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Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet: an in depth review

post #1 of 157
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Amazon's new Kindle Fire represents the company's first device to move beyond black and white ebook readers and into the realm of apps, music, videos and magazines, delivered using a color touchscreen.

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Jump to a section of this review Taking on iTunes, not iPad Unpacking & getting started App organization Acquiring Apps Missing features Using Music, Videos & Documents Viewing Books and periodicals Browsing the Web Kindle Fire vs. the competition Kindle Fire hardware Kindle Fire vs. iOS Stoked by retail sales Kindle Fire in review Rating Where to buy

Fire takes on iTunes, not the iPad

The Fire follows Apple's lead in introducing the iPad as a stripped down device missing a few features (the original iPad lacked a camera, for example) in order to achieve a price point less than half of what other tablets on the market had been asking. At $199, the Fire is again half as much as Apple's entry level iPad, but Amazon's efforts to get the device that cheap have required some deep cuts that threaten to erase much of its potential allure.

While many observers view Amazon's new tablet as a challenge to Apple's iPad (and even evidence that Amazon will next leap into the smartphone market with a similarly unprofitable loss leader handset), it's really more of an attempt to pad the audience for Amazon's shopping site, online music, movies, apps and cloud storage services. Amazon isn't taking on the iPad, it's trying to maintain a retail position in the face of iTunes, iCloud and the App Store.



Amazon didn't have much choice about whether it could release a luxuriously full featured, full size iPad competitor at the iPad's price. Far more experienced manufactures, from Motorola to Samsung, have already tried to do this throughout 2011 using more advanced versions of Android and have all failed miserably. There simply isn't a tablet market waiting for new entries next to the iPad, just as there wasn't really ever a demand for iPods from sources other than Apple.

That being the case, Amazon is taking a loss on Fire hardware sales to get out a client device exclusively tied to its own version of iTunes, more closely following the strategy of the Xbox and PlayStation: lose money on hardware and earn some back in the software market. That's the opposite of Apple's business model, which sells elegant, profitable hardware by way of free or low cost software and cloud services that the company offers at slim profits.

Getting started with the Kindle Fire

Kindle Fire ships in a plain box that rips open to reveal the device and a micro-USB power adapter behind it. There's no headphones and no micro-USB cable for connecting to your PC (the power adapter is molded into the cable), but Amazon isn't stressing any USB-PC device sync, as it wants users to use its online cloud services to obtain their content. There's also a brief card in the box that shows how to get started: push the power button, wait for it to boot, then swipe the screen with your finger, just like Apple patented.






Setting the up the Fire doesn't feel anything like setting up an Apple device; it feels like a PC experience. Amazon doesn't have a direct equivalent to iTunes, so the only way to set it up is "PC free," just like newer iOS 5 devices. Unlike Apple's setup, Amazon jumps right into getting you on WiFi and then auto-configures itself to use the Amazon account you bought it with, which is handier than Apple's configuration that requires you to enter your Apple ID on multiple occasions.

You can, however, disconnect the Fire from the account it shipped with and set it up to use a separate Amazon account (unlike previous Kindles, which were hardwired to your Amazon account). The Fire does need to be configured with an Amazon account (and a credit card for billing) before you can download any content, even free apps. This is no different than Apple's iOS and iTunes.

As soon as the brief configuration was done, the Kindle Fire announced (without asking for permission) that it would be downloading an update and rebooting, and recommended that it be plugged in so it wouldn't run out of battery before it finished the update. Overall, the setup isn't complicated but it's also not nearly as polished as iOS. That's not remarkable, given that Kindle Fire is a 1.0 effort compared to Apple's fifth iteration of iOS.

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Jump to a section of this review Taking on iTunes, not iPad Unpacking & getting started App organization Acquiring Apps Missing features Using Music, Videos & Documents Viewing Books and periodicals Browsing the Web Kindle Fire vs. the competition Kindle Fire hardware Kindle Fire vs. iOS Stoked by retail sales Kindle Fire in review Rating Where to buy

On page 2 of 4: Fire apps, appstore, missing features

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Fire features: App organization

Once you've configured the device and it updates and restarts, a brief series of introductory pages provides a tour of the device and its user interface. Unlike most Android smartphones or Honeycomb tablets, Kindle Fire's home page doesn't look like Apple's iOS Home page with a grid of icons (nor are there any widgets).

Instead, the Fire's home page presents a search field, a banner menu of text options (newsstand, books, music, video, docs, apps and web), and below that a graphical dock of apps that combines a Coverflow-like dock selector (below) with an iBooks-like shelf of "pinned" favorite items.



The Coverflow animation looks nice, but doesn't seem as effective for paging through a lot of installed apps compared to iOS' standard grid of icons harkening back to the original Newton MessagePad. The more apps installed, the clumsier it is to swipe through all of them. Just like Coverflow in the Mac Finder, it's a flashy but not very practical way to present a large group of icons. On the Fire, it is a bit worse because the screen doesn't always reply accurately to your touch, so there's a bit of extra flicking back and forth to get to the app you want to open, even after you find it. Again, iOS users are likely to find this awful, while those with lower expectations will likely find it reasonably acceptable.



On the other hand, the Fire's shelf of pinned apps (shown above) lets you quickly jump to rows of favorites that can scroll up from below as a series of shelves (contrasted with just the four icons presented in the Dock of iOS on the iPod touch, or the six of the iPad). This is a bit more like iOS' conventional grid of icons, albeit placed on a shelf. However, getting apps into the Fire's favorite shelf requires a tedious touch and hold gesture that brings up an "add to favorites" menu you must select to get them there. There's no drag and drop organization of app icons, just one of many rough edges in the Fire's rather bare user interface.

Again, iOS users will be dismayed to find that there's no touch and hold gesture that makes app icons jiggle until you finish moving them around to organize them the way you'd like. Organizing apps on the Fire is like using a Zune or Windows Mobile or early Android smartphone: you're back in the realm of picking options from popup menus rather than direct touch manipulation.

