For almost a year people have been speculating that Amazon was going to produce a table that would rival the iPad. Rumors were flying about different technical specifications people were expecting, different price points, and rumored features and benefits. When the Kindle Fire was finally announced, Jeff Bezos, and Amazon shared what their vision was for the device, and what market it was intending to target. It was announced that technically the Fire would not match up to the iPad. Storage would be limited, no 3G, smaller screen, customized Android OS, no cameras, and no GPS. Many people wondered “Why bother?” Amazon has been clear in stating that what they wanted to provide users was not a computing platform, but instead a media consumption device. A way to consume your content that they hope you will have purchased through them. The Kindle Fire was a way to provide another channel for that content.
I was excited for this new device, and pre-ordered it. This would be the first item I would buy prior to an items release and without ever having touched or used it. I was excited for the new device, and continued to read reviews that pitted the Kindle against it competitors (iPad and Nook). I received my Kindle Fire the day of it’s official release thanks to overnight shipping via FedEx. When I opened the box and removed the device I noticed that the size of the screen was just as I had hoped, but the weight was slightly more than expected. The setup was easy, as I entered in my Amazon username and password, and connected to a WiFi network. Once connected the interface was very simple to use. As a media consumption device it broke out the functionality by group, such as books, videos, documents, and apps. I was able to view all of my already purchased content, or given a store that allowed me to purchase additional content. The device was simple to use, and for those things that might prove challenging, there is a user manual on the device. The device felt solid, and well constructed. The speakers had decent sound, but sounded much better through headphones. Battery life was as advertised. I have charged the device twice since I purchased, and the battery life each time was around 7 hours with wifi on the whole time, and doing a mixture of video, music, reading, games, and web browsing. If I had one complaint, it would be that I would like a physical volume control.
It is hard to not compare the iPad to the Kindle Fire. People have been comparing them since the Fire was announced. I own an iPad 2, and the Kindle Fire, and I like them both equally. My iPad has better screen real estate, is slightly more responsive, and has a familiar user interface for anyone that already owns an iOS device (iPod, iPhone, iPad). The Fire offers a fairly intuitive UI built on top of a tried and tested Android OS. They both have an app store, but the iTunes app store has a larger selection. The biggest difference I find is the cost. The iPad costs a minimum of $500 new, and the Fire costs $200. My thought on this is that the Fire is a much better value. Although I love my iPad, I would have had a hard time justifying spending the money on it over a Fire. You could buy a Fire, and $300 worth of content/accessories for the cost of the cheapest iPad.
I have talked to many people about the new Fire, and here is some of the feedback I have heard:
Comment: I wish it had 3G.
Response: Do you really need it? An iPad with 3g costs you more, and you have to pay for the service. Why not pay for tethering to your smart phone?
Comment: Hard to read in sunlight.
Response: Readability in a glare situation is the same between the iPad, and the Fire. If you want good readability get an e-ink Kindle.
Comment: Need more free content.
Response: Really? Do you want everything spoon fed to you? No company will ever give you everything you want for free. They wouldn’t be in business for very long if they did.
Comment: Limited Apps.
Response: Yes, the app store is fairly small, but it is growing quickly
In the end, the Kindle Fire, and the Apple iPad are both great devices, and do everything they are advertised to do. If I had money to spend on either device though, I would spend it on the Fire, and use the difference to purchase content, accessories, or something nice for my wife you puts up with me wanting all these “techy” devices.