November 22, 2011 2 Comments
So it’s been a few days since I picked up the Kindle Fire and I wanted to revisit some of the items I brought up in my initial review. Specifically, I want to review some of the enterprise “have nots” that I noted.
First and foremost, I stick my my original impression: the Kindle Fire is a good device for the price but its missing a couple a few things.
As a content device, specifically used for consuming books, movies, music and more it’s absolutely awesome and in some ways its even better than the iPad.
But to accomplish that feat they had to sacrifice a few things that affect a user like myself, and these sacrifices make it difficult for me to use the device to get work done. Now, I realize that this device isn’t intended to be a laptop, much less desktop, replacement. However, neither is the iPad but I find I can use the iPad as a consumption device but also use it to get work done when needed. As far as the Fire goes, there are three specific items I mentioned in my original review that are lacking. The good news is that I found a solution for one of them.
- They didn’t provide VPN access to get into corporate networks.
- They didn’t provide EAP to log into corporate WIFI networks.
- The didn’t provide a Mail client that could connect via ActiveSync to mail servers like Microsoft Exchange and SmarterMail. This means no push email, calendars, contacts, etc. and is a big deal for many users. Sure, you can use our web interface to access SmarterMail and get your messages, check your calendars and contacts and more, but you won’t be able to get push notifications if you don’t have a client that is compatible with that technology. Thankfully, this is the issue I found the solution for. More about that in a minute.
The reason Amazon isn’t providing an in-depth mail client on the Fire, and why you don’t see in-depth mail clients on other Android devices, is because it costs money to license ActiveSync, the premier synching technology from Microsoft. At SmarterTools we had to license the server side of this to include it in our mail server but clients that connect to servers also need to license it. As Android is a “free” OS, it’s difficult to include paid, licensed software as a part of providing it to device manufacturers. In addition, Amazon is pricing this device so low they’re losing a little bit of money on every device, further affecting their ability to justify adding an ActiveSync client.
Now to the “How do we solve the Mail issue” part of this blog.
There is a mail client called Moxier Mail that supports push for mail, calendars and contacts. It works well on at the Kindle Fire but it only supports one Exchange-type account (an account that uses ActiveSync). Also, your calendar and contacts are stored within Moxier Mail and not in the native Android contacts and calendar system which can be accessed by other applications on the tablet – something I wasn’t aware that Android allowed. Also, Moxier Mail is not available from the Amazon app store so it needs to be “side loaded” it from an Android phone after downloading it from the Android app store.
The second solution, and one that I like more, is using Enhanced Email which IS available in the Amazon app store. It is $9.99 but I was fortunate enough to get it for FREE as the Amazon “Application of the Day.” This program supports multiple Exchange accounts and also synchronizes calendars and contacts to the Android system itself. Doing this allowed me to open up the address book application that came with the Kindle Fire and “voila”: there were all my contacts. Now, the Kindle Fire doesn’t come with a calendar application to view the calendars stored within the Android System. However, for $5.99 I was able to download an app called CalenGoo from the Amazon app store. This allowed to connect the two accounts that were syncing via ActiveSync.
Sure, it cost a few bucks to get some additional functionality that is available for free on other tables, but those tend to be on the $500 tablet variety. My extra expense was only $15 on top of the $200 for the tablet, and now I own these applications and can use them on future devices.
So, all-in-all, $15 to solve one problem I had with the Kindle and I’m now managing my 4 mail accounts (two of which are using ActiveSync) against SmarterMail servers. This device continues to become more and more functional!