Reviews have landed for Amazon’s long-awaited Kindle Fire tablet and they’re none too surprising. There’s lots of love for the Kindle Fire’s $199 price, as well as its deep integration with Amazon’s content ecosystem — despite reports of slowdown and other flaws.
Amazon also announced that the Kindle Fire will begin shipping today, a day earlier than it originally planned. What better way to celebrate the first round of reviews? (And perhaps a sly way to keep pre-ordered customers from cancelling?)
The 7-inch Kindle Fire is the cheapest tablet yet widely available to consumers, and many are predicting that alone will lead to massive sales for Amazon. We’ve already seen consumers go wild over HP’s massively discounted $99 TouchPad. Surely Amazon would be able to tap into some of that cheap tablet frenzy. JP Morgan predicts that Amazon could sell up to 5 million Kindle Fires by the end of the year.
But how does the Kindle Fire stack up against the iPad? Not so well, at least in terms of performance, according to the New York Time’s David Pogue:
You feel that $200 price tag with every swipe of your finger. Animations are sluggish and jerky — even the page turns that you’d think would be the pride of the Kindle team. Taps sometimes don’t register. There are no progress or “wait” indicators, so you frequently don’t know if the machine has even registered your touch commands. The momentum of the animations hasn’t been calculated right, so the whole thing feels ornery.
Still, the Kindle Fire is powered by a 1 gigahertz dual-core processor, so there’s the potential for Amazon to speed up performance with software updates. Hardware-wise, the tablet seems to suffer by being rushed to market: Many reviewers have called out the Fire’s boring design (likely because it was based on the same design as RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook), as well the fact that it only has 512 megabytes of RAM, which could have helped with performance.
But if you’re an Amazon addict, the Kindle Fire’s flaws may seem like less of a deal breaker. Indeed, it seems like the perfect way to experience Amazon’s rich universe of content and massive catalog of products.
“All of the content silos on the device offer a quick jump into Amazon’s store where you can browse and purchase new music, movies, books, or magazines,” writes The Verge’s Joshua Topolsky. “The experience is completely painless, and far more integrated in the Fire than it is on the iPad or any other Android tablet. If Amazon was trying to prove a point here, it seems to be working. The company is definitely presenting a smoother path to buying content than any of the other guys.”
So should you get a Kindle Fire? Overall, it seems like the tablet is best suited for mainstream users who want easy access to Amazon’s content, as well as some basic tablet features like web browsing and apps. Power users will likely feel limited by the Kindle Fire’s performance and its limited selection of apps (they have to be approved by Amazon, and the Fire runs Android 2.3, so it doesn’t support Android 3.0 tablet apps).