The argument for having both a Fire tablet and a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader)

The argument for having both a Fire tablet and a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader)

My most popular post for this week is one that I wrote more than a year and a half ago:

The reading experience: Paperwhite vs. Kindle Fire HDX

It has been consistently popular, and is my top post overall…even though at this point, it refers to two older models.

It’s a comparison between reading on an EBR (E-Book Reader) and a Fire tablet.

When  I wrote it, I assumed its main use would be by people making a choice between one device type and the other.

I think that’s  likely still the case…although I think it’s now more likely to be a question of which additional device to get for someone who already has (at least one) device.

That makes for a simple question: why have two devices?

The arguments against having two are pretty clear:

However, I, like many of my readers (I assume…I’ll ask you later in the post), use a Fire tablet and an EBR…every day.

I have the now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX and a

Kindle Voyage (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I use them in two different ways.

I would actually say that over time, the EBRs have become more reading focused (and therefore have diverged more from the tablets)…or at least, more sight-reading focused.

The newer ones don’t do audio at all, so no music. Unfortunately, that also means no audiobooks, and no text-to-speech (TTS), which is software that will read text out loud to you (I typically use that for hours every week in the car), although publishers can block TTS access (and some do on some titles, but I think it is not as common as it used to be).

They also don’t do “active content”, a special type of EBR game (and some were utilities).

The Voyage (and the All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*))

have lights that shine towards the screen, not towards your eyes. You read from the light bouncing off the screen…the same way you read a paperbook. It’s the most comfortable reading experience I’ve ever had…including paper.

I read it in bed before falling asleep…a tablet wouldn’t be as good for that for me. I haven’t tried the new “Blue Shade” functionality, which might make a tablet better than it is now for bedtime reading…it’s a selling point for the

Fire HD 8 Reader’s Edition (Fire HD 8 Reader’s Edition)

Still, I doubt that would be as comfortable…and it’s nice to only have to charge my Voyage every two or three weeks.

I have to say, though, it stays in my headboard except when I’m actively reading it (or charging it).

When I go out, I only take my Fire.

I want my Fire for other things…although I especially want it for that TTS. I do sight read on it as well…for example, at lunch, I may do a bit of exercise in my office and I do like reading while I do that. 😉

I also use my Fire for my morning

Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

read (it takes the place of what used to be a newspaper). In fact, here is part of my morning routine, which would only work on the tablet:

  • I check my local news station app, ABC7 San Francisco (especially well designed, I’d say)
  • I check the CNN app
  • I check Flipboard
  • I check my WordPress app (in case comments came in while I was asleep)
  • I use my favorite browser, Maxthon, to check the Amazon Appstore, the Kindle Daily Deal, and usually BoxOfficeMojo
  • I check the IMDb app for news, although I will have seen some of the stories in Flipboard
  • I turn on the family room light

Some other things that I couldn’t do on the Voyage:

  • I read Entertainment Weekly with a Kindle subscription
  • I read Fortean Times in my Zinio app (which I got from the Zinio site…not available directly from the Amazon Appstore, but Amazon allows us to install apps from other sources
  • I shop 🙂
  • I use the clock app for a nightstand clock (and sometimes when I’m addressing a group)
  • I check the weather (although I usually use our Amazon Echo ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) for that))
  • I check my Google calendar
  • I play music (most often for other people)
  • I print to a wireless printer (I use PrinterShare Mobile Print ((at AmazonSmile*)…it costs about $10, but I got it for free at some point)
  • I check e-mail
  • I read documents, including PDFs…and I’ve used it for PowerPoints
  • I go to other websites

As you can probably tell, if I was only going to have one at this point, it would be a Fire tablet. I use it in many ways, and the reading on it is okay.

I do like reading on the Voyage better…and fortunately, you don’t need to have only one type. 🙂

One last point: when the first Kindle EBR was released, it cost nearly $400. Now, eight years later, you can get both a tablet and an EBR for less than half of that…

Now let’s find out about you. 🙂

I’m interested here in what you use, not just what you own. It’s also okay with me on this if you use a different brand…say, an iPad instead of a Fire.

