The Kindle Fire is the new Android based tablet from Amazon that has just started arriving in consumers hands as of yesterday. I was initially hesitant to review it, but a quick survey via our email newsletter got overwhelming response saying that you all wanted to see it reviewed here, and since I really don’t need to have my arm twisted when it comes to buying new toys to play with, I went ahead and pre-ordered one to review here.
Kindle Fire Unboxing:
The first thing to note about the Kindle Fire (and my previous Kindle 3G) is that Amazon does a good job with keeping the packaging minimal, and they also tend not to use any plastic in there…it is all cardboard. The only thing inside the box besides what you see here is the charger (more on that in a second) and a small cardboard tab inserted in the lid that instructs you how to power the device on.
The Fire measures 7.5″ x 4.7″ x .45″ and the screen itself measures 7″, with the entire device weighing in at 14.6 ounces. In comparison, the previous generation 3G Keyboard design measures 7.5″ x 4.8″ x .34″ with a 6″ screen, all weighing in at 8.7 ounces. The Kindle Fire is noticeably thicker and heavier than the Kindle 3G Keyboard model, however it is still a fairly small and compact device considering the capabilities it has.
Above is a side by side comparison so you can get a feel for the difference between the thickness of the two devices. And below is one more angle to get a better perspective.
As you can see, the Fire in the background is much thicker than its read-only cousin.
Kindle Fire First Thoughts:
Had this been a full review of any other product, I probably would have held off, or just not reviewed it at all, but since I promised everyone that I’d do an unboxing/first impressions, then a full review later, I wanted to be true to that promise. Unfortunately, my Kindle Fire just didn’t want to connect to my home Wi-Fi network. Now with about 4-5 devices connected to that same wireless network currently, and no knonw issues for the previous few weeks, I am hard pressed to believe that the issue is related to me or my network somehow.
With that in mind, I set off to Google to see what information I could dig up. Sure enough, there is an endless supply of posts about folks who not only cant get their Fire to connect to their Wi-Fi network, but they also cant get it to work with their previous Keyboard versions of the Kindle. I spent about an hour and a half doing my own research on fixes such as:
- Updating the firmware from v6.0 to v6.1 (Really? A device that is this new already has an update?)
- Rebooting the router
- Enabling / Disabling the MAC filter on my router
- Turning off other devices connected to the network
- Being sure to type the network ID in all caps
None of these methods solved the issue, so I decided to reach out to the Amazon customer support team, who in all fairness have always been superb. In this case, the friendly gentleman walked me through all of thesteps that I previously mentioned above as I politely told him that I’ve already tried these things with no success. That took another 30 minutes, so now I’ve got about 2 hours of time invested in getting this thing to work. For now I sit with a $200 block of plastic and glass that wont even let me read the user manual or dictionary without first connecting to a network to register my device online. Frustrating is an understatement right here.
One other thing that was disappointing was the charger and power button. My previous 3G with Keyboard actually came with a wall charger that had a plug that was also a USB cable, this should be the standard for all kindle devices. There will be times when you want to hook it up to a computer, so the convenience is nice, but the combo USB/Wall outlet chargers also take up less space and are easier to travel with. In regards to the power button, it is annoyingly placed right next to where the USB plug connects at the bottom of the device, so you need to be careful not to press the power button by mistake, as I did about 4 times. On the old version this was not an issue because the power switch was a slide and not a button that you press on. On the Kindle Fire, once you start to take the USB cable out, natural instinct is to brace yourself by putting your thumb or forefinger up against the side, which results in inadvertantly powering the device off.
Anyway, I thought you would at least enjoy one of the Kindle Fire splash pages as I did….look at all those lovely nibs, it reminds me of a simpler time without technology and without technical problems. Hopefully Amazon’s support team will get back to me tomorrow and sort this out, but for the time being, you can consider me to be majorly disappointed with the lack of a simple set up on this device. Hopefully I’ll be back in the near future with a better look at how this thing actually works.
UPDATE – Kindle Fire Wi-Fi Won’t Connect:
I’ve added this section to the review to point you to some resources that have not helped me yet, but have helped some other folks. First up is the site for the most recent Kindle Fire software, which some people have been able to use to upgrade their device and fix the Wi-Fi.
There is also the Kindle Fire “Wi-Fi won’t connect” thread on the official Amazon support forum, which at time of this posting already has 100+ messages on it…not good for a product that has only been in the hands of consumers for about 24 hours.
None of the information posted above is anything I have had success with, nor can I offer support, or be held responsible for any issues you may have by following instructions you find at those resources, however I am just sharing the information I’ve found online in hopes that it might get you up and running with your device. Hopefully Amazon sorts this out soon because clearly it is not an isolated problem.
Well, I took the easy way out. I bought a new router, my old one was about 7 years old, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to upgrade now anyway since I’ve started using my old desktop for a DVR and I put a ton of video bandwidth through the routers wired and wireless connections. I picked up the Cisco Linksys E4200 and also changed my security from WEP to WPA2, I also had to turn off the routers firewall to get the Kindle Fire to work, which I’m not totally thrilled about.