As a longtime user of a “regular” Kindle, I thought I would be right at home, right out of the box, with a Kindle Fire.
Wrong. I was completely lost and befuddled for several days, until I began to figure a few things out by trial and error. Initially, I was so frustrated that I stuffed the new device in a drawer and returned to using my old Kindle, the one with virtually no “fire” but definitely a nice, big “page forward” button and an easy-to-use “page back” button. I was on the verge of leaving the Kindle Fire to my heirs.
The Fire, it turns out, operates almost nothing like a classic Kindle. Yes, you can still download and read books. But the Fire offers much, much more.
“Though it’s got only a few physical buttons, underneath its sleek, simple exterior lies a machine that can do as much as a ‘real’ computer,” Peter Meyers notes in this well-written, nicely illustrated how-to guide.
I am very glad to have this book, because it explains numerous features and capabilities that I hadn’t yet tried or even discovered. And I truly wish I had had it on hand when I first opened the new box from Amazon.
With help from Meyers’ manual, I’ve made peace with the Kindle Fire, and now I move easily from my older Kindle to the newer one, particularly when I want to do more than just read books. Author Meyer is right. The Fire is a “real” computer. And it’s much lighter and easier to carry around than a laptop computer in a shoulder bag or backpack. A Kindle Fire can do pretty much everything a laptop can do, including word processing, spreadsheets and Web surfing, if you are willing to accept a few compromises (such as squinting at a tiny screen and even tinier onscreen keyboard).
One way I’ve come to grips with the Kindle Fire’s virtual keyboard and small screen is to use a stylus instead of my clumsy fingertips. (By the way, even though Amazon sells the devices as accessories for the Fire, the word “stylus” is not mentioned in this book’s index, and, thus far, I haven’t found a reference to “stylus” in the text, either. Maybe it’s in there somewhere?)
Meyer’s 263-page book covers the big features and tips but also many finer points, such as how to make a pound sign — £ — using the Fire’s keyboard or how to set a schedule for when the Fire will automatically check your email.
Kindle Fire: The Missing Manual is divided into five parts and 12 chapters:
- Part I, Getting Started and Reading – Covers setting up, reading books, reading newspapers and magazines, and creating and editing documents and spreadsheets.
- Part II, Watching and Listening – Covers getting and watching TV programs and movies, loading photos and home videos, and getting and listening to music.
- Part III, Communications and Browsing – Using the Fire’s address book, email and web browsing features.
- Part IV, Kindle in Appland – Many thousands of apps are available now or coming soon to the Kindle Fire. The chapters are: “Playing Games”; “Creative Corner” (painting, drawing, photos, music, cooking); and “Managing Time, Tasks, and Travel.”
- Part V, Appendix A: Settings and Appendix B: Troubleshooting and Maintenance.
Thanks largely to this book – which I think should have been included in the Kindle box from Amazon – I’m now a much happier and more knowledgeable Kindle Fire user.
– Si Dunn is a novelist, screenwriter, freelance book reviewer, and former software technical writer and software/hardware QA test specialist. He also is a former newspaper and magazine photojournalist. His latest book is Dark Signals, a Vietnam War memoir. He is the author of an e-book detective novel, Erwin’s Law, now available in paperback, plus a novella, Jump, and several other books and short stories.