Like millions of people who pre-ordered the Amazon Kindle Fire, I got mine a day early and for the most part enjoyed using it. Now that I’ve played with it for a couple of days, there are a few things I’d recommend doing to get the most out of the new 7″ Android-powered tablet.
Set a Lock Screen Password
Because you can buy content and items from Amazon using their 1-click – Amazon’s buying feature where you just click buy and it instantly charges your credit card – you will want to set a Lock Screen Password as soon as possible.
To do so, tap on the settings icon in the upper right hand corner. Then choose More… and Security. Switch Lock Screen Password from OFF (default) to ON. Enter your password twice and choose Finish. From now on, whenever you press the wake button on the bottom, your Fire will request this password. Pick a good one that you can remember, but that won’t be easy to crack. I make up words and numbers. You don’t want to select a word in the dictionary.
Add Email Credentials
I don’t love the email app on the Fire, but it can be useful for firing off a quick missive to friends, family or co-workers. Open it up and at the bottom you will see the menu button. Tap it and choose Add account. You’ll see a list of popular providers. Select yours or choose Other if you don’t use one of the included providers.
In this example I’m adding my Gmail account. It will ask for a username and password. Since typing on the Fire isn’t great, your might want to enable the Show Password feature. Do this only if you are in private and no one can see you screen.
Once you get your credentials entered, tap Next and tell it whether you want POP3 or IMAP access. You will have to enable this in Gmail’s settings. I prefer IMAP since it stores everything on Google’s servers and lets you keep in sync.
The next screen, if you use IMAP will ask for some technical data which you can find here. For POP3 use these settings with Gmail. The next screen asks for SMTP settings, which you will also find at the previous links. Finally, tell the app if you want to manually check this email account, or use the other options which include every 15/30 minutes or hourly. I chose manually.
Hit Next and then enter your display name that you want others to see when they get mail from you. Also add your account name, like “Gmail” and put a check mark in the box to make this the default account for sending mail. Pick View your inbox to see your email in that account.
Repeat the process if you want to add other accounts.
You may like to use your Amazon Kindle Fire just like Jeff Bezos thinks you should, but I prefer to set things up to my liking instead. So tap the settings icon in the upper right corner and choose More… to view all of the settings. We already covered setting up a Lock Screen Password above. Other settings include the following:
- My Account – Lets you deregister your Fire but also shows you what your Fire’s email address for sending documents to the device, like Word files
- Sounds – configure notification sounds and volume level – change notifications if you want a different sound to play when you get email or some other system notification
- Display – change the brightness level or amount of time it takes to turn the screen off by default
- Security – aside from setting the password, other security for enterprise settings
- Applications – manage applications and see what’s running – tap an app name to uninstall it or clear the data without uninstalling
- Date & Time – change the date, time or time zone
- Wireless Network – configure your Wi-Fi network or turn Wi-Fi on/off
- Kindle Keyboard – change whether pressing keys makes a sound or not, turn on/off auto-capitalization and turn quick fixes on/off – last two help you to have to type fewer key strokes but if you don’t like words to be auto-capitalized or don’t want to auto correct spelling turn it off
- Device – gives device info – key thing here is to turn on the Allow Installation of Applications from Unknown Sources – lets you side-load apps that aren’t in the Amazon App Store
Install Key Apps
Everyone has a different idea of what apps are essential. We have a list of the most important apps you will want to install. But here’s a quick list of what I think are the top apps to get installed right away.
- Hulu Plus
- Lastpass – password manager and a nice browser
- Twitter client – I prefer Tweetcaster Pro
- Evernote – keeping notes and other info you need to remember
Unfortunately, the Netflix apps does a disappearing act for some people. I had to search for it a few times before it showed up.
To install these tap on the Apps tab on the main screen and then choose the Store link at the upper right.
Buy a Case
You don’t want to ding or damage your new toy, so get some protection in the form of a nice case. I like the idea of a folio style case that gives you a book feel. I found one from M-Edge called the Inline Jacket which has nice red leather cover and micro fiber lining inside. The fire slides in to the case along one side and when closed a magnet keeps the cover from flapping open. It has grooves so you can use the case as a stand for when you want to view videos.
We have a list of other great Kindle Fire cases, covers, sleeves and skins compiled by our editor, Josh Smith.
Upload Music to Cloud Drive
If you haven’t already done so, upload your music collection to Amazon’s Cloud Drive so that you can stream it to your Kindle Fire. You get 5GB of free storage and any music you purchase from Amazon will automatically be added to the drive without taking up any of your allotted storage space. You can get more storage for a fee. See their info page for more details.
Sign Up for Prime
You get a free month of Amazon Prime with your Kindle Fire. After you’ve checked it out, you might want to go ahead and sign up for a year for only $79. You will get access to the free content, like some older movies and TV shows. You also get free 2-day shipping and 1-day shipping costs only $3.99. Student and parent accounts are not eligible for the free videos with the Fire. Learn more about your free month at Amazon.