Last Christmas I bought my wife a brand new third-gen Kindle (now labeled by Amazon as the Kindle Keyboard). Since then Amazon has created, and now launched, their latest version of the eReader: the Kindle Fire. Needless to say, we both suffered a bit of buyer’s remorse (“if we only would have waited a little bit longer!”).
Sometimes, the best remedy for that particular sense of regret is the product’s reviews:
David Pogue, New York Times
Saying the Kindle Fire is like an iPad for just $200 is a dangerous comparison. Amazon’s budget-priced tablet does not have the “polish or speed” of Apple’s touchscreen tablet.
The Fire deserves to be a disruptive, gigantic force — it’s a cross between a Kindle and an iPad; a more compact Internet and video viewer at a great price! But at the moment, it needs a lot more polish.
Animations are sluggish and jerky — even the page turns that you’d think would be the pride of the Kindle team. Taps sometimes don’t register. There are no progress or ‘wait’ indicators, so you frequently don’t know if the machine has even registered your touch commands. The momentum of the animations hasn’t been calculated right, so the whole thing feels ornery.
Buyers might pick the Kindle Fire over the new $250 Nook from Barnes & Noble because of Amazon’s selection of content, as well as its Whispersync technology and cross-platform support. Customers who buy Amazon’s $80-per-year Prime membership also have access to unlimited streaming of 13,000 movies and TV shows, along with free two-day shipping on purchases.
But for users who are solely looking for an e-reader, Amazon’s e-ink-based Kindles (which start at just $79) are no-brainers. As a full-fledged multimedia tablet, the Kindle Fire falls short.
Jon Phillips, Wired
iPad killer? No, the Kindle Fire is not. And it doesn’t even match the iPad in web browsing – the one area in which its hardware should have sufficient performance to compete. But the press has definitely supercharged Amazon’s product with a level of hype and enthusiasm that would make Apple proud.
Once you get past the “insanely low price” of the Amazon Kindle Fire, it just doesn’t live up to the hype. Its 7-inch screen is too small for most tablet activities, its performance can lag, and it lacks 3G data connectivity and a slot for removable storage.
The main strength of the Kindle Fire is it’s a “pretty good bargain” for anyone who is reluctant to buy a touchscreen tablet, allowing the device to enter an “impulse-buy threshold” that Apple’s iPad cannot touch with its current $499 entry price.
Potential buyers should, at the very least, wait for a second-generation Kindle Fire – or just upgrade to Apple’s iPad. Plus, the current iPad 2 will be even cheaper once Apple launches a third-generation iPad (expected to debut in early 2012).
Larry Dignan, ZDNet
The Kindle Fire does a sufficient job of hiding the “warts” of the Google Android mobile operating system; but Amazon’s tablet is just about getting users to buy more content direct from the online retailer.
The new tablet requires that users live in “Amazon’s world,” a closed system that even prevents users from visiting the regular Android Market on the Kindle Fire’s Web browser. When attempting to access the traditional Android Market, users are then sent to Amazon’s own proprietary Appstore, which allows the retailer to “ensure app quality.”
More than anything, the Kindle Fire is an “impulse purchase device,” prompting users to buy an Amazon prime subscription, extra storage in the Amazon Cloud service, and even buy physical goods and have them shipped to your home.
In that respect, the device will be profitable for Amazon (even though the company is believed to be selling its tablet at a loss). The Kindle Fire is like an “e-commerce kiosk” that Amazon is putting in the hands of its customers, making the Amazon experience a platform unto itself.
However, the Fire isn’t necessarily an iPad killer. In fact, it’s likely that there will be folks that will own an iPad and a Kindle Fire.
If anything the Amazon and Apple approaches will occupy the low and high ends of the tablet equation, respectively, and crush everything caught in the middle.