If you've been wondering why I haven't been blogging for a few days, it's because there's a new love in my life - the Kindle Fire.Having been the owner and fan of the Kindle 3since it was introduced last year, it was with great anticipation that I counted down the days to the arrival of the new, much-hyped version of Amazon.com's tech baby.
My Kindle Fire arrived on Wednesday and I have experienced loss of sleep for several nights, information overload, the giddiness of a schoolgirl crush and absolutely no regrets about kicking it up a notch with my new eReader. Or is it a tablet? Or maybe an oversized smart phone without the phone?
Actually, it's all of the above. And more. Over the next few days, I will be blogging about my experiences with the Kindle Fire, making a side-by-side comparison to the Kindle 3 (now being called the Kindle Keyboard), sharing some of my favorite apps, and last, and by no means least, using the Kindle Fire for genealogy.
Out of the box, it's pretty simple. Just the device and the AC adapter. And a small piece of cardboard with an instruction on where to locate the power on button and to glide your finger across the screen to activate the device.
Tapping as fast as I can
Okay, confession time. I don't have a smart phone, don't have an iPad or iPod touch, so this touch-screen technology is all new to me. When I first had to use a mouse with a computer, I resisted, "I'm a keyboard person!" I insisted. The first days of using the Kindle Fire was adjusting to "tapping" instead of clicking. I'm still perfecting my tapping skills.
My first obstacle was to log-in to my wireless router. How DO I enter my password?? I struggled with this for at least 45 minutes until, entirely by mistake, the touch keyboard appeared at the bottom of the screen. It would have saved me a lot of time had that little cardboard instruction sheet said to tap the bottom of the screen to activate the navigation menu and keyboard. Please do not assume I know these things! And I even consider myself a gadget geek.
I had to make some password changes on my wireless router, restarted the Kindle Fire, and finally had access to my WiFi network. Here's where I should mention that the Kindle Fire accesses the internet only by WiFi, unlike a smartphone and some iPads which require a paid plan (or so I'm told). This is no different from my Kindle 3.
Books, books and more books
A few apps were preloaded on the device, so I logged in to my Facebook account. I test drove a few familiar web sites, then began downloading my Kindle books from my Amazon library (Cloud) to my Kindle Fire (Device). Over the past year I've accumulated close to 400 books for my Kindle. No, that didn't cost me a small fortune. I'm a big fan of FREE. If you like free ebooks for your Kindle or Nook, I recommend subscribing to the Free eBook Deal blog - they provide daily links to free books to feed your hunger for reading. You can also follow them on Facebook.
So, with a few taps, I began the process of downloading my existing ebook collection from my Amazon library to my device. All of my online cloud content from Amazon is at my fingertips as long as I have WiFi access, but I can download my books and music at will. I can remove my content from my device and it's still stored in the cloud on Amazon.
This morning I used an app for Audible.com (now an Amazon company) to access my library of audio books. I've started downloading several of my audio books to my Kindle Fire. The app is extremely easy to use, although it took me a while to get account and password recognition - that may have just been due to my less than perfect skills on the tap-keyboard.
Facebook. Twitter. GooglePlus. Google Reader. All of these are part of my daily routine. And I get behind. Outrageously behind. Two days without checking the blogs I follow in Google Reader and I have 700-800 posts that have accumulated.
This is where the Kindle Fire is going to make my blog reading time much more efficient.
I maintain folders for different types of blogs that I read. My favorite "must read" bloggers are in my "A-MR Blogs" folder. When I have no time to read everything, this is the folder of blog posts that I always read.
In the mobile version of Google Reader, only 15 blog posts are displayed at a time. I can read the ones I select (I'm a headline/title reader, so if you don't grab my attention there, I move on). After perusing the 15 posts on my screen, I can mark them all as read and move on to the next 15. This has made my blog reading so much more efficient than on my PC. So, from now on, ALL of my blog reading in Google Reader will definitely be done on the Kindle Fire.
Facebook is pretty much the same as on my computer, except that I just get the news feeds and not the extraneous ads that appear on the right hand side of the screen. Nice! The icons to "tap" for notifications and messages are very small and difficult for me to "tap". This needs some refinement or perhaps the purchase of a stylus for me.
But when it comes to Twitter, this is where I see the real difference between the web and mobile. Those of you with smartphones are probably already aware of this. Using an app called TweetCaster, I now "get" why people like Twitter. Twitter is clearly intended for the mobile user and it's quick and easy to browse through tweets on the Kindle Fire. Tapping on the Kindle keyboard is still much too frustrating for me to do much tweeting from the device, but I'll certainly use it for reading tweets.
This is just a quick look at the new Kindle Fire. I'll be back with more about my experiences in the coming days.
Related posts from LongLostRelatives.net:
Kindle for Genealogy
Kindle for Genealogy Redux