UPDATE: GigaOm has an article posted 2/16/2012 in which it details that what has been most hurt by the Kindle Fire and the Nook are the Android devices in the tablet space. I think this makes a $199 Google built tablet all the more likely.
Much has been written already about the Kindle Fire* from Amazon.com. By all accounts, or at least Amazon’s PR machine (they actually don’t release their exact numbers for each of the Kindle units they sell), they have clearly hit on second great tablet. Amazon themselves say they are not directly competing with Apple and iPad.
Amazon has plenty of content, and enough experience managing customers from the past 16 years, plus a very dedicated Kindle user base.
This is not a review as much as it is initial impressions of an outsider. Yes, I own an iPad, and no I don’t own a Kindle Fire. Neither do I ever expect to buy a Kindle Fire. The most thorough review I have seen to date is this one at Amazon.
But I am a technophile and the family’s tech guy, so it was with great interest when my nephew told me he and his dad had bought their mom a Kindle Fire. I was there on Christmas morning when she opened it, and I was the one who had to trouble shoot the first miscues caused by a not quite as intuitive setup process as was needed.
That was the only time I have actually held a Kindle Fire. But with that experience, with reading reviews, and especially looking at reviews of actual Kindle Fire owners at Amazon, I venture forth a few thoughts. Some are original, some aren’t.
1. They got the size right, or at least very close to right.
2. They got the price point exactly right for what you get for the price. At $199, it is easily the best tablet at that price.
3. As would be expected, they got the integration with the huge Amazon content exactly right.
4. Add Amazon Prime to the Kindle Fire, and you create significant additional value for yourself.What is Amazon Prime? A Complete Guide + Tips, Tricks and Secrets
1. The interface looks good, but the user experience, meaning what is necessary to manage the device is not as good as it could be. I would expect they will improve some of that with a firmware update, and certainly with the KF2, whenever that comes out.
2. No external volume control. Makes it difficult to listen to all that cloud based music without having to navigate. Not a show stopper, but not optimal
3. Power button on the bottom. Well documented and reported. Too many people find it easy to accidentally turn the device off.
4. Preconfigured 1 Click purchasing. That is not at all surprising, since Amazon is losing money on every Kindle Fire they sell. They have to sell content, and lots of it to offset their loss on each device. But parents and grandparents who gave them to kids or grandkids have had rude awakenings when they got their bills, because the kids have been enjoying all they can buy on grandmom’s credit card!
5. No parental controls. It is a wild web out there, and Amazon is not kid friendly, at least in terms of keeping pornographic type materials from the device. Pay attention parents if you give your preteen a Kindle Fire. Turn off the 1 Click purchase before you hand it over (if this can even be done on the Fire), and pay attention to what is being purchased.
1. One thing clear when you look at the 1 Star reviews for the Kindle Fire: Previous Kindle users are disappointed by the added weight and the poor battery life of the Fire. They are risking their relationship with that group of valued customers. But they may see that they will gain so many more customers that they are willing to take the risk.
2. If you are the owner of a previous Kindle device, you won’t have access to all the content you have purchased.
3. If you expect to use text to speech as you have with previous Kindles you won’t be able to. This could well be fixed via firmware update.
4. FIRMWARE UPGRADES COULD BE PAINFUL, if the updating of Android devices is any indication. If you are not tech savvy, wait a while before updating the Kindle Fire firmware. Of course, if this is pushed automatically, you won’t have a choice. But I fully expect there will be major problems in the first major updates (not small patches) once Amazon has them ready. I could be pleasantly surprised, but history suggests that this will be a problem area.
5. If Google releases a $199 Android tablet, sales of the Kindle Fire will fall, but not much. Google should get the UI right, but they don’t have the content integration going for them.
6. If Apple releases a $199 or even a $299 iPad, the Kindle Fire will be hit. iPad’s user experience, user interface and battery life (taken together or even taken separately) are already so much better than anything on the market, that when the prices get closer, buyers will turn to the best in class and not the Fire.
What about you? Have you had experience with the Kindle Fire? My S-I-L loves hers? What has been your experience?