Kindle Fire

Amazon's Kindle Fire.

By Randy Metcalf

The top item bought on, and one of the most popular items this year is the Kindle Fire, a seven-inch color screen tablet. With it, one can play movies, games, music, and read books and magazines all from the palm of their hand. But is it really worth the $200 price tag?

I am an Apply guy. The intuitiveness of the iPad and iPhone along with the seamless responsiveness of Apple's products was obviously on my mind as I took a closer look at the Fire.

My first thoughts were that I didn't like the Fire. Who is Amazon kidding? It didn't even come close to the iPad with looks, interface and intuitiveness. But then, I looked at it more.

At first, the Fire seemed to be a little heavy with a small screen, but after using it a little more, I was pleasantly surprised with the size of the tablet. It was more portable than I had originally thought.

The Fire's physical design is solid. It doesn't feel cheap, or that it might break if I dropped it off the coffee table. I didn't try and break mine - so I don't know if it will break or not, you are on your own for that test.

The Fire connects to Amazon's cloud service via Wi-Fi, and you can sync your device through Wi-Fi or through a mini-USB cord. You also charge the device through the same port.

The fact that you had to be on a Wi-Fi network to do anything on it was a little bothering. I am used to being able to use a 3G network to get my content on the go. With the Fire, you will need to load what you can onto it prior to road trips, unless you have a cellphone that you can turn into a Wi-Fi hotspot. With 8GB of storage on the Fire, Amazon doesn't expect its users to do much of that. Their cloud service is included, and you have unlimited space, as long as your movies, shows and music are all purchased on With that, you need to have Wi-Fi access to listen, read or watch the stuff you have on your cloud.

When you are on a Wi-Fi network, the movie and television streaming is seamless. The picture quality is really good, even on slow internet connections.

One aspect of the physical design that I didn't like was the location of the power button. Unless you have a case for your Fire that puts a buffer between the palm of your hand and the button when holding the Fire in landscape mode, you will most likely accidentally bump it and turn the device off. Also, coming from using Apple products, I wished for a physical home button and physical volume buttons.

While using the Fire, you have to access the volume through a tab system which seemed to be cumbersome, and even more so when the Fire wasn't open and on.

The interface on the Fire was missing something. It simply seemed choppy to me. When you go to your Books tab and then want to go to your Newsstand tab, you have to press the Back button or the home button, and then press the respective button.

If Amazon integrates a multi-tasking aspect into the operating system or a frames-type tab menu, this would rectify this issue.

The battery life on the Fire is awesome. I never felt that I needed to recharge it, or to check what the power level was at. The specifics say the Fire has eight hours of continuous reading or seven and a half hours of video playback, with wireless off. It fully charges in about four hours.

The Fire has an accelerometer, so you will be able to play some of the games where you turn the tablet for steering. This is also used to automatically to rotate your books and movies depending on which way you are holding the Fire.

One aspect that really stood out as plus for the Fire is that you can look at websites with Flash. Unlike the iPad, which unless you hack (called jailbreaking) your iPad, you can't look at Flash-based websites. With the Fire you can. I was pleasantly surprised and really felt this was a very strong point for the Fire.

The price also stood out to me. For $200, this is a fantastic device. I would expect to see something like the Fire for $350-$400. With iPads starting at $500, and going up to $829, this is a steal.

If you want a tablet that can stream movies and read books on a larger screen than a Touch but don't need the hundreds of thousands of apps on the Apple network, the Fire is wonderful. If you like apps that Apple has and the interface that Apple has built around its products, you should probably stick within Apple.

Currently, Amazon has more than 10,000 apps for the Fire, including mail client apps, journals, family planners, financial advisory apps, and of course, Angry Birds.

If you have $200, and would like a nice solid tablet, but don't need too many extras, go for the Kindle Fire.



(2) comments


I'm pretty sure you can't view flash on a iPad even if its jailbroken. Flash also has been discontinued by Adobe for ALL portable devices. Plus its not that big a deal either not having it, in fact its a huge benefit... as you don't get the stupid websites that are full of flash bogging your tablet down and draining its battery.

There are tons of apps for websites with videos that you can use. The iPad is FAR superior to the Kindle.


Amazons app store is also very lame. Its even bad compared to Googles own Android Market. Plus they force you to use only Amazon, which makes it all the worse. They keep breaking any Kindle Jailbreak that is put out. Eventually peope will grow tired of this and give up on it, or return their Kindles.

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