Computers, as the late Steve Jobs liked to say, should be easy enough for “mere mortals” to use without a degree in computer science or having to wade through a thick manual.
That’s even truer for consumer gadgets, but the reality can be quite different with users struggling with basic features, much less many of the more advanced features, vendors sometimes tout with great fanfare.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet has quickly established itself as the number two player in the tablet market dominated by Apple’s iPad. Analysts and reviewers have credited the Kindle Fire for broadening the market with its low price of $199 and the portability that comes with the 7-inch size of its display -- versus the iPad’s larger 9.7-inches.
But critics have also pointed to usability and performance issues that are among the topics author Peter Meyers addresses in the just-released Kindle Fire: The Missing Manual, published by O’Reilly.
Meyers says the Kindle Fire is “deceptively powerful” because it doesn’t look like much until you turn it on.
“It’s a small black slab with one button,” he said in an interview with TabTimes. “But once you’ve turned it on and entered your account information, you immediately have access to all the ebooks, music and TV shows that Amazon offers, plus the more than 10,000 apps they’ve hand-picked -- most of which tend to be free or cost only a buck.”
Unlike Amazon’s Kindle ereaders, Meyers says the Kindle Fire is truly a multipurpose tablet.
Why a “missing manual?”
Like most consumer electronics, Amazon includes a pretty bare bones pamphlet with the Kindle Fire that goes over basic functions. There’s a longer PDF document users see when they turn on the device, but Meyers says that too is pretty limited.
“It’s things like, hit this button to turn the device on; it doesn’t give you information like how you can get movies from the app store or how you can access missing features that I cover in the book, which is 280 pages,” he says.
For example, Meyers says 'Missing' covers how to get get your photos into the Kindle Fire and how to use apps like Quickoffice and Documents to Go to get Word, Excel and PowerPoint editing and viewing features on the device.
“I’m not saying you’d want to give up your notebook, but you can go on a road trip with these apps on your Kindle Fire and comfortably get work done,” says Meyers.
Kindle Fire: The Missing Manual ($19.95) is available now at Amazon.com and other online outlets and bookstores.