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kindle fireProduct Review Kindle Fire Shines Brightly for People with Disabilities

By John M. Williams

I am a voracious reader. Biographies, history books, novels and politics consume my unsatisfied appetite for reading and learning.

My favorite American president is Abraham Lincoln. I have more than 28 books on him in my library. My favorite mystery writer is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. My favorite humor writer is Mark Twain. I have books either on them or by Doyle, Twain, Charles Dickens and others in my library.

Last year, my family asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I responded, “A Kindle.” On Christmas Day, I got my wish.

I received a Kindle Fire, a tablet computer version of Amazon.com's Kindle e-book reader. Once it was set up, I downloaded for free a book about Sherlock Holmes, "The Life of Abraham Lincoln" and "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin." When I finished reading them, I purchased the trilogy "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest" and "The Girl Who Played with Fire." These six books are on my shelf in my Kindle. I can’t imagine carrying these and other books with me either in paperback or, God forbid, hardcover.

Buying books to read on the Kindle is cheaper than buying them in a store. I purchased the trilogy for much less than I would have paid for the books in hardcover or paperback. Books can be downloaded in fewer than 90 seconds.

I am reading "The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe" by Kate Buford. Before I purchase a book or download one for free, I can download for free two or three chapters.

The Kindle offers many features to like. When I want to stop reading, I can bookmark where I stopped, and the next time I open the book, I open it to that page. When I finish reading a page, I lightly touch the left-hand corner of the page, and the next page automatically appears. I can go back to pages by lightly moving my finger or stylus to the right.

I can enlarge the print or make it smaller by touching an Aa icon. There are eight print sizes. I can also adjust the line spacing, brightness and page margins. For people with vision challenges, these features are a plus.

“The accessible-reading features induce me to believe the needs of visually impaired people were considered in designing it,” said Sharon Gallagher, who owns a Kindle and is visually impaired.

In addition, there is ample lighting on each page, so you can read in the dark.

The Kindle offers thousands of books to read. Some of its offers include Kindle Singles, Editors’ Picks, 100 Kindle books for $3.99 or less, Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, New York Times Best Sellers, Children’s Picture Books and Comic Books. The number of categories in Kindle’s lending library astonished me.

The Kindle, though, offers more than books. It has newspapers, magazines, comic books, music, videos of movies and TV shows, web access and apps (including ones for email and audible.com). A touchscreen keyboard allows a user to search for books, songs, movies and TV programs and to access the Web. Amazon.com allows users to buy from a slew of available products online.

The audio quality of the videos and music is superb. The same excellence applies to the visual quality. When watching a video, I can pause it; I also can adjust the volume and the brightness. I rented "The Ides of March" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and I paused each of them for 30 minutes. I was able to resume watching both movies where I paused them.

I enjoy listening to audio books when I am traveling. I intend to make great use of audible.com. Walter Adams, who owns a Kindle and has a hearing problem, said: “I listen to a book a week with pleasure. Audible.com’s sound quality is a boon for me.” He has told his hearing-impaired friends about audible.com’s features, and he has encouraged them to buy a Kindle.

My Kindle cost around $300. There are cheaper ones, but they don’t do as much.

I am thrilled to have my Kindle. It houses more than reading materials. It is a unique, versatile, expansive entertainment center. It is a communications wonder. It provides many wondrous benefits to people with disabilities.

To comment, write to jwilliams@ atechnews.com. John Williams' website is www.atechnews.com.


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