Yep, me, the person who never gets a newly released tech gizmo has got a Fire HD 7.
I've played around with the husband's tab and my uncle's iPad, but honestly didn't think I would get one. It's not like I need a tablet, right? I mean, I have a computer, a Kindle 2 (soon to be upgraded - aw yeah, this reader is smokin'...OK, I'm done with the fire puns), why do I need a tablet on top of that?
The truth is I don't. However, that doesn't mean that I haven't been gloriously happy trying out my new Fire. I might not need it, but there is no way now I'm giving it up, and I have to admit it makes some things a lot easier. I was skeptical of eReaders until I got my Kindle (also a gift), then it quickly became My Precious.
I know lots of folks do everything with their smart phones. Me, I call people, text and occasionally take photos, so I've never shelled out the $$ for a smart phone. I hate the touchscreens on most phones and don't like reading on them. This means that at home I have only one way to check e-mail & surf the internet: my desktop computer. So for me, being able to check my e-mail on the Fire is nice. I like being able to sit on the couch and look up something on Google. I can sit on my computer chair for a long time, but my La-Z-Boy is more comfy.
I have to say, though, that typing on the Fire is not fun at all. If I was going to do more than a quick e-mail or note to myself, I would probably use something else or try to use one of the wireless keyboards.
I read Laurie's post on the first gen Fire last year, and I doubt that users who want to customize or who already own and utilize the more flexible capabilities of their iPads or Samsung tabs will be happy with a Fire. However, if all you want to do is read, watch videos and play some games, and you already have purchased content through Amazon, this will likely fit your needs.
The free Prime trial still comes with the Fire and so far I like it. We'll be keeping Prime.
Setup - Easy. Since I already have a Kindle registered, it was as simple as connecting to my home Wifi and I was pretty much set.
Videos - so far I have tried the Prime Instant Videos and I thought the quality was really good. Playback wasn't an issue at all, although it should be noted that we don't skimp on internet service in my house. In looking at the Prime Instant Video and comparing to Netflix streaming, I would say that they are about equal for what I like to watch. I also picked up the free Daily Show with John Stewart app to watch popular clips.
Games - Here is where I become the best mommy ever. My son actually told me "Its fantastic that you have a tablet." Yeah, he got trained on his uncle's iPad and dad's Samsung tab. I'm not sure who was more excited about opening the box, me or the kids. So far we have tried Where's My Perry (fun), Angry Birds Space (I like this one better than the Rio and Seasons versions), Temple Run (slide, damn you little running man!), and Siege (I love the music. And the bombs, but the collateral damage makes me sad.). While the Fire does have parental controls, nothing beats the consequences of screwing something up on the 'rents techno-babies to keep the kiddos on the right path. I will probably try out Kindle Freetime when it becomes available next month. That one allows you to set a time limit as well as restrict what the little rugrats can get into. You can set up a personal profile for each kid. I know there are more than a few parents waiting for that one.
Books - Which is better, e-ink or backlit tablet? To no surprise, e-ink, of course, wins hands down. I can read my Kindle 2 all day without killing my eyes (and my eyes are crap). When looking at all methods of reading, I can read my Kindle longer than I can a print book. Given my love of e-ink, I was quite skeptical when I opened up a book on the Fire. It's bright, which can be toned down a bit, but I found the best solution was to switch to sepia tone. That helped things out a lot. I can't read on the Fire for as long as I can on an e-ink Kindle, but I didn't have a screaming headache after an hour of reading, so I'm good. Since I can sync my Fire and Kindle, I'll always be able to get to the right place in my books.
PDFs - This is where the Fire performs high above the e-ink Kindle. I loathe reading PDFs on my Kindle. I had to switch to landscape and nothing every really looked right. On the Fire, though, the PDFs look great and I have no problem reading them. Since I review books and sometimes get PDF ARCs, this is an important feature for me. (I am aware that I can e-mail the PDFs to be converted by Amazon...I never do it and I'm not going to start. I just don't feel right e-mailing ARCs off, even though I'm sure its automated and no one else sees what I'm sending. I tend to be protective of any ARCs I get.)
I tried to get the Google talk app for the Fire but have been thwarted. I can use the built-in camera with Skype, but it looks like that is about it for now. It does not take photographs, so it is very limited in use.
After trying it out for a few days I can say that the Fire is not going to replace anything I currently have, but it is a welcome addition. I even named it - Smudge, after my favorite fiery spider.