With the cost of Amazon Fire tablets having fallen to ridiculously low levels, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at how useful (or not) they might be for serious writing on the move. The Fire tablets are sold as consumer devices rather than ones designed for productivity, but there are several note-taking applications available for download from the Amazon Fire store, and so it seemed at least feasible that a Fire tablet might come in handy for writing purposes from time to time.
I am therefore writing this post on an Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet with a Foldable Bluetooth ESYNIC Pocket Size Keyboard on a lap desk, and the app I am writing in is WPS Office, which – like most Amazon apps – was a free and easy download. So far, the experiment is proving successful, and I can certainly see myself using the Fire more than occasionally.
The Fire comes in several different models, with 7, 8 and 10.1 inch screens. Internal storage varies from 8 GB to 64 GB, depending on the model selected, but the addition of an SD card can take storage for all models up to 256 GB. That expandability is something that I would love to see on an iPad, but I can’t imagine Apple going in that direction any time soon.
As a long-time user of the iPad, I expected my experience on the Fire to be blatantly inferior, but that isn’t proving to be the case at all. Responsiveness when switching between apps is a tad lower than on the iPad, but we’re talking in terms of the Fire being fractions of a second slower, so there is nothing to complain about. Screen resolution is very good, battery life is impressive (the HD8 is the best in this respect, with up to 12 hours from a single charge) and the cost is negligible (currently just $39.99 for the Fire 7, $59.99 for the Fire HD 8 or $119.99 for the Fire HD 10).
So, what about the writing? Well, you won’t find nearly as many writing apps in the Amazon App store as you will at the Apple or Google equivalents, and notable omissions are Scrivener and Microsoft’s Office suite. That said, the WPS Office app which I am currently using has more than enough features for most writers on the move, and can open, edit and create documents in a variety of formats, including doc, txt, pdf and more.
One problem that I have noticed with the setup I am currently using is that my keyboard doesn’t have a touch pad. The keyboard is fine for text entry, but if I want to go scroll around my document I’m finding it easier (and quicker) to use my finger on the screen of the tablet rather than the navigational keys on the keyboard. A keyboard with a built-in touch pad (such as this one) might therefore be a good idea for those of you who are thinking of creating a mobile writing setup from scratch.
For mobile writing purposes, there is no tablet currently available which would beat the power and features of something like the MacBook Air, but I am very pleased to say that the Amazon Fire is a great – and considerably cheaper – alternative to working on an iPad. Writing this post on the Fire HD 8 has been a real pleasure, and I would strongly encourage any writer who is thinking about purchasing one of these devices (with a suitable Bluetooth keyboard) to go for it.