Kindle Fire in Canada – Full Review

June 17, 2013

I have now had my Kindle Fire fir several days now and this is my update to my initial impressions.  Once I got over my disappointment in the lack of Audible integration for Canadians, I began to really enjoy the device. My other two tablets are an iPad 3 and a Nexus 7. I find the smaller form factors of the Nexus and the Kindle Fire very comfortable to use.

Until  now, my main tablet of choice has been my iPad 3.  I use it around the house, and if I’m travelling I take it with me.  However, I find it’s rather bulky to carry around, and I usually end up taking my Kindle Paperwhite too, as I really don’t enjoy reading books on the iPad.  I really don’t use my Nexus very much at all.

Perhaps the the best way to approach this review is to discuss how the tasks I usually undertake on my iPad translate to the Kindle Fire. I don’t use the iPad for work/production related activities.  There are many apps I use on my iPhone to check a few quick things.

Checking email

I was able to import all my personal accounts – two Yahoo emails, Gmail and a non standard account for my email – with minimal hassle.  I have not been able to access my work Exchange email, but i generally check that on my iPhone rather than my tablet anyway.

Surfing the web

Surfing the web is fine on both devices.  On the Kindle I miss my synced iCloud bookmarks, but I can live without them.  I find no major difference between using Safari and the Amazon Silk browser

Checking social networking sites

I am active in Twitter, Facebook and GoodReads.  All of these have apps available on iOS and Android and are great to use and look at in both environments.

Reading magazines

Although I prefer reading novels on my Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo Glo, magazines are a delight to read on tablets.  I use Zinio for my magazine subscriptions and have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly as a standalone app.  Both are great on the iPad and Kindle Fire. Despite the smaller screen size, the high  resolution of the Kindle Fire’s screen means that the text is still easily legible.  

Watching videos

This is one area in which the iPad has superiority with its larger screen.  On my iPad I watch iTunes movies and Netflix as well as use the remote app to control my Apple TV.  The lack of Amazon Instant Video and inability to purchase movies from Amazon means that I am limited to Netflix on the Kindle Fire.

Most of my non book content is in iTunes, which I have not yet managed to access on my Android devices.  Other than Netflix, the only movie I’ve been able to get on my Kindle Fire is the one I have in my UV account.

Checking on the news

I usually get my news from the BBC News app.  Again, the app is available for both iPad and Android and is gorgeous to browse.  I noticed the La Presse app is available for Android and iPhone but not yet on the Amazon app store.  It may take a while for Canadian specific apps to make their way to the Amazon app store – I noticed the  Cineplex app is also not yet available – as it’s so new still.

What’s better on the iPad

Integration with the Apple ecosystem.  I’m a Mac girl, and I do appreciate the tight integration with Apple products.  I like that I can add a bookmark on my Mac and it’s available to me on my iPhone and iPad.  This includes movies and music.  

What’s better on the Kindle Fire

Integration with Amazon.  Kindle Fire is designed to promote access to Amazon content.  The Fire makes it very easy to access purchased content and purchase more.  Shopping on Amazon on the Fire is a real pleasure.  I almost never shop on my Paperwhite or the iPad; Apple has blocked in-app purchases from Amazon, so this requires leaving the Kindle app to go to either the website or the Kindle Store app.  On the Fire this is all integrated.

Reading novels.  I still prefer long form reading on the Paperwhite, but the Fire’s high res screen makes reading not too painful. I find the iPad a little too heavy for long form reading.  I would certainly be happy to take the Fire away for a weekend and leave the Paperwhite and iPad at home. 

The notifications. I find them much more subtle and unintrusive on the Kindle Fire, which is nice if I am engrossed in a book.

Book and app recommendations. I love books and reading, and I’ve always enjoyed Amazon’s recommendations.  Yes, I know, they’re just trying to get me to pay them more money,  but they do seem to suggest some great books.  This is all integral to the Fire experience.

Typing.  I really love Android’s suggested words when typing – I find this system much less typing intensive than iOS’s

So what about the Kindle Fire vs the Nexus 7?

Perhaps a fairer comparison would be between the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7 as they are both Android and 7 inch.  As I mentioned, I’ve not really used it as much as I would have hoped.  I’m not entirely sure why that is.  Perhaps it’s more that other than a few functions I tend to focus on content.  The Nexus can’t access my iTunes content easily and although I can access my books with no issues, it’s not the core function of this device.  

And the iPad Mini?

I do like the smaller form factor.  If the Apple iPad were in a similar price bracket to the Kindle Fire and had the same high res screen I would certainly consider it.  However the Kindle Fire beats it in those two regards

In summary then, while the Kindle Fire is not my perfect device – I don’t think they’ll make a device which can switch from eInk to LCD, has a month long battery life and is integrated fully into both Amazon’s and Apple’s ecosystems – I can see it will fit quite nicely into my range of devices.

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