The Amazon Kindle Fire: Benchmarked, Tested, And Reviewed

Awesome For Amazon Addicts

Context. That's really important when you're looking at the Kindle Fire. Is it an iPad killer? No, but it really wasn't trying to be.

In many ways, the Fire still an iPad competitor, but only because both devices are technically tablets. It's only natural that you'd look at both as contenders in the same ring. In reality, though, the choice is more akin to comparing a truck to a sedan. Both are automotive vehicles, but each has its different niche.

Without detracting from Apple's innovation, the iPad works better as a pseudo-netbook replacement. If you want to browse the Web, check email, play some games, listen to music, and type notes without the hassle of flipping out a keyboard, the iPad works great.

Amazon is really trying to push a different kind of product. While other companies sell their own branded hardware, Amazon is, first and foremost, a merchant. It's in the business of selling products made by others, which is why the Fire is more of a front-end that enables you to consume more music, video, and e-books (from Amazon, of course).

Tablet Pricing
8 GB
16 GB
32 GB
64 GB
Apple iPad 2 (Wi-Fi)
-
$499
$599
$699
Amazon Kindle Fire (Wi-Fi)
$199
-
-
-
Asus Eee Pad Transformer (Wi-Fi)
-
$399
$469
-
Motorola Xoom (Wi-Fi)-
-
$499-
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Wi-Fi)
-
$499
$599
-


In a sea of tablet options, the Fire's biggest advantage is its low price tag. Interestingly, Amazon is basically breaking even on its manufacturing costs by selling at $199 (source: iSuppli), but that's probably a good thing for the company. Amazon is following in the path paved by Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. Sell the console cheap and make money on the stuff your users buy for it.

If you're an addict for Amazon's various offerings, this tablet is going to be an easy favorite. But don't expect the same experience you'd get from an iPad 2 or Eee Pad Transformer. It's not simply a $200 version of those pricier products. If that's the way you approach tablet shopping, the Kindle Fire's allure will wear off quickly and you'll end up with a piece of technology that sits next to your computer collecting dust.

Amazon's first real tablet is far from completely polished. Battery life is nothing to write home about, and input lag is higher than what we've seen from other tablets. Transfer speeds over USB are downright poor, and there are restrictions on charging while connected to a system. Furthermore, the display's color gamut is barely worth mentioning, and the cloud acceleration aspect of Amazon Silk could use some tuning.

The Kindle Fire gets points for being an incredibly durable tablet. Braver souls have already tried scratching the screen with their keys and dropping the device from two or three feet without a scratch (check out the BlogKindle Youtube videos).

To be fair, though, we've found plenty to criticize on every tablet that has passed through our lab. But if you're willing to opt in to an Amazon's Prime membership or eager to purchase a number of e-books, this could be the tablet for which you've been waiting. For everyone else, we have a review coming up on a tablet that hits a great price point and doesn't sacrifice as many features. Keep an eye out for that!

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33 comments
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    Top Comments
  • acku
    50459 said:
    How do I win a Radeon 6990?


    Ummm.... what? :heink: This is a Kindle Fire review.....

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    18
  • Other Comments
  • JeTJL
    Should of done other comparisons with Tablets around the Kindles Price range like the Coby Kyros. I personally don't have either the Kyros or the Kindle Fire. But recently My sister bought it and she is thoroughly enjoying it. I received a Ipad2 though because of the Academy at my School that I belong to and I'm quite pleased with it, even though I'm a big android fan.
    -3
  • Anonymous
    How do I win a Radeon 6990?
    -17
  • acku
    50459 said:
    How do I win a Radeon 6990?


    Ummm.... what? :heink: This is a Kindle Fire review.....

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    18
  • Goldengoose
    ackuUmmm.... what? This is a Kindle Fire review.....Cheers,Andrew KuTomsHardware.com

    Just give him the 6990, the poor fellow just wants to play BF3.
    6
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    ackuUmmm.... what? This is a Kindle Fire review.....Cheers,Andrew KuTomsHardware.com


    Ever heard of bots? There're tons of those on Tom's nowadays.

    GoldengooseJust give him the 6990, the poor fellow just wants to play BF3.


    A GPU of a 560 Ti level maxes it out @ 1080p, no need for a 6990.

    Back to topic...

    Quote:
    Notably, it's missing a slew of features, including a GPS, front- and rear-facing cameras, and a microphone.


