Monday, December 12, 2011

Tips and Tricks: Responding to New York Times Criticism Plus Software Update News

I mentioned a yahoo article in this morning's post that was critical of the Fire's 1-click and parental controls. It was funny considering we'd just done a post yesterday about how to solve those problems, but it seems those criticisms are really starting to take root in the media, even if they don't exist for people who know how to manage them. I then immediately found a New York Times article echoing common criticisms, as well as an Inquisitr article, both of which quote Jakob Nielson who says "I feel the Fire is going to be a failure."

Here's how journalism has responded to the Kindle Fire since it was introduced. First, there was excitement. Could this really challenge the iPad? Could it be a hit? Now that the numbers are rolling in, with 5 million sold this year and an estimated 12 million next year, those questions have been put to rest. The Fire is a hit, and now the media's reaction is to latch onto criticisms to create the next bit of controversy.

Let's take a look at what the arguments against the Fire are and then solve them with tools that are already out there.

Parental Controls
Yahoo's article claims that "Amazon's Kindle Fire lets kids charge up a storm," and the New York Times says "a child who picks it up knows everything you have been doing." At this point, anyone who complains there are no parental controls on the Kindle Fire is outright lying or choosing to ignore the many options available.

There are several methods for turning off 1-click on the Kindle Fire for all purchases as well as for in-app purchases. Then there are a few free apps that give you complete control over what your children can do with the device.

Kids Place - With Child Lock          Kid Mode: Play and Learn

Managing the 7" Screen
From the New York Times, "The 7" Fire does a good job displaying sites optimized for smaller mobile devices, but stumbles when it tries to show pages for 10" mobile tablets. It's like squeezing a size-10 person into a size-7 suit."

To quote myself at age 13, "No duh." So why even be looking at sites designed for 10" tablets in the first place? There are numerous things you can do to speed up the Silk browser, including switching to mobile view, which will allow you to do more with the screen. For Facebook too, you can go to Settings and adjust "Default Zoom" from near, far, and middle according to your preferences.

But what if you have big hands? The New York Times quotes a Mr. Munster saying, "Look at your hand. Is it thin or fat? If it's fat, you just know it's going to be bad."

Not true, and why would you fault the Fire for that and not something even smaller like an iPhone? If you do have large hands, rather than throwing away a perfectly good $199 device, you may realize that you get better use out of it if you spend a few dollars to get a stylus. This Universal Capacitus Stylus is a perfect fix and is currently 70% off for $5.95.
Amazon's Planned Software Update
And if there are other problems that prove irksome to you, rest assured that Amazon is working to correct them. In less than two weeks, you will wake up one day to find your Fire has substantially improved its performance and multi-touch navigation. You will also be able to edit what appears in the carousel and your recent history, as well as clearing up "other issues," which we'll explore as we learn more about them.

Conclusion: Don't let apocalyptic pronouncements from journalists and naysayers claiming that "Amazon has one more shot and if that's a failure, the Fire will be doomed to the dust-pile of history" prevent you from enjoying your device. Similarly, don't drop the device in the trash if you're having a problem with it. Make use of the many solutions available so that you have the best experience possible.

Stay tuned for more 10 cent app discounts later today!


  1. Do you know of anything that will allow you to organize your books into "collections" like you could on the eInk versions?

    The biggest reasons that I am considering returning my Fire is the carousel in general and the lack of ability to organize my books into manageable categories.

  2. Hi Debbie, thanks for commenting. There is a way of getting around the carousel by sideloading an app described here:

    I haven't experimented too much with it and can't say whether or not it lets you create collections.

    I would say that it's very likely that the lack of collections could be corrected with Amazon's forthcoming update, so I would wait to see how that helps too.

  3. Just like buying a new car model, some "issues" are to be expected. Amazon has created a great product, and the support is superb. This blog is a perfect example. Glad to hear carousel updates are in the works.

  4. I think you're right on, trapper. Before long any problems floating around will be a thing of the past. Thanks for stopping by and I'm glad we could help!

  5. I really like it, wish i hadn't gotten addicted to solitare though.

  6. Sounds great, Rob. And we'll help you find more games than just solitaire!

  7. I love my Fire. People always find something to complain about. I've had a Kindle since the first version Kindle 1 and Amazon has always shown that they take care of issues quickly and, most importantly, they improve upon the product as they do updates or versions. I wish some of the media would talk to the many of us who love the Fire and write an article about that.

  8. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my kindle fire so naysayers be damned. But there is a negative, I found angry birds and I need a support group cause now I'm addicted. LOL

  9. Well said, maryc. There are a lot of people who love the Kindle Fire, and I think it's safe to say the device is only going to get better.

    Great to hear, Red Ryak! Yes, Angry Birds can suck up a lot of time, but isn't it fun?

    Thanks to you both for visiting and commenting!

  10. I love my Kindle Fire. I have been sick for about a month and it has kept me sane.

    I think the individuals that have some of these complaints just do not like the idea you can get a good think for a good price. It is like it must be expensive to work right.

  11. Hope you feel better soon, MBlessed! Yes, there is a psychological factor with price. Glad we could get a quality product for a low price!


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