Product Reviews Archives

Yes, I “Made” the Kindle Fire Do That

“Aren’t you wasting your time trying to turn an ebook reader into a productivity device?”

I was glad this conversation was taking place over the phone so my friend couldn’t see me roll my eyes. I actually feel sorry for the folks at Amazon. I wonder how many times a day the ubiquitous “they” at the Mother Ship have to explain the Kindle Fire isn’t just an ebook reader.

I wonder if they’re getting as sick of the phrase “content delivery device” as I am. That sounded great the first time I used it. Now it’s just annoying me. For years I’ve had a passion for taking cameras and doing things with them that people say can’t be done. Like taking detailed macro shots with a point-and-shoot, only to have a snooty camera “friend” opine, with a puzzled look, “I didn’t think you had the glass for that.”

(Okay, fine. All hobbies have inside languages. But “the glass?” That’s just pretentious in anyone’s vernacular.)

So,why was I yet again trying to “make” an ebook reader be a productivity device? (A statement which assumes there’s nothing productive about reading, but I digress.) I was telling my friend about qPDF Notes. And yes, before I go any farther, I paid $10 for this app. Which I almost never do.

And why did I do this? Basically to be able to mark up PDFs on the Kindle Fire with the same stylus I use for my iPad. You knew this was coming when I reviewed the Web Snaps app that lets me make the PDFs on the Kindle in the first place, didn’t you? Because does it really make sense to create PDF notes on one tablet and then send them to another?

That would be “no.” Just for the record.

If something works, and works well on a tablet, regardless of its origins, I don’t think I’m “making” it do anything. All I need to do with a PDF is underline some passages, circle, star, maybe scribble a word or two in the margin. From that, I can take the “notes” and write. It’s my thought process, that harkens back to the days of pen and paper.

Here’s the deal. I believed “them” when “they” said we could have a paperless office, and I still want the darn thing.

Is qPDF worth $10? It is to me because it fulfills a productivity function I want on the device that is now my constant companion. Yes, the purists are right when they say there are other Android tablets out there with greater application flexibility, but with the exception of taking screen captures, which I haven’t figured out, I’ve successfully “made” the Kindle do everything I need it to do.

And I’ve had fun doing it.

And no, I’m not about to have that argument with my friend, but I do believe it. You’re more productive when you’re having fun and enjoying the tools with which you work. I had fun “making” this aspect of my PDF use function on the tablet on which I wanted to use it.

Bottom line? Add qPDF to my list of favorite apps. Now, shoo! I have an article to write. From my underlined, starred, scribled notes. In multi-colors. On my content delivery device.


Kindle Fire User Satisfaction Survey

ChangeWare Research has released a customer satisfaction survey of Kindle Fire owners with the following results:

  • 59% say the $199 price is the best part
  • 31% like the color screen
  • 27% say ease of use tops their list
  • 20% like the selection of books
  • 12% cite long battery life and screen size

The least favorite aspect? Twenty-seven percent griped about no hardware volume button.

Overall, 54% of Kindle Fire owners report being very satisfied. Taken with the 38% “somewhat satisfied” group, the device has a 92 percent overall approval rating.

Not too shabby!

(To read the whole report, visit “The Route to a Kindle Owner’s Heart Goes Through the Wallet” by Casey Johnston for


Griffin Arrowhead Tablet Stand Review

Okay, maybe not a review, more a mini rave. This thing is great!

Today, I had a need to stand my iPad upright. Doesn’t matter why, but I didn’t have a good stand, so I went to a big box store to find something inexpensive that would work. The young man who helped me said, with infectious enthusiasm, “You want something practical, or something fun?” I’m at the age where, when a young man gives me a choice like that, I’m always going to go for fun.

So, I walked out with a Griffin Arrowhead Tablet Stand. It did what I wanted it to with the iPad, but I spent the evening working on projects at the kitchen table with the Kindle Fire sitting in this tiny little marvel and it was sheer perfection. I watched “Braveheart,” emailed back and forth with a friend, and knocked out ten articles.

I love products that are just beautiful in their simplicity. The two halves of the stand are held together by magnets. Separate them, put the flat bases down, snug your tablet of choice in the notches, and you are good to go. What a great idea! Highly portable, very stable, and well worth the money. Thumbs up!

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