The Coverflow depiction of installed apps works a lot better in landscape orientation than in portrait. Because of its widescreen format, the Fire is much more like a big smartphone than a scaled down iPad. Critics once complained that the iPad was "just a big iPod touch." However, that wasn't really true, and certainly wasn't a problem for the iPad. It also doesn't seem to be a problem for the Fire, either. If anything, a successful launch of the Fire might induce Apple to release a large screen version of the iPod touch itself, aimed at the same tweener market.

Fire features: Acquiring Apps

Like the iPod touch, the Fire runs apps (albeit Android, obviously) designed for smartphone-sized screens, but they're blown or scaled up to fill its "tweener" form factor. That gives it access to the thousands of Android 2.2/2.3 apps intended for smartphone users, ranging from Facebook to Netflix to Angry Birds. Amazon already sells these apps in its store, so there's no waiting around required to see if developers jump on the Fire bandwagon, a Catch-22 issue that helped kill any interest in HP's TouchPad, RIM's PlayBook, and even Google's own Honeycomb tablet aspirations.

The bad news is that while Amazon includes several basic, general purpose apps on the Fire (a graphics viewer, PDF reader, Quickoffice for docs, email, a web browser, a videos and music player), they all seem fairly unstable and prone to crashing. Several times, I had to retry basic features because I thought I was doing something to trigger a return to the home screen. Turns out the app was just crashing a lot. Resize a graphic and scroll up to see it? Crash. Try to attach a file to an email? Crash.

It's not just app stability. The entire user interface requires repeated touching and finger mashing just to select a target or open an app. Everything feels unresponsive or unpredictable. As you work with the Fire, your expectations plummet to meet the low bar of functionality of the device. In contrast, when you use an iOS device, everything seems to "just work," escalating your minimum expectations toward perfection. This makes the slightest flaw of anything in iOS stick out, while the major lapses of the Fire and its Android underpinnings are given a pass for ever having worked right at all.

Installing new apps is straightforward: touch "apps" in the home page's banner menu and you get a listing of all the apps you have installed on the device and any Android apps you may have previously purchased from Amazon that are in the cloud. A store link brings up Amazon's "appstore" for Android apps, which is similar in many respects to Apple's App Store. It provides an app overview, screenshot photos, reviews, and recommendations of related apps. Every day, Amazon also gives away one of its developers' apps.



Amazon's "appstore" presentation is very similar to Apple's, clearly an effort to leverage the public's familiarity with the iOS App Store. The Android platform injects additional complexity however, adding "application permissions" that aspire to empower users to protect themselves from malware or inappropriate apps, but are really just confusing enough to be ignored by most users. It's still far superior to Google's own app market, however.

Amazon's Android app library is generically intended for both smartphones and the Fire, so when you install Pandora, for example, it ominously warns "this product will use a large amount of data and you are responsible for all data charges. Please contact your carrier's customer service to confirm / add an unlimited data plan." Of course, that doesn't really apply to the Fire because it gets its data exclusively through WiFi, but for the non-technical Amazon audience it is aimed at, this type of Android technical gibberish presents a poor user experience.

In the face of Android's expanding malware crisis, Amazon's software market appears to be significantly safer than Google's own Android Market (or other Android app stores), because it uses the same type of curation Apple pioneered for iOS. Fire users don't get a choice however, as the device is as hardwired to Amazon's content as iOS devices are to Apple's App Store. If you have bought apps from Google's Android Market, you can't simply move them over to your Fire. Of course, most of these are free anyway, while Amazon provides a choice between free versions of Android apps and paid versions that lack the advertising.

At the same time, however, you may discover Android titles elsewhere that you might not be able to obtain from Amazon, because the company's merchandizing policies have upset many developers. In addition to Apple-like policies restricting some forms of content, Amazon also reserves the right to give developers' apps away at its own discretion, rather than allowing software authors to pick their own price as Apple has. Additionally, new Android apps that make use of features in Android 3.0 Honeycomb or 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich won't work on the Fire at all. There aren't that many of these, however.

The selection of Amazon's apps is large enough to keep a user busy with games and utilities, although it lacks Apple's depth or scale. Amazon carries EA's Dead Space, for example, but there's no Infinity Blade or Gangster Rio or 9mm or Brothers in Arms for more avid game players. There's are no real tablet optimized apps, as Fire is intended to be a big smartphone minus the phone, not an iPad-like tablet computer. There won't be the same educational apps, because schools haven't adopted Android the way they have the iPad. And there won't be the same range of enterprise apps, because Android doesn't even have half the share Apple has among business users.

If you are looking for a device to play smartphone-type games and watch movies on, the Kindle Fire works well enough. Sure, it's missing the pocketable size of the iPod touch and weighs in at less than half the screen area of the iPad, but as a vehicle for Amazon content, it seems to be around the right size, with a more attractive screen, navigation and overall build than previous Kindle devices.

Missing Fire Features

The biggest problem for the Fire isn't the lack of third party games but its lack of first party utilitarian apps (there no Maps, no notes/reminders/alarms, no calendar/contacts, nothing like iMessage or FaceTime or Voice Control). It doesn't have Apple's attention to design and lacks a lot of iOS functionality (no camera, no mic, no 3G mobile data options, no motion controls, no Home button (the software home and back buttons are always a couple touches out of the way), no simple screen shot feature, no external volume controls), but if you want a very simple tablet or, even better, a big screen iPod touch for watching videos and playing basic games, the Fire is actually a quite credible option.

While lacking any hardware buttons apart from the oddly positioned power button, Fire does make it fairly easy to adjust settings from any app, via a drop down control (below left, accessed by touching the gear icon in the top right corner of the screen) that presents screen orientation lock, volume, brightness, WiFi network, and sync controls, along with a "more" button (below right) that brings up account, sound, display, time and other settings.



