I originally wasn’t going to pick up Amazon’s Kindle Fire, honest. No really, you can stop laughing now. I felt it was a first gen device and that I wasn’t willing to bet on it before it hit the streets. Then it became the 2nd hottest selling tablet and felt obliged as the guy a lot of people go to for gadget advice. I had to have it hands on to test.
And because of it’s availability I was able to run down to Target and pick mine up.
The Kindle Fire is their new 7” custom fit Android tablet with a single power button. They tried to go as minimal as possible but they went too far. Having the lack of volume and home buttons mean you have to wait for a time where you can get the interface to come up. And is VERY irritating especially while loading a movie. There isn’t an option to adjust the volume while it’s loading, so you have to wait until the movie has loaded and started playing.
The basic general interface is very simple, it’s a little confusing at first if you are use to Android or iOS, but once you get that every bit of content you have is on the top row slider and the shelves (row) below hold all the ones that you flag as ‘Favorite’ it’s a simple metaphor that I believe most people can get without any trouble.
There is like virtually NO SECURITY, once you setup up one click, your device becomes a Fire alright, one that burns a whole from your account into Amazon’s wallets. If you have children, DO NOT let them play with your Kindle Fire. You can put a password on the lock screen, but if you were to hand it over to your child they will be able to one click you into bankruptcy.
Browser is a disappointment, I was expecting it to be faster than it is. I was also not expecting it to stutter as much as it does while scrolling. And if you are going to know every website I visit and promise me speed, it better be FAST and it doesn’t feel that way at all.
However the biggest disappointment was when I purchased a Graphic Novel and it’s very poor interface. Here I’ve purchase ‘The Complete Batman Hush’ illustrated by Jim Lee. He’s one of my favorite artists and I was anxious to stare at the lines and forms, but you can’t zoom in on the art work. Even worse on a two page spread with no text offers no way to look at the detail, and due to the lack of being able to rotate the device to get the two page spread across the screen make you feel like they didn’t really think this through.
Those problems aside, most of which can be fixed with software updates (ahem first gen device problems) all in all the device IS one of the best Android tablets I’ve gotten my hands on. And while I have the Android Transformer I’ve found myself using the Kindle Fire more often than the Transformer.
Getting access to your content is very easy, simple scroll of the content bar, or jump to the content you want to consume. Newsstand, Books, Music Video, Docs, Apps, Web grace the top row, either along side or under the search bar depending on the devices orientation.
Amazon has recently been able to get me to purchase apps by offering games and programs at $0.10, yes that’s 10 cents. Needless to say I’ve purchased several apps due to the low pricing. The great part is that most of these apps are ones I already own on iOS so it feels like a, cross platform tax.
All in all the Amazon Kindle Fire is a great First Gen device, and I am going to keep it. At first it was just for testing, but I did fall in love with it and it has replaced my iOS device for when I end the day. It has it’s short comings and it isn’t for everyone. Would I use it as my only device? Not if I had a choice. It really is a large version of a phone. Where the iPad gives you additional real estate, the Fire scales up to make some things easier to touch, ironically not in all cases. I do not plan on using it for email or surfing, which is kind of nice, I don’t have email notifications interrupting me while i’m reading, instead they wait until morning.
So should you get the Kindle Fire? If you are invested in the Amazon ecosystem it’s a sure win to access your content. As I mentioned it is the best working Android experience I’ve come across. If you are looking for a mini iPad, this isn’t it. It’s more competing with the new Nook, but with more options for the content. The nice thing about buying content from Amazon is that you can access it from just about any computer, and even some TVs and Bluray/DVD players have Amazon apps.
The additional bonus of getting Amazon Prime access for a month is like a drug dealer giving your first hit for free. With Amazon Prime you get access to the ‘Prime’ Library collection from the Amazon VOD and 2-Day shipping free. And while I do not order a whole lot , when I do it usually is from Amazon, the idea that I get the 2-Day shipping free is a nice tease for me to WANT to order something to try it out, but I am fighting the urge to dance that dance. It does make me wonder if I should cancel Netflix and go with Amazon Prime instead.
You can not access the Android Market without hacking it, but I personally feel safer buying the apps from Amazon App Store than I do the Android Market. I like that someone has vetted the app for approval and that it does what it says it’s going to do.
I chalk it up for a win. Keeping in mind that I’m hearing that it costs $205 and they sell it at $199 and they squeeze every penny they could out of that $205. Where it’s reported that it costs $325 per unit to build an iPad and you get a lot more for that extra money in hardware but it comes at the entry level cost of $499.
If you can only have one tablet, save up and get an iPad. If you have the luxury of having a couple of devices, the Kindle Fire makes a nice accessory. Since I use my iPad for work, I can use the Fire for entertainment, it’s light and the battery has a decent life. I was able to stream three movies on one charge from the Amazon Prime Library.
- Established Eco system
- Outlets on several TV
- Back pocket, or jacket pocket size
- Lighter than an iPad
- Solid build, nice grip
- Good personal experience
- Good battery life
- Slowish, but not if you’ve never known a good type
- Too simple hardware design, no buttons except for power
- Strange Interface maybe once you get use to it
- Limitations on how many devices books can be loaded on
- Device doesn’t have accessories (yet)
- Heavy compared to e-ink for reading
- Bad graphic novel implementation, even worse experience getting it to Android Tablet
- Low level stereo speakers get lost in a room, hard to share, more of a pass around to share