Monday, April 08, 2013

[Tech] Kindling

Kindling: Still unsure of my purchase of a Kindle HD. I wanted a tablet because I needed something middling between my phone (which is always with me) and my laptop (which I only want to take if I plan to write while away), and because when I finish reading a book while away, it would be supremely awesome to be able to just download another at will, and because all the cool kids have them.

Choices were: iPad, Surface, Kindle, Nexus.

The iPad is too expensive, and I dislike the Apple ecosystem. The Surface (RT) would have been nice and possibly the best choice for me since I've glommed on to the Microsoft ecosystem, but it too is expensive also. That left the Nexus and Kindle in my price range. Both are Android devices, but the Kindle is severely modified and limited to keep you as close to Amazon as possible. Nexus is wide open.

There are pros and cons to each strategy. With the Nexus you can do anything that any android device can do and you also have the same learning curve you would get with any bare Android device. Kindle smoothes the way with a reasonably slick interface, and certainly, if your goal is devouring media as simply and efficiently as possible, Kindle's seamless access to the Amazon libraries of movies, TV, music, books, and comprehensive shopping will appeal. Kindle, since it is intended to be a conduit for you to buy stuff from Amazon, is also a little cheaper.

Now, you can still get all the Amazon stuff if you have a Nexus, although there is probably an app or two to download. But what you can't get is Kindle's lending library. If you are an Amazon prime member, Kindle provides the ability to borrow one book a month. Neat eh? The selection is limited and the publishers have to opt in, but it's a pretty sweet idea -- especially for avid readers like me.

What you lose with the Kindle is the ability to download all the possible 900 bajillion android apps. Amazon maintains it's own library of android apps and you have to select from those. Needless to say, you will not find any Google apps in the Amazon library. This is not the end of the world because even though you can't directly download them from Amazon, you can do something called sideloading, where you download them to your PC and copy them from your PC to your Kindle then install them. Still it's annoying when you have to do it. Again, I believe Amazon thinks that people use Kindle to primarily consume entertainment and if they are right, and they probably are, this is not an issue. But honestly, a number of best of breed android apps are not in the Amazon App store.

So why did I pick Kindle? Essentially because of the price and the lending library. But to be honest, I've not borrowed anything. There is really no easy way to browse it, that I can find, and I haven't come across anything I was interested in reading. That's not to say there is nothing worth reading, it's just mostly more popular/commercial titles that I have little interest in. And there have been a couple of times I have had to go through the sideload process to get apps I wanted, so I've experienced the downside without the upside.

Not only that, the setup process had a couple of snafus also, including Kindle's inability to locate my gmail account, until I changed the address to instead of My phone -- MIcrosoft Phone 7 which is equivalent (roughly) to RT on the Surface -- was able to set itself up without a second thought from me.

I'm hesitant to say I don't recommend Kindle, because for it's intended purpose -- eating commercial media by the great gobfulls -- I'm sure it is nearly perfect. Especially in conjunction with Amazon Prime. I just didn't realize that I'm not perfectly situated in that demographic. If I had it to do over, I would probably go with the Nexus. Or possibly the Surface RT out of consistency because I do so like the tile interface on Microsoft devices.

(That tile interface works less well on a laptop in Windows 8, as I have discovered thanks to the new Dell laptop I just purchased. But that story is for next month.)