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Review roundup: Amazon Kindle Fire a bargain, but no threat to Apple's iPad

post #1 of 127
Thread Starter 
Priced at just $199, Amazon's new Kindle Fire meets expectations as a low-cost touchscreen tablet that works relatively well despite some quirks, though it can't compete directly with Apple's iPad.

The new Amazon Kindle Fire will begin shipping to customers on Tuesday. It's the retailer's first tablet-style device with a color touchscreen, priced at less than half the cost of Apple's iPad. The aggressive price impressed reviewers, but most felt the first-generation device is lacking.

David Pogue of The New York Times

Saying the Kindle Fire is like an iPad for just $200 is a "dangerous comparison," said David Pogue. He said Amazon's budget-priced tablet does not have the "polish or speed" of Apple's touchscreen tablet.

"Animations are sluggish and jerky -- even the page turns that you'd think would be the pride of the Kindle team," he said. "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."

He said buyers might pick the Kindle Fire over the new $250 Nook from Barnes & Noble because of Amazon's selection of content, as well as its Whispersync technology and cross-platform support. Customers who buy Amazon's $80-per-year Prime membership also have access to unlimited streaming of 13,000 movies and TV shows, along with free two-day shipping on purchases.



But for users who are solely looking for an e-reader, Pogue said he believes that Amazon's e-ink-based Kindles, which start at $79, are "no-brainers." As a full-fledged multimedia tablet, he believes the Kindle Fire falls short.

"The Fire deserves to be a disruptive, gigantic force -- it's a cross between a Kindle and an iPad, more compact Internet and video viewer at a great price," he said. "But at the moment, it needs a lot more polish; if you're used to an iPad or a 'real' Android tablet, its software gremlins will drive you nuts."

Jon Phillips of Wired

Once you get past the "insanely low price" of the Amazon Kindle Fire, it just doesn't live up to the hype, Jon Phillips believes. He said its 7-inch screen is too small for most tablet activities, its performance can lag, and it lacks 3G data connectivity and a slot for removable storage.

The main strength of the Kindle Fire is it's a "pretty good bargain" for anyone who is reluctant to buy a touchscreen tablet, allowing the device to enter an "impulse-buy threshold" that Apple's iPad cannot touch with its current $499 entry price, he said.

He advised potential buyers to at the very least wait for a second-generation Kindle Fire, or opt to upgrade to Apple's iPad. He suggested that the current iPad 2 will be even cheaper once Apple launches a third-generation iPad, expected to debut in early 2012.

"iPad killer? No, the Kindle Fire is not. And it doesn't even match the iPad in web browsing, the one area in which its hardware should have sufficient performance to compete," Phillips said. "But the press has definitely supercharged Amazon's product with a level of hype and enthusiasm that would make Apple proud."

Larry Dignan of ZDNet

The Kindle Fire does a sufficient job of hiding the "warts" of the Google Android mobile operating system, Larry Dignan believes. But he also noticed that Amazon's tablet is just about getting users to buy more content direct from the online retailer.

The new tablet requires that users live in "Amazon's world," a closed system that even prevents users from visiting the regular Android Market on the Kindle Fire's Web browser. When attempting to access the traditional Android Market, users are then sent to Amazon's own proprietary Appstore, which allows the retailer to "ensure app quality."



More than anything, Dignan said the Kindle Fire is an "impulse purchase device," prompting users to buy an Amazon prime subscription, extra storage in the Amazon Cloud service, and even buy physical goods and have them shipped to your home.

In that respect, he believes the device will be profitable for Amazon, even though the company is believed to be selling its tablet at a loss. He said the Kindle Fire is like an "e-commerce kiosk" that Amazon is putting in the hands of its customers, making the Amazon experience a platform unto itself.

"I argue that's highly likely that there will be folks that own an iPad, a Kindle Fire and maybe a Kindle Touch. No matter how you slice it Amazon will garner more of your time. It's a store that's quickly becoming a hangout for entertainment devices.

"However, the Fire isn't necessarily an iPad killer. If anything the Amazon and Apple approaches will occupy the low and high ends of the tablet equation, respectively, and crush everything caught in the middle."

Other takes on the new Amazon Kindle Fire are available from Gizmodo, and Engadget, The Verge.
post #2 of 127
Different business model going after different target audience. Stop comparing Amazon Fire against iPad already. That said, I think Fire is perfect for those that shops with Amazon often already. It solidifies the ecosystem shopping experience.
post #3 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Priced at just $199, Amazon's new Kindle Fire meets expectations as a low-cost touchscreen tablet that works relatively well despite some quirks, though it can't compete directly with Apple's iPad.



