After six weeks of media frenzy, Amazon finally released the Kindle Fire, the company’s answer to Apple’s iPad, RIM’s Playbook, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, and a host of other mobile devices.
The Kindle Fire has the same processer as one of its other competitors, the RIM Playbook. Both devices have 1GHz TI OMAP dual core processers and 512 of RAM, but the Kindle Fire separates itself with a 7-inch, 16 million color display.
The $200 tablet’s aesthetics are simple, choosing to focus more on the streaming software capabilities. Gorilla Glass protects a 1024x600 display, and the 7.5-inch by 4.7-inch by .47-inch streamlined design that makes the Kindle Fire easy to hold, although it is a little dense. Its 413 g is noticeably more cumbersome than the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus that weighs 345 g.
As far as software, the Kindle Fire runs the Android Gingerbread operating system, although consumers would not know it by looking at the screen. What users are presented with is a variety of items on a bookshelf, with options available to be chosen at their leisure.
This simplistic interface means consumers spend less time thinking, and more time reading, listening to music, watching videos or movies, and playing games.
Getting to those types of media is a bit different from what most of the technology-savvy populace is used to, however. Instead of downloading all the content one can, Amazon chose to reduce the size of the app store and the storage capability of the tablet. With only 8 GB of storage, the Kindle Fire cannot house much media, but the 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi only streaming capabilities are devised as a way around that.
The easily accessible store has all of Amazon’s content, and the Prime membership allows owners to stream free content to the tablet. Netflix and Hulu Plus round out the Kindle Fire’s video facilities.
Another aspect Amazon highlighted is the Kindle Fire’s Silk web browser. Although not faster than the iPad 2 and its Safari web browser, Silk is still quick, rendering pages and making favorites easily accessible.
The complaints about the Kindle Fire are not too numerous, but do hinder some. The lack of a home button or a volume button hampers the tablet’s straightforwardness, and the processing can be little sluggish, even when reading.
Moreover, there is a failure to make the tablet accessory friendly. No Bluetooth, SD card slot, or even headphones come with the Kindle Fire, and on a device with no 3G capabilities, could hurt sales.
Nevertheless, for one of the cheapest tablets available, the Kindle Fire can readily compete with similarly priced devices, like the Nook Tablet, the PlayBook, and the Galaxy Tab. As far as the iPad 2, though, $500 more of hardware and software keep it out of the range.