    ROFL, and who needs a tablet without all that? That's right, Amazon fanboys. That company is an utter POS that is not unlike Apple, designing underpowered useless products and delivering them as "innovative". The only "innovative" thing here is a complete dependency on the company's online services... oops, nevermind, Apple did it first :kaola:
    -8
  • donovands
    Wait, what? Is there such a thing as an Amazon fanboy?
    7
  • donovands
    The iPad took a part of the market away from the PC, in the sense that there are folks out there who don't need the full functionality of a PC and the media consumption tablet gave them a device more suited for their needs. The same thing is happening here, if not as dramatically. The Fire may not have all the functionality of an iPad, but there's a lot of folks out there that will get the Fire *instead* of the iPad because it provides all the functionality they need. It isn't an iPad killer. But it *is* going to hurt iPad sales.
    5
  • SneakySnake
    I think it's hilarious how the best selling droid tab this year is completely closed off, limited, and controlled. Sounds familiar doesn't it :P

    And do not say "ya, but you can root it!!!". That's nice, people can jailbreak their iPads. You cannot include rooting and jailbreaking when you talk about something being open
    1
  • acku
    __-_-_-__"That rules out video conferencing using Skype or mapping out directions to the bar across town."There are some new devices called WEBCAM and bluetooth or usb GPS that would enable that. you might want to check this huge innovation. -.-


    The Fire doesn't have either of those things. Not going to work. You should check out the specs of the Fire first.
    2
  • BlackHawk91
    Actually this tablet surprised me, I didn't expect that much from the kindle fire.
    1
  • acku
    BlackHawk91Actually this tablet surprised me, I didn't expect that much from the kindle fire.

    Oh yeah? You bought a Fire?

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    4
  • eklipz330
    i was playing with my classmate's kindle fire yesterday, an amazing little device. despite all the negative reviews ive been reading, it just showed me that we've been seriously spoiled with some amazing technology.... it's really an amazing piece of tech
    1
  • jla0
    At that price ($199), why not buy a 16GB Playbook? At least it's a "real" full featured tablet. The QNX OS rocks too. Anyone who's tried it loves the interface compared to an Android tablet...

    This article is a big fail.. they should have included it to compare.

    Just sayin...
    -6
  • josh jones
    Like the author implied, the fire will make a great Trojan for amazon store:)
    -3
  • JeTJL
    josh jonesLike the author implied, the fire will make a great Trojan for amazon store


    You can say the same thing with the Ipad and the Itunes store. Except for the fact that Amazon isn't making money with just selling the Kindle Fire alone.

    Still though I like both the Ipad and Kindle Fire.
    1
  • quantumrand
    Is the A5's RAM really clocked at 1066MHz, or is it actually 533MHz and 1066 after the DDR conversion? It's a little unfair to list it after the DDR conversion and the others before.

    Also, I want to elaborate on the GPU. The OMAP 4430's SGX540 runs at 300MHz, not 200MHz, so those figures are a little misleading.
    0
  • eddieroolz
    A very informative review. I was interested in the Kindle Fire for a while for its super-cheap price tag, but didn't pull the trigger on it because I don't really need a tablet.

    It seems like a good product from Amazon, but for my expected use, it isn't sufficient. I mainly use my iPod touch to read comics in JPEG format, so not being able to install many apps + having limited space really hurts.
    1
  • acku
    eddieroolzA very informative review. I was interested in the Kindle Fire for a while for its super-cheap price tag, but didn't pull the trigger on it because I don't really need a tablet.It seems like a good product from Amazon, but for my expected use, it isn't sufficient. I mainly use my iPod touch to read comics in JPEG format, so not being able to install many apps + having limited space really hurts.


    Glad you liked it! Most of the time I cringe when the table discussion turns to tablets. A lot of tech reviewers aren't even really technies. They come from a Communication background, which is why the Fire is always pitted in a iPad 2 fight. Plus, the investors want the Apple fight cause they only see things in terms of units sold.

    The engineers and consumers want a comparison based on features and usability. And the executives and PR people want a comparison based on demographics.

    The truth lies somewhere in the middle. For me, this tablet is very attractive, but then again, I like amazon. If you're not part of that crowd, it's a harder purchase to justify in the long run.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    1
  • Anonymous
    I pruchased on, love it! no need to root. Just sideloading is all you need. The interface is easy, quick, fun. My mom loves it and is getting one for xmas. My phone has a camera plus who uses video conferencing apps anyways? I'd rather wait for a Dick Tracy watch.
    1
  • kartu
    Good review, but not clear why Xoom makes it into review, while much more popular Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn't
    0