Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NY Times Tech Reviewer David Pogue Changes His Mind on the Kindle Fire

Yesterday's software update for the Kindle Fire, version 6.2.1 (which can be found here, if you still need it), has made a lot of people happier with the device, including the New York Times's Personal Tech Columnist, David Pogue. His original review back when the Fire was first released expressed delight over the price, but he had some hesitations about the user interface and some of the features. I remember reading it and pursing my lips. I respect his opinion, as do a lot of other people.

Yesterday's update inspired him to revise his comments and offer a much more favorable impression of the device. You can read his entire column HERE, but we'll be covering most of the choice comments.

From Mr. Pogue: "Sure enough: the home screen “carousel,” a rotating shelf that holds all of your books, magazines and movies, now stops on a dime when you want it to. It takes only one tap to open something instead of several frustrating ones. When you do tap something, it opens faster and more fluidly. Page turns are smoother, especially in magazines. There are a couple of tiny new features, too; for example, now you can choose which things you want on that carousel; you just hold your finger down on a thumbnail and choose Hide Item from the shortcut menu."

He's got the rundown on most of the new features that we covered yesterday, and although we were happy with the Fire to begin with, his overall impression received a substantial lift.

He writes: "If you’re already a happy member of Amazon’s ecosystem — music store, bookstore, movie store — then the Kindle Fire may now be calling your name more loudly than ever. Today’s touch-ups make an enormous difference."

To be sure, the device still hasn't reached perfection. As our commenters noted, we'd still like it to be easier to organize books into collections or folders. Easier integration with calendars and other online material. We're still waiting on several of the popular Facebook games like Farmville. 

David Pogue offers his recommended improvements: "There are still some things Amazon should fix. For example, magazine reading is still an exercise in frustration; far too often, the row of page-navigation thumbnails still thrusts itself on top of what you’re trying to read. Other problems may not be so simple to fix: for example, the on/off switch is on the bottom edge, where the Kindle’s weight naturally falls when you’re reading."

Yes, the on-off switch is something that we often have to be aware of, but there are ways to manage that too. If you're looking for something to help you keep the right angle, without letting the bottom touch the surface, or you're stuck putting the device flat on a surface, you might consider an inexpensive Wire Display Stand. This one comes in a set of two, is on sale, and fits the Fire perfectly.
There's little doubt that a lot of people who were on the fence about the Kindle Fire will find themselves persuaded by David Pogue's revised impressions. And all of us will benefit from the update's improvements. Stay tuned for more great apps later today!

8 comments:

  1. I would do away with the carousel menu completely. I find it easier to pick from favorites, books etc. Could you explain this for me..now you can choose which things you want on that carousel; you just hold your finger down on a thumbnail and choose Hide Item from the shortcut menu.".. I am not sure what you are referring to when you say thumbnail. I usually consider that as a smaller view of something. Also I don't know what the shortcut menu is. I can remove items from the carousel but the come back the next time I view them.

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  2. Hi Mike, I usually use different terms than Mr. Pogue in the text you quoted. We're talking about the pictures that you can scroll through in the carousel. Choose the one you want to get rid of, press and hold, and after a few seconds you'll get a pop-up menu with a few options.

    Yes, an item deleted from the carousel will reappear there if you use it again. If you want to get rid of the carousel altogether, we have some details on how you can do that, by sideloading an app called Go Launcher EX from m.getjar.com. http://fireapps.blogspot.com/2011/11/tips-and-tricks-speeding-up-silk.html

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  3. Thanks. I do not get a ' hide' option when select a picture on the carousel and press and hold. I get ' Add to Favorites' ' Remove from Carousel' and ' remove from Device '.

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  4. The Remove from Carousel option is essentially the hide option, as the item remains on the device but is not visible on the carousel.

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  5. The view rotates. If I am having a problem with the on/off button, I just turn the whole thing upside down and like magic the button is on top and I can go on reading. Question about the update. Does it update automatically or do I have to do something?

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  6. I really like the carousel. Think of it as a recently used items list. Why are some people so dumb not to understand that. That's why when you use something it returns to the carousel. And the power button? Well duh. just rotate the fire so that the button is on top. Stupid people should not be allowed to make stupid comments.

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  7. @Leighfirst, rotating the Fire is definitely an option. As for the update, it may have happened automatically. You learn how to check to see if it did or manually get the update here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200790620&tag=fireapps-20

    @nancyg, glad you're enjoying the carousel and have found ways to make the Fire work for you!

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  8. Updating procedure was rather strange for me. Update was grayed out, Sync didn't do anything. I downloaded update to PC, connected USB, dragged the update to the Fire kindleupdates folder. After that when I went to Device in the Fire settings, the Update button was live and clicking it made the update install itself.
    I love my Fire but I wouldn't call it exactly intuitive to use. :)

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