Toolie Travel Blog

A million-mile flyer talks about the life of a business traveler.

Newsletter: Encounter with a Kindle Fire HD

My contract with Amazon Web Services has given me a unique view into the world of corporate computing.  I don't interact with the Amazon retail side of the business, but I have found myself visiting the company Kindle store to download the AWS documentation.  That was the first time I ever thought about owning a Kindle.

Pondering the Tablet

You don't have to have a Kindle device to read books formatted for Kindle.  You can download free software from the website to run on a Mac or PC.  The first Kindle book I ever bought was a technical book that I needed in less time than it would take for the book to be shipped to me.  After that I was hooked.

Because I'm working on a book about AWS, I started reading the AWS documentation on my home laptop, then on my iPhone.  As time passed I began considering purchasing a Kindle.  McAlister and I had talked about getting a pair of iPads, but the one thing I wanted for myself that an iPad wouldn't get for me was access to the Kindle Lending Library.  If you own a Kindle device and you're an Amazon Prime member, you can check books out (new books in Kindle format) of their Kindle owners' library for free.  This is made possible by a program that Kindle authors can join that requires the author to allow the book to be borrowed for a brief time.  It's wonderful exposure for the authors, and a great benefit of being a Kindle device owner.

Ah well.  Having a Kindle was not in the budget.

McAlister Goes Rogue

The day after Christmas McAlister admitted that I had one more present coming to me: a Kindle Fire HD 7" device.  I shrieked with joy!  He wasn't supposed to spend that much on my presents, but of course, I didn't decline his generosity.  The Kindle of Joy arrived last Friday (3 days ago).  We had plans for the evening, but given its petite size, the Kindle slipped nicely into my purse and kept me company while we were in the car.

Enter the Tablet

While in transit to our evening activity, the first thing I noticed was how much I had come to depend on Internet access independent of indoor wireless access on my wireless devices (the iPhone).  In other words, my Kindle didn't have a cell phone connection so that I could keep browsing.  Ah!  Must plan ahead.

The next thing I noticed was the substantial difference between the operating systems on the iPhone and the Kindle (Android).  These are two competing operating systems that do use similar enough user actions that I was able to adapt quickly.  To unlock the Kindle you sweep your finger over the log from right to left, instead of left to right, etc. The menus worked differently, but the icons were easy to decode.

I tried pairing the device with my Verbatim Bluetooth Keyboard; that worked like a charm.  Later that evening I spent $12 on reasonably good office suite software so that I could author documents on the Kindle, not just read them.  If I do enough writing on the Kindle I'll eventually pay for a wireless printing app so that I don't have to rely on Google Print (sending my documents through their servers -- no thanks).

Audio, Video, and the Form Factor

A 7" (diagonal screen size) device is just right for slipping into a computer bag or large purse.  I can still pick it up with one hand, though, which is helpful.  What I find truly amazing though is the SOUND coming out of that device!  It has small built-in speakers that deliver terrific audio.  It does have a headphone jack so you can use external speakers, but really, there's no need.  The video is crystal- clear.  So far I have watched only Amazon conference videos (did you forget I'm a geek?), but don't worry, the Amazon Instant Video library is calling my name.  As a Prime member, I get access to video-on-demand through my Kindle, with hundreds of titles available to watch for FREE.  I'm also a movie buff, so I'm ecstatic about that!

The only thing missing right now is a case for the Kindle.  As with any other small electronic device, there are a myriad of cases for the Kindle, but be careful that you buy one specifically for the Kindle you own.  Initially I ordered the wrong thing and I barely managed to cancel the order in time.  The right case arrives Thursday or Friday.

The Screen Gang

So for the last few evenings, I have picked up my iPhone AND my Kindle and taken them upstairs with me at the end of my workday.  (I feel like a Mom herding her electronic children.)  Will the Kindle go everywhere with me?  No, probably not, simply because of the size of the device.  But hey, it's only been 3 days, what do I know?  I can say definitively that since I commute to work for 30 minutes each way using mass transit, I will be taking it with me to read on the way.

What small tablet or reader do you own?  Which ones would you like to own?  Leave your comments below.

Happy New Year to You!


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