Apple's first generation iPad similarly lacked a camera, and its first generation iPod touch didn't have a mic and even lacked (at launch) organizational apps like Contacts and Calendar. But Amazon is now competing with Apple's fifth generation of iOS, and users appear to see calendar and contact apps as important features. After all, a key complaint about RIM's PlayBook (which is nearly identical to the Fire in many respects) was its lack of connectivity and messaging apps. However, RIM also targeted its product at business users and set a price more than twice as high as the Fire.

Another branch of "missing features" are those that non-Apple users might expect, things that are similarly missing on Apple's iOS devices. There's no SD Card slot, for example, so you're limited to the 8GB of installed storage. That's the same as Apple's entry level iPhones, but there's no more expensive Fire option with more memory for users to opt from. That's a pretty severe limitation for a device aimed squarely at attracting people who don't like Apple's stuff. Along the same lines, the Fire lacks the removable battery that non-Apple users claim to find requisite when buying electronic devices.

Amazon says the limited 8GB of storage on the Fire is irrelevant because you can store all your content on the cloud. If you only use it where you have WiFi, this might be alright. If you plan to use it as a mobile device, you'll be pretty limited in what you can put on it, as there's about 6GB of free space, and adding photos, music or movies rapidly eat into that (a typical movie is around 1GB). If you plan to use it around the house where you have WiFi, then accessing cloud storage of your content seems more reasonable.

The other area of missing functionality Apple users will notice relates to Amazon's lack of a direct iTunes/iCloud alternative. There's no provision for automatically syncing content to your PC, so you can't so easily sync your music, photos and videos library to the device (via Dock or wirelessly). Instead, you must plug it in via USB and manually copy files over. There's no bookmark sync nor email accounts, contacts, or calendar sync. There's also nothing quite like iCloud for the documents and data or device and settings backups, although Amazon web-based configuration pages allow users to review newspaper, magazine, Audible audiobooks, and documents on their device.

Fire's biggest missing feature however, is that magic that makes you love it. It's not really slow but feels slow because it lacks the continuity provided by iOS' nearly invisible animated transitions. There's all sorts of missing touches that make the Fire just utilitarian rather than desirable. It appears that these touches are missing because Amazon rushed the product to market. But in retrospect, Amazon has never seemed interested in making any previous Kindle devices wonderful, even after their release though subsequent updates.

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On page 3 of 4: Using music, videos, documents, books, web on Fire

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Using Music, Videos and Documents on the Fire

If you use Amazon's Cloud Player, you can benefit from an iCloud-like download of your Amazon music and video purchases, although there's no alternative to an iTunes Match service by Amazon, so you'll have to manually upload all the songs you want to have in the cloud, a time consuming process. Amazon's own "Cloud Drive" program costs $20 per year, and includes unlimited music storage (once you upload the songs, a real world limitation). The service can also be accessed from iOS devices or a Mac or PC, similar to iTunes. You will need to upload your previous Amazon purchases however, as unlike iTunes, past purchases are not in the cloud until you save them there.

To get documents on the Fire, you can email them as attachments to a special account (your account name @kindle.com), and they'll show up on the device. You'll need to manually configure, online in Amazon's web configuration, each email address you want to be able to send you email documents. How soon the documents actually get there seems rather random. This isn't instantaneous like iCloud; it's more like mailing a colleague for an answer to a problem you desperately need while they're busy doing other things: painful.

I tried to send a variety of files via this email, but Amazon reported that Fire couldn't use or convert an m4a unprotected (no DRM) AAC song file from iTunes however, limiting its usefulness to iTunes users. The Fire also (of course) can't play any video from iTunes, which is DRM protected. Again, the point of the Fire is to buy content from Amazon, not to use your existing library of movies and music.

As with iOS devices, you can also email yourself documents via attachments to your standard email configured in the Fire's built in email app. This lets you access any documents anyone sends you, without having to authorize them or use a special email address. It's also a lot faster. Fire lacks push email, but it checks email and downloads attachments at reasonable speeds (although not in the background like iOS). On the Fire, emailed documents appear under the documents tab. It's also possible to copy over documents manually via USB.



As with iOS, you can also access Hulu+, Pandora and Netflix content on the Fire via third party apps. Amazon also bundles a free month of its own Amazon Prime, which enables users to access the company's library of 10,000 movies and TV show episodes on demand. Prime sounds great, but it's a much smaller streaming selection that even Netflix's on demand titles, and not everything is actually free, particularly among TV programs.

Netflix presents movies with significant artifacting (blocks of the screen that don't update correctly) and enough stuttering audio to ruin even TV programming. After pausing a video, I returned to Netflix and it was completely locked up and unresponsive. Exiting and reopening the app did nothing. After the Fire sat on the table for about ten minutes, the video began paying again spontaneously. This sort of poltergeist user interface is not pleasant to deal with, but it's just how the Fire works.

If you're used to watching movies on your smartphone, the Fire provides a (somewhat frustrating) experience that's significantly larger, but in a device that's not pocketable. It remains to be seen whether users will see $200 of value in being able to watch movies and play smartphone games on a larger screen, with the added cost of having to carry it around, especially given its beta quality feel overall. A lot of people are going to be disappointed this holiday.

Books and periodicals on Fire

Amazon has long maintained that the original Kindles' eInk displays were vastly superior for reading text compared to the screen of the iPhone or iPad, but the new Kindle Fire's conventional LCD screen erases all that rhetoric and repaints the company's mobile ambitions as a way to buy dynamic, full color digital content in addition to basic ebooks, closely following Apple's iTunes and App Store model.

