Thursday, December 29, 2011

Kindle Fire: Year-End Clearance

I got a Kindle Fire earlier in the month, mainly because it seemed like the best value you could get for an Android-based tablet and it would be useful for some HTML app testing. After a few weeks of playing with it, though, I've decided to return it.

The device itself doesn't inspire a lot of passion. It's just about half an inch too wide and much too heavy to be held comfortably in one hand--at least for me; perhaps Joe Flacco could palm the thing. That discomfort is compounded by the rather angular edges of the device. Now if you're going to want to hold it with two hands and/or prop it up against something, the tiny screen becomes a liability more than a benefit.

The Fire's ecosystem annoyed me right out of the box. To get started I figured I'd try some of the free books. When I tried to download them I got an incomprehensible message. Turns out you absolutely must have a credit card saved to your Amazon account, even for the "purchase" of free books. Then I decided to sample several "free" magazine apps (all Conde Nast ones BTW). Turns out that yes the app itself can be downloaded for zero dollars, but you have to pay for individual issues, get a subscription, or enter a code from an existing print subscription. Oooo-kay.

There wasn't a lot of passionate fire kindled for this device by any member of my family. My daughter took it out of my hand and immediately thought it was much too heavy for its size. My son said he preferred his Kindle Touch for reading books, especially since it's lighter and actually is comfortable to hold in one hand. My wife definitely prefers the iPad.

One of the device's major attractions to me was the Silk Browser. I'm still interested in how (and how well) Silk works, especially in the context of jQuery, but the Kindle Fire is not the kind of device I'd want to use to explore it. For now I'll wait for Amazon to come out with other form factors, hopefully one that is more like an iPad and less like a lump of coal.