A Site For Kindle Fans

Since the Fire was introduces, I have been playing with a variety of stylus pens for writing on simple note apps and digital stickies. Now that there is a serious handwriting app on the Fire I carry around the office, I need to be able to write more.

I have been using the Acase stylus. It has worked very nicely. There is a slight squish when it contacts the pen, but the small tip makes it easy to see where I’m writing. And, the tip moves smoothly across the screen.

Recently, I have been using the Jot Stylus from Adonit. There is a pro version but the new ‘mini’ version has proven to go everywhere with me nicely. The Jot Pro is slightly heavier, has a rubber grip and magnets inside for iPad users. The Jot Mini has the same tip, screw on cap (that screws onto the other end when your using the stylus so you don’t loose the cap!!) and a pocket clip. The see through end provides a very solid connection between the stylus ‘pen’ and the surface of the Fire. I have yet to find a situation where the Mini Jot’s disc has issues gliding across the screen.

 

What I was looking forward to with the 7 inch screen Fire was the ability to always have it with me as I buzzed around the office and home. I looked forward to being able to read books similar to their physical counterparts… and most important for entering and retrieving information on the go. I have been pretty happy with the PDF solution I mentioned earlier. But, missing for me, was the ability to take quick notes on the go. And to write when I have a moment without hauling around a notebook, a big tablet or worse trying to write on a smart phone.

This week I was excited to see Smart Writing Tool available for the Fire. After a bit of use, I found that it actually does work as I had hoped on a device I carry. I can create handwritten notes by writing in a text box that inserts either the ink or converted text on the note page. I can share the notes out to my Evernote account, as an email or to social sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The handwriting ink to text works OK for me, generally though I keep my notes in my original handwriting. To really really use the handwriting recognition, it takes some practice to learn how to write letters to the software has an easier time. ‘E’ is a single line backward ‘3’, stuff like that. I’ll post up how Smart Writing Tool works at the office over the next few weeks, looks great so far!

 

The Fire accepts PDFs to be installed and read like your eBooks. Other than being a page turner, there is little other features enabled for PDFs.

I found an app, ezPDF Reader, that takes the PDFs on my Fire to a whole new level. Amongst many features like reversing the text/background colors for easier reading and control over page flip animation, the big improvements are Voice Reading, Advanced Search and Annotations!

You read that right, ezPDF Reader will read your PDFs to you… now you can ‘read’ your PDF books while you drive. Audio playback of eBooks is a feature on the regular Kindles but not included on the Fire, with ezPDF, you get the feature.

Annotations, which is writing on PDFs is supported as well. ezPDF Reader provides a variety of tools to mark up PDFs, then share those PDFs back out to others to see with your additions included. Very handy to makes notes on a rough draft as you go then shoot it back to creative or the editors to clean up.

Pinball has had a home on my iPad for a long time. It has been a great way to get away from the work mind and back to the 80’s in the arcade. Interesting, while the game looks great on the iPad, the overall device is actually on the large size. So, I was pretty excited when at the end of 2011, Pinball HD showed up for the Fire.

The game play on the Fire didn’t let me down. Pinball HD comes with the same three layouts: The Deep, Jungle, and Wild West. The action of the ball is very realistic as it bounces off the bumpers and around the curves of the tunnels. Even the movement of the flippers feels more like the real wood upright quarter games than a electronic representation. The colors and shading make the whole experience very realistic. I always make the mistake of call the game 3D rather than HD due to that realistic look and action.

The game states you can play with others across a WiFi network. I have yet to try that feature but am looking to run into another Fire/Pinball HD owner to see how it plays. Meanwhile, there is plenty to keep me busy just learning the game play on the easier to handle ‘Fire’ screen size.

Task lists are best not to just live on the refrigerator door or in a little jar these days. They need to be mobile, taken with you for access when you need them. Tasks N Todos Pro lets you create tasks on your Kindle Fire and share with others via Google Tasks online. Having your task lists on the Fire means they can be accessed and managed anytime, then sync back up to Google online so you can see them with your other devices like notebooks and desktops. This also opens the door to sharing lists and private lists online, all coming together to be viewed in a single overview.

A win for using Tasks and ToDo Pro on the Fire is it’s ability to view wide instead of just tall, most often called Landscape view. This makes it much easier to jump from one task list to another. Now, all of the ToDo items don’t have to be in one long list, they can be split up by how you can attack them or in the case of household items they can be grouped by shopping vs actual effort.

Tasks and ToDos offers access to tuning tools when you need to change a date, different views through filters and sorting, and re-ranking a task when it becomes more important.

A quick view of all of your Task lists is also available. It’s nice that there is more info than just what the groups are, also shown is how much work you have still open compared to the total number of ToDo items. It’s a small thing, but it makes Tasks and ToDo Pro more usable around the office.

 

Since the Kindle Fire hit my hands, I have been looking for a list manager that does more than a single list of tasks. I like to be able to add notes and I like to be able to have sub items… think of them as items that have to be done before you can complete that item.

While there are a few options available for the Android OS, non of the ones I liked are available through the Amazon App Store, so not available to load onto my Fire.

Today, I woke to find List Manager Pro… it does all the things in my list of ‘must haves’ AND, it is marked down from $1.99 to FREE. The site doesn’t show anything about how long it will be free, so grab now if your looking to save a couple bucks. A nice extra from the developer and Amazon is the ability to try before you download. Just go to List Manger Pro on Amazon’s site you will see the big green button in the center of the page to explore the app on your desktop/notebook.

An extra note, from the developer of List Manager ProWith List Master Pro you can create sub-lists with sub-notes, set daily reminders, import and export lists as a spreadsheet, and share lists via e-mail. Keep all your lists and notes in one place and keep your life organized with List Master Pro.

 

A Kindle Fire How-To book already! The eBook, Kindle Fire: Out of the Box, is a book that explains the hidden features of the Fire. I sat and read it end-to-end last night. To be honest, I skimmed through it pretty fast so I got the idea on how to get more out of my Fire. Now, I go back and get more details in the areas of my interest. I had never sent files to my other Kindles but with the color and the speed of the Fire, I needed to explore that option.

Borrowing a book to read from Amazon, managing my music, getting stuff on and off my Favorites area, and even doing a better job at managing my eBooks.

If you have someone your buying a Fire for this holiday season, get them ‘Out of the Box‘ so they won’t be calling you all the time for questions on how you use it. They should be able to find an answer to about any usability questions they have through a quick search of the ebook… on their Kindle Fire!

The Kindle Fires have hit the office and they are all the excitement. The size of the screen and readability of it is incredible! The overall size and weight of the Fire makes you want to put it in your pocket and go anywhere with it. Just a bit big for that but it does fit nicely in our hand to carry with us everywhere we need to go.

First thing we tried was our Acase Capacitive Stylus, and it works great on the screen. We are going through a few handwriting and drawing apps right now and will let you know what we find. Already we found a couple disappointing note taking apps so we will let you know what to avoid. Drawing though with the Stylus is something we seeing us doing a lot of. SketchBook Mobile is keeping us drawing and sharing.

So far, it has been all about the Fire around the office… we’ll post up how things went when people took theirs home and the family got their hands on it. This is sure to be a winner in the digital magazine world!

 


Personalize your Kindle with removable protection from GelaSkins. Choose images from 100’s of great artists or upload your own designs!

Gel Skins have introduced a large selection of their colorful and fun art as vinyl protective skins for your Kindle. We love the way they cover the front with an extention of the art on the back. Everyone will know it’s you from across the room when they see you holding your Kindle with any of these bits of fun.