DENVER (TheStreet) -- The first owners of Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire have unboxed, oohed and ahhhed and realized what this tablet is and is not. It's time for reviewers to move beyond the "What? No camera?" and "Wow, it's heavy," and "This isn't an iPad (no duh)."As a new owner who did enough research before hand, there were no "missing" hardware surprises for me. But as a new Kindle owner, I was frustrated by the seemingly simple things Amazon excluded that could improve my user experience. I just want to put things where they make sense to me, not Jeff Bezos. But first, here are features I not only love, but hope that other tablet software developers will adopt:
- Love the ability to save apps to purchase or download later. The Amazon app store doesn't even offer this feature.
- Love keeping most of the content in the Amazon cloud, which isn't new for a tablet. But it's certainly a way to minimize the impact on the Fire's miniscule 8 GB storage.
- Love Whispersync, Amazon's wireless synching technology that keeps your Fire and Amazon digital account instantly the same.
- Ack! Where is that book by what's-his name? Unless you know exactly what you want to read, watch or listen, it will take time to find your content. While the Fire divides content into sensible categories -- like books, video and music -- there are limited ways to organize within those categories. Books, for example, are sorted by title, author or recently viewed. I'm not asking for the Dewey Decimal System but just the ability to rearrange and organize content my way, preferably by adding folders (like the iPad) or tags (like most things online). Even Amazon offers nearly 100 ways to categorize its book store. Apparently, this has been an issue with Kindles since day one. Users have discovered workarounds and I've come up with a way to organize apps into folders ( GoToApp). But as for books, movies and the rest, help me out Amazon!
- Why are my magazines part of Apps and not Newsstand? The Fire's homepage has seven permanent categories at the top: Newsstand, Books, Music, Video, Docs, Apps and Web. Those make sense because they are primarily why one should buy the Fire (and all but Docs and Web have direct links to Amazon's store). Unfortunately, if you download the official app for Wired magazine, for example, you can't put the magazine under Newsstand. It shows up in the Apps category. Or if you transfer a video from another device to the Fire, you can't put it in under Video. It appears in the pre-installed Gallery app. The Fire only populates the pre-set categories with items purchased from Amazon. Too bad. C'mon Amazon, work with me. Let my newspaper and magazine apps purchased through your app store show up under Newsstand!
- Browsing blows. I'm not talking about the web browser (which also blows) but shopping at Amazon. The Fire's built-in link to the Amazon store steers shoppers to the 400 best-selling items in each category. Your finger will start aching after scrolling down multiple screens to maybe find what you were looking for. The alternative is to type in an item in the search bar -- and then get a list of 400 related items. While you can hone a category somewhat, like girl's shearling boots, I'm used to Amazon's real site, which lets you drill down further to girl's brown shearling boots in size 10 with a minimum 4-star review for under $50. Browsing just isn't the same.
- Where are the Amazon deals? With the Fire's arrival just before Black Friday, I intended to do some online shopping. But there was no access to Amazon's daily deals! The only way to see Amazon's Black Friday deals was to use the Fire's mediocre web browser and head to Amazon's real site.
- Favorite apps are MIA. I get it that the Fire is a custom Android tablet-turned-Amazon-shopping tool. Amazon vets all apps before they can get in its App Store, hence the reason why the Amazon App Store has less than 5% of available Android apps. Most of those apps are junk but there are some Android apps I really miss, like the Dolphin browser, which isn't available for Fire. MoboTap, which developed Dolphin, tells me the browser is coming to the Fire soon and I suspect all the popular Android apps eventually will too. Until then, you could hack the Fire. The tradeoff, however, is you won't be able to instantly stream Amazon videos anymore, a huge plus of the Fire. And you may have to re-hack it every time Amazon updates the software, as it did last week
11/30/11, creating a frenzy in the gadget world that Amazon wants to prevent the "exploit."
Amazon must be hoping you're only going to need a handful of Android apps (on top of the half-dozen included with the Fire). Arrange them alphabetically or recently used. For those with hundreds and even thousands of apps, good luck.
Ebooks purchased from Amazon immediately populate the Fire's bookshelf and can be sorted by author, title or recent. Would it hurt to add a few more categories, like fiction or children's or books-loaned-free-from-the-Kindle-Lending-Library-so-read-these-first ?
Ahh the Carousel, which welcomes Kindle Fire users on the home screen. It's nice to see recent viewed items from... two weeks ago? I have 55 items so far and it keeps growing. Wish there was the option to drop off older items after a certain amount of time.
Somehow translating the Amazon store to the Kindle Fire resulted in lists. Really long lists that show up to 400 items of whatever category or related item you're looking for. I'd rather be able to drill down an item based on features.
Kindle Fire's purchased from Amazon come personalized - with immediate access to your Amazon shopping cart.