On Monday December 12, New York Times’ writer David Streitfeld quasi-reviewed the hot-selling Amazon Kindle Fire http://nyti.ms/ruVyId. Skewered might be a better description. I have had my own Amazon Kindle Fire for two and a half weeks and have not been disappointed but not completely thrilled either.
The reviews I have read invariably start with what’s wrong with the Kindle Fire. So I will do my best to first focus on the positive attributes before casting any stones. Bob Sacks of Precision Media Group has more of an even-keel view of the Kindle Fire that I share in large part.
‘It is not an iPad, nor does it pretend to be one. Most of the reviewers are making a mistake to compare them . . . The first and obvious attraction to the Fire is the price. At $199.00 it is half the cost of an iPad, so no comparison is necessary there. And most of those who buy a Fire will not have held an iPad and will therefore not be able to make a comparison . . . Is it a perfect device? No. Is it a fair compromise of price and services? Absolutely yes.’
What first attracted me to the Kindle was that it served as an e-reader with true web connectivity. Yes it is a mini-tablet and for me eminently more portable than an iPad. The back lighting on the Kindle Fire is very good and the book and periodical reading experience is also excellent – better than the original Kindle by far. Oh and did I mention it was $199.00? Price is a huge driver here and I think it is also true that many people who will try the Kindle Fire have not used an iPad so they do not have that experience to compare one versus the other.
The Kindle color tablet screen is vivid and for me not too small as some have suggested. There are some issues with content not being optimized for the Kindle size but those will be worked out in subsequent versions. Book and publication downloads are fast and easy. The battery life is more than adequate particularly if you are careful about turning off the Wi-Fi when it is not being used. The touch screen and navigation are intuitive and work well.
When it comes to things I don’t like about the Kindle Fire there are a number of those as well. The thing that first bothered me is that there is no way to get web access other than Wi-Fi. At present Amazon is not offering consumers a way to purchase 3G or 4G connectivity under subscription. The lack of a front and back facing camera is something that will be added later I suspect but again keep in mind that an iPad costs more than double the price of a Kindle Fire.
Over the air updates are slated to come in spring 2012 for the Kindle Fire. So I expect some improvements in the user experience. And when Amazon releases the Kindle Fire 2.0 (sometime) I expect many of the issues to be resolved – perhaps not at the $199 price however. I can see Amazon creating a vertical market for the Kindle Fire with different levels of features and services.
Amazon needed to get version 1.0 of the Kindle Fire on the market or it might have been too far behind to ever catch up. If you are a book lover the Kindle Fire offers a great reading experience and a so-so web browsing experience in a convenient and portable size. You can wait for the next version but it might be a while.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire is not an iPad – and that’s ok isn’t it?