So much for readability: the Fire's display lacks the brightness to deliver pure whites (and the screen's LEDs leak distracting when the screen is black); it delivers small text that looks ugly compared to the iPhone's Retina Display and lacks the screen real estate to comfortably zoom in (like you can on a iPad) to make for a pleasant reading experience. The Kindle Fire isn't the best Kindle for ebook reading.

Had Amazon never crowed about how superior eInk was, it would be easier to swallow the Fire's pixelated reading experience, which is worse than a smartphone. While its screen is three times the size of the iPod touch, it essentially displays the same number of pixels, albeit in a wider format. It's this much lower pixel density of the Fire makes its small text look ugly and less pleasing to read. It seems like it would be far nicer then eInk Kindles for reading glossy magazine content however.

Until you try to use it. Opening Newsstand, I tried to sign up for a trial of The New Yorker. Like Apple, Amazon hasn't convinced all publishers to embrace its automated newsstand publishing system, so the The New Yorker is delivered as an app. Unfortunately, no matter what I tried, I could not login to actually obtain any content. First, the app crashed as unresponsive when I tried to set up an account (tap tap tap on the screen and nothing, below left).



Subsequent tries insisted that I must be an existing paper subscriber. Reviews of the app indicate lots of other people were having problems even logging into the app, which must be done every time you try to use it. Then an hour later it suddenly it decided to offer a download button, and delivered a copy within the app (above right).

This magazine looked well suited to the page, but the text is quite small to read and there's no obvious way to make it any larger (below left). Can't zoom in via taps or pinches, and all it offers to do it show me some navigation options (below right). This appears to be a smartphone app stretched to the size of the Fire. After trying to read a paragraph of blurry small text, I gave up. The graphics below are shrunk and compressed, but the actual text quality on the screen is not much better. It's unpleasant to read, and that's coming from an avid reader of books and web content on smartphones.



I tried a second magazine, Details, (from the same publisher) which does support Fire's newsstand rack. This one spent some time downloading and then sat directly on the newsstand shelf. After opening it up, it was less pleasant to read than a generic PDF of a magazine on a PC, partly because of the Fire's frustratingly bad responsiveness to touch, partly because of its oddly tall orientation, partly because of its low resolution density, and partly because the PDF rendering appeared terrible.

Text looked awful at every zoom level. The magazine page size doesn't fit the display by default (below left; the grey area the magazine is floating in is the Fire's screen), and even if you zoom in, the text looks jagged and blurry (below right). Most maddening is that the touches, swipes and pinches to navigate the page are usually ignored, and more often than not result in some random change. Try to zoom in a bit and suddenly the the neighboring page slides over, or you end up looking at the other end of the page. This is a dreadful experience.



Reading magazines as magazines on the Kindle Fire is so bad (below left) the only way you can get any readable content from your subscription is to enter "text view," (below right) which presents plain text of the articles. Of course, that's a pretty primitive way to read a glossy magazine. Might as well have a 300 baud modem downloading your text files.



In this view, you get readable text, and can pull up options (below left) for changing the text size, font, line spacing, page margins and colors. This is more in line with basic ebook reading, but certainly doesn't measure up to how Fire is hyped as something that can peruse real magazines.



The very thing the Fire should excel at (reading full color magazines on a sizable display) is a frustrating, ugly experience. If Apple or Microsoft released something this bad at looking at magazines, one might make the excuse that magazines lie outside of their core competency. But Amazon? How did this abject failure get released by the apparent leading vendor of digital ebooks and periodicals?

Browsing the web on the Fire

While you could browse the web "experimentally" on previous eInk Kindles, it wasn't very fun at all because the web has a lot of dynamic, interactive color content on it that eInk can't render acceptably. Kindle Fire's browser offers an experience that's far better. It's not an iPad, but again, more like a large smartphone. As someone who finds the iPhone browser extremely useful, the Fire's browser is that much larger, offering what should be a much better experience. It's not clear that it does, however.

The Fire lacks the Retina Display resolution of the iPhone 4 or iPod touch, so as with ebooks, small text on the web looks unpleasant on the Fire compared to the same text on iPhone 4. The iPad doesn't offer Retina Display resolution, but its screen is much larger, making it easier to zoom in and read text at a larger size. The much smaller screen of the Fire means you can't zoom in as much while still having the page's layout visible.

Pinching, flicking and zooming on the Fire is not fluid like iOS; it's jerky and hesitant like an Android smartphone. If it's all you've used, the browser experience should be acceptable. Compared directly with an iPad or iPhone, it feels amateurish and clumsy.

The Fire's screen can't render bright white as the iPhone or iPad, with its version of white looking more like beige, even with the screen brightness turned all the way up. Pages render quite quickly however, thanks, ostensibly, to the "Silk" preprocessing that caches content on Amazon's servers and harvests your browsing sessions for anonymously collecting aggregate data for marketers, a feature that helps Amazon subsidize the Fire as a loss leader. That's the same business model that makes Facebook and Google Maps free.

A comparison of Silk acceleration turned off and on, however, indicates that the Android WebKit browser is relatively fast because it's running on a fast dual core chip, not because Silk is doing much to actually speed things up.

With preprocessing on, the Kindle Fire scores a BrowserMark score of 77,680, about in the middle between the iPhone 4's 51,076 and iPhone 4S 85,367. With its faster clocked chip, one might expect the Fire to beat the latest iPhone 4S and its similarly featured, but roughly 20 percent slower clocked A5, rather than being about ten percent slower than the iPhone at rendering JavaScript tasks.

The Fire's default presentation of AppleInsider squashed text to make the page fit the screen at a zoom level where the text was still decipherable (below left). A double tap, which we expected to zoom in, instead zoomed out to present the overall page more like a desktop browser would, but in doing so left most of the text so small that it was unreadable (below right).



Tapping to zoom in again messed up the rendering, leaving the text squashed up next to dead open area. A visit to the Wall Street Journal provided the opposite, where the default view was nearly unreadable small text (below left), but tapping to zoom offered a pleasant browsing experience (below right).