It works relatively well. It is cheap. It doesn't work as well as a device costing (up to) more than 4 times its cost.

Surprised?

If the thing can surf the web and read ebooks and play videos and check email, it does 90% of what most people use the iPad for. Even if the animations are not quite as pretty.
post #4 of 127
As I and many others said, the Kindle Fire is DOA. Lots of people will be duped into thinking they are getting an iPad for $200, and then once they actually use it, realize they are getting nothing but a cheapo clone which is terrible just like all the other iPad cloners and comes no where near the experience of the iPad.

If Apple cuts the price of the iPad 2 so it fits under the iPad 3 like they do with older iPhone models, all the hopes of the iPad cloners like Amazon, Asus, Samesung, etc... will evaporate over night. Why get a barely functional cheapo clone when you can get the real thing for less or the same money? That even makes sense to the brain dead Microsoft buyers.
post #5 of 127
A few other thoughts on the kindle fire:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fox News

Good tablet despite sacrifices

Quote:
Originally Posted by MSNBC

Yes, it's that good

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gizmodo

The iPad finally has serious competition


Too bad Amazon couldn't spend a little more time refining their fork of Android.
post #6 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Customers who buy Amazon's $80-per-year Prime membership also have access to unlimited streaming of 13,000 movies and TV shows.

I hope one day soon we'll have the option of a streaming/subscription service with iTunes. I've saved a packet by switching to streaming with Spotify and LoveFilm (Netflix).

Clunky and unresponsive just about sums up most of the android tablets I've seen which is why the iPad is so much better and well worth the extra.
post #7 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by bullhead View Post

As I and many others said, the Kindle Fire is DOA. Lots of people will be duped into thinking they are getting an iPad for $200, and then once they actually use it, realize they are getting nothing but a cheapo clone which is terrible just like all the other iPad cloners and comes no where near the experience of the iPad.

If Apple cuts the price of the iPad 2 so it fits under the iPad 3 like they do with older iPhone models, all the hopes of the iPad cloners like Amazon, Asus, Samesung, etc... will evaporate over night. Why get a barely functional cheapo clone when you can get the real thing for less or the same money? That even makes sense to the brain dead Microsoft buyers.

Kindle Fire isn't an iPad competitor. The media is the only one trying to make it out as such.
post #8 of 127
$199 is a huge difference and millions of people will be perfectly satisfied with the Fire. I doubt it will sell nearly as well as the iPad, at first. But I suspect iPad sales will soon begin to fall, when those who want one have one.
post #9 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by iDave View Post

$199 is a huge difference and millions of people will be perfectly satisfied with the Fire. I doubt it will sell nearly as well as the iPad, at first. But I suspect iPad sales will soon begin to fall, when those who want one have one.

Millions of people will be duped into getting a Kindle Fire and very quickly realize how crappy it is as all the reviews are showing. This will result in a spike of iPad sales as people get the real thing rather than the cheapo clone. These people will see how good the iPad is and drive them to more Apple purchases as they realize how bad Android and Microsoft platforms are and how much money they wasted on said platforms when Apple is really that much better.

The halo effect continues to push more and more people to Apple. The iPhone and iPad truly are magical products. The more choice there is in the market, the better Apple does as its products are that much better.
post #10 of 127
It still looks to me like a Kindle with a few extras who's main target is going to be people who own a Kindle or have no interest in a full iPad. When the iPad first came out my thoughts were "that's awesome, but what they hell am I going to do with my smart phone if I get this?" I have since have been switching apps between the iPad and iPhone based on which format they work best for, but many people will still think the same. So I don't see it being a threat to the iPad market.

That being said I do hope it goes well for Amazon and the Kindle fans will get something worth their money. After all when something like this fails it's the bottom end employees that suffer through layoffs and "restructuring" and the consumers who payed money for these devices and see support vanish, not the six figure people who made the choices in the first place.
post #11 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

It works relatively well. It is cheap. It doesn't work as well as a device costing (up to) more than 4 times its cost.

Surprised?

If the thing can surf the web and read ebooks and play videos and check email, it does 90% of what most people use the iPad for. Even if the animations are not quite as pretty.

An iPad doesn't cost four times as much. The base model is $499 and you can snag a refurb for less.

I have no doubt that they will sell a bunch of them. Just like people buy Droid phones instead of an iPhone. They think they are getting something just as good or almost as good as the Apple product.

