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Last week, I decided to spend my Christmas money on a Kindle Fire.  Apart from these two books that insisted on my having to reset to factory specs, which deletes all your content (which is either on the Cloud or on my PC’s hard drive, where I can get it back again)–twice–before it would let me read them, I am delighted with it.

For one thing, it has a color display.  For another thing, it can connect to the internet — not just to the Amazon Kindle store, but to the real, browsable googleable internet.  A while ago, I used it to go to the Feedbooks site and downloaded a bunch of free H. Rider Haggard books.  (BTW, there are a lot of free, public domain books available from Feedbooks, too, as well as those you have to buy, and you can download them to your laptop or PC and read them there, too.)

It has a headphone jack, so you can listen to audible books, and it has a free Rhapsody* app! (also one for Pandora).  I can read and listen to my playlists on Rhapsody — as long as I can get a WiFi signal — all on one device.  I love it!

Having a color display means graphic novels, magazines, and comics are accessible — since you can get internet, you can read webcomics and blogs on it. (I might need to investigate a feed reading app.)  There is a Netflix* app that allows you to stream movies and television programs as well, although I haven’t investigated that yet.  There is also an email app, which I haven’t tried yet, so ostensibly you can read your email on it, too.

The screen size is 6 x 4 inches (7-inch diagonal) and — get this — it has some sort of gyroscopic thingie that will turn the display as you turn the device, so all you have to do to change it from portrait to landscape is turn the device that way.  (It does have a “lock” so if you want to set it and forget it, you can lock the screen in whichever orientation you want.)  It’s touch screen operated, so the keyboard is touch screen, too.  You will want to get a screen protector — the one I got came with a little square of microfiber cloth to clean the screen thoroughly before you apply the protector, and that has proved to be a very useful little scrap of cloth for keeping the fingerprints and smudges off the screen.  You will also want to get a case for it.  The one I got has a cover that turns under and can be used to prop the screen like a picture frame for hands-free reading.  I also got a stylus which makes using the keyboard easier.  I’ve also ordered a neoprene case cover with a zippered pocket so I will have a place to store my stylus and earbuds, and not have to be rooting around in the drawer of my night stand looking for my stylus or untangling my earbuds.

The battery charge only lasts about 8 hours, but it recharges fairly quickly. You can bookmark a book with just a touch if you need to go on to something else, or have to stop reading.  Apart from the fact that there is a glare factor, the screen is actually easier to read than the Kindle Keyboard. (You can read in the dark!).   It’s purse size, and would fit easily in a backpack or messenger bag.  It’s thicker and heavier than the Kindle Keyboard, but that’s understandable considering all the features it has.

If you were a frequent flyer, a commuter, had to take kids places and wait on them, a Kindle Fire would be just the thing.  If you were a knitter or crocheter, did needlepoint or embroidery, or lap quilting, you could listen to audible books on it (there’s an Audible.com app).  You can download and play music on it, and download pictures from your PC onto it.  You can download your personal documents to it, and there is a “Quickoffice” app that has Quickword, Quicksheet, and Quickpoint, so you could make additions and modifications to them.

I will note that the Kindle Fire comes with a charger, but that’s all.  The USB cable to attach it to your computer, the case/cover, screen protector and stylus all cost extra (but are worth it to my mind), and have to be bought separately.

*requires you to be a subscriber to the service and pay a monthly subscription fee.
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