Size wise, the Fire is often described as being "less than half" the screen size of the iPad (the Fire is actually 46 percent as large). With screen dimensions of 3.5 by 6 inches, you get 21 square inches of display. The iPad's 5.75 by 7.75 inch screen affords 45.6 square inches. The iPod touch's 3 by 2 inch screen gives you 6 square inches, 29 percent of the Fire's screen. Browsing the web on the Fire feels a bit like a netbook: you have more real estate than a smartphone, but it's rather cramped compared to the magazine-like screen of an iPad.
post #2 of 157
Sure, if this was Engadget or ArsTechnica or something, but this is an Apple site. We only want to hear about competitors if they're specifically targeting Apple, be it in a press release, lawsuit, or ad campaign.

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
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Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
Reply
post #3 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Sure, if this was Engadget or ArsTechnica or something, but… this is an Apple site. We only want to hear about competitors if they're specifically targeting Apple, be it in a press release, lawsuit, or ad campaign.

Mentioning iPad and/or Apple 5 times on the upper half of the Fire home screen should tell you who Amazon is targeting.

I saw no mention of the Playbook, Galaxy Tab, Xoom, or any other tablet.
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post #4 of 157
Does anyone know the name of the guy who designed the packaging ?
post #5 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by umrk_lab View Post

Does anyone know the name of the guy who designed the packaging ?

That is definitely a serious omission in that article.
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post #6 of 157
lol ded
Household: MacBook, iPad 16gb wifi, iPad 64gb wifi, iPad Mini 32gb, coming iPhone 5S, iPhone 4S 32gb, iPhone 32gb, iPod Touch 4th gen x1, iPod nano 16gb gen 5 x2, iPod nano gen 3 8gb, iPod classic...
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Household: MacBook, iPad 16gb wifi, iPad 64gb wifi, iPad Mini 32gb, coming iPhone 5S, iPhone 4S 32gb, iPhone 32gb, iPod Touch 4th gen x1, iPod nano 16gb gen 5 x2, iPod nano gen 3 8gb, iPod classic...
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post #7 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

That is definitely a serious omission in that article.

He's trying to outline the difference in how Apple and Amazon feel about the products they make.

And possibly making a joke, not about the designer of the package, but of the lack thereof altogether.

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
Reply

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
Reply
post #8 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

He's trying to outline the difference in how Apple and Amazon feel about the products they make.

And possibly making a joke, not about the designer of the package, but of the lack thereof altogether.

... and I was making a joke about the length and breadth of DED's review.
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post #9 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

... and I was making a joke about the length and breadth of DED's review.

Touché. Very nice.

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
Reply

Originally Posted by Marvin

The only thing more insecure than Android’s OS is its userbase.
Reply
post #10 of 157
Having had an iPad, owning an iPad 2, and having bought a Kindle FIre just to play with, I agree with most of this review, with one exception...

That exception is the utility of the 7" device. True, it's not as big and flashy as the iPad. It's true that you don't have the "magazine" experience you get with the iPad.

The Fire doesn't feel like a magazine, it feels like an inexpensive little paperback.

But, you know... sometimes a paperback is exactly what's needed. A paperback is more handy and more flexible. It's fits in more places. It's easier to carry in an oversized pocket or purse.

In short, for a number of cases, it works. My girlfriend loves her iPad, and didn't really connect with the Fire's interface. But she loved the size, and would trade her full sized iPad for a 7" version in a heartbeat.

I think this is an area that Apple needs to address.
post #11 of 157
would you please stop comparing with iPhone's Retina display, as it's a totally different league? iPad doesn't have retina display as well, so... compare apples with apples, not with oranges.
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post #12 of 157
Hate to say this, but every review I've read about the Fire just makes it sound cheap and nasty.

For instance, the packaging looks appalling. I mean, this is the first thing you see and it doesn't set a good tone for the rest of the experience. And when packaging looks bad in a web photo, you know it's much worse in reality.

And I'm reading a lot of forum responses (not just here) of disappointed people returning Fires as well. That cannot be good.
post #13 of 157
In the Rating section the comparison charts are organized to emphasize the things the Fire lacks vis-a-vis the iPad2, while simultaneously glossing over things the iPad2 lacks vis-a-vis the Fire.

For example, in comparing the hardware, they note that the Fire has no GPS, no motion sensor, no cameras, etc. All true. However, they fail to treat the iPad2 equally. In comparing the software included with the two units, it would be just as fair to call out that the iPad2 has no QuickOffice, no included Facebook app, no included comics viewer, no daily free app giveaways and no Flash support. But conveniently, AppleInsider doesn't point a finger at iOS's shortcomings and instead has chosen to slant the comparisons against the Fire. Now, I realize that it goes against the party line to fault Apple for banishing Flash from iOS's Garden of Eden, but the truth is that Flash is still useful and there are still websites that depend on Flash that iOS can't fully access. At least the Fire doesn't arbitrarily prevent you from doing so.
post #14 of 157
Fustration free packaging even on its flagship kindle?

Good job amazon...
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post #15 of 157
First: Thanks for the review. I was never interested in the Kindle Fire, but it's interesting to read reviews nonetheless. I won't criticize DED for being biased here, not because he isn't without bias, but because, as an iPad user, I would probably have the same biases. The last thing I want to read is a review by someone who doesn't "get" the things that make the iPad unique and just looks at all of the tablets as a pile a hardware specs. This summed it up nicely:

Quote:
There's all sorts of missing touches that make the Fire just utilitarian rather than desirable.

Second, you should always read the "most critical" reviews anyway. These can reveal issues ignored by positive or glowing reviews.

Third: the unboxing photos and the AC adapter says: "thank you for buying from Radio Shack. Please fill out the warranty card so we can spam you." It does not say: "you hold in hands the iPad: the single greatest thing man has ever created. In a moment, your journey will begin. Say goodbye to your old life and remember this day, the day your world changed forever!"

