Amazon's iPad Killer? Kindle Fire Reviewed

By Michael Oryl on November 23, 2011, 9:29 PM

Amazon sent a wave crashing through the mobile industry when it announced that its Android based tablet, the Kindle Fire, would land with a price of $199. Its custom UI looked good, Amazon promised tons of available apps and media content, and it seemed poised to steal some thunder from even Apple's vaunted iPad 2, which costs more than twice as much.

And now it's here. Do the expectations mesh with the reality of the device, now that we've been using it? Yes and no. It's still likely the best value in a tablet on the market, and will make tablet computing accessible to many people that either couldn't afford Apple's iPads or couldn't tolerate Android Honeycomb based tablets.

While somewhat restricted compared to other Android tablets when it comes to apps and content providers, nobody can argue that Amazon doesn't provide a great self-contained ecosystem.

Amazon's streaming services, books and other "print" media offerings, and Appstore - all backed by its cloud storage - give users plenty of opportunities to find stuff to purchase and pass the hours with. Read on as we take a look at the Kindle Fire in detail.

Read the complete review.

User Comments: 15

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AnonymousSurfer AnonymousSurfer said:

People need to stop trying to re-invent the old and come up with something new.

Guest said:

I got one for my wife and it does all she needs: email, reading PDFs and books, and a few media things. She doesn't need all the bells and whistles of the iPad, and she's not much of an Apple fan to begin with.

While I wouldn't call it an iPad killer, it was the better buy for us. If an iPad is akin to a smartphone, then you could say the Kindle Fire is like a media-centered feature phone.

Guest said:

I've got a 1st-gen iPad and although I've found certain uses for it, it's not replaced any of my PCs or smartphone for that matter. In spite of that I pre-ordered the Kindle Fire because it's just $200, it's got a lot of streaming content available, the 7-inch form factor is very usable for web browsing, and I'm sure it'll be getting a ton of support from developers eventually.

The only drawback I see is that the hardware already looks dated by current tablet's standards and that just means a slightly faster and slimmer version is months away.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

I had cancelled my order on this (aka e-reader) no really a fully tablet. More like dumb terminal so Amazon can push items it peddles at you to buy. I am not in for that. I've now own an tested out 26 Android Tablets including Smart Phones along with some e-readers. For most part the price of the Kindle e-reader Fire was the marketing lure for most. If everyone had waited you could have got some onto some real hot short-term deals on something like the RIM Blackberry Tablet OS Playbook for the same price and some DELL Streak 7 floating around. Now that Toshiba Thrive has dropped in price long with Lenovo K1 the demand for 10.1" tablet should pickup again. Lenovo A1 matches the the price of the Kindle e-reader Fire but offers you much more.

Android and Apple needs some improvements to get more to jump on this bandwagon otherwise Microsoft tablets will knock them out of the water with Windows 8 Tablet OS whenever that comes later in 2012.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think the lack of expandable storage might turn out to be a real dealbreaker... surely they could have just spent and charged an extra $10 for a micro SD slot? I have no plans to buy a tablet, but this just appears to be a colour e-reader with an OS.

Guest said:

Ok, when is the tech media going to stop using buzz words all the time?

There is no ipad killer, and there never will, nobody is trying to make an ipad killer, that's not the point.

Every manufacturer, right or wrong is trying to get a suitable product that can sell, end of the story, the terms ipad/iphone killer are only meant to attract readers. I have read reviews about every single tablet or smartphone with the question: is it the ipad/iphone killer? like the only way to succeed is to kill the iphone/ipad.

Get a grip already.

ikesmasher said:

I still think the lenovo ideapad A1 beats this.

Guest said:

Where do we get the three free books? This is the first I've heard of that.

And I use a great instant-messaging app on the Kindle Fire. I use it to stay logged into facebook chat, aim, and skype simultaneously. It works perfectly- I can change friend's names, switch them into different groups, and AIM's texting feature works perfectly- I text all the time through it, for free! The only issue with that is if I turn off the screen, it shuts off wi-fi after a few minutes. They need to change that, so ridiculously annoying.

Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

@Guest, buzzwords aside, the best reason everyone keeps mentioning the iPad alongside every major tablet launch is because Apple keeps dominating the market.

There's no question about it, Android has been unable to make a dent on their tablet sales -- the Kindle Fire is seen as the iPad's biggest threat yet because of its lower price point and ecosystem.

Guest said:

Hi Julio,

Take your point on comparison with iPad.

Just think you are wrong with it being a competitor to the iPad.

It's a bit like saying a Toyota Corolla (or whatever you call them in the USA) is a direct competitor to a Mercedes S class. Both cars sure - but different price points, different inclusions and very different prices. But sure - you can compare them.

The article got it right when it said that a new group of people would enter the tablet market, based on price.

My betting is that Apple are sweating that people will love the Kindle experience, and then want more - and upgrade to a later iteration on the iPad! Or, just like Mercedes who offer small cheap consumer cars (and you pay a bit extra for the name!), Apple will offer a downsized iPad.

The Aussie

Guest said:

I thought this was a pretty good review. Too many reviewers just express their obvious displeasure over not being able to buy an iPad equivalent for $200. While I can see comparing the Kindle Fire to a Nook or other book readers, it really doesn't make sense to compare it to the iPad or any comparable tablet PC.

As for me, I don't own an iPad and don't particularly want to. When traveling, I always take a Kindle and try to avoid lugging anything bigger or heavier. The Kindle Fire has some features that make it ideal for my purposes.

1) It's small and lightweight.

2) It's an excellent book reader. Figures that don't render well on my Kindle 2 look great on my Fire.

2) Accessing my personal email with the built-in app works fine.

3) The browser works fine, much better than the experimental one used in earlier Kindles.

4) With a few apps installed, I can read my pdf files, play my music and use my language instruction mp3 files and videos.

5) A wide range of inexpensive apps are already available, and I'm sure that many more will be available in the future.

6) Adding new content of any kind is really easy.

The software does have a few quirks. Right now, the lack of any capability to configure or eliminate the carousel is pretty annoying, but Amazon has a history of making incremental improvements.


ikesmasher said:

Um, it IS a competitor to the ipad, as it is the only other tablet that is really pretty well.

Guest said:

It's a vending machine disguised as a tablet. Amazon got it right.

The tech sector was focused of the iPod...AAPL moved to the iPhone.

The tech sector was focused of the iPhone...AAPL moved to the iPad.

The tech sector was focused of the iPad...AAPL moved to the Next big thing...!!

Guest said:

So basically, you haven't tried. Thanks for nothing.

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