Oh, and I’m fully cognizant of the fact that you might use something else…a phone, a laptop, and so on. 🙂 Picking “neither” in the poll isn’t meant to suggest you aren’t reading (or consuming other content).

Have other comments about this? Want to share your experiences? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

14 Responses to “The argument for having both a Fire tablet and a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader)”

  1. Elaine Jordan Says:

    I actually have two fires, the 7″ and the 8.9″, and a paperwhite. I use the bigger fire and the paperwhite every day.
    I have the 7″ for drs appt, short trips and for books from libraries that use software that only send to tablets. This size is easier to hold in bed for reading and carry in my purse (or in my service dog backpack)
    I got the 8.9″ because my eyes are getting a bit worse and some of the games I play are hard to do on the small 7″ screen
    The paperwhite I just love to read
    However, lately, my arms (I have nerve issues) have been bothering me, so I have been reading on my smart phone kindle app, lighter to hold

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Elaine!

      The larger screen for games is an interesting point. Despite having managed a game store years ago, I’m really not a videogamer (including apps). Some people also like a bigger screen for videos, or, perhaps more practically, for graphs and spreadsheets. I had a larger Fire, but it was one of many stolen in a house break-in. It was too big for my tastes, although I know they have gotten lighter and skinny since I had one.

      I’m glad your phone gives you another option! It’s nice that we have so many ways to read.

  2. barry anderson Says:

    The paperwhite/voyage/ebr are generally superior for reading and the more reading you do, the more you appreciate that superiority. I have no use for a FIRE; instead, I used a more expensive tablet aimed at business markets that does all of the fancy word processing and markup required for work. In fact, for some functions, a laptop or even a desktop may be required. But for straight reading, and highlighting, the amazon ebr experience is quite good. One thing that would be immensely helpful would be a better pdf experience on the ebr. As it stands now, or at least this was how it was a couple of years ago when i last tried it, that experience is somewhere between totally inadequate and awful. For those of us working heavily in a pdf environment, a pdr that could be easily read and highlighted would be great.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, barry!

      Certainly, the current EBRs are great for sight reading…however, they are non-functional for text-to-speech. As an inveterate booklover, I’ve really appreciated since the Kindle 2 that commute time is no longer “wasted non-reading time” for me. 😉 Of course, audiobooks were an option before that, but I’ve never really been a fan (unless I’ve already read the book) for fiction…I don’t like the narrator (be it an actor or an author) interpreting the characters for me.

      You can read PDFs on an EBR (as long as they are pretty simple. Marking them up is another whole issue though: that does require more processing power. That’s another place where a tablet can be useful…I also use

      ezPDF (at AmazonSmile)

      That also gives me text-to-speech for PDFs in the car…again, that can be very useful, particularly for review of documents I’ve sight read previously.

      In terms of the poll, I would count your more expensive tablet as a tablet. 🙂

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    There are 5 classes of devices that I use with any frequency: Amazon PW2, Fire HDX 8.9, Echo, a laptop running Windows 10, and a Lumia 920 Windows phone.

    I do almost all of my mass market reading on the PW2 (I run this w WiFi on continuously for 5-10 hours/day — I have to recharge every two or three days). I use the Fire HDX for PDFs of all sorts, technical & professional books, magazines like Scientific American, & The Economist.

    I use the Echo to play music, and to maintain my food shopping list. I hope to use it in the future to control my Insteon home automation devices, general dictation, and categorized to do lists in MS Onenote.

    I use the laptop as my workhorse for spreadsheets, email, general Web browsing, etc. I’ve been using the new Edge browser exclusively, and W10’s universal mail app. I find both of these to be quite fast and fluid. The laptop is an HP spectre X360. It is a touch sensitive 2-in-1 like the Lenovo Yoga. I rarely use the touch — in fact I mostly use it with a portable Bluetooth keyboard, and a Bluetooth mouse. The laptop sits on my bed about 4′ from me — the keyboard is on my lap, and the mouse sits on the sheet besides me (:grin).

    I use the phone to read news, look at emails, and track certain tech subjects of interest — primarily when I’m on the go. I rarely use it as a phone (:grin).

    When travelling, I always take the phone, and depending upon the nature of the trip also the PW2, the laptop, or the Fire HDX. When I go to tech conferences, I always take the phone & the laptop, and either the PW2 or HDX.

