Since Amazon released the original Kindle in 2007, there has been a lot of excitement surrounding their e-readers and an astounding amount of worldwide sales to go with it. Amazon has since upped the ante by releasing their first tablet, the Kindle Fire, at the end of 2011 to compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy, Motorola Xoom and RIM's Blackberry Playbook, not to mention the market dominating Apple iPad. So does it offer you what its competitors do?
First and foremost, Iíd like to point out that the device on a whole is a fantastic product when you consider all of its features and the astounding price of just $199. It immediately stands out from the crowd with the iPad 2 for example starting at $430. It however does not come complete with all the features that the higher end tablets do. Now weíll take a look at the Kindle Fire specifications to see how it holds up.
The Kindle Fire looks and feels great! Despite its cheap price, it defies the expectation of looking or feeling cheap. Itís not the lightest tablet available, but I certainly wouldnít call it heavy and it is easily held in one hand for long periods of time. It has a high-resolution multi-touch 7 inch screen with a wide viewing angle. Given its size itís great for reading, browsing and some apps, but movies and games are probably more trilling on larger devices.
The Kindle Fire uses the TI OMAP 4 dual-core processor so operates at a very competent speed (1 GHz). It runs on a customized version of Android 2.3 OS which many of us are already familiar with. Put these two together and you have one very efficient machine. If it wasnít already fast enough, Amazon have ingeniously devised a new web browser exclusively for the Kindle Fire which has allowed for seamless exploring on the internet. They call it Amazon Silk. Through the built-in Wi-Fi, Silk does all the loading on Amazonís remote servers so that your device doesnít have to. This means not only lightning web browser speeds but longer battery life as well.
On that note, itís worth mentioning that Amazon has said you can expect 8 hours of continuous reading and 7.5 hours of videos before your battery requires charging. I found this to be pretty spot on. In comparison this falls a little short of the iPadís battery life by 2 hours. The Kindle Fire also falls short when it comes to memory. With only one option in the range and having 8GB of storage, 6GB of which is usable, there isnít a lot of space to keep an abundance of movies and songs etc. With the competing 16, 32 and 64 GB iPad options, this may be something we can expect to be addressed in later versions of Fire. My only other qualm with its performance is that apps arenít quite as fast on the Fire as they are on other devices in the higher value range of the market. To be fare though, the internet browsing experience is compensation enough.
Additional Features & Benefits:
While iTunes is tough to beat, the Kindle Fire has a couple of tricks up its sleeve. As Kindle products run on the Android system, users have access to the Google Android App Market. They also have access to Amazonís Appstore which offers over 20 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books, and thousands of popular apps and games, including Netflix, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and more.
To top it all off, I introduce Amazon Prime. A new platform that runs on Kindle products where by members receive many benefits such as the ability to borrow an e-book each month for free, and unlimited streaming of over 10,000 movies and TV shows at no extra cost. It also has a feature called Amazon Whispersync which allows you to start streaming a movie on your Kindle Fire, then resume from where you left off on your TV. New buyers of the Kindle Fire get 1 month free membership to experience Amazon Prime.
What the tablet is missing compared to its competitors is the ability to connect to the 3G network. The Kindle Fire only has Wi-Fi capability which is a set-back if you are without a decent connection. It also is missing a camera; however the Fire is not intended for the same functions as other tablets so I fell this may be harsh criticism.
In summary; Amazon has not intended to go beyond the other tablets on the market with their Kindle Fire, far from it in fact. They have instead come up with a brilliant alternative catering for those with a need for a device somewhere between a basic e-reader and an iPad. They have very successfully created a middle ground for those on a budget or someone looking for a simple device which will perform their basic needs with efficiency. And all at the generous price of $199.
Following my review of the Kindle Fire, I would happily recommend the device to anyone. It is an excellent tablet to use for movies, music, TV, books, magazines, apps, games and browsing, and a strong adversary for the other tablets especially with upgrades and later versions to come. For only $199, why wouldnít you want one!