Tue Apr 2 21:55:49 2013
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G LTE Wireless Tablet
This 12 month AT&T 4G data package includes 250MB a month of blazing fast data for a one-time payment of only $49.99, with no monthly payments required. The package also includes 20GB of additional Cloud Drive storage, and a $10 Amazon Appstore promotional credit, at no additional charge. The $49.99 package is only available for the first year of service.
$50/yr, up front, not monthly, doesn't keep people from leaving for the rest of the year. And the Amazon website doesn't give any clue what the wireless data plan costs after
the first year. It may be more than the company would want to pay as a retention incentive. Then again, it might be enough to be
an effective incentive. I have no idea whether 250MB/month (8.22MB/day) is a useful amount of data. Is that 250MB uploaded, and 250MB downloaded, or (more likely) 250MB total up and down? I suppose people don't upload much, but what if you needed to edit a document? Is your tablet the only place you're going to need that updated file? How useful is 20GB of cloud storage if you can retrieve only 8MB of it on the average day? An hour of standard-def video in my DVR is about 1GB, so that's 15min of a TV show every month – useless. (Maybe you downscale videos for a smaller display before transferring to a tablet. But then why have HDMI out if you don't have the full-resolution data source in the tablet.) But maybe it's enough for occasional web browsing, and you do your data transfers when you've got WiFi access.
This keeps coming back to the logistics of getting data in and out of these tablets. Sharing documents with co-workers is the justification for selecting this as our reward. How are we going to be able to do that? Email proprietary data to our home ISP accounts, where people can connect with WiFi, or USB to PCs and Macs? (USB to Linux is a little tricky; Amazon doesn't support it, but there are open-source apps for this.)
One of my coworkers brought in his Kindle Fire (not HD) so I could see they're like. It's much heavier than I expected. Not unusable, but not lightweight. (It's going to have a serious impact if dropped.) I'll take it home tonight and see what it's like connected to the Internet. (As mentioned before) There's no WiFi accessible at the office. And the network is
the computer, for much of what you do on something like this. If it's your repository for music, books, videos, photos, etc, you could fill up 8GB pretty quickly. And if you go for newspaper or magazine subscriptions, you need the network for delivery. (Seems like it should be very nice for following RSS feeds.)
The screen is nice. (It's probably not as nice as Apple's "Retina" display, but I haven't seen one of those yet.) As I was reading the manual I thought I was getting some eyestrain, but it could just be something that requires some getting used to. Or maybe it's that I'm tired. There was no music, so I can't comment on the sound quality. And I'm curious to see what web browsing is like on the small screen.
The Kindle was interesting. The first big challenge was getting it onto our WiFi. Those of you who've visited with laptops may recall that our router filters by MAC address. So I had to find the Kindle's MAC. I eventually searched the web for help, but could not apply the directions I found. That was because of the next problem, the inconsistent response of the touch screen. Sometimes I can drag things, and sometimes I can't, even though I should be able to. So it took me a long time to find the SetUp/Device screen, which is where the MAC is displayed. After that, and a WEP key, it connected easily.
I really miss having a keyboard. The on-screen keyboard is convenient, but it sucks. Again, the response is inconsistent. (I had a hard time typing in the 26 digits of the WEP key.) And I don't much like dragging to move around the screen. I like it less than using a mouse (and I don't like mice), nor do I like smearing the screen. A lot of the time I'm using a computer, I'm using a keyboard. I don't want to reach away for the mouse, or for the screen. A tablet will probably be fine for reading books, or watching videos, or listening to music. But not for writing.
The high-def aspect ratio (16:9?) sucks for web browsing. It's a terrible shape for both portrait and landscape. And I still have no clue how to control switching between portrait and landscape orientation. I expect it's documented somewhere, but I can't read everything in one evening.
I thought this thing was having battery problems, since I plugged it in and after several hours it hadn't budged off of 67% charge. But I recall reading that it charges very
slowly, especially while turned on. It crept up to 71% while I took a long shower.
It doesn't appear to understand the format of the video files I downloaded from the MythTV. Possibly the stupid file names (ending in .mpg..mpg) are confusing it; more likely it doesn't support MPEG2(?) format. The MythTV can probably transcode the files into something the Kindle can handle, but that's a nuisance. (And it will probably require doing a USB transfer, since the transcoded files won't be on a MythTV webpage.) The downloaded files appear to be available only through the Web (Silk browser) application, and I have no clue how to rename the files. (With a laptop browser you get the option to modify the file name before the download starts.) I was also able to download some MP3 files from our choir's website. But I didn't stumble across any way to make a playlist of the files, instead of having to play them one at a time. (You wouldn't expect a web browser to make playlists, but that seems to be the only access to the files (so far).)
I don't think I'm going to be happy with the user interface. I think I'll like much of the functionality, but not the gyrations to do the things I'd want to do.
The Kindle battery is fully charged, after being plugged in overnight.