Amazon Kindle Fire: Impressive, But It’s No iPad

For the past few days, I’ve been trying out Amazon’s Kindle Fire and I’ve generally enjoyed the experience. It’s not an iPad, but on its own terms, it provides great access to books, movies, music, and more at a very reasonable price. Amazon is clearly making this a platform for buying and consuming content it will sell, but given the selection and prices of Amazon, it may make sense for a lot of buyers.

The Kindle Fire, like its closest competitor the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet, has a 7-inch, 1024-by-600 pixel display and runs on a dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP 4 processor. It also runs a customized version of the 2.3 “Gingerbread” release of Google’s Android operating system. As such, it’s smaller and more pocketable than an iPad. It’s also much less expensive at just $199. But it is more limited, with only 8GB of storage, no wireless WAN option, and fewer applications. Unlike the similarly sized Nook, which costs $249 with 16GB of storage, it doesn’t have any expandability.

From a hardware standpoint, it’s a bit thicker than an iPad and in some respects even more minimal. There’s an on/off button on the bottom of the screen which is strange, but workable. Next to that is a microUSB port for charging, which I like a lot compared with the proprietary charge connections used on the iPad and many other tablets, and a headphone jack. All the buttons of the user interface are in software.

At 14 ounces, it’s lighter than an iPad 2, which weighs about 21 ounces. Of course, a 7-inch tablet is easier to carry around than a 10-inch one, though the trade-off is a smaller screen. Compared to the rest of the Kindles in the line which are based on e-ink screens, the Fire offers better resolution and color but at the cost of noticeably more weight and much less battery life.

What sets the Fire apart is its software, which is almost completely based around Amazon’s own services. When you start the machine, it shows the most recent things that the user has looked at, as if they were books stacked on a shelf. Also, a set of preloaded applications and a series of seven tabs, which take you to a newsstand, books, music, video, docs, apps, and the web, pop up. On almost all of these tabs users can choose from content already owned but not yet downloaded from the cloud, content that is stored on the device, or content accessible in the store. Almost everything defaults to the cloud, which often means there’s a short delay before the content is ready for use. It’s clearly part of a services strategy, a device on which content purchased through Amazon can be consumed.

Full Story Via PCMagazine