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #16 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by popnfresh View Post

In the Rating section the comparison charts are organized to emphasize the things the Fire lacks vis-a-vis the iPad2, while simultaneously glossing over things the iPad2 lacks vis-a-vis the Fire.

For example, in comparing the hardware, they note that the Fire has no GPS, no motion sensor, no cameras, etc. All true. However, they fail to treat the iPad2 equally. In comparing the software included with the two units, it would be fair to say that the iPad2 has no OpenOffice, no Facebook app, no comics viewer, no daily free app giveaways and no Flash support. But conveniently, AppleInsider ignores this and instead has chosen to slant the comparisons in Apple's favor. Now, I realize that it goes against the party line to fault Apple for banishing Flash from iOS's Garden of Eden, but the truth is that Flash is still useful and there are still websites that depend on Flash that iOS can't fully access. At least the Fire doesn't arbitrarily prevent you from doing so.

Boo having no bloatsware is a plus on apple products. Blah blah your beating a dead horse.

Btw the iPad has all the equivalent to what you mentioned was missing..except free apps daily which I don't really miss from my 2 month android experience..
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post #17 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by popnfresh View Post

it would be just as fair to call out that the iPad2 has no QuickOffice, no included Facebook app, no included comics viewer, no daily free app giveaways and no Flash support

Quote:
Now, I realize that it goes against the party line to fault Apple for banishing Flash from iOS's Garden of Eden, but the truth is that Flash is still useful and there are still websites that depend on Flash that iOS can't fully access

good laughs
post #18 of 157
No magic, no sell!

Maybe version 2 will be better. Besides, it's less than half the price of the iPad, yet half as good. Surely some customers will see this as a good thing - 10% more value for money.
post #19 of 157
this Fire is such an obviously flawed V1 prototype, the hype it's gotten from the media is really shameful. just being cheap is not good enough. a lot of naive buyers are going to be very disappointed this Xmas. how long is Amazon's return window for it?

but the concept does have real potential. next year's V2 Fire model could be much improved, both hardware and software. we'll see. so i'm not writing Amazon out.

DED's point that it is primarily aimed at all the competing media store services from Apple, Google, and the rest is key. (he forgot to mention it also is aimed directly at the Nook and B&N's bookstore, or i missed that somewhere.) this is a slugfest between Amazon and Google especially.

it was great to see the iPod touch get attention here. of course it's really Apple's mini-tablet. and with all its powerful abilities, a really super product. very popular with kids and teens, and a Xmas gift they are very happy to get.

but Apple did not update the touch hardware his Fall and it still has the A4 chip, just updated to iOS 5 of course. so it can't do Screen Mirroring (which will become very important for games), just AirPlay.

as DED mentions as a possibility, IMO Apple really needs to introduce a larger A5 chip iPod touch model next year, like 5" or 5.5". there is a real market for this - it would still fit a lot of pockets and a bigger screen is undeniably better for a lot of activities and situations. but it would need to run iPhone apps at double their resolution, so it would still be a retina quality display. maybe in the Spring along with iPad 3?

at say $299, a 5.5" iPod touch would definitely put out the Fire. it would also drain the life out of Sony's new Vita, and close the lid on Nintendo's 3DS.
post #20 of 157
This review was about 4 pages too long...

Aside from being verbose it was the largest compendium of left-handed compliments I have ever seen.
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post #21 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post

The Fire doesn't feel like a magazine, it feels like an inexpensive little paperback.

But, you know... sometimes a paperback is exactly what's needed. A paperback is more handy and more flexible. It's fits in more places. It's easier to carry in an oversized pocket or purse.

In short, for a number of cases, it works. My girlfriend loves her iPad, and didn't really connect with the Fire's interface. But she loved the size, and would trade her full sized iPad for a 7" version in a heartbeat.

I think this is an area that Apple needs to address.

You think Apple needs to address a 7", 10% of the world might agree with you. But Apple won't. Because a 'paperback' works well for a limited number of things (the very same ones that Amazon picked for the Fire and not much else) and Apple is trying to be unlimited. 10% of the world might be disappointed by this but the other 90% either wants larger or simply doesn't care. And Apple will keep designing for the 90% because the sales are high and growing

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post #22 of 157
I think Horace Dediu is right. He said there's no room to undermine the iPad purely on price because the iPad is not yet "good enough." Reading these reviews about the clunky Kindle Fire at $199 have only served to make me think my $499 iPad 2 was a bargain. I don't think the market is ready for a "budget iPad." You have to make too many sacrifices. There's a lot of people who seem to think there's room for a "consumption device" but this is mostly based on the mistake of thinking of the iPad is used a "consumption device" and the rest of its features are superfluous. In practice, these cheap tablets are not much more than warmed-over PMPs, and those have already failed in the marketplace.

The iPad is a laptop-replacement that is not yet good enough for everyone's needs. People will want the best version until such a time as it's over-serving that category. Then we can have a price war. This is no different than with PCs. Years ago everybody bought the best PC and we all used to joke about how it was already obsolete before we got it out of the store. PC buyers had to buy defensively because PCs weren't yet "good enough." You bought not just for what you could do with it now, but for what you might use it for in the future. Nowadays you go for cheap models since the hardware is far beyond good enough for the majority of needs. Because innovation stalled, competition on price has been fierce. The tablet market is more like the early days of the PC market than the current PC market.
post #23 of 157
Two corrections:

(1) The original Kindles (1st, 2nd, and 3rd gen) were not hardwired to an Amazon account. I bought one for my parents and had no trouble whatsoever removing it from my account and registering it with theirs. It wasn't hard to do at all.

(2) The article makes it sound like the Amazon Appstore is the ONLY way to put apps on the Fire. This is not correct. If you can download an .APK file you can install onto the device. I have over a dozen apps not offered by Amazon on my Fire. Depending on the software author, they may or may not make their .APKs available... it's done entirely at their discretion.

