Friday, December 23, 2011

Review: Kindle Fire Video Experience

Recently, I was given a Kindle Fire and after registering it and setting up WiFi at home, I decide to try it out. Since I've got a free month of Amazon Prime service with my new Kindle Fire, I thought I'd take the video experience for a spin last night. I found out that not all movies and TV shows are free with the Prime service (alas) but some really good ones are. All old Twilight Zone episodes are free with Amazon Prime. I watched the very first Twilight Zone ever, starring Earl Holliman (points if you know who that is without Googling). Steaming via WiFi was fast with no service interruptions, so I could really lose myself in the show. Image was crystal clear but you might want to keep low lighting in the room because reflections are a problem.

I made an interesting discovery watching that episode from 1959. It was filmed at the same Universal Studio backlot as the town square scenes from the Back to the Future (1985) films. The courthouse with the clocktower was a high school in the TV episode and Mel's diner (later a gym) was a police station. The incredible irony is Marty goes back to 1955 but the place existed for real as early as 1959 (and probably before). Great stuff for a trivia nerd like me. There's more tidbits I found in other episodes, but they're kind of obscure unless you're into old science fiction films.

The two other classic TZ episodes I watched starred the wonderful actors Burgess Meredith and Agnes Moorehead (one per each episode). Then I decided to watch the two-hour premiere episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which I haven't seen in years. I really had a lot of fun with the scenes I remembered and particularly with the scenes I didn't (I completely forgot Patrick Stewart guess starred).

The 7 inch screen is a little small, but the video experience was still OK. Sound via ear buds worked fine. I did notice feeling a little vertigo when I moved the Kindle closer and then further away from my eyes during the shows. I don't recommend walking around while watching as it gets to be disorienting. I finally put it on the bed so I had a stable platform for the Kindle.

Searching for shows and films worked well, The search feature has an auto-complete, so you don't have to do a lot of typing. I did notice that auto-complete would generate search results (such as "return of the creature", which I mistakenly thought was Revenge of the Creature [1955]) that when selected, produce no actual result (the film doesn't exist in the Amazon archives, apparently).

I'm sure there's a reason for it, but I couldn't figure out why some shows were offered via Prime and others weren't (probably licensing, but who knows?). For instance, all old Twilight Zone episodes were available but no old Outer Limits shows were offered through Prime. Just for giggles, I tried to find the original premiere episode for Lost in Space but it's not available through Prime, either.

Except for the small screen size and the need to keep the Kindle Fire pretty still while viewing, I can't complain about my video experience. You can control the volume of the show and pause and play at will, just by tapping the screen to show the controls. Despite the limitations on selection, I still found plenty of interesting viewing choices. Very nice for my very first tablet experience. I'll have to try out the lending library next.

Oh. Does anyone know a good way to read comic books on a Kindle Fire? Just asking.

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