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Three Ways to do More with Your Kindle Fire

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 2:38PM Thursday July 26, 2012
under Stuff We Like

The more I use my Kindle Fire, the more I like it. Right out of the box, it's a great device for reading books, watching videos, playing games, and so on.

However, with a little know-how, you can go beyond the box, so to speak. I've rounded up three ways to get more from your Kindle Fire.

1. Turn the Web Into a Personal, Portable Magazine
Suppose you were sitting at your PC when you spotted the headline for this blog post -- but didn't have time to read it. That's pretty common; I frequently encounter news items, feature stories, and other Web goodies I'd like to revisit at a later date.

With Pocket (formerly Read It Later), I can quickly and easily transfer any Web page to my Kindle Fire for on-the-go viewing.

It works like this: You add the Pocket bookmarklet to your desktop Web browser. When you see something you want to view later, just click the bookmarklet. That's literally the entire process.

Then you fire up the Pocket app on your Kindle Fire. (You'll need a Wi-Fi connection so it can sync and download the latest additions.) Presto: There's every page you "pocketed," beautifully formatted for reading on the Fire, and stripped free of ads and other clutter.

2. Enjoy Your Favorite Music -- Without Headphones
The Kindle Fire has fairly decent built-in speakers, but they're hardly powerful enough to fill a room with sound.

If you love listening to music while you work or play, consider pairing the Fire with a speaker dock. One model I'm liking is the Grace MatchStick, a dock designed especially for the Fire.

The MatchStick is a 16-watt stereo speaker system that plugs into the Fire's headphone and USB ports. Needless to say, this docking module blocks the Fire's power button, but there's an "extender" button that solves that problem.

What really sets the MatchStick apart is its rotating cradle, which can hold the Fire upright or turn it sideways 90 degrees for watching videos. That makes the dock a good companion for Pandora and Netflix alike.

What's more, the entire unit can "rotate" to sit at either a 30- or 60-degree viewing angle -- a clever design amenity.

The MatchStick has a list price of $129.99, but I've seen it selling for closer to $100 on Amazon.

3. Convert the Fire to a Full-Blown Android Tablet
If you really want to expand your Kindle's capabilities, consider installing the Android 4.0 operating system, otherwise known as Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS).

Why go to the trouble? Maybe you don't like the Kindle Fire's interface. Maybe there are apps you want to run that aren't Fire-compatible. Or maybe you just like to tinker. Whatever the case, it's possible to convert the Fire into a full-blown Android tablet.

Possible, but tricky. If you're not comfortable digging into the Fire's innards (so to speak), find the nearest tech-savvy teenager to help out. Either way, there's a great tutorial on installing Ice Cream Sandwich on a Kindle Fire.

Have you found any other ways to expand your Fire's capabilities? Tell me about them in the comments!