Kindle Fire FAQ

The Kindle Fire is threatening to set the world on fire. Thought a Kindle Fire FAQ would help.

What is the Kindle Fire?

Kindle Fire is a Kindle Tablet from Amazon. It is a 7″ Tablet that is optimized for watching movies, surfing the web, checking and sending email, playing games, listening to music, and reading.

Think of it as ‘an iPad for the rest of us’ or ‘an iPad near-equivalent for $199′.

Should I get a Kindle Fire?

Perhaps.

It depends on your needs. It depends on whether you prefer to see actual reviews before buying.

Kindle Fire seems quite a good device (very good for what it’s meant to do) and $199 is a tempting price. That being said, it’s best to gather as much information as possible. Which this Kindle Fire FAQ will help you with.

Should I get a Kindle or a Kindle Fire?

If you would like a device primarily for reading – get a Kindle Touch for $99.

If you want a device that does lots of things - please read the next few questions.

Should I get a Kindle Fire or a Nook Color?

You should wait for B&N to announce a Nook Color 2. It should be sometime soon i.e. within the next 2-3 weeks.

If you like Amazon and the Kindle Fire seems compelling then you can go with it. However, even if you pre-order, my recommendation would be to keep an eye out for Kindle Fire vs Nook Color 2 comparisons once Nook Color 2 is announced.

Should I get an iPad 2 or a Kindle Fire?

Should you get a second generation Apple Tablet that is $499 and also doubles up to show people how well-off and original and unique you are?

Vs

Should you get a first generation Amazon Tablet that is $199 and also doubles up as an easy way for Amazon to let you buy all sorts of content from Amazon?

They are, for all practical purposes, completely different devices. Kindle Tablet isn’t going to give you the Status/Money Signalling Benefits that an iPad 2 will. Kindle Tablet is also a first generation device and has a markedly smaller range of Apps available.

If you can afford both – then an iPad 2 is probably a better choice. If the price of the iPad is making you think twice – then the Kindle Fire is probably a better choice.

Please note that both are closed and neither is going to satisfy you very much if you like to tinker around with your device.

Tell me more about the Kindle Fire – What are its selling points?

Kindle Fire is very impressive for a $199 Tablet -

  1.  7″ IPS color screen. This is a very good screen with 1024 by 600 pixel resolution and 169 ppi pixel density. It also has two finger multi-touch and an anti-reflective treatment.
  2. Lots and lots of content – lots of magazines, over 100K movies and TV shows, lots of Android Apps, over 1,000 children’s illustrated books, around 1 million books from the Kindle Store.
  3. Quite Light at 14.6 ounces (413 grams). Pretty compact - 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″ (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm). Makes it easy to hold in one hand (though probably not for long) and easy to carry around.
  4. Very good value for money. Some analysts are even claiming that Amazon is losing $50 per Kindle Fire sold.
  5. A pretty powerful dual-core processor from Texas Instruments.
  6. The user interface, based on everything we have seen so far, is fast and simple and easy to use.
  7. Gorilla Glass display means more durability and less scrapes and scratches.
  8. Built-in Browser that will let you access Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. There is support for Flash too.
  9. Built-in Email App.
  10. WhisperSync (automatic syncing across devices) now extends from Kindle Fire to Kindles and TVs. The point at which you stopped reading a book or stopped watching a movie is synced across devices.
  11. Kindle Fire is better for Children’s Books and Textbooks than the Kindle. Mostly due to touch and color.
  12. Free Cloud Storage for Amazon content. Doesn’t really make up for the limited 8 GB space and lack of SD card.
  13. There’s a USB port. You can transfer files from your PC or Mac to the Kindle Fire. You can also charge is via USB.
  14. Support for Flash.
  15. You could stretch it and say a free month of Amazon Prime is a benefit.

Those are most of the main Kindle Fire selling points.

What drawbacks does the Kindle Fire have?

