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!