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Kindle Fire Review Roundup

November 14th, 2011 by · 20 Comments · hardware reviews, Round up

So the Kindle Fire is shipping today.

All the major tech blogs who were lucky enough to get an early review unit are now posting their reviews. I’m not one of those blogs, unfortunately, so all i can do today is gather other blogger’s reviews and be extremely jealous.

The reviews were generally good, but a number of the reviews noted that the software felt a little rough – like it was still needed some refinement, which is not unusual for a first release. I’m still working my way through the reviews, but most sounded like the Kindle Fire performed much like a $200 tablet. Well, it is a $200 tablet, but apparently some bloggers stood it up against the $500 iPad and were disappointed when it fell short. That is a little unreasonable, if you ask me.

Engadget – The Kindle Fire is quite an achievement at $200. It’s a perfectly usable tablet that feels good in the hand and has a respectably good looking display up front. Yes, power users will find themselves a little frustrated with what they can and can’t do on the thing without access to the Android Market but, in these carefree days of cloud-based apps ruling the world, increasingly all you need is a good browser. That the Fire has.

When stacked up against other popular tablets, the Fire can’t compete. Its performance is a occasionally sluggish, its interface often clunky, its storage too slight, its functionality a bit restricted and its 7-inch screen too limiting if you were hoping to convert all your paper magazine subscriptions into the digital ones. Other, bigger tablets do it better — usually at two or three times the cost.

Mashable – Most of these gripes are minor, and to fully appreciate the Amazon Kindle Fire, you have to step back and look at all you’re getting for $199 (the base 16GB iPad is $499, the Nook Tablet $249). This is a highly polished device and collection of services. It bakes in books, music, movies, apps/games, magazines, multi-tasking, universal search, easy access to anything you have in Amazon’s cloud, and a sense that this device and Amazon know you. It is the closest tablet I’ve seen yet to an Apple iPad: a consistent, well-thought out marriage of hardware and services that offer an almost frictionless environment for app purchase and content consumption. This is why the iPad has been so successful and why I think the Kindle Fire, despite its imperfections, is a winner, too.

PC Magazine -

  • Pros Incredible value for the price. Sharp, bright, hi-res screen. Extremely easy to use. Free cloud storage for Amazon content.
  • ConsSometimes sluggish. Screen can be very reflective. Limited on-device storage.
  • Bottom Line The first easy-to-use, affordable small-screen tablet, the Amazon Kindle Fire is revolutionary.

Cnet – Though it lacks the tech specs found on more-expensive Apple and Android tablets, the $199 Kindle Fire is an outstanding entertainment value that prizes simplicity over techno-wizardry.

In the world of tablets, there are great products and there are cheap products, but very few great, cheap products. Fortunately, for those of you unwilling to shell out $500 for an Apple iPad 2, and wary of buying a piece of junk, Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire tablet should be at the top of your wish list.

Wired - If you already have $200 in your high-tech hardware slush fund, and you’re not willing to splurge one cent more, I suggest you wait longer before pulling the trigger on a tablet. Let that nest egg build. Let it grow interest. Wait for the Kindle Fire 2.

Gizmodo – If you like what Amazon Prime has going on in the kitchen, the Fire is a terrific seat. It’s not as powerful or capable as an iPad, but it’s also a sliver of the price—and that $200 will let you jack into the Prime catalog (and the rest of your media collection) easily and comfortably. Simply, the Fire is a wonderful IRL compliment to Amazon’s digital abundance. It’s a terrific, compact little friend, and—is this even saying anything?—the best Android tablet to date.

The Verge – If you’re thinking about getting the Fire, you have to decide not just whether you want a tablet, but what kind of tablet you want. This isn’t an iPad-killer. It has the potential to do lots of things, but there are many things I have yet to see it do, and I wonder if it will get there given the lean software support. It’s my impression that Amazon believes that the Fire will be so popular that developers will choose to work on its platform rather than on Google’s main trunk of Android, but that’s just a theory right now.

Still, there’s no question that the Fire is a really terrific tablet for its price. The amount of content you have access to — and the ease of getting to that content — is notable to say the least. The device is decently designed, and the software — while lacking some polish — is still excellent compared to pretty much anything in this range (and that includes the Nook Color). It’s a well thought out tablet that can only get better as the company refines the software. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great start, and at $200, that may be all Amazon needs this holiday shopping season.

 

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20 Comments so far ↓

  • nickel

    I am a little surprised that these reviews do not make mention of the Kobo Vox at all.

    • fjtorres

      They also don’t mention any other generic tablets like the Pocketbooks, Viewsonics, Archos, etc.
      Mindshare matters.
      Plus, most of the revews correctly understand that FIRE isn’t a generic Android Tablet but a media pad (like iPad) that happens to be built off Android.

  • cookie

    Mashable said: “It is the closest tablet I’ve seen yet to an Apple iPad:”

    Bullshit. Galaxy Tab 10.1 is closer.

