Kindle Fire (A Few Months In)

I don’t like product reviews based on using a device a couple of days or maybe a week.  Some people will post a review almost immediately after they buy a device before they’ve really had a chance to live with it, to see what the device does for them, and where it is truly lacking.

I’ve been guilty of this myself. When I bought my Asus EEE netbook I was worried the keyboard would be too small for my big fingers, so much so that I actually went out and bought a USB keyboard before the netbook even arrived.

I’ve typed more than 250K words on that netbook. I returned the keyboard in less than a week.

I’ve been using our Kindle Fire for about two months now, which my wife nicknamed “Buffy” (video buffering and vampire slayer joke all rolled into one). I really like the device, and thought I would talk about some of the ways I use it to aid in this project of becoming a “professional writer”.

What I Like:

1) Writer’s Market Guides – I purchased the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, and Guide To Literary Agents for a little over $20 and have already gotten more than my money’s. I can flip through and mark the literary agents and magazines I want to contact, then sync my notes with my netbook. I can go to websites just by clicking the link within the book and then flip right back to the entry easily.

I used to use the Writer’s Market website but I like this better. The website required I be online all of the time and didn’t have a good way for exporting my lists to another format. I can read the eBook versions of these guides on or offline, only needing to go online when I want to sync my notes. With the Documents To Go app I can transfer my list spreadsheets to the device so I can easily refer to them.

2) Cheap/Free Books – There are a surprising amount of free or very cheap writer’s aides out there, some of which are limited time offers and some that run all the time. A few of my favorites are from Noah Lukeman, particularly How To Land (And Keep) A Literary Agent. This cost me $2.99 and includes his free guide to writing a query letter, as well as blog entries from his first year writing the Ask A Literary Agent blog. This book alone has helped me to refine some of my writing goals for the near and long term and has spurred some great ideas. (The Query Letter Guide is Available for Free separately here).

3) Seeing my book in print – With the help of Calibre, I can transfer copies of my current drafts to the Fire and read them in MOBI format. This is a great way of reading my book without carrying around the thick binder of pages, and as a quick way of referring back to earlier sections. It also is a healthy dose of instant gratification (it’s amazing what a little formatting can do), and is a nice reward for the months of hard work I’ve already put in, and the ones that are to come.

4) Magazines – My brother-in-law Craig asked me what I liked about the fire and I said “It’s rekindled my love of magazines!”. This actually is true. I was annoyed a number of years back when PC Magazine went only digital, but I’ve enjoyed getting back into it now on the Fire. I also subscribe to a number of SciFi magazines (Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, Fantasy & Science Fiction) that would take up a lot of physical real-estate if I subscribed to their print editions. Most magazines are pretty cheap, anywhere from $0.99 – $2.99 a month.

5) Comment Replies – While I don’t generally like the keyboard, it is good for replying to comments or e-mails. The Fire also gives me an idea what the blog looks like on tablet devices of all shapes and sizes.

6) Anthologies – Goes along with the magazine comment. Reading a lot of short stories right now, and it’s nice to have all of the thick books condensed onto a single thin device. The Fire also is good for switching between books when I get tired of one, rather than being stuck with what’s in my bag.

What I Don’t Like:

1) The power button – My wife contends this is “operator error” but the power button is on the bottom of the device, right next to the charger and USB port and I accidently hit this button a lot. When I read, I actually turn the Kindle upside-down so as to avoid accidently turning it off while I’m resting it on my chest.

2) No expansion slot – I use the Fire primarily for books and so I don’t have much of a space problem, but it would be nice to have some extra space (but not at the price increase of the Nook Tablet).

3) Customer Service – Enough for its own blog post, maybe later.

4) Case Expense – Most cases and covers cost at least $25 – $40. Even a protector sheet is north of $12. For a device I paid $199 I wouldn’t expect to pay nearly 20% of it’s cost just to put it in a nice case.

5) The Keyboard – Aside from short e-mails or comment replies, it’s too small to actually write anything of length (including a blog post). I also have learned the meaning of “damn you auto-correct!”

What devices have helped changed the way you write/read?

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2 Comments

Filed under Trube On Tech, Writing

2 responses to “Kindle Fire (A Few Months In)

  1. It…re-Kindled…your love of magazines? HAHAHAHAHA!!! *ahem*
    Anyway – it sounds pretty cool, and from what I saw this past weekend, it looked pretty much like an iPad that’s slightly smaller and less than half the cost. Out of curiosity, do you know of anything the iPad has that the Fire doesn’t, that might justify the cost difference?

    • Ben Trube

      The bigger screen on the iPad does make the keyboard a lot easier to use. iPad’s also come in larger memory sizes (smallest is 16GB up 64GB compared to the 8GB + Cloud on the Fire). The app store for iPad has a lot more in it, but is also very strict to Apple standards. The home button on the iPad is a hardware button but I actually like the tap interface the Fire uses better. iPad’s can come with 3G though it is expensive.

      For me, none of these difference justify the difference in cost. Between my netbook and the Fire I can do MORE than an iPad can and it cost me less than even the cheapest model. The Fire is lighter and more comfortable to hold for long periods, and if you set the text to Sepia tone, is just as good to read as an eInk reader. Apple’s not about being the best cost/functionality ratio, they’re trendy and exclusive.

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