If they haven't ever used the Apple product they may never know how much they are missing. But that's true of many products. If you want the best it often does cost more. But many people are satisfied with less. That will never change.
post #12 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

It works relatively well. It is cheap. It doesn't work as well as a device costing (up to) more than 4 times its cost.

Surprised?

If the thing can surf the web and read ebooks and play videos and check email, it does 90% of what most people use the iPad for. Even if the animations are not quite as pretty.

It can do 2% of what an iPad can do but I'm just guessing just as you are but I bet I'm closer.
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post #13 of 127
It's funny that Jon Phillips directs people to the iPad 2 b/c even tho the iPad 2 got a 9/10 from MaximumPC, in the recent feature article on tablets (which I believe he wrote for them) he pointed people toward the Galaxy Tab instead. About the only thing they really had to point people away from the iPad was Flash. Oops. I read the feature shortly after the Flash announcement and had to laugh good and hard


Quote:
Originally Posted by iDave View Post

$199 is a huge difference and millions of people will be perfectly satisfied with the Fire. I doubt it will sell nearly as well as the iPad, at first. But I suspect iPad sales will soon begin to fall, when those who want one have one.

Amazon still refuses to provide real numbers on Kindle sales, so I will continue to doubt any sales claims they make, given how vague they are about them.
post #14 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rtapps View Post

...
That being said I do hope it goes well for Amazon and the Kindle fans will get something worth their money. After all when something like this fails it's the bottom end employees that suffer through layoffs and "restructuring" and the consumers who payed money for these devices and see support vanish, not the six figure people who made the choices in the first place.

Thank you for this comment, it's nice to know there are mature thinking individuals on this forum who use common sense rather than irrational fanboism.

About the reviews, nothing different from what was expected, some good and some not so good things. Nobody expected this tablet to match the full-priced ones, and exaggerating the negatives just to slam it doesn't promote a better judgment.

I could not find any review mentioning an e-mail app, despite access to web interfaces a dedicated mail application is a must for me. I hope that either there is one or gmail is easy to side-load.

Edit: Yes there is a "capable IMAP client" with push updates, according to the Verge.
post #15 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by bullhead View Post

As I and many others said, the Kindle Fire is DOA. Lots of people will be duped into thinking they are getting an iPad for $200, and then once they actually use it, realize they are getting nothing but a cheapo clone which is terrible just like all the other iPad cloners and comes no where near the experience of the iPad.

If Apple cuts the price of the iPad 2 so it fits under the iPad 3 like they do with older iPhone models, all the hopes of the iPad cloners like Amazon, Asus, Samesung, etc... will evaporate over night. Why get a barely functional cheapo clone when you can get the real thing for less or the same money? That even makes sense to the brain dead Microsoft buyers.

I seriously doubt it's DOA. People know what a Kindle is, they know what they are getting. This is no iClone. This is a color Kindle that does a little more.

I'm sure this will do quite well.
post #16 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoodlesNoodlemann View Post

An iPad doesn't cost four times as much. The base model is $499 and you can snag a refurb for less.


That is why I didn't say "an iPad costs four times as much".
That is why I said "costing (up to) more than 4 times" as much.
post #17 of 127
We don't need hyperbole on either side.

The Fire will sell extremely well, in time the bugs will get ironed out.

But the big Fire threat is to other 7" android tablets like the the new $400 Galaxy Tab 7".

Sure the Galaxy Tab is better, but it isn't $200 better.
post #18 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

It works relatively well. It is cheap. It doesn't work as well as a device costing (up to) more than 4 times its cost.

Surprised?

If the thing can surf the web and read ebooks and play videos and check email, it does 90% of what most people use the iPad for. Even if the animations are not quite as pretty.

Did you read the reviews of people who have used this thing? It's buggy, the size impacts the user experience, it has limited storage, it's "not bad" and basically feels like a wireless kiosk for buying from Amazon. The whole reason that the iPad took off, if you remember, was that when people picked it up and started using it they couldn't put it down. It felt fast and fun and easy and held all sorts of surprises that delighted the user. People in general weren't actually all that excited about it until after it came out and folks saw it and played around with it.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's brilliant of Amazon to sell, at a loss, a handheld, wireless kiosk for their online store and disguise it as a full function tablet in the vein of the iPad. But that's all this is. And if they can't eventually offer a better experience, people will find that they are better off with a $79 Kindle and a $499 iPad. They may have been better off creating an Amazon Prime tablet app that brought people into their system on someone else's hardware. Then, offer one month of free Amazon Prime with the sale of every iPad or Android tablet and achieved the same result.
post #19 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

It can do 2% of what an iPad can do but I'm just guessing just as you are but I bet I'm closer.

