October 21, 2014

Product Review: Why We Dished out the Dough to Purchase Amazonís Kindle Fire

Few devices have gotten as much buzz lately as Amazonís new tablet, the Kindle Fire. With full-color access to digital magazine subscriptions, streaming video, Android apps and more for just less than $200, the price point seems poised for a huge presence in this yearís holiday sales figures. What finally convinced us to dish out the dough? Read on.

While the Kindle Fire doesnít directly compare to the functionality of the iPad, it isnít designed to. Itís an entertainment device with web access and minor communications functionality for a fraction of larger tabletís price. Here are eight of the main reasons we decided to dish out the dough for the Kindle Fire, including how it fits in to our semi-nomadic lifestyle.†

The Kindle Fire fits nicely into our downsizing plans.

Since we gave up cable service years ago, and recently ditched the TV as well to consume media exclusively through laptops and smartphones, itís nice to have something else we can use to stream video news coverage and other entertainment while we use our laptops for work. Also, weíre in the process of slimming down the rest of our belongings to be able to travel and work from the road for a while. Our Kindle Fire fits in with that lifestyle nicely.

Weíre already an Amazon family.

David and I have been buying from Amazon since they first launched, have one of their credit cards and even used our reward points to dish out for the Kindle Fire weíre now enjoying. We also have the Amazon Prime membership which allows free unlimited streaming of a wide variety of television programs and movies. With the extensive content options available through Amazon, and the fact that weíre already about as comfortable with the company as a family can get, the decision to dish out for the Kindle Fire was a natural extension for us.

We didnít already own a Kindle.

When the basic Kindle came out several years ago, the price point was relatively comparable to what the Kindle Fire costs now. At the time, we just couldnít justify dishing out a couple of hundred bucks for something that was basically a reading device. That doesnít mean we werenít tempted, and it certainly would have been lighter than lugging multiple books along during our travels. We just werenít convinced we really needed something that could only be used for one thing. However, with the ability of the Kindle Fire to surf the web, stream Amazon, Hulu and Netflix videos, display full-color digital magazine subscriptions and more, the $200 price tag seemed more reasonable. The fact that we can also read digital books on it is a bonus. There are also a number of newspapers offering free digital subscriptions which can easily be enjoyed on the Kindle Fire as well.

The Kindle Fire provides a reasonably-sized screen for launching Android-style apps.

While there are some apps I enjoy using on our smartphone, the truth is there are many I donít bother with because I still find the screen a bit too small for comfort. One helpful feature of the Kindle Fire is its ability to run Android-style apps for things like Map Quest, Netflix, List Master Pro and Zinio, an app that lets you integrate digital magazine subscriptions not purchased through the Amazon platform. My husband uses that one specifically to enjoy his National Geographic subscription.

Document reading from the road.

Because the Kindle Fire provides users with an email through which to receive documents while traveling, itís easy to approve and discuss items that need my immediate response. Can I still fire up the laptop and review them that way? Sure. But I have to wait for the entire system to fire up, which isnít something I always have time for when Iím running errands or experiencing extremely short flight layovers. The Kindle Fire offers web access within seconds of turning on the device.

The price is right.

I remain unconvinced the iPad is an effective full laptop replacement, particularly for the price. Would I likely enjoy one if it landed in my life free of charge? Sure. But for five hundred bucks I can have an entirely separate laptop with full functionality. And to be honest, I also remain unconvinced of the benefits of the smaller netbook computers which cost more than the Kindle Fire as well. If I canít have a full-sized keyboard, I donít want to pay top dollar.

I know some people use the smaller netbooks and iPads with great success on the road, but everyone I talk to that is using those devices successfully for travel has work parameters that are radically different from mine. Because we require tools and belongings that let us live as seamlessly as possible between travel and home life, itís critical that weíre able to accomplish everything on the road that we can from the home office. Netbooks and iPads just donít make that happen. While itís true that the Kindle Fire doesnít either, itís the first affordable device weíve seen that works for those transitional times on the road where we donít have time to fire up the laptop. Even the smartphone weíre looking to upgrade to costs more. So in the end, the price was a huge factor in finally taking the Kindle Fire plunge.

Access to additional entertainment and other web resources eliminated our resistance.

As I mentioned above, we had been tempted for some time to take the plunge with the basic Kindle, but didnít feel it provided enough bang for the buck. The Kindle Fireís easier access to the web and email than our smartphone can provide, streaming movies, international real-time news shows from places like Al Jazeera, and apps for family faves like the Weather Channel and Map Quest eliminated the resistance we had hung on to for years.

As Amazon Prime members, the added value really hit the Kindle Fire ball out of the park.

Because we already use Amazonís services enough to make membership to their Prime program a huge financial value, purchasing the Kindle Fire gave us on-the-fly access to a couple of major perks. First, unlimited streaming video entertainment from Amazonís extensive library set aside for Prime members. While there are still pay-on-demand videos for sale, a wide-reaching selection has been set aside on Amazon for access by those of us with a Prime account. They also have a digital book lending library that allows one free book per month to be downloaded to the Kindle Fire and other Kindle readers. Throw in the fact that I can seamlessly shop for gifts and have them shipped to family members while Iím on the road and the purchasing decision became even easier.

Will you find other opinions expressed for the Kindle Fire? Sure. Many of them are from the perspective of what the iPad does that the Kindle Fire doesnít. While itís certainly arguable that the device doesnít provide the same functionality as its higher-priced counterpart, I didnít really consider that the point when making my purchasing decision. I wanted a mid-range device that gave me a rapid-access method of getting things done on the road that were tedious from my smartphone.

If the company upgrades to a more elaborate device later, Iíd certainly be interested. For now though, itís tough to beat the price tag of the Kindle Fire for what it does, especially if youíve priced higher-end Android or Blackberry devices. The decision we made was the right one for us, and we feel comfortable recommending it to busy parents, commuters and people with a lifestyle similar to ours.

Image Credits: Amazon.com

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