    • Nate Hoffelder

      I bet Asus eeePad is also closer.

      • Robert

        I think there talking in terms of products that is offered on a device, yes Tab and eeepad is closer to look but do they offer a video streaming store, Music store, Book/Magazines/newpapers, and Application you can download. I like the fire and will still love my kindle, but in those terms, I may go with the ViewPad 7e that has amazon apps pre installed or Nook Color due to it being easier to hack and put amazon apps on the only device I can think you would be missing is the Video on Demand out of most services from amazon

  • Nate Hoffelder

    Bah. The Engadget review was written by a fool. he complains about the screen resolution being too low. Um, you cannot buy a higher res 7″ screen.

  • RK

    Thank you for rounding up all these reviews, much appreciated.

  • Nate Hoffelder

    PC Magazine’s review was far too long. I gave up on the second page.

    • Logan Kennelly

      hehe, there is something funny about people who read entire books (for fun!) thinking a review is too long.

      Well, at least a little bit funny.

  • Nate Hoffelder

    Cnet’s review was also too long, and the reviewer dinged the Kindle Fire for not having the specs of a $500 tablet. No shit, dumbass; this is a $200 tablet.

  • Nate Hoffelder

    The Wired review is also too long, but at least this person noted the CPU issues. He called it underperforming, and considering that the KF has is a dual core CPU that is a damning statement.

  • fjtorres

    Check this one:
    http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/14/8790557-kindle-fire-review-yes-its-that-good

    Video, too.

    They agree with Nate that between iPad at the high end and Fire at the low end there isn’t much room for the folks in the middle to make money.

    • fjtorres

      They’ve also found some folks who think Apple will come down off their high (pricing) horse in the spring.
      http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/14/8803787-the-ipads-price-must-come-down

      And they found evidence Google loses two ways: control of the apps and in Android’s own visibility in the tablet space:
      http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/14/8792145-kindle-fire-success-is-google-android-failure

      Basically, unless real-world Fire is total crap, Amazon has a clear win here.

      • Logan Kennelly

        Google wins if it attracts more developers to the platform. We did see some marketing recently around limited-time exclusives with the Amazon App store, but does anyone really expect one of the competitor stores to complete supplant the official store installed on hundreds of millions of devices? Has Google ever expressed an interest in controlling the distribution of applications?

        Link to the survey again in a month and you are going to see a totally different picture. Is anyone surprised that the new, not-yet-released device with all the hype surveys well?

        Also, another interpretation of the results is: developers who already develop for Android tablets are interested in supporting the Kindle Fire in addition to many other Android devices (most notably the Galaxy Tab and Motorola Xoom).

        • fjtorres

          I’m not necessarily supporting their position, but consider that tablets and phones are different (Hence the Whole Honeycomb thing that didn’t quite work out and now Android 4) so there will always be some pressure to fork the apps.
          So, yes, there might be a hundred million android phones, but how many million Android tablets have actually sold?
          Fire is launching off five million.
          Down the road, the fork could become significant if future FIREs *don’t* move to Androids 4,5, and 6 but to some other Amazon mutant.
          We might end up with two Android environments, one phone-centric and the other Amazon-centric. And for some app types, odds are the Fire market might be the primary revenue generator.
          Lots remains to be seen but the market for Telco tabs just got a lot more hostile.

          • James

            Phones being different than tablets is likely going to be less of a issue with Android 4 (ICS). Google is actively trying to reduce fragmentation and are introducing tools that are suppose to make it easier for developers to make apps work for a range of devices. Like with auto scaling, etc.

            The only caveat right now is the Kindle Fire is using Gingerbread and there is no word on when Amazon will update it to ICS.

            Otherwise there is no reason to not think that developers won’t be able to both make apps for the KF as well as other Android devices.

            Add Amazon itself won’t be blocking any such efforts and it’s even in their interest because the main thing they are selling is their services, which they can make available for a wide range of devices.

            Amazon is already considering allowing the SILK browser to work on other devices for example. While they already have apps for many of their services that work on a range of devices already.

            The success of the KF is mainly a bonus for them to help promote their services and provide some exclusive features but they’ll still be going after profit through other devices using their services.

  • Firmware Update Available for the Kindle Fire - eBookNewser

    [...] released on the update, but I suspect that it fixes a number of performances issues raised by the early reviewers. It probably also smooths the rough edges in the Kindle Fire [...]

  • SeptB

    I have one, haven’t totally read all the reviews, but I have to agree with Wired Mag, wait for the second one. It is still a bit stiff, doesn’t have the fluidity of the first iPad, which I have also, and does not have an external volume control, which is a peeve of mine since the iPad 1 does. It does not have a touch button like iPad does for instant open and access to apps and controlling them. It is going to be a wonderful small, portable computer that is the closest thing to the iPad1. It will need updates, which I was looking for already and found this post, and a few tweaks. People, you need to be diligent on your updates for everything! Or, find an app to take care of it for you.

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