I was not addressing the utility of the machine. I was addressing usage patterns.

"it does 90% of what most people use the iPad for".

Correcting people's reading comprehension problems is getting boring.
post #20 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

I was not addressing the utility of the machine. I was addressing usage patterns.

"it does 90% of what most people use the iPad for".

90% of what people do on i7 desktops is surf the web, so by that kind of logic, it makes the Fire a reall deal compared to desktops costing up to ten times as much.
post #21 of 127
I'm sure this thing will break sales records at first the amount of hype it's been getting. But once people realize its not a iPad you can't do half the things u can do on a iPad and u need a 80 dollar sub to get the best value. They will trade up to a iPad.
post #22 of 127
I trust Walt Mossberg the most and would like his take on the Kindle Fire.

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post #23 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

I was not addressing the utility of the machine. I was addressing usage patterns.

"it does 90% of what most people use the iPad for".

Correcting people's reading comprehension problems is getting boring.

But if the Kindle Fire does that 90% poorly, then why not get a netbook that can do 100% poorly for only a little more than the Fire?
post #24 of 127
"Saying the Kindle Fire is like an iPad for just $200 is a "dangerous comparison," said David Pogue. He said Amazon's budget-priced tablet does not have the "polish or speed" of Apple's touchscreen tablet."

Sadly, too many experts and bloggers online are reviewing the Kindle and giving the impression that its not like an iPad, "It's better than the iPad". Pretty much labeling it as the real Killer iPad.
post #25 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

That is why I didn't say "an iPad costs four times as much".
That is why I said "costing (up to) more than 4 times" as much.

Yeah, but why compare the Fire to a top-of-the-line tablet like the iPad costing of 4 times as much if not to make the Fire seem like more of a bargain. The closest comparison you could make would be the $199 Fire to the $499 iPad 2 and that is a stretch. If Apple made an iPad without cameras, Bluetooth, the slower processor of the original iPad and only 8GB of storage, I'm sure it would give the Fire a run for it's money in the price department while still having all the polish of an Apple product.
post #26 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun, UK View Post

I hope one day soon we'll have the option of a streaming/subscription service with iTunes. I've saved a packet by switching to streaming with Spotify and LoveFilm (Netflix).

Clunky and unresponsive just about sums up most of the android tablets I've seen which is why the iPad is so much better and well worth the extra.

Yes, nothing like access to past seasons of TV Shows to really get me excited to drop my Dish account and miss all the shows I currently DVR, Not.

The vast majority of the content is also non-HD.
post #27 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Yes, nothing like access to past seasons of TV Shows to really get me excited to drop my Dish account and miss all the shows I currently DVR, Not.

The vast majority of the content is also non-HD.

And according to Engadget, not very high in quality either.
post #28 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neo42 View Post

A few other thoughts on the kindle fire ...

Seriously?

You just quoted the two least reliable video news sources, and the single most unreliable web-based tech news source.

Especially if Gizmodo likes it, you know it's bad.
They are contrarians at best and rarely correct about anything at all.
post #29 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

I was not addressing the utility of the machine. I was addressing usage patterns.

"it does 90% of what most people use the iPad for".

Correcting people's reading comprehension problems is getting boring.


Can't you see this is not a tablet. It's not a iPad competitor. Amazon is charging its customers 200 dollars to buy there content. Unlike the iPad there apps are just going to be the ones made for android phones just full screen. Unlike iPad apps which have extra API and tablet functions. What a slap in the face this will be to there customers when there iPad killers tiny screen lags while changing pages
post #30 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowdog65 View Post

90% of what people do on i7 desktops is surf the web, so by that kind of logic, it makes the Fire a reall deal compared to desktops costing up to ten times as much.

Indeed. For many people, that is very true.

They are even a bargain compared to full laptops in the $499 to $839 price range, which are in turn, for many people, a bargain compared to alternative tech purchases.
post #31 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Seriously?

You just quoted the two least reliable video news sources, and the single most unreliable web-based tech news source.

Especially if Gizmodo likes it, you know it's bad.
They are contrarians at best and rarely correct about anything at all.


Lol agreed. Gizmodo liked windows vista. Whos he going to quote next kindleinsider.com
post #32 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by bullhead View Post

Lots of people will be duped into thinking they are getting an iPad for $200, and then once they actually use it, realize they are getting nothing but a cheapo clone which is terrible just like all the other iPad cloners and comes no where near the experience of the iPad.

