It has been a long time coming, but finally Amazon have released their Apple and Android rival in the Amazon Kindle Fire, we take a look at what this ground breaking new tablet with the sub $200 price tag will bring to the marketplace now so many tablet options are available.
Amazon Kindle Fire = Entertainment on a budget?
Amazon are a shrewd set of tacticians. They are fully aware that in the connected world content is king. If you can not access good quality content it does not matter how good your platform or device is, you are stuck. So Amazon have been clever in gaining the rights to a vast amount of Music, Books, Films, and now games, on top of which they have developed a very canny eco-system/marketplace that allows users easy access to the Amazon store and marketplace as the Kindle is already pre registered at purchase/delivery, this is in a similar vain as iTunes relates to Apple products but at a much more all consuming level and is vastly more accomplished than anything the Google Android marketplace currently offers.
What is more they are giving access to their well respected, and in many ways ground breaking cloud service for free. Taking this tablet into completely new territory for this price range.
Watch the Amazon Kindle Fire video review below:
Kindle Fire Uses Customized Android O/S:
So with the new Kindle Fire running on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, is the retail giants new tablet offering a direct competitor to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, iPad or the Blackberry Playbook?
Well let’s take a look at the specs first of all:
Amazon Kindle Fire Technical Teardown:
- 1024 x 600, 7″ display
- Built in WiFi
- 8GB Storage
- Free Cloud Storage
- “Silk” browser
- Dual core processors
- No 3G
And some further statistics:
Weighing in at a sub $200 price tag has been rumoured to be a loss leader for Amazon, which always begs the question, why would a company offer something for less than cost price?
The answer no doubt is because of the Amazon eco-system, so yes, while Brazil’s’ lungs of the word are struggling, gasping and generally asking for help, the lungs of the largest internet retailers have become so huge that they can afford to swallow up and subsidise the consumer desire for tablets, just so long as they integrate themselves in the eco-system, which they are forced to do anyway…maybe the Amazon rain forest needs a big old cloud!…or perhaps benevolent dictators are the way forward?
The tablet for the generalist?
In my own opinion I feel that Amazon have really worked out what the mass market wants and aimed to deliver that in two ways:
1 – Price wise, $199 is well in the price point of most people, especially those who are “thinking?” about getting a tablet.
2 – Features wise, with access to 18 million movies, games, books, magazines and songs, content is within easy reach of Kindle Fire users, plus they have access to the Amazon cloud service to store things easily and safely rather than worrying about hard drives…this is a massive shift from hardware to the cloud.
So for the every day user, which we all are quite often, this tablet proves to be quite a winner.
With this in mind, we thought it would be rude to not delve a little deeper into what the tablet has to offer and how it works once you actually get a hold of the device.
At 7 inches it is not a huge device and does fit neatly into bags and perhaps even some pockets for the less vertically challenged, rather than the average person. At just under a pound in weight, it is less weight than the iPad 2, though it does feel a bit clunky.
It appears to utilise the tried and tested one button approach, but takes this to the extreme as it literally has only the one button, though this has ended up being a snagging point as it is a disappearing touchscreen button that is not quite ready when you want it.
Using the Kindle Fire:
So what happens when you start to use the device properly?
The Amazon Kindle Fire uses a carousel homescreen with all your content easily accessed at the swipe of a hand which is seemingly a nice touch, a variant on the app style of Android and Apple, with the top bar offering categorised content also, Video, news, Books, Docs etc, their is a minor gripe with responsiveness but it is only a minor issue occasionally noticed.
Kindle Fire Music:
With over 17 million songs already available, the new Amazon music store is a serious iTunes rival, when using it you are OK to upload your tracks from iTunes and can then purchase more music using the device and the marketplace, you are also able to transfer music using WiFi or USB. Being stored in the cloud means you can then access this content from any computer with a WiFi connection and access to the internet.
Kindle Fire Books:
With over 1 million books for the Kindle device, the original use of the Kindle still has huge appeal even if the black and white anti glare screen is missing, what is more there are thousands of out of copyright material that is totally free to download and enjoy.
So you can use the tablet just like an e-reader with pages that swipe, controls over font size, typeface and margins and line spacing. You are also able to add notes as you read and highlight areas of interest. A nice feature is that you can access Wikipedia straight away with words that are unfamiliar by simply holding down for a few second on highlighted text. With Amazon Whispersync remembering where yo are with your reading material so you can get back to where you left with ease, all in all things work very well on the new kindle.
Kindle Fire Newsstand:
With around 400 colour digital newspapers and a 3-month free trial to 17 Condé Nast magazines. you can read your favourite news as you woudl pretty much on any other tablet, and do all the things you would except to customise the experience to your own taste.
Kindle Fire Video:
With video being one of the Internet’s main drainers in terms of data used, the simple fact remains that people love a good film or to watch shows or clips of cats doing silly things, oh yes and that other vice.
And though Amazon are not forging ahead into the Adult arena just yet, they are muscling into yet another large technology giants territory with access to more and more premium video content.
Can you see where Amazon are going with their new tablet?…it is ALL about content and easy access to this.
With the Kindle Fire you get one months access to Amazon Prime which offers unlimited streaming, similar to Netflix’s options, though with only 8GB of storage on the device you will be needing to ensure that you are connected via WiFi at all times when using as the storage space is limited.
Kindle Fire Apps:
If you already use Pulse as a news aggregation service, then the fact that this is the only app that is given initially will be welcome news!…pun intended. But if you want more apps as we are sure you will, then you will have to start looking around the Amazon Appstore, which is basically a similar version to the Android marketplace, with all your favorite apps like angry birds and such like, which are all rumoured to work perfectly well.
Kindle Fire Email:
Thankfully your email accounts in various different disguises, Hotmail, Gmail, AOL, and IMAP and POP systems are all easy to configure within the Kindle Fire and the integration seems to be great also for Microsoft Exchange users when using the Microsoft Exchange App in the App store.
Kindle Fire Web Browsing:
Amazon’s brand new “Silk” browser seems to take one of the key features that made the e-commerce giant so successful and add a new spin on it, and that was the ability to profile you and up-sell more “stuff”. In the browsers case “Silk” will remember what pages seem to be the most important to you and offer them up as you browse. Could this be used to up-sell more content, damn straight it could and probably will.
Kindle Fire Battery:
Amazon have delivered well here. A tablet that can last 8 hours of use with “continuous reading” is a device that finally has some credibility in terms of usability of a portable device, ironically though, with it’s cloud based eco-system that needs to be connected to the internet for so much of its functionality I expect most people will have access to a power point anyway while using this WiFi loving and 3G missing tablet.
The Amazon Kindle Fire is a content lover that excels at delivering entertainment on a budget, it is a perfect gift for a wide variety of people and also allows late adopters of tablet like devices to sample a good quality tablet device for under $200.
Integrate this tablet to Amazons’ prime package at $79 per year and you have one hell of an entertainment system for sub $300:
Amazon Prime is an annual membership program that offers customers unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on millions of items, instant streaming of more than 10,000 movies and TV shows and access to borrow a Kindle book every month, including New York Times Bestsellers, with no due dates — all for just $79 a year. Eligible customers who purchase a Kindle Fire will be given a free month of Amazon Prime.
As such, the Amazon Kindle Fire gets a huge thumb’s up from me as this new tablet will hopefully bring about a bit of a price war where consumers can start to benefit a little more in terms of what they pay to become “connected”.
The technology contained is not the most advanced but with a price tag sub $200, the occasional screen lag at certain periods of use is a minor gripe as this tablet is great in so many other ways that allow it to be a really utilitarian device.Anthony Munns