Replacement Kindle Fire 8.9″ 4G: first impressions
I know some of you are waiting to hear my reactions to a replacement Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB I received last night.
It is a replacement because, as explained in this earlier post, the first one I received had power issues (the screen would flicker, turn off, and it wouldn’t start up properly).
I’m giving you first impressions here, and there will undoubtedly be an emotional component to it.
This is the first Kindle (and I’ve had them back since 2007’s first generation Kindle) that I am considering returning as unsatisfactory.
Part of that, honestly, is that I irrationally expect it to work smoothly at $499. I say irrational, because a $69 Kindle should also work as expected…not have the same capabilities of a $499 model, but they both should perform the basic functions expected of them well.
First, let me say that this one does not at all have the problems that the other one did. There has been no flickering: the screen stays lit beautifully. It is a beautiful screen, by the way: it looks very good. Looking at the home screen is like looking at a glossy picture in a magazine, to my eyes.
The first big problem is the power button. It’s extraordinarily hard to push. I say extraordinarily, because I also have the 7″ Kindle Fire HD, which has a similar button. It took me a bit to find that button on the first model, but that’s not what is happening here. It is literally hard to get it to recognize that I”ve pushed it.
It’s sort of like trying to push a thumb tack into wood.
People without reasonable finger strength simply couldn’t do it.
That’s not how it was on the first one: that was easy to push.
This is a significant inconvenience.
I’m hoping, however, that it “loosens up” in the next couple of days. If it does, I won’t return it for that.
I’m lucky that I have a cover that automatically puts it to sleep, though.
Second, I’m paying $200 more for 4G, and the set up isn’t working.
I’m sure that’s because of the unusual circumstance of having returned one after having bought a plan on it. I want that plan to apply to the new one, and it might, but I can’t figure out what options to choose. It now shows that I have two devices on the plan, but the new one doesn’t have a data plan. It asks me if I want to switch to a “postpaid plan”. Prepaid makes sense to me, but I don’t know what they mean by postpaid.
I tried to figure it out based on the information available to me on the device, but I”m going to have to call AT&T and have them walk me through it.
While it’s possible that I’m unusually ignorant on dataplans, I think I can reasonably say that this would not be obvious to many consumers who buy a Kindle Fire 4G.
I generally understand technical instructions well. I can often read a legal document (like copyright law) and have it make sense. I’m a former banker (although that was some time ago).
Hopefully, the call to AT&T will be as pleasant as a call to Kindle Support is, but that is a high bar to meet.
Third, and someone asked me to test this, the sound on my 8.9″ is not as good as the sound on my 7″, which is surprising to me. I took them both out of their covers, and played the same song on both. No question, the sound on the 7″ is certainly richer (I’d also say it is louder, but that’s a bit harder to call…”richer” is subjective, “louder” is objective, and I don’t have a good way to measure it).
I checked my volume settings, and tried it with Dolby both on and off: same result.
Prime video looks good on the device.
When I ran a Netflix video at first it didn’t look good. When I ran it this morning, it looks great. It may have updated the app.
Oh, and this one did perform a general update of the software last night. It’s at version 8.1.3.
I’m trying to answer questions people have asked, so in response to another one: the 8.9″ has both Ivona text-to-speech and Pico text-to-speech on it, which is the same with the 7″. The Ivona TTS, which is really good, is what is invoked by the Kindle reading app on it.
Here’s an interesting discovery some of you might like. When I open a book with the device in landscape mode (wider than it is tall), it defaults to a two page display (like an open p-book…paperbook). That may make your eyes get less tired reading on it. I’ve heard that one reason reading on a computer screen is tiring is that your eyes have to move so far from side to side. You can change it to one column by going to
Aa – More Options – Two Column (Off)
This was a weird thing: one of the apps I consider to be very important, ES File Explorer, wasn’t available for me to download from my archives/Cloud, so I assumed it wasn’t released yet in a compatible version for the 8.9″.
I went to the Amazon Appstore, and there it was, and it was compatible (and didn’t tell me I had bought it previously). I checked both versions they have in the Amazon Appstore, and neither one seems to be the one I had gotten earlier…even though I have that one on my other devices.
Again, I think a lot of people would find that confusing.
I’m going to keep testing it out today, and a lot may depend on how the call to AT&T goes. By the way, I asked somebody yesterday at an AT&T kiosk if I could use the 250MB a month dataplan on two devices (I was just curious at that point). One person emphatically said yes, and the other person looked shocked at the answer. I’ll ask them about that as well. That could save people some real money…if they aren’t going to use much data and can pay $49.99 for the first year for two devices, that would be good.
Well, I’ll check back in with you on this later. With my experience up to this point, I wouldn’t be recommending the device to others in my personal circle yet, like I enthusiastically do with other Kindles.
Update: the AT&T folks were very nice, almost effusively so. Everybody wished me a happy day, weekend, holiday…pretty much everything, and thanked me repeatedly for using AT&T.
It took half an hour and three people to resolve the issue.
The first person didn’t understand the situation very well, which is probably because I used the “mobile” option for a topic. I wasn’t sure what to use…later on, they used “session based services”, but I’m not sure how they got me to a tablet person. The first one wanted to discuss voice and texting, which doesn’t apply.
The second person got me to the third person.
The fix was to give me a credit for the $49.99 I’d already spent, and then have me sign up again on the new device.
I got a definitive answer: you can’t use the $49.99 plan on two or more devices.
I’ve now tested the video through an HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cable to my TV: it looks good, much better than my 7″. That’s a plus. I tried Prime streaming and through the Netflix app.
At this point, I’ll keep it, test it on the road (for the 4G element), and hope the power button loosens up and becomes more responsive.
Update: I’ve been using it for most of a day, and the power button is loosening up…yay! While on the road, the 4G connected smoothly. I’ll have to look at the idea of dropping the data on my phone (I’d keep voice and text). Not sure how much that would save. I need to run some more tests on the sound…some comments have made me think it might have been the source material.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.