First off, I have not had my hands on a Kindle Fire. On the other hand, I’ve not had them on an iPad, either. On the gripping hand (bonus points to those who recognize that reference), I feel obligated to post something about it now that the first units have been in the early adopters’ hands (gripping or otherwise) for a whole day.
The first professional review I saw was at PCWorld online, rather unpromisingly entitled “Amazon Kindle Fire Misfires.” Upon reading the review, I think the title is overly pessimistic relative to the actual contents. The last couple paragraphs summarize things as:
The Kindle Fire: Bottom Line
The Amazon Kindle Fire makes trade-offs to achieve a $200 price. It’s easy to dismiss some of the compromises and weaknesses of the Kindle Fire as the sacrifices necessary to achieve a price point, but the reality is that the Fire may not meet your expectations if you’re looking for an Apple iPad 2-like tablet.
For those people who go in knowing what they’re getting, and who want an inexpensive tablet that capably–though not spectacularly–handles their Amazon books, music, and video, the Kindle Fire’s limitations may be acceptable. However, the Fire falls far short of providing a full and satisfying tablet experience.
I think the reviewer made the same mistake many did when comparing the Kindle e-book readers to the Apple iPad: the idea that the two devices were direct competitors. I assumed from the moment Amazon announced a two-hundred-dollar tablet that it would not be in the same technical ball-park as the much more expensive Apple product. The real question then becomes: is there a market for a tablet (or e-reader on steroids) that can provide a rewarding means to consume all sorts of digital content while not being an all-round personal computer replacement?
To judge by the first responses at KindleBoards.com, the answer would seem to be, arguably, yes. The general theme I have seen there so far is that many of the Day 1 buyers did, in fact, “go in knowing what they’re getting, and…want an inexpensive tablet that capably — though not spectacularly — handles their Amazon books, music, and video.” At least a couple of them appear to be happy with owning a Kindle Fire as well as an iPad, each for different purposes; again highlighting the idea that the two devices are not necessarily direct competitors (though undoubtedly there will be a significant overlap where the decision could be difficult for those who cannot rationalize owning one of each).
I, for one, have not yet felt compelled to own any tablet computer. I have no desire to watch movies on a 7-inch (or even 10-inch) screen, and I am more than content with reading books on my e-ink screen, dedicated e-reader. However, in another week or so, I should be getting my Kindle Touch (WiFi) to replace my Kindle 3, at which time I’ll be ready to give you my own hands-on review.