Let’s see -

  1. It’s not cutting-edge in terms of the hardware. For example: The multi-touch is only two finger multi-touch.
  2. There’s no 3G. That means you have to find a WiFi network to get web access.
  3. The battery life at 8 hours (7 hours of video playback) is a bit shorter than ideal.
  4. 8 GB memory will fill up very quickly. There is no SD Card slot which is a major pain. The free Cloud storage is nice but it’s only for content bought from Amazon.
  5. At 14.6 ounces the weight is not optimal. Note: It’s lighter than Nook Color but it’s still a bit heavier than ideal.
  6. There’s no camera so that if you wanted to miss the birth of your grandchild and watch it over your Tablet instead – you couldn’t.
  7. The design is a bit bland.
  8. It will not play DRM protected media bought from elsewhere. So ePub books from Sony, B&N, and Kobo won’t work and neither will music files that are DRM protected.
  9. No plug-ins in the browser.
  10. Netflix doesn’t have an app for it though Amazon has said Netflix is enthusiastic about adding an App.
  11. It’s a very customized version of Android (Gingerbread-based Honeycomb variant of 2.3 – which is even more confusing than Split Browser Amazon Silk). That means updates only when Amazon does updates.
  12. It does not have an eInk screen and will not be readable in sunlight. If the anti-glare layer is anything like the Nook Color’s anti-glare layer it won’t make much difference.
  13. It seems that there is no Text to Speech capability which is a definite negative.
  14. The USB port is the type that is used to connect with your PC and can’t be used with general USB devices. It will let you charge your Kindle Fire and will let you move files from PC to Fire and back. However, you can’t plug-in something like a camera or a USB keyboard.

Overall, it’s clear that Kindle Fire is not a $500 Android Tablet or a $500 iPad. It is, however, very impressive for $199.

What’s all this Split Browser/Amazon Silk nonsense Amazon keeps talking about?

Amazon has figured out a way to make browsing websites faster when using the browser on the Kindle Fire.

In a nutshell:

Instead of loading the parts of a website one by one (i.e. first the picture from one place, then text from another, and so forth) – Kindle Fire’s browser lets Amazon’s Cloud load the entire website to the Cloud and then gets the entire website in one go from the Cloud.

It also makes intelligent guesses of what page you might want next and preloads those pages. This makes surfing faster.

It’s like doing all your shopping at one supermarket (with a personal helper) in 30 minutes instead of visiting 10 different 7/11s and taking 2 hours to walk around and 1 hour for the actual shopping.

Is this Amazon Silk stuff a big deal?

We don’t really know. It promises to be significant (though probably not life-changing). We’ll know once the Kindle Fire actually arrives.

Your WiFi network speed is probably more important.

You know what is puzzling though – Why did Amazon go to all this trouble to talk up this feature when it could just call it ‘Faster Browsing’? Why is Amazon going to all this trouble to explain the technology underlying it when no one really cares?

Is this Amazon Silk thing a privacy nightmare?

Have no idea.

Depends on what Amazon does with the data and how it anonymizes data. It’s sort of impossible to anonymize perfectly so that’s another thing to keep in mind. Every single site you visit will be through Amazon’s Cloud and there might be sites you don’t want anyone to know you visit (for example - health stuff).

Kindle Fire FAQ – Common and Uncommon Questions

Can my Kindle Books be transferred over?

Yes. It’s a Tablet and it has a Kindle App (probably a version of Kindle for Android). You just connect to your account and download whatever books you like.

Note: You cannot transfer the actual files from your Kindle to Kindle Tablet – Kindle Books have to be downloaded separately for each separate device or app.

Does it have Apps? How Many? Does it have App X?

Yes, Kindle Tablet will have access to Amazon’s App store for Android.

There are ‘thousands of apps’ according to Amazon. Every day one paid app is made free.

At the Amazon Android App Store page you can see what apps are available and can also search to see if the app you want will be available.

Is Kindle Fire screen as easy on the eyes as eInk? Can it be read in sunlight?

No. No. It’s a LCD screen – very similar to a computer. The higher pixel density makes it prettier and IPS gives you a wider angle of view. However, it is not easy on the eyes like eInk. It also is hard/impossible to read in sunlight.

Can i use Kindle Fire as a phone? Does it have Skype?

Kindle Fire has no microphone so you can’t use it for Skype or as a Phone.

Does the Kindle Fire browser support Flash?

Yes.

Will Kindle Fire support ePub? Will it support Nook Books or Nook Reading App or Google Ebooks App?

No. No.

Is there an SD Card slot on the Kindle Fire? How do I transfer files over?

No, no SD Card. You can transfer files via USB.

Will Kindle Fire support PDF and Word?

Yes. You can read documents in PDF and Word. For editing there are apps like QuickOffice and Documents To Go in the Amazon Android App Store. The ones with better functionality are usually paid apps.

What formats does Kindle Fire support?

Documents and Books: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, DOC, DOCX.

Audio: Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV.

Movie: MP4, VP8.

Picture: JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP.

With Apps you might be able to extend to more formats.

Will Kindle Fire support Excel and Powerpoint?

Amazon’s Android App Store has apps like Quick Office that allow opening and editing Excel and Powerpoint.

Is the Kindle Fire screen back-lit?

Yes.

Do I get a discount if I own a Kindle already?

Unfortunately not.

