Your Amazon Kindle Fire needs accessories. It needs a screen protector to prevent scratching, a case to protect against drops, speakers to get the most out of Netflix and Amazon movies, and other add-ons. We're here to help you pick out the best!
The Best Case
There are plenty of slip cases available, but I prefer a work-through case solution so that the device is always protected and ready to use at a moment's notice. The best I've found so far is the Marware Lightweight MicroShell Folio Cover.
It's a form-fitting case that cradles the Kindle Fire in a polycarbonate shell that protects all of the corners and sides of the device while still allowing access to the power button, headphone jack, and charge/sync port on the bottom and the stereo speakers on the top. The fit is tight enough that the Fire will not come out of the case accidentally, and it won't shift or move around within the case.
The front of the device is protected by a thin flap that is rubberized on the outside, reinforced in the middle with polycarbonate, and softened on the inside by black felt. The cover is hinged in the middle so that it can be bent back and placed in a groove on the back of the case, creating a handy tabletop stand.
There's an elastic strap that can be used to hold the case closed or to hold the flap securely behind the back of the case so that it won't get in the way when you're using the Kindle Fire. The Marware MicroShell Folio Cover is my top choice because it's extremely lightweight, very durable, adds a minimal amount of bulk, and works just as well holding it in your hand or propping the Fire up at the perfect viewing angle on a desk or table. It's available in your choice of black, graphite, pink, or white for $29.99.
The Best Screen Protector
Screen protectors are a must. Even if you don't plan to use a case for your new Kindle Fire--if you accidentally drop your keys on it or suffer some other sort of mishap, one scratch will make you instantly regret not getting one! It's the cheapest sort of insurance you can get to ensure that you'll enjoy your Kindle Fire for the longest time possible, or at least until a successor is announced and you want to upgrade.
Marware offers two different screen protectors for the Kindle Fire, a clear version and an anti-glare version. My personal preference is for the anti-glare version, because it makes the Kindle Fire much more comfortable to use for long periods, especially when using it close to a lamp or under fluorescent lighting. Unlike the original eInk Kindle devices, where more light is better, the Kindle Fire can sometimes suffer from glare issues that make the screen hard to see and can cause eyestrain.
Installation can be somewhat tricky, but a little patience and a willingness to follow the included instructions will have you up and running in no time. The fit is just about perfect and the anti-glare version makes the screen easier to see in all lighting conditions and also does a good job of resisting fingerprints. The Marware screen protectors are also a good value at $10.99 for a two pack, which includes a screen cleaning cloth and an application card.
The Best Stylus
While a stylus isn't technically needed to use the Kindle Fire, it can enhance the experience. You can get more precise control over where you tap, making games easier and more fun to play. Looking words up in the dictionary is also easier, especially if you're reading with a small font size. And, of course, if you don't use your fingers to interact with the device, you won't be constantly wiping your fingerprints off of the screen. The best I've found so far is the AmazonBasics Stylus for Touchscreen Devices.
At $10.57, it's more expensive than many of the other styli compatible with capacitive displays--you can get a three pack of bargain styli for about $5--but the AmazonBasics version is of a much higher quality. It's long enough and wide enough to feel like a small pen, so it's natural and easy to hold. It's weighty enough to feel substantial, not flimsy, but also not so heavy that it's difficult to hold for long periods of time.
The metal at both ends is smooth, and the rubber tip is slightly larger than the metal, so no matter what angle you hold the stylus at, you don't have to worry about anything damaging the touchscreen on the Fire.
You're out of luck if you want a clip on your stylus though, because this model from AmazonBasics doesn't include one. That's the only potential downside, and it means that this stylus can roll if placed on a slightly uneven surface.
The Best Headphones
The stereo speakers on the Kindle Fire do a pretty good job of pumping out the tunes, but there are times when you want to listen privately, or simply want the best possible experience, and for that you need a great pair of headphones. I choose two options in this category, one high end and one low end, so that you can choose according to your personal budget.
On the high end, there's nothing better than a pair of iBeats Headphones (despite the name, they're earbuds). Yes, they're expensive, but they really do make an amazing difference in how your music sounds. I was a skeptic until I tried them, and now I can't imagine using anything else. There's also an unexpected bonus: iBeats are the first earbuds that actually stay in my ears without my having to (painfully!) keep pushing them back in every 15 seconds or so. The only drawback is that they isolate enough of the background noise around you that they could be considered a bit dangerous for situations in which you need to be extra-aware of your surroundings, such as jogging in the city, but that's obviously not a problem if you're using the Kindle Fire.
On the low end, just about any pair of headphones or earbuds will do, though I'm particularly fond of the Buds Surround-Sound Earbuds from Brookstone. They're still a little pricey at $30, but they sound a lot better than the freebies that probably came with your iPod or smartphone. They fit over the ear canal rather than in it, which is more comfortable for long listening sessions, and they have ear hooks that fit over the top of and behind the ear.
They stay in place much better than regular earbuds, but are still easy on the ears. Buds earbuds are also well made and very durable; I've been using the same pair for more than five years, with no frayed cords or any other signs of wear. Unless things have changed since I bought mine, the "protective travel case" is nothing more than a velveteen pouch. It does the job, but the description on the Brookstone site is somewhat misleading, in my opinion.
The Best Speaker
Sometimes you want to listen to the music you've purchased from Amazon and you don't want to use headphones, but you don't want to rely on the Kindle Fire's built-in stereo speakers either. That's where Gomadic's Amplified Speaker with Dual Charger comes in and steals the show. As you can see from the photo, it looks exactly like the stereo speakers of old (though on a smaller scale), but with a twist. It connects directly to the Kindle Fire (and other devices, thanks to interchangeable tips) to play your music the way you want it--nice and loud.
The sound quality is excellent, and if you want to crank up the volume it can be really loud too. The retro styling is pretty cool - you turn up the volume by turning the lighted volume knob on the front of the speaker. It's also a universal accessory, able to play directly from SD cards and USB drives, and it has a rechargeable internal battery for portability that also charges your Kindle Fire at the same time. It comes with Gomadic's dual charger as well, so that you can charge the speaker and your Kindle Fire at the same time. It's a great deal at $44.95, especially when you consider that the Dual Charger normally sells for $34.95 by itself.
The Best Charger and Battery Pack
The Kindle Fire does come with an AC adapter, but who wants to add yet another charger to their gear bag? The prize in this category goes to Gomadic for their Quad Charger and Pocket Charger. The Quad Charger is capable of charging up to four devices at once, allowing you to carry one charger that works with your mobile phone, iPod, iPad, Nintendo DS, GPS, Bluetooth headset, and just about any other mobile device that charges via USB.
The secret is in Gomadic's TipExchange technology, which allows you to customize your charging solution by purchasing additional tips for $5.95 each. Instead of buying a new charger for each device, use your existing Gomadic charger and just get another tip if necessary. In a pinch, you can even use the USB cable that came with your device, if you purchase the universal female USB tip.
If you need something even more portable, check out Gomadic's Pocket Charger ($49.95), which also works with TipExchange. It has a 3400 mAh rechargeable battery that can fully charge the Kindle Fire multiple times, or you can use it to top off the Kindle Fire's battery at any time. It recharges via USB or you can use one of Gomadic's Dual or Quad Chargers.
Finally, if you need the ultimate in mobile power, check out the Solar Power Charger, which is similar in concept but with a 200 mAh battery--just leave it on your dash or by a window during the day, and you'll always be able to charge your Kindle Fire--even if you're planning to spend the next six months hiking the Appalachian trail.
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