For all those of you who got or bought a $50 Amazon Kindle Fire tablet over the holidays, which way round do you prefer to use it? Which way works best?
For me, it’s fairly obvious that the Fire’s design leans heavily towards portrait mode. You’ve got the power and volume rocker buttons along the top edge, instead of the side of the tablet. You’ve got all the ports there as well, plus the microphone and the cameras, and the Amazon logo along the back oriented portrait-wise just to drive the point home. You’ve got the categories of the Fire Bellini 5.x OS, which although it looks okay in landscape mode, serves up a beautifully compact portrait layout, especially in Books. (The landscape layout just feels looser and more gappy in comparison, at least to me.) And even though the Fire is not the lightest 7-inch tablet in the world, you’ve got a nicely beveled case design which makes it fit comfortably in the hand – more so than lighter, thinner devices like my Lenovo A7-10.
That said, there’s nothing in the Fire’s design to actively handicap one usage scenario versus another. The Fire’s one-edge layout may have been a simplifying design compromise that helped drive its price down, but it hasn’t worked badly as a usable form factor either. So far, I’ve found only one disadvantage to this layout – that it makes life far more difficult with a portrait docking station. I’ve yet to find a cradle with a micro USB charging dock that doesn’t cover the Fire’s buttons while in use, or turn it off in the process.
So which orientation do you find most comfortable with the Fire’s design? Do you find it pushing you towards portrait rather than landscape? Comments invited.