I also need to call the author out on something. He complains about the pixel density of the Fire's screen, but not that of the iPad. The pixel density on the Fire is much higher than that of the iPad. The screen resolutions aren't that different: 1024x600 on the Fire, and 1024x768 on the iPad. So the number of pixels on the Fire is only 20% less, on a screen that is less than half the size. If he is going to complain about the pixel density on the Fire, for consistency and to be fair he has to state that the iPad is worse. It certainly isn't fair to compare it to that of a phone, which the Fire (obviously) is not.
post #24 of 157
That is the worst, most biased writing i've ever heard. It just drips of apple fanboy.

I think the gist fo the review is correct, just written poorly and very biased sounding.
post #25 of 157
All the talk about size, and someone's girlfriend actually preferring 7" to 9.7"...

There isn't a mobile OS as polished as iOS out there but as a Mac user, I am seriously looking at the 11" Macbook Air.
post #26 of 157
The iPad is FAR away from a laptop replacement. It cannot yet really do anything well enough to replace a laptop. Even simple web browsing is faster and more efficient on a laptop, AND You can watch flash videos (actually a big deal). There are a lot of sites I frequent that require flash, so the argument that it isn't a big problem anymore is completely false. The iPad is an expensive toy and all I see on these boards are people desperately trying to justify their expensive and unnecessary purchases. You spent a lot of money on a nearly useless toy, accept the fact and deal with it, stop making up pathetic justifications. iPads are really cool, pretty, trendy, well advertised, fun to interface with, have cute games, etc... But that is all they are and all they will be. They are great to have around for those odd occasions where you don't want to use your laptop or you are traveling, etc... but they are worth about $200 in the functions they return. Slowly the number of useful functions they can perform is increasing, and slowly their prices will drop, and in about 2 years those will balance out and we'll have tablets worth buying. For now you early adopters are beta testers funding development of the real deal.



Quote:
Originally Posted by poke View Post

I think Horace Dediu is right. He said there's no room to undermine the iPad purely on price because the iPad is not yet "good enough." Reading these reviews about the clunky Kindle Fire at $199 have only served to make me think my $499 iPad 2 was a bargain. I don't think the market is ready for a "budget iPad." You have to make too many sacrifices. There's a lot of people who seem to think there's room for a "consumption device" but this is mostly based on the mistake of thinking of the iPad is used a "consumption device" and the rest of its features are superfluous. In practice, these cheap tablets are not much more than warmed-over PMPs, and those have already failed in the marketplace.

The iPad is a laptop-replacement that is not yet good enough for everyone's needs. People will want the best version until such a time as it's over-serving that category. Then we can have a price war. This is no different than with PCs. Years ago everybody bought the best PC and we all used to joke about how it was already obsolete before we got it out of the store. PC buyers had to buy defensively because PCs weren't yet "good enough." You bought not just for what you could do with it now, but for what you might use it for in the future. Nowadays you go for cheap models since the hardware is far beyond good enough for the majority of needs. Because innovation stalled, competition on price has been fierce. The tablet market is more like the early days of the PC market than the current PC market.
post #27 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinman0 View Post

Hate to say this, but every review I've read about the Fire just makes it sound cheap and nasty.

For instance, the packaging looks appalling. I mean, this is the first thing you see and it doesn't set a good tone for the rest of the experience. And when packaging looks bad in a web photo, you know it's much worse in reality.

And I'm reading a lot of forum responses (not just here) of disappointed people returning Fires as well. That cannot be good.

The Kindle packaging just seems like a clean recyclable box. There's actually a slip cover on the store versions. I don't really use packages for anything once I buy a product other than box it up and sell it on e-bay, so I don't really judge gadgets by the boxes.
post #28 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by thesmoth View Post

That is the worst, most biased writing i've ever heard. It just drips of apple fanboy.

I think the gist fo the review is correct, just written poorly and very biased sounding.

This is an Apple fan site, or couldn't you tell by the title of the blog, and you must be new because DED is one of the biggest Apple Fanboys out there. Anything he writes is going to be about propping up Apple.

That being said, Daniel is going to write everything in such a way that will for sure rankle a few people, who are quite vocal and still don't get that no matter what they say, Daniel wont change his writing style.
post #29 of 157
The Fire is very similar to most v1 Apple devices, sure the first version has some attractive points, but what you really want is v3 or v4 which has been heavily refined over years of feedback.

Probably the most interesting thing about it is the 7" form factor, which at least makes it possible to hold in one hand (not so with an iPad).This greatly increases portability and opens it up to new use-cases.

I really do think it's only a matter of time until we get a smaller iPad.
post #30 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by thesmoth View Post

The iPad is FAR away from a laptop replacement. It cannot yet really do anything well enough to replace a laptop. Even simple web browsing is faster and more efficient on a laptop, AND You can watch flash videos (actually a big deal). There are a lot of sites I frequent that require flash, so the argument that it isn't a big problem anymore is completely false. The iPad is an expensive toy and all I see on these boards are people desperately trying to justify their expensive and unnecessary purchases. You spent a lot of money on a nearly useless toy, accept the fact and deal with it, stop making up pathetic justifications. iPads are really cool, pretty, trendy, well advertised, fun to interface with, have cute games, etc... But that is all they are and all they will be. They are great to have around for those odd occasions where you don't want to use your laptop or you are traveling, etc... but they are worth about $200 in the functions they return. Slowly the number of useful functions they can perform is increasing, and slowly their prices will drop, and in about 2 years those will balance out and we'll have tablets worth buying. For now you early adopters are beta testers funding development of the real deal.

Dude, you're in the wrong place. Go somewhere else to preach anti-Apple. You're wasting your time and your emotion.
post #31 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

10% of the world might be disappointed by this but the other 90% either wants larger or simply doesn't care. And Apple will keep designing for the 90% because the sales are high and growing.

