Putting Out the Fire

My Kindle Fire arrived yesterday and I’ve been playing with it, as you can expect.  I promised you that I’d post some reviews of it for you and I’m going to give them to you in manageable bits, as I discover what all it will do and how it performs.  The picture above is one of the opening screens after you press the tiny power button on the bottom.  You use this button to power the Fire up, turn it off, put it to sleep, and wake it up.  Once you’ve got it “fired up,” you swipe the yellow arrow to the left and you are taken to your Home screen.

Your Home screen will have a rotating display of icons representing the latest apps and books that you’ve opened.  On the bottom shelf will be things you’ve “pinned” and want to have remaining there (until you remove them).  The ones you see are ones that Amazon had placed there for me when it was shipped.  I haven’t gotten around to customizing it yet.

The first thing I did after powering it up was start downloading some of my books onto it.  When you press “Books” at the top, it gives you the option of viewing either the books you have in the “Cloud” (in other words, your archive) or on the “Device.”  You can then sort them by Author, Title, or Recent.  Since I have lots of books in my Cloud, it was easier for me to do a search and then select the books to download that way.

One other way you can customize how these books are displayed is by choosing either “Grid View” or “List View.”  in the first picture of my Cloud books, you were looking at it displayed as a Grid view.

This is how it looks as a List View.  Those little down arrows are what you would press to download the book onto your device.

I couldn’t remember what “Pulse” was so I decided to explore that.  Once I opened it up, I realized that it is similar to “Flipboard” which I use on my iPad.  It is a customized reader where you can pick and choose what blogs or news feeds to follow.  Instead of “flipping” pages, it has a “timeline” appearance which is nice and you just swipe left or right to see the pictures and small synopsis of each story.  To read something in greater detail, you just select it.

I did a little searching within Pulse to see what feeds and blogs were available.  I was delighted to see that Google Reader was there and it let me log right into it and then it displayed all the feeds/blogs that I currently follow in Google Reader.  I simply select the ones I want to add to Pulse by pressing the “+” sign by the ones I want.

I had no problem logging into Facebook and following along with the posts.  It is set up pretty much just like Facebook on your smartphones.  As I was typing a status update, I noticed that Kindle Fire is constantly coming up with words it anticipates that I might be typing.  To use one of the words, you just touch the one you want and it pops into whatever you were typing AND puts a space after the word so you don’t even have to do that.  This feature was a little distracting at first but it hasn’t taken me long to become much more comfortable with it and to start using it more and more.

Of course, I HAD to add a few apps right away.  Amazon had already put some on my shelves just waiting for me to download them, if I so chose.  But what I really wanted first was Netflix and Comics.  It was getting too late last night to search for more.  I did notice that quite a few of the games I had on my Kindle 3 did NOT download to the Kindle Fire.  It said something about them not being compatible or able to be downloaded onto this device.  I’m assuming that their codes need to be rewritten for the Fire.  So app developers, let’s get cracking, OK?

Speaking of the Comics app, here is what a page from a comic looks like on my Kindle Fire.  Cool, eh?  You can zoom in if you need to, of course.  The colors are wonderful.  I just love being able to read comics on an e-reader.

The only glitch I’ve had so far with my new Kindle Fire happened last evening…..LATE last evening.  I was ready to head to bed and wanted to turn off the wireless.  I could not get that wireless to turn off for love nor money.  The instructions said that you just have to “toggle” on or off.  I know that I was trying to swipe to the right, since that is how I would interpret toggling with that type of visual display.  It stayed firmly in the “On” position.  Now I swear I tried poking the Off button too but maybe I didn’t.  It WAS late.  Finally I just turned the Kindle completely off.

First thing this morning I called Kindle support.  Let me just say that you can access support by going to Settings and then picking “Help & Feedback” which is the first choice.  A screen comes up with a list of topics under FAQ & Troubleshooting but you can also choose “Contact Customer Service.”  I chose that and it was a very simple thing to indicate a general topic for my problem and then to press either “Call me now” or “Call me in five minutes.”  I chose the “Call me Now” button and in less than a minute, my phone rang and I had Customer Service on the line.  I felt kind of stupid telling her my problem and even dumber when she said “Press the word ‘Off.'”  I did this and immediately the Off was highlighted and my wireless was now turned off.  I don’t know what happened but it has worked like a charm ever since.  I was giddy with delight (and probably lack of carbohydrates) since it was 7:00 a.m. and I couldn’t thank the service rep enough.  If I was nitpicking, I would say the Amazon folks should have designed the “on” and “off” as radio buttons so you would intuitively know you needed to press them, instead of swiping them.

That’s it for this first part of my Kindle Fire review.  I’m really enjoying it.  It is every bit as responsive as my Apple iPad.  Until next time…..I’m off to play with Fire.

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