    One odd usage: occasionally I’ll be reading a story containing diagrams or maps. One recent example was “The Martian”. The maps/diagrams are generally not readable on the PW2 — so I might just read the book on the HDX where the greater resolution, size, and color makes them much more intelligible.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I’m never quite sure what to call a gadget. Is my TV a gadget? My car (it’s somewhat high tech, with Bluetooth and such)? My Fire TV? I use that routinely…is that what takes it out of the gadget category?

      I have an HP laptop for work, but I’m not a big fan of HP hardware except for printers. I’ve always had problems with small parts of them failing…a foot coming off the bottom, screw anchors coming out of the cable mounts, that sort of thing.

      I’m not disappointed easily, but I have to say that a Lenovo we bought has been a challenge. I want a full-size laptop (is that an oxymoron?) 😉 primarily o make it easy to type. The feel on this laptop is not good for me…much stiffer than other laptops or desktops I’ve used. The touchpad is also so large that I tend to change where I am typing…a lot (at least, I assume that’s why it will jump up several sentences). It used to lock up when I was typing a lot, but I think I’ve got that problem solved. I keep sort of hoping that there is some setting I can change to help with the keyboard, and I suppose I should just turn off the touchpad when I’m typing a lot. 🙂

      I’ve considered using a Bluetooth keyboard (both with it and with my Fire), but I don’t want to carry another item with me.

  4. jjhitt Says:

    I routinely carry three devices: A Samsung tablet, a Paperwhite and a Kobo. I’m not sure why I was never tempted to also buy a Nook, but Kobo had some titles I wanted that Amazon did not and has frequent sales. My tablet has both Kindle and Kobo apps on it but I prefer to read on an EBR.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, jjitt!

      So, you carry two EBRs when you run errands and such? Well, I used to routinely carry two p-books, so I suppose that’s reasonable.

  5. Zebras Says:


    Kindles and Fires seem to be growing on the trees at my house. After sending my oldest Kindle to my sister-in-law until she can find hers, I still have 2 Kindles and 3 Fires. I only use 2 of the Fires, though, I’ve kept the original Fire for sentimental reasons, I think.

    One of the reasons I like to use a Kindle for straight reading is that having the Fire in my hand with all its possibilities is a distraction, and I’m more likely to stop reading and do something else.

    However, I’ve been trying Wordrunner at least once a day which requires the Fire and utmost concentration! Not a way to read and keep one eye on the TV, which I do often! The book I am reading with Wordrunner is something I had read a few times as a teenager, so the basic structure is somewhat familiar though the details are long forgotten, so it is not a perfect test to see if reading this way improves or detracts from retention. However the utter concentration it takes, may improve my retention. I am curious to hear of others experience with this method.

  6. Joan Says:

    I have and use both a Kindle KB purchased used 3 years ago and a new Fire bought 2 months ago when offered to Prime members for $50. As you’ve suggested the older reader is lighter, easier on the eyes and holds a charge much better. Fire can indeed do more and I’m still learning how to use it. I hated the special offers enough to pay $15 to have them removed. Now that I’m over 60 my time is too precious to waste closing ads for things I don’t want to buy. I now check email, watch videos & tv programs that are included free w/ Prime. I also read in bed w/ color changed to sepia, & watch videos using earbuds to not wake my husband. I get your ILMK blog post on the Kindle. I’m not much into reading blogs (too many books out there), but your ILMK has been a godsend. I’ve tried flipboard on the fire, but really not a fan (another site that wants to sell as much as inform… I use the synch capability (my husband & I often read the same books at the same time, and I like to read outdoors when possible which needs the Kindle, not the Fire. I thought I might be able to leave the Kindle in the car, but it seems the battery is wearing out, (from age and overuse, I guess) & I may actually by a refurbished one as a replacement. It really is one of my alltime favorite toys.

  7. Barry Says:

    I have a number of Fires, a number of Kindles, Kobos and even a Nook Glowlight Plus. And a phone. I do most of my reading on the e-ink Kindles and quite a bit on the phone. Just now and then I’ll read on a tablet. They’re more for watching videos and sometimes surfing the web, etc.

