Amazon Kindle Fire
Last year for Black Friday, I did my first product review, encouraging all of you to buy the Amazon Kindle, and for good reason. Amazon’s ebook reader was a revolutionary device that even then, with it’s month long battery life, friendly user-interface, and massive selection of cheap and easily downloaded content, it quickly earned a spot as one of my most indispensable devices, and I was quick to claim it would do for printed media what the iPod did for music. In the year since, Amazon has done well in making good on my prediction, with better and cheaper models of the Kindle flooding the market (with some as low as $79) and the media library continuing to grow, there is little wonder that the Kindle has, despite finding a Zune-esque rival in the Barnes & Noble Nook, almost cornered the ebook market entirely.
Now, Amazon looks to, no pun intended, set the tablet world ablaze with the aptly named Kindle Fire. As news got out about the planned tablet got out, nearly every detail had consumers and techies alike talking, whether it be the the design and interface, or the exceedingly low price. Needless to say, I was just as excited about the device, having been considering getting a tablet for some time, and remembering how pleased I was with my Kindle, I decided to buy the Fire, and here are my impressions and opinions of the device, including whether or not you, my dear readers, should get one yourself.
The device itself is a has a seven inch touch-screen, is about half-an-inch thick and weighs in at just under a pound, which means unlike a lot of other tablets, it is fully possible to use it with one hand. The screen is backlit LCD with high resolution, and it always looks clean and crisp, no matter what you’re doing on the device. It’s software runs on a modified version of the Google Android browser, along with all that that entails, and is very user-friendly and simple to use. While it has just 8GB internal memory, Amazon provides free web-based storage for all content that you do not wish to store directly on the device, and it can be retrieved with the simple click of a button.
One downside of the device is the battery life, which lasts between eight to ten hours, which while typical for a tablet, is a downgrade from the Kindle’s month-long battery. Another design feature that might distance some people is that it has no 3G capabilities, meaning that it’s Internet access is wholly dependant on Wi-Fi, though this is not as big of a dealbreaker as it might seem, both because of the increasing number of Wi-Fi hotspots and more importantly, the lack of 3G is a big reason for it’s low price: The Amazon Fire costs just $199, while to use an example, the 3G iPad is $629, not counting wireless fees.
Of course, perhaps the greatest strength of the Kindle Fire in comparison to it’s competitors, aside from of course the sticker price, is it’s massive amounts of available content and media. With access to over 100,000 movies and TV shows, 17 million songs, thousands of apps, and the ever growing multitude of digital books and magazines that made the Kindle such a game changer in the book industry, and now they’re in crisp full color. This was a big selling point for me, media junkie as I am, and it was sweetened with the trial version of Amazon Prime, which serves as a free library of movies and TV shows to stream, and while you won’t find the latest blockbusters among the offerings, there’s still plenty to choose from, and based on what I’ve seen, I’ll happily pay for the service once the trial version expires.
In the tablet market, people are already saying the Fire could be the first real challenger to the iPad’s dominance, and for good reason given its value and capabilities. While a few people might want a camera or the name recognition that comes with the iPad, I’m more than happy to walk away with the Fire and a few hundred extra dollars in my checking account.
Overall, the Kindle Fire was easily the best purchase I’ve made all year, and I honestly couldn’t be more happy with the device. It’s lightweight and convenient enough to take anywhere, has more media than I know what to do with, it runs like a dream, and it’s capabilities astound me, whether it be streaming a free episode of Firefly, downloading the new Steven King novel, or even typing up this very article. If you’ve been looking for a tablet, or even if you weren’t before, I highly urge you to take a look, the Kindle Fire is a must-own.