The only flaw with that theory is that buyer's of the Amazon Fire who are too cheap to buy an iPad will have never used an iPad extensively and thusly won't realize that the Fire's experience is comparatively poor. Just as people bought up Windows PCs in the 90's in droves, despite being a poor imitation of the Mac, people may buy out of sheer ignorance or favoring cheap over quality.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bullhead View Post

If Apple cuts the price of the iPad 2 so it fits under the iPad 3 like they do with older iPhone models, all the hopes of the iPad cloners like Amazon, Asus, Samesung, etc... will evaporate over night. Why get a barely functional cheapo clone when you can get the real thing for less or the same money? That even makes sense to the brain dead Microsoft buyers.

This is very true and I truly hope Apple isn't too full of themselves to not use this approach. If they trim the storage of the iPad 2 to 8GB I believe they could sell it for $299 when the iPad 3 hits for $499.
post #33 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

If Apple made an iPad without...

When tablets become commodities, we will be choosing what components go inside, just like with PCs today. Until then, we're stuck with paying for things we seldom use and could do without.
post #34 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sector7G View Post

I'm sure this thing will break sales records at first the amount of hype it's been getting. But once people realize its not a iPad you can't do half the things u can do on a iPad and u need a 80 dollar sub to get the best value. They will trade up to a iPad.

You may be right in a very general sort of way but different people have different usage patterns and need different things. The Kindle Fire (once the bugs are shaken out), is potentially a great product for a certain group of people who don't necessarily need everything an iPad offers.

For instance I use an iPad and I use it a lot, every day, all day. I carry it with me everywhere.
However if I was to list popular uses for an iPad I would get quite far down the list before I get to anything that I personally use it for.

I don't use it to play games
I don't watch movies on it
I don't cruise the web on it
I don't use it for email.

And those are pretty much the main uses of the iPad.

Not everyone is the same, and I'm sure there is a gigantic market for the smaller feature set of the Kindle Fire. Those users might never miss the "other stuff" they can do on an iPad and might never upgrade to the iPad no matter how cheap they eventually get.
post #35 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baederboy View Post

But if the Kindle Fire does that 90% poorly, then why not get a netbook that can do 100% poorly for only a little more than the Fire?

15 inch laptops containing similar guts start at around $250. I'm not sure that the low-priced netbook market is strong anymore. There are now alternatives that work better at the same prices, and alternatives that work better for higher prices. Apple's netbooks start at around $1000, don't they?

If the Fire does that 90% poorly, it is not a good choice. But most of the reviews say it works about as well as anybody should expect. The question will be whether it works well enough to comfortably accomplish the tasks expected by the buyer.

Will it surf the net comfortably? Will it play YouTube properly? Will it play video stored on the HD smoothly? Can it be used comfortably as an email machine? Twitter? eBook reader?

I think it will replace a lot of old crappy desktop and notebook machines that never really worked well, and it will do as well, or better, than the old bargain basement crap that it will replace.
post #36 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by slapppy View Post

Sadly, too many experts and bloggers online are reviewing the Kindle and giving the impression that its not like an iPad, "It's better than the iPad".

I have not seen one single review which claims that it is better than an iPad. I'd love to read them.

Can you provide any cites?
post #37 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post

When tablets become commodities, we will be choosing what components go inside, just like with PCs today. Until then, we're stuck with paying for things we seldom use and could do without.

You mean like a camera (Facetime), more storage space, faster processors, Bluetooth and physical volume buttons on the outside? You're right, I seldom use those.

/s (end sarcasm)
post #38 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

Yeah, but why compare the Fire to a top-of-the-line tablet like the iPad costing of 4 times as much if not to make the Fire seem like more of a bargain.

This is what I said:

"It doesn't work as well as a device costing (up to) more than 4 times its cost."

The "why would anybody say such a thing" question is left as an exercise to the reader.
post #39 of 127
It would seem that an App that allows you to stream or download your content to your iOS or Android device would have made more sense for Amazon. Why build a tablet and sell it at a loss when they could have just built an app?
post #40 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob55 View Post

You mean like a camera (Facetime), more storage space, faster processors, Bluetooth and physical volume buttons on the outside? You're right, I seldom use those.

/s (end sarcasm)

I wasn't talking about you.

+1 for sarcastic explanation of the "end sarcasm" tag. I liked the irony.
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