Kindle Fire Review
For the last few months I have been debating whether to get an iPad or a Kindle Fire. The debate was between the price of an iPad and the deficiencies of the Fire (when compared to an iPad). Before I was able to decide, however, I received a Fire for winter solstice celebration (aka xmas). So I’ve had it now for about 2-3 weeks, and in that time I’ve used it extensively.
Maybe it’s because it’s new and different but I really like the carousel on the Fire. I have found Apple’s iOS to be getting bland and boring, but that has accelerated since I started using the Fire. (As a quick aside I think the Apple iOS needs a dramatic over haul stat). Maybe it’s just the way I like to categorize things or the way my brain works but I enjoy how the carousel breaks up the various different media sources (newsstand, music, video, web, apps etc) and then has a favorites and recently used section.
As a media consumer the Fire is outstanding. It has completely replaced my laptop when it comes to reading news, surfing the web, watching videos, reading books, comics, listening to music etc. Speaking of reading books, everything that I wish my Kindle reader had the Fire does. For instance, the ability to google and wikipedia words terms etc. (Amazon’s whispersync technology also is a big plus and works great when I switch between my reader and my Fire.) But I’ve always preferred the Kindle reader to iBooks. If there is one thing that amazon does better that’s it. I find iBooks to be slow and clunky but the Kindle app is like butter. Throw in the ability to check out books from the local library with Kindle and Amazon Primes new book rent service and I’m sold. The Fire’s native browser Silk works quickly and smoothly. It’s really fast for me and works better when you turn off flash. Is it faster and better than Safari? I don’t know I haven’t busted out my stopwatch to check, nor do I really care. Both my iPhone and my Fire load up pages quickly on WiFi. The problem I have on both is the same–advertisements on non-mobile websites. Need an app like ad blocker for Silk (if someone knows of one let me know as I haven’t been able to find one). Other than that I’m liking it and as more websites on going to HTML 5 (thank you Apple) I find less and less websites where you need flash to view them.
For reading comics the Kindle has been fantastic. In conjunction with my box.net account I can download comics as I need them. Unfortunately, there’s no native .cbr reader on the Fire so you have to buy one (there’s no free comic readers either) but $3 for a reader in the long run in not a bad deal. Videos from amazon and netflix load quickly and run smoothly, and the shape of the Fire is conducive to watching videos, but more on that later. Music on the Fire works well also. Pandora works flawlessly and Amazon (like Apple) provides 5GB of free space that allows me to upload most of my favorite music to the cloud and access it from anywhere–including work since I can access it from the web and don’t need to install any new programs on my work computer (which I like others can’t do). Also if I want 20gb of space it’s cheaper on Amazon ($20) than it is on Apple ($40). In this day and age that extra 20 per year is a lot.
Now the Fire is smaller in size than the iPad and this is good and bad. Good because it’s very comfortable to hold in my lap or one-handed whilst laying on the couch. It’s the perfect proportion for widescreen movies and TV shows and also retains the feel of a book when held upright. It feels less unwieldy or more normal than an iPad. On the negative side it’s smaller and that sucks especially when not every app includes a pinch-to-zoom feature (I’m looking at you comic reader, fix that shit stat). However, I still feel, like the iPad, that it’s a bit weird typing on it. For that reason, I only use it for writing short emails or blogs. For now, my laptop is safe.
Now it may seem like I’m bagging on the iPad and Apple in general. I sort of am, but I see the Fire and Amazon at large as the only alternative to the Apple ecosystem. No one else is able to provide the amount of media that both Apple and Amazon can provide (sorry B&N). That’s why it’s important for those of us who like technology for the Fire to be successful. (On another point the success of the Fire, Apple, and Netflix is important for those of us who want to be able to use digital content. The companies that are resistant to providing a digital alternative will be forced to the more people demand that content be easily accessible on their tablets, phones, XBOXes, Playstations etc.) Also, an iPad is more than double the price than the Fire, it is also the innovator and the market king, so therefore, in my opinion, it has to do more for me than be an Apple product to justify that price. I don’t care about using facetime on my tablet, or having the ability to text from it (in fact I like being disconnected on my Fire and being able to read, watch videos, or listen to music unimpeded by interruptions from the outside), edit videos, mix music or any of the other amazing things that are possible on an iPad. Also the iPad is capable of using 3G and has more storage space. Two things that could be useful but that so far isn’t an issue because of my box.net account and the fact that most of the music I will listen to and all of my books are on Amazon’s cloud. I can download and delete as needed, or download onto my tablet when I’m going to take it somewhere that doesn’t have WiFi.
Saying all that the iPad is still the superior tablet. It’s more responsive, quicker, and all around a bit slicker. Not to mention the cornucopia of apps that are available. The Fire and the burgeoning Amazon ecosystem are still new and it will improve, and I’m looking forward to how the Fire will improve again after the next update. For me, right now, I’m willing to live with a cheaper tablet that does everything I want it to do and does it well. I’ll wait and see how things pan out over the next year, but until then I will continue to enjoy my Fire (aka Slave I (yeah I know unoriginal but whatever)). Lastly, the DODO case is mandatory accessory.
- Best Of 2011 This list is a bit late because I have been...