    However, my real reason for commenting is that, while I often enjoy the things you discuss and what you have to say about those things, the way you seem to go out of your way to make the text difficult to follow gets so irritating that I don’t read your column as often as I’d like to. Every other sentence, often every sentence, has a link to something which is often longer than the sentence itself. And some sentences have a few of these links.

    Also you seem to love to invent acronyms followed by their meaning (in parentheses) which makes for serious distractions.

    My suggestion: simply use text and real words. Then if you’d like to include links put them at the end of a section. That way your column is readable. You do have things to say that are worth reading but they’re not always worth that much difficulty. I can’t count the number of times I’ve found myself wanting to keep going because what you’re saying interests me but it’s just so frustrating I give up.

    I hope I’ve phrased this in such a way as to not be too offensive. If I didn’t seriously want to read your column I wouldn’t care.


    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Barry!

      Let’s take your last point first: your phraseology was fine, and I appreciate your passion! I believe I understand your intent in writing, and it’s rewarding that you would want to make what I do better.

      Now, let me explain why I do what I do.

      I try to explain all initialisms and acronyms the first time I use them in a post. For example, I’ve referred to Jeff Bezos as the “CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Amazon”. While I do enjoy creating neologisms (some of which I have later seen used “in the wild”), that’s really a separate issue…I try to define those mysterious terms whether I coined them or someone else did.


      I’m a trainer in my “day job”, so communication is important to me…especially to people who may be less extroverted in expressing their concerns. I’m very aware that people who are reading my posts may be encountering those terms (and this blog) for the first time. They may not know what “DRM” means, for instance…and it’s important, sometimes, to understanding the story. It’s more important to me to help people who need help the most than to accommodate people who are already familiar with the jargon.

      It actually also makes the post shorter than it would if I used “real words” throughout. My normal pattern is to define the acronym or initialism the first time I use it in the post, and then to use the shortened version throughout the rest of the post. That’s not always the case: I sometimes switch off “Barnes & Noble” and “BN”.

      If it’s a “round up”, then I know people skip around in the shorts. In that case, I may be less likely to use the acronym or initialism at all.

      So, rather than trying to make it more difficult to read 🙂 my intent is the opposite. You aren’t the first person to tell me they dislike it…but I’ve gotten much more feedback appreciating my defining the terms (or at least, feedback that I interpret to mean that). Virtually nothing we do will please everybody, but I have to trade off helping the people who are less familiar with it with bothering what I think are relatively few people who struggle with the construction.

      I’m sure there are people who don’t read my posts because of my first name, and others who don’t like that I sometimes use British spellings (like “theatre”). My computer just told me that was misspelled. 🙂 However, I think the meaning is clear for those who would rather I followed Webster than Johnson. 😉

      As to the links…

      There are two main reasons I include them.

      The first is that some of my readers use them. I see counts of people having clicked on links (not the individual people, by the way…just aggregate click counts). I can tell that people are clicking on them.

      The other one is that it is one of the things that makes it possible for me to spend the time and energy to do this blog. I choose not to sell advertising on this blog, which is how many bloggers justify their commitment to the publications. I’m more comfortable providing links for items that are relevant to the text, and then people can choose to click on them (as many apparently do), or not.

      One thing I do which is an expedient choice is to copy and paste links from previous posts. That means that sometimes I include the information explaining Smile.Amazon multiple times. That does save me some time and it’s easier, but I’ll try to be more careful about that to shorten the links.

      I’m sorry that you find it distracting and frustrating. I’m hoping that the explanation may help you reframe your perception of it, and that you are able to keep getting value from ILMK.

  8. Morgan Says:

    I don’t think I’m clear on your question- are you asking what other devices we use or what other devices we use to read books?

    I have an iPad and a laptop but i exclusively use my “Mindle” to read. So i answered “one” but based on the responses to the poll i think most ppl thought you were asking what devices we use (not just to read). Not sure, just a thought.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Morgan!

      I was asking which devices you use…so two would have worked. 🙂

      Initially, I people got to the question from the reading angle, but my sense is that part of the focus was, “If I buy an EBR, will I also want a tablet?” and vice versa.

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