The Kindle Fire has long been held as the true “reader’s tablet,” but until recently, Samsung and Apple lovers haven’t quite been able to understand the big deal.
That changed when a Fire HD 8 recently became available. While there are certainly more robust tablets on the market — Samsung’s TabS series and anything Apple makes immediately come to mind — none are built with readers in mind.
The Kindle Fire continues a tradition of ho-hum streaming and gaming applications, but it really delivers on the reading based on a key feature that will be discussed in a moment.
Video-wise, there is nothing on the device that you can’t get anywhere else, often with bigger revolution, despite a still-impressive 1280 x 800 hi-def resolution.
But a new add-in, not to mention Amazon’s dominant market share on the eBook market, make the Kindle Fire HD a must-have.
That feature is called “Word Runner,” a speed-reading technology. While the tech is not new — it’s based on RSVP speed-reading technology, something Slate‘s Jim Pagels refers to as “life-changing” — this feature is built into the native Kindle app with a few much-needed tweaks that make it a dream to use.
And since the vast majority of eBook readers utilize Amazon for most of their eReading content, it truly allows one to boost reading time without taking away from control, relaxation, and comprehension.
While RSVP technology operates on a “one word at a time” model that displays just one word with a single red letter slightly off-center for better focus and comprehension, Amazon goes one better with Word Runner for the Kindle Fire.
Here’s how Amazon pulls it off.
Like traditional RSVP, you can set the speed-reading time that you wish to follow. For the purpose of this review, 300 words per minute was chosen.
At that rate, one may not catch every word, but it’s certainly easy to see what is going on. The only problem is that your brain doesn’t have the opportunity to relax and enjoy the reading.
With Word Runner for Kindle Fire, this problem is solved by giving the reader the opportunity to easily go in and out of the timed display.
Example: you’re reading along at 300 words per minute, comprehending most things, but you’d like to give your brain a break from the intense focus.
Simply hit the pause button.
This parks it on the current word, but it also allows you to swipe left to keep reading ahead or right to go back and pick up a few words that you may have missed.
When you decide to pick back up with the speed reading, you can simply hit the play button, or you can swipe along and see all the words scroll past on one line at a speed that can either miss, meet, or exceed the original parameters you’ve set on words per minute.
For best practices with Word Runner on the Kindle Fire, it is recommended that you don’t get too set on one particular use. Start up at whatever word per minute rate that you care to speed read. Pause it. Swipe along to continue your progress.
Then, hit play again when you’re ready for liftoff, or just keep swiping. Either way you will read the book at a much faster pace and with greater comprehension.
It’s a well-executed use that distinguishes the Kindle Fire HD 8 because it mixes execution with an already robust marketplace of books, and as The Digital Reader points out, it works with all formats (yes, even books that you port in as ePub rather than Kindle’s proprietary format).
While many reading purists will be understandably standoffish or skeptical about the format, it’s well worth a try because it really does bring everything together into a reading experience that is fast but not at the expense of why you love reading in the first place.
For all the grief that Amazon has taken for some of its moves directed at indie authors in 2015, as well as a New York Times piece on its allegedly brutal work culture, the company’s products and service continue to land for consumers and are among the most reader-friendly on the market.
Also, with a price point of $149.99, the Kindle Fire HD 8 is a cheap opt-in.
[Image of Kindle Fire HD 8 via Amazon website]