to look into Android tablets more in the future. Cause, you know, I always *need* more technology :)