Amazon Kindle Fire Thoughts

This morning I got an early AM request from a good friend, Nancy, asking me my opinions about the newly announced Kindle Fire compared to the iPad.

First thought is the price at $199 is right on point! You can't get a decent Android based tablet for that price. Plus knowing that the device is coming from Amazon and it has the many media services adds that extra layer of sweet goodness. It also doesn't hurt that Amazon decided to launch with a 7 inch tablet instead of the Apple standard 10 inch. Having a tablet that is 7 inches wide diagonally makes the overall device easier to tote around . . . kind of like a kindle of today.

I watched a demo video (see link below) that showed the user interface and the general work flow of the Kindle Fire. From the demo video I can say for sure that Amazon has taken their time reviewing interaction models, current tablet user interfaces and wanted to make their tablet something new. The hardware visually is nice and the processing speed seems very good.

Along with the Kindle Fire purchase you get access to the dominate Kindle digital book store. Which you have access to from an iPad & other Android phones/tablets too. There is access to the Amazon "Android" App Store, Amazon Music library, Amazon Streaming Movies, Amazon Cloud Storage, Amazon shopping, Amazon this, Amazon that, and other Amazon services. Did I mention this was all about Amazon. Oh yeah, besides all the Amazon provided services, you'll also be able to use the device for email, reviewing documents and other day-to-day simple business needs.

Over all if you are already tied into the Amazon jungle, then you should pre-order your early Christmas present now. Because all of your already purchased content will be fully available via Amazon's Cloud service.

Here come the negatives...

The hardware is lacking a camera, rear or front facing. There isn't a microphone. There's no SD Card reader for expanding the limited 8GB of storage. You only get 8GB of storage on the device. The smallest amount the iPad offeres is 16GB. And there is only 512MB of memory on the device. That means you could run into memory constraints when truly using the device as a "multi-media" device. But from the video demo it looks like the overall performance is really good.

Oh oh oh . . . the other bad thing about the hardware, NO 3G OPTION! Really! No "true" whisper net!?!

Now when it comes to content (music, movies, eBooks, etc) if you have lots of content purchased by other means (iTunes, B&N Nook App, Zoon Market, etc) then you will be limited by what can be played or viewed on the device. Amazon has a small list of supported content formats that can be used on the device (see the Kindle Fire info link below). This has been one of my biggest issues with the Kindle since its initial launch. Especially with the lack of support of "standard" eBook formats.

Another negative I have towards the Kindle Fire is their lil taste of crack Amazon is dishing out with each device. One "Free" month of Amazon Prime. Now you can sample their movie streaming services, 2-day free shipping and more, but with restrictions (see Kindle Frie Prime link below). Then to keep those "features" you have to pony up the $80 a year (which I already pay). Also, being a Kindle owner and user of the Amazon Android App store, Amazon forces you to tie a credit card to their 1-click payment program. I can easily see a lot of credit card bills being racked up very quickly by the nieve (just like what happened to people on iPads/iPhones with in app purchases).

Don't get me wrong. I really like Amazon. I shop on the site for everything. I'm a Prime member and really love the "Free" 2-day shipping when the holidays roll around the near corner. But I do see this device as a new walled graden. Almost more then the iPad. Since Amazon will control the content that has gone into their App Store, they will for sure control what can go onto the Kindle Fire. I'm not sure we will see the apps for Netflix, Pandora, B&N Nook, iBooks, Google Books, Dropbox or any other competing services for this device.

Final thoughts . . .

Be aware of what you are getting into. This device is going to be a straight up AMAZON only show. If you are a user of services that might compete with what Amazon provides, I would bet you will NOT be able to use those services on this device (mostly cause I don't see them available in the current Amazon app store). So you might want to seek a 1st gen iPad to save some cash, but for sure with til after the Oct 4th, 2011 announcements coming from Apple about their next iOS devices.

But when it comes down to it . . . would I buy the Kindle Fire . . . YES I would!

I would buy this device for my mother, that doesn't have a computer and reads a bunch of books. Then I might be finally able to communicate with her digitally. I would also order one for myself or wife if we didn't already have a Kindle, iPads, Android Tablet & the new Windows 8 developer's tablet. Would I tell my good friend Nancy to get a Kindle Fire over an iPad? Yes I would, but with the list of caveats stated above.

-Ken

Referenced links:

Video Review:
http://www.viddler.com/explore/engadget/videos/3290/

Amazon Kindle Fire info:
http://goo.gl/o3oOT

Kindle Fire Prime info:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=200771470
4
1
Ed Fonseca's profile photoBrian Stringfellow's profile photoChris Porter's profile photoNancy Wiley's profile photo
13 comments
 
I have a Nexus One and a Nook Color(rooted CM7), both with 512MB memory. It's not constraining for 99% of things you'd want to do. Although the Fire may be a bit more bloated memory wise. Also, I've read the Fire allows side loading apps. If true, then you're not locked out of alternative stores and apps such as the Nook app and other music stores. I really hope they simply wont pull "an apple" and block alternative apps in their store. But... people should know this is not a general purpose Android tablet, like the Tab or Xoom.
 
Wow! Such great insight from all. Thanks for adding your thoughts and awareness about having 512MB of memory in your phones. I only mention the that it might be a possible issue cause of the potential graphics load the UI will consume. Then when you start adding music playing, web surfing, opening heavy media magazine and more, I can see the potential of sluggishness.
 
Of course there's no whispernet. It makes sense for ebooks and some light web browsing, but ostensibly you'll be using Amazon Cloud Player for music, Amazon Instant Video for...videos...and kindle books. That's a lot of data.
 
Nice write up Ken. I seriously might get one for my mom!
 
+Ed Fonseca, I could still see the whispernet features still working for eBooks and magazine subscriptions.

Overall It still would have been nice to have a 3G option at initial announcement.
 
Nice write up. I have a Kindle 3 and love it but I'm trying to decide whether it's worth moving to any of these products.

What I wonder is whether the Fire will work as a single device. IOW, I like the black & white e-ink of the regular Kindle. How will reading on the color screen compare? I'm not crazy about reading on my computer's LED screens...

Do people think they'll have a regular black & white Kindle plus the Fire or will the Fire be their only Kindle device? That's what I'm curious about.
 
If they included whispernet, that brings up a few problems. Increased price, for one. If they restricted it to only ebooks like you say, then that'd be additional engineering time. Furthermore they'd have yet another model in their lineup. This way they save up on cost in several areas and simplify the choices of models available. Maybe in the future, but for launch it makes sense.
 
@chess the black and white has been reduced in price.
 
Can't wait to see what enhancements the Android dev community will bring!
 
+Ken Simeon You're right on point when you say you would buy this for your mom. I think moms and wives are the exact demographic they're trying to reach. The price is right, the size is right (fits in a purse), it has the same Kindle name they already know, and all that extra techy goodness we all want doesn't really matter to them. My parents, for instance, just want some that is ultra-simple and lightweight that can be used for their books, music, online shopping, status updates, and maybe the occasional game. And once you get roped into that Amazon Prime world, it's hard to get out (not that that's a bad thing)!

The lack of 3G is my one missing feature. It's too easy to forget not to download an offline version once you become dependent on the cloud. Overall, I think it will be a success, because people like us will also buy it just so we can get a rooted $199 Android tablet.
Add a comment...