Kindle Fire Update

We’ve had two of them since right after the launch and overall I’m pleased. They get used quite a bit by everyone, and they are useful at home.

For the kids it’s mostly the games, Amazon offers a good selection of free games and everyday features a ‘not free’ app as free, and those are often small games. The only challenge is getting my almost five year old to stick to ‘free’. Mostly she has done well, but a couple times I’d be working – in the chair across from her – and get an email that a $1.99 purchase had been made. I’d ask, and with a look and voice that only she can do, explains she needed it ‘for the next level’!

I assumed it would be a matter of enabling some controls, but it turns out that there aren’t any. No content filtering and no way to require a password for purchases. Quite a debate online about this, split between those that want the controls and those that insist that those wanting the controls should manage their children. I can live with the odd $1.99 mistake, in many ways it’s good to give them a chance to learn rules, but I don’t want them ordering something bigger – the whole Amazon catalog is one click away! The fix turned out to be pointing the device account at an expired credit card (you could also use a gift card). A hack, but it works,and I get to see when they would have done something wrong.

I wish it was more family friendly. I’d love to be able to give them an allowance and spend against that. I’d like to let them have their own books and applications while still letting us share them across the family. I think Amazon saw this as a one user device and maybe in the long run it will work out that way. Right now we share two devices back and forth interchangeably and it works for us,but the device doesn’t really support that well.

Reading on it is fine. I ordered a book and read the whole thing on the Kindle. I wish it were just a little bit lighter and I wish the texture on the book was just a bit less slick. Funny, I think about how hard it is to get that texture just right. I did the reading with he standard while background and it was no problem.

It’s great to have by the couch for the TV-related look up – who was the actor, what about that new product, that sort of thing. Handy in the kitchen for recipes while cooking too.

I had a friend come back from a recent trip noting that he thought almost every kid on the plane had one. I think Amazon hit the magic point of being just good enough and just cheap enough for people to buy. I still believe the iPad to be better, but kids – and me – don’t need an iPad for a lot of what we do.

On a related note a trend I do see a lot is the iPad/keyboard combo becoming a laptop replacement for executives. I’m not sure why, if its practical (most execs do email and note taking) or just cool. Interesting trend.

Back to the Fire. If you want a basic tablet, buy it. If you want an iPad, buy an iPad, don’t expect the Fire to be a $300 cheaper iPad. It’s been a good buy for me.

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