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.


Referenced links:

Video Review:

Amazon Kindle Fire info:

Kindle Fire Prime info:
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