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Post-holiday Kindle Fire notes

January 3, 2012

Ok, I’ve lived with the Kindle Fire for over a month now and have taken it along as a primary device while traveling over the holidays. Here, in no particular order, are what will probably be my final notes about it:

  • Not really a Kindle Fire note so much as a Kindle synchronization note: I think Kindle’s Whispersync needs to do something smarter than offering to sync to the furthest position you’ve ever visited in a book. I’d rather have it offer to move to my most recent reading position, because I occasionally run into cases where the furthest point I’ve gotten is where I’m currently reading (particularly for technical books where I may skip around). Offering to move to the position with the most recent timestamp seems like a better alternative. And that’s not even considering when you re-read a book, in which case where you are is usually much different from the latest point you’ve visited.
  • The video rental policy for the Kindle Fire is lame. If you had 30 days to watch a movie after you’ve rented it and 48 hours to finish after you’ve started watching I’d be satisfied (if not exactly thrilled), but Amazon’s policy is instead that you have 48 hours after you download the movie to the Kindle Fire to watch it. So unlike with Apple and iTunes, your short timer starts with the download rather than with the watching. That’s problematic if you’d like to rent a movie for a trip, you’re not sure if you’ll have WiFi so you want to cache the movie locally, but you’d like the ability to watch the movie later in the trip as opposed to at the start of the trip. I frankly don’t understand why Amazon is starting the 48 hour timer at download; surely their software could handle starting the timer when you actually start watching.
  • The built-in mail client is lousy. Seriously lousy. I’d download a separate mail client from Amazon’s app store, but all the 3rd party mail clients seem lousy too. Anyone have a pointer to an elegant Android mail client?
  • After living with it for a month, I actually don’t mind the Recent Items carousel as much as I thought I might. The update adding the ability to remove items from the carousel and making it less touchy were definite improvements.

Individual complaints aside, I still like my Kindle Fire and think it’s well worth the $199 price point. I don’t think it’s an iPad killer (in part because iOS is more polished and in general offers higher quality applications, and in part because 7″ tablets are different beasts than 10″ tablets), but for what I use it for (reading books, occasionally listening to music, and even more occasionally watching videos) it does a good job.

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