The kind people at Amazon sent me a Kindle Fire HD to review (see disclosure of this fact again at the end of this post), and I am really freaking glad they did.
While I have not used all of the bells and whistles yet (including "KindleFreeTime," which allows parents to limit screen time per child and according to content for up to eight kids), this little device came in handy at least three times during our vacation in Oregon.
We are Amazon Prime members, so we already have a few movies for Bug in our video library. I downloaded two of them so that they live in the Kindle device (as opposed to living only in the cloud - which requires internet access). During the six hour flight to Portland, Oregon from Boston, having a movie available was awesome. We flew on an airline that offers movies and tv at every seat as part of the ticket price, but there was some extra comfort in being familiar with (i.e., having already approved as age appropriate) the movie that Bug was going to watch on the plane.
On the plane, we were divided as a family. My husband and Squish were in two seats on one side of the aisle, and Bug and I were in two seats on the other. Bug, anxious for his movie to start, couldn't have been more pleased when we finally reached an altitude that allowed me to turn on the Kindle and get his entertainment going. All of which was necessary because Squish decided the only way to fly that night was on my lap.
Then Squish went bonkers, and the only thing that seemed to make him happy was to hear me sing the A-B-C song over, and over, and over, and over, and over. He clapped and cheered for me every time I finished the song. His praise helped to ease the pain of looking over at the empty seat next to my husband. (Squish is not yet two. We could have avoided paying for his seat and called him a "lap infant" - as he was so readily demonstrating in my lap, cheering me on to my next rendition of the ABCs.)
Finally, Squish fell asleep in my arms.
The fact that I was managing Bug and Squish on the flight for the first hour and a half was definitely eased by the fact that Bug was enjoying a movie on our Kindle.
* * * * *
Later in the vacation, we were in Portland with our dear friends. That made for four adults and three children under the age of four.
One late afternoon, all we wanted was a beer and some appetizers in a little pub type place near our hotel. We all sat down, and things were going smoothly for the first fifteen to twenty minutes.
Then, the three-year-olds in the group grew restless.
I pulled my Kindle out of my bag, connected to the wireless signal at the pub, and started a kids' show at the table that made them both happy, quiet, and still.
We finished our beers and snacks in peace and had mostly adult conversation. It was amazing.
There was probably a time in my life (let's say while I was prego with Bug, for example) when I would have judged a mom who set up a screen in front of her child so that she could drink a beer with her friends in peace.
That time is over.
* * * * * * *
When we arrived at the airport in Portland to check in for our flight back to Boston, we learned about a ninety-minute delay. A delay that would get us to take-off by around 12:15 am local time. A delay that put us at the well lit gate, waiting to go home, for nearly four hours with Bug and Squish at just about the time when they would normally be snuggling into bed.
Kindle to the rescue.
Bug got to watch a movie, and it made his night.
Squish (immune to movies) needed to be walked around the airport in his stroller until he fell asleep. I thought that it would only take about twenty minutes because it was well past his actual bedtime. I was wrong. Feet up, arms out, ready to sing to the ceiling, Squish was in party mode and wanted to experience every last second of the Portland airport.
Finally, my husband took over the duty of rolling Squish around to sleep, and I got to read a magazine next to Bug (who was quietly but thoroughly enjoying his movie).
* * * * *
I realize I have shared only the most basic aspects of the Kindle Fire HD, but basically it is really great. And I know that I will be taking it on work trips for myself.
(*Amazon provided me with a sample Kindle Fire HD 7" for review.*)