Will Kindle Fire have Collections/Folders for Books?

Probably not. It will use Kindle for Android and that doesn’t support Collections yet.

It might get added by the time Kindle Fire ships.

Does Kindle Fire come with Bluetooth?

To the best of my knowledge – No. Amazon certainly doesn’t mention it anywhere.

Is there a contract for the Kindle Fire?

No.

If you want Amazon Prime (free 2-day shipping on orders from Amazon, free streaming movies) then you have to pay $79 a year.

Is there a docking station for the Kindle Fire? Is there a physical keyboard add-on for the Kindle Fire?

Not yet.

Will there be an on-screen keyboard?

Yes.

Does the Kindle Fire have GPS?

No.

I have Questions about Amazon Silk (the browser on the Kindle Fire) - Where can I find answers?

At Amazon’s Amazon Silk Help Page.

Can we buy a Kindle Fire if we’re outside the US?

Not at the moment.

Does Kindle Fire have HDMI capability?

No. It does not have HDMI out.

Can we plug in USB devices like USB Keyboards into Kindle Fire?

No. The micro-USB B type connector can only be used for moving files from your PC or Mac and for charging from your PC or Mac.

This means you can’t plug in a flash drive (USB external drive) or something similar.

Note: There is one thread claiming that USB host support is present on Kindle Fire. However, I seriously doubt it. Will update this section if this feature is confirmed/denied officially.

Will Kindle Fire be available at brick and mortar stores?

No idea. Given that Amazon sells Kindles at Staples, Best Buy, and lots of other stores it’s quite possible. On the other hand, if Kindle Tablet sells out then Amazon won’t be able to sell it through Brick and Mortar stores.

Does Kindle Fire have anti-virus protection?

No. If you only buy apps from the Amazon App Store for Android then you should be fine.

If you start side-loading apps or hacking the Kindle Fire then you might introduce an app that has a hidden virus. You might also introduce something problematic if you’re downloading files from the Internet and transferring them over.

You can use an app called Lookout to scan apps. However, that’s outside my area of expertise.

More Kindle Fire Questions?

Leave a comment and if possible, will add an answer.

Thanks to everyone at the official Kindle Forums for all the questions and answers.

You can find the Kindle Fire at Amazon for $199. It ships on November 15th, 2011.

31 Responses

  1. Amazon prime is not $79 a month. Why is that even mentioned in relation to a subscription for the fire?

    • Yes, I’ll change that.

      Because Amazon offers one month of Prime free with Kindle Fire.

      • “Because Amazon offers one month of Prime free with Kindle Fire.”

        Although, upon further investigation, it turns out that offer is only for first-time Prime subscribers, and furthermore, *anyone* who starts Prime gets a free one-month trial, whether buying the Fire or not. So this seems to be a bit of “puffery” designed to make the deal seem better than it really is. The puzzling part, to me anyway, is that at $199, they probably didn’t need to focus on the Prime piece as a draw, anyway.

      • amazon prime is $79 a year !,,,get it strait !

      • amazon prime is &79 a year ! not a month !

  2. Very useful info; thanks! Isn’t Amazon Prime $79 a year instead of $79 a month? Just to clarify for those not familiar ;) thanks for all you do!

  3. The Kobo app is in Amazon’s App Store, won’t that mean it will be available on the Fire?

  4. Prime is $79/yr., not month. :) If we’re not that impressed with the Fire, can we return it in 30 days like the others?

  5. Amazon prime is $79/year not per month.

  6. In browsing magazines for KFire, I saw this: “Free Trials: Try select premier magazines–including Vanity Fair, GQ, and Glamour–for three months, absolutely free, exclusively for Kindle Fire customers. All other magazine and newspaper subscriptions begin with a 14-day free trial.” Three months is unheard of!
    Three

  7. The reason that prime is mentioned is due to the wonderful video selection you get free with prime! :) I <3 my prime videos! :)

    That said, I'll disagree with your comment that nobody cares about their explanation of Silk. I found it fascinating. Granted, I'm not their typical kindle buyer, since I'm a software dev by trade, but I did find it pretty interesting to see what they were doing. :)

    I'm going to have to check out the KFire magazines. I didn't see those when I looked the other day…

  8. Just a couple of observtions: on buying an iPad like buying a KF (should one wait to see NC2 — I agree) maybe should also wait till next week when Apple is holding a press event to announce iPhone5 and (possibly) iPad3. Consensus seems to indicate iPad3 (with an eye-popping display resolution of 2048×1536 or 265 ppi) is delayed till 1Q2012. Even so, if it were me (and funnily enough it is) I would wait for the iPad3.