It's easy to make a compelling argument when you pull all of your percentages out of your... ah, out of thin air. From my perspective, I simply have to disagree. And there's a good chance that Apple might agree with me, as well.

Does Apple make a single one-size-fits-all MacBook Pro or Air? Or are there 11", 13", 15", and 17" versions? Is there a single iPod, or are there shuffles and nanos and Classics and the Touch?

One size most definitely does NOT fit all, and if Amazon sells a boatload of 7" devices, then I could see Apple jumping in with their own 7" iPad at, say, a $299 price point (or even $249).

As this review and others make perfectly clear, the Fire's main weapon is its price. Get another iPad into the same price range, and suddenly it's shortcomings are magnified even more. Buy a Fire at $199, or get an iPad for just $50 more?

One thing that Apple has amply demonstrated over and over again is that it's not afraid to cannibalize its own product lines. (Notebooks reducing desktop sales. iPad reducing notebook sales. iPhone reducing iPod sales.)
post #32 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by thesmoth View Post

<..> The iPad is an expensive toy and all I see on these boards are people desperately trying to justify their expensive and unnecessary purchases. You spent a lot of money on a nearly useless toy, accept the fact and deal with it, stop making up pathetic justifications. <..>.

Funny to hear the kind of arguments that predicted market failure for the iPad. The tablet sales figures provide an objective evidence that a high number of people (wrong or not) believe they have a "need" for such a device (at least up to the point they buy it).

I do not want to generalize about my case (I have three iMacs at home, a MacBook + an iPad (I have two teenage children).

From this experience, if I was in such a financial distress that I could only afford to buy just one item, it would be the iPad, without any hesitation !
post #33 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by sip View Post

All the talk about size, and someone's girlfriend actually preferring 7" to 9.7"...

There isn't a mobile OS as polished as iOS out there but as a Mac user, I am seriously looking at the 11" Macbook Air.

I looked at iPads and for the portability, the iPad and Macbook Air aren't really that different. Of course, that left a spot in my gadget "wants" for a something bigger than an iPhone, which the for $200 the Kindle Fire fit nicely.
post #34 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by sip View Post

but as a Mac user, I am seriously looking at the 11" Macbook Air.

Then you should seriously buy it!

I've got the 13" model. No regrets. Absolutely amazing, and a quality piece of engineering to boot.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #35 of 157
Wow, what a waste of 7 minutes reading this. If anybody wants a real review, check out the many available video's on youtube and from not biased independent reviewers from other websites.

I could spend 20 minutes rebutting various aspects of this 'review.' But that would be a waste of time for this audience.

I would note that my 8gb 3rd gen iPod Touch apparently didn't have that Apple 'magic' pre-packaged in the unit because it also lacks decent sized memory to carry around my videos, it also stops for several seconds at a time for no apparent reason and apps stop working and crash. Yet it still sold 12 million in the last year. Go figure.

Recently I wanted to re-install the Amazon app for comparison shopping. I thought I successfully re-installed the app. I saw the icon on page two loading. After it downloaded, I couldn't find the app. App Store said it was installed. Search did not yield a result for the app. I reset the device- just I occasionally do with those supposedly flawed Windows PC's - and lo and behold, there the app was on page two.

Something in iOS was hiding the Amazon app. If I were paranoid, I would think that Apple didn't want me running the app and deliberately blocked it from view.

LOL. Magic indeed.

By the way, I have a 22 inch 'rectangular' LCD monitor and I have no difficulty reading web pages. I don't see why a rectangular screen would be a reason why one could not read a web page. Do you people have square eyes?
post #36 of 157
I think there's probably a 7" iPod Touch in Apple's lab. The question is whether they release it to fight off the Kindle Fire (and BN Nook) or not. My guess is that you will see such a device before the 2012 Holiday Season...
post #37 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by karmadave View Post

I think there's probably a 7" iPod Touch in Apple's lab. The question is whether they release it to fight off the Kindle Fire (and BN Nook) or not. My guess is that you will see such a device before the 2012 Holiday Season...

Ain't gonna happen. Jobs said people would have to sharpen their fingertips to use touch on such a small screen.
post #38 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by karmadave View Post

I think there's probably a 7" iPod Touch in Apple's lab.

I agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by easy288 View Post

Ain't gonna happen.

I agree.

Quote:
The question is whether they release it to fight off the Kindle Fire (and BN Nook) or not.

I think my line about 'legitimizing bastard lovechildren' stands.

Quote:
My guess is that you will see such a device before the 2012 Holiday Season...

My guess is that we never see such a device, for the following reason:

Quote:
Originally Posted by easy288 View Post

Jobs said people would have to sharpen their fingertips to use touch on such a small screen.

Again, not to say that Apple hasn't made one. I agree with you that they have. They just know that it doesn't work.

And it's remarkable how well my argument can be made with just your two posts.

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post #39 of 157
Everything down to the packaging looks cheap.
post #40 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post

Having had an iPad, owning an iPad 2, and having bought a Kindle FIre just to play with, I agree with most of this review, with one exception...

That exception is the utility of the 7" device. True, it's not as big and flashy as the iPad. It's true that you don't have the "magazine" experience you get with the iPad.

The Fire doesn't feel like a magazine, it feels like an inexpensive little paperback.

But, you know... sometimes a paperback is exactly what's needed. A paperback is more handy and more flexible. It's fits in more places. It's easier to carry in an oversized pocket or purse.

In short, for a number of cases, it works. My girlfriend loves her iPad, and didn't really connect with the Fire's interface. But she loved the size, and would trade her full sized iPad for a 7" version in a heartbeat.

I think this is an area that Apple needs to address.

I agree... I think the 7" tablet is here to stay. And I think we will see one from Apple next year.
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