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

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 126
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 126
    conradjoeconradjoe Posts: 1,887member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 126
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 126
    neo42neo42 Posts: 287member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 126
    shaun, ukshaun, uk Posts: 1,050member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 126
    neo42neo42 Posts: 287member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 126
    idaveidave Posts: 1,283member
    $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.
  • Reply 8 of 126
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 126
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 126
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 126
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,884member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 126
    ssquirrelssquirrel Posts: 1,196member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 126
    drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 126
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 126
    conradjoeconradjoe Posts: 1,887member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 126
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 126
    straskstrask Posts: 107member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 126
    conradjoeconradjoe Posts: 1,887member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 126
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 126
    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.
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