    In addition to the new browser, one of the VPs at yesterday’s event said that the KF has a brand new very much improved PDF viewer.

    If silk works as advertised (remains to be seen), then it will be a very big deal indeed. With 10s of page mashups (and in some cases hundreds), browser performance is becoming a very nasty bottleneck everywhere — not just on mobile devices, but desktop/laptops too.

    The most interesting thing for me that Amazon talked about yesterday is how they are levering their AWS servers to improve customer kindle experience across the board (not just with silk) — that’s why you may never see a 3G Kfire, and why 8GB local storage will be adequate. They apparently are also going to provide archive/sync services for non-Amazon content (what they call personal documents).

    • iPad 3 is not in an y way delayed to 1Q2012. It’s never been scheduled for now. Apple is just about the most consistent company about not having short product cycles — and the iPad 2 is just barely in stores. The iPad 3 will probably come in Q2. If something were to happen, it’d be an expansion of the product line into a separate HD version — but I doubt they’d do that right now.

  9. why is the lack of camera a downside? Surely every phone made in the last 10 years has 2 cameras on it already? And I know that when I take photo its a hell of a lot easier to use a phone than a tablet.

    Same goes for 3G. It would just mean paying money every month for another SIM and data. I have a mifi device to share one 3g connection with all my devices? Most (all?) smartphones can also do this.

    And what are the use cases for more than 2 finger multi touch? Cant think of any but maybe there are.

    Wait for the new ipad to come out with some killer feature… that is actually completely useless. ipad 3 with a super extended thingy that no other tablet has. now makes you even more cool than before!

    Why don’t they make a tablet or phone with a mirror at the back? That would be a useful feature.

  10. Another reason for the emphasis on Prime is that Amazon views Prime as the means by which occasional customers become regular customers or, as the Business Week article on Bezos put it, “Amazon Addicts.” The two-day shipping makes people more likely to buy just about everything short of food — which, BTW, Amazon is selling in Seattle — from Amazon.

    For a retailer, that is gold, both figuratively and literally.

  11. I’m curious to know if they will support Spotify and Netflix will be supported. I don’t see them in the Amazon App Store. Spotify probably competes with Amazon MP3 and Netflix competes with Amazon’s streaming video service.

  12. A minor correction. You stated “Free Cloud Storage for Amazon content. Doesn’t really make up for the limited 8 GB space and lack of SD card.” That’s not entirely true.

    Amazon’s CloudDrive service works with their CloudPlayer service. There’s an Amazon Android app for CloudPlayer. CloudDrive will let you upload any files you want to the Cloud. While there is a charge if you go past 5 Gig (approximately $1 / Gig / year), there is currently no charge for any music files you store, no matter what the source. (This compares very nicely to Apple’s service which only saves items you’ve purchased fro Apple.) All unprotected mp3 and (I think) aac files can be streamed through their CloudPlayer app.

    So for music at least, you’re not limited to Amazon content in the Cloud.

    I’m assuming that basically the video streaming is an Unbox app for the Kindle Fire? If they open that up to video files saved on the CloudDrive, paying the $1 / Gig / year might very well be a good deal for videos you didn’t buy from Amazon. But that’s not happening yet.

    • You mean Apple’s service which saves music from anywhere, but will come with a mere 20 gigs free. Music that Apple ‘recognizes’ and thus does not have to store separately doesn’t count toward that limit.

  13. I prefer my Nook Color for one reason – the micro SD slot. It means I can boot up into the latest full Android version without violating my warranty, and retaining the original Nook software (the reader is great).
    The Fire will be roooted somewhere, hordes of geeks running to the rescue, and there will probably be a 3G version forthcoming.
    I have a Nook Color and a Kindle 3, and for now I’m sticking with those. There doesn’t seem to be any notable screen improvements, and in an ereader, that’s always the main thing.
    I recently had the choice – an ipad or a new ultralight laptop. I went with the ultralight. Are tablets a fad?

  14. Are you certain about the NO text to speech? Can I get a link? That would suck and cause me to cancel my pre-order. :(

  15. Isn’t “Audible” the tex-to-speech program? Here’s what the Fire lists:

    Content Formats Supported Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8.

  16. Best Buy will in fact be selling all the Kindle devices and is accepting pre orders in-store only as of yesterday – I got an email invite and went down to check it out. If you are a Rewards Zone customer, there are some extra points for preordering through them.

  17. [...] you need one of these? Kindle Review has a Kindle Fire FAQ post [...]

  18. With the kindle fire can you get credits for it so you don’t run the risk of clearing out your bank account?? Thanks

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