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3 days with the Kindle Fire: iPad killer or no?

When I saw the Kindle Fire announcement, I knew it was going to be a hit, and I pre-ordered one.  But how big of a hit is it actually, now that it is out?  Lets review my experience from a few days of use.
I have to give kudos to Amazon for making the Kindle Fire a personalized experience.  Right out of the box, it is already configured to connect to the Amazon account of the person who bought it.  (I'm not sure how that works if you are buying it as a present for somebody else...).

Is Kindle Fire an iPad killer?
The hardware is quite nice, albeit simplistic.  It feels solid in the hand, has a nice size, decent weight to it (so you don't think you are going to snap it in half).

The interface is nice, and reasonably intuitive.  You can tell it wants to be iPad-ish.  Lots of side-scrolling carousels make it easy to visually browse your apps, books, etc.  I did find it difficult to figure out how to add/remove something from the "favorites" carousel at first, but now it is not difficult.

The app store is both the Kindle Fire's strength and weakness.  Amazon makes it easy to buy and download things, but since it uses Amazon's app store exclusively, the vast majority of apps the world uses aren't available in Amazon's store (yet?), only on the Android market.  Yes, yes, the techies are saying "I'll ROOT the kindle and install what I want" -- and this is a viable option for us techno-geeks, although there are some negative side-effects (breaks video streaming), but the lay-person isn't going to be able to figure out this process or even comprehend the point of it.  My biggest complaint is that the one android app I uses is for BBC news, and its not available in Amazon's store (yet?).

The on-cloud/on-device design of the Kindle Fire is really quite nice, and I think Amazon will get a lot of other manufacturers who will "imitate" this behavior.  The Kindle Fire has limited on-device memory, but Amazon makes it easy to download and keep copies on the device any time you want.

Lack of 3g doesn't bother me like it bothers others.  I pretty much have WiFi wherever I am, and I can always make a wireless hotspot from my phone as needed.  IMHO, it is smart to drop the 3g from the device and make it cheaper and without a contract, just like Amazon did here.

No microphone on the Kindle Fire is a major #fail
Lack of camera doesn't bother me that much.  I HATE video conferencing.  I like audio conferencing though, but I am still out of luck, as the Kindle Fire has no microphone either.  That in my opinion was a stupid omission.  Having a microphone opens the use of Skype, google voice, audio recording apps, voice memos, etc. which would make it SO much more useful.  iPad shines in this area.

The audio and video quality on the device is quite nice.  No complaints, smooth video, good hi fidelity on the music.

Amazon Prime: One interesting note about this, you can't hook up this device to a TV and stream video, so the streaming video portion of Amazon Prime doesn't jump out at me yet.  I have a PS3, but haven't found a way to stream their video service to my TV, so I'll stick with Netflix for now.


Kindle Fire flash support is excellent,
its a shame that Adobe is killing it off
The web browser is actually pretty good.  I know Adobe is killing mobile flash, but the kindle fire with flash support really is impressive.  I have a couple very powerful flash sites I use, and the kindle fire easily let me use them all in the mobile browser.  Impressive.  Here is where Kindle shines over iPad: backward compatibility.  I respect Steve Jobs tremendously, but he WASN'T right about this issue.  He had a vision of the future, but forgot about all the rest of us stuck here in the "present."  Anyway, back to the kindle browser -- page scrolling is a little laggy, but overall the browsing experience is responsive and very usable, more so than my android phone.

Overall rating: 6.5/10

I think this device will cater to first-time tablet buyers, and is great if you want to buy all your books, videos and music from Amazon.  It is not obvious how you might use your own music (ripped from CDs or stolen via torrents).

No 3g? who cares.  No camera? no biggie.  No microphone? BAD BAD BAD.  Everything else is certainly acceptable.

So is it an iPad killer?  Definitely not.  Performance is behind the original iPad gen 1, in my opinion.  The size is convenient, but still surprisingly heavy.  I'm not convinced that the 7" size really is better than a 10" tablet.  Maybe time will tell, and we will see which one goes to meetings with me, but the lack of more screen resolution certainly doesn't help.  The selection of apps suffers because of not utilizing the Android market.    iPad still reigns in pretty much every category, but of course that comes at a price.

Kindle Fire is a really nice device, especially for the price.  First time tablet buyers should buy without hesitation.  Power users should save their money for an iPad.

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