Hands-on with the Amazon Kindle Fire

Hands-on with the Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon's laser focus on media means the Fire is a superb value cloud gadget, but it's no iPad killer.

Although it wont be available in Australia for some time (if it makes it over here at all), many of our readers are curious about Amazon's would-be iPad killer; the Kindle Fire. Here's a primer on why you should be clamouring for a local release...

Amazon Kindle Fire

With its combination of seamless Amazon shopping and recession-friendly pricing, the Kindle Fire is destined to be stuffed into millions of American stockings this Christmas. Yanks have overlooked its lack of GPS, camera and mobile data, focusing on cloud features to rival Apple – and a price-tag less than half that of an iPad.

We jetted over to the US to see whether the Fire will still be hot stuff when it eventually (hopefully) makes it way downunder.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon Kindle Fire - Build

The Fire has shed the E Ink screens of previous Kindles - and sadly also left behind some of their quirky cool. This solid 7in slab feels as glamorous as a holiday in New Jersey, although the sharp, colourful 1024x600 LCD hints at a saucy weekend in the Florida sun.

Gadget freaks will bemoan the bare bones spec (no Bluetooth, even?) but 1GHz dual-core innards means there’s power where it counts.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon Kindle Fire – Shopping

It’s no surprise that Amazon puts retail front and centre on the Fire, with tabs to buy mags, books, music, videos and apps prominent on the home screen.

A scrolling 3D carousel flips smartly through recent items, and 1-Click shopping throughout makes it scarily easy to rack up purchases.Everything you buy (except that hedge trimmer for dad) is stored in the cloud for free – or you can download it to the slim 6GB of memory on board.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon Kindle Fire – Silk browser

The all-new Silk browser is designed to speed up web surfing by off-loading the hard work to Amazon’s servers in the cloud.

In practice, though, the Fire is noticeably slower to load pages than the latest Honeycomb tablets and much slower than the iPad. At least Flash works fine – and Jeff Bezos promises that Silk will get faster as more people use it.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon Kindle Fire – Prime mover

Amazon’s US$79 Prime service is increasingly less about free shipping and more about free media. The Fire comes with 30 days of Prime membership, giving access to over 10,000 films and TV shows to stream over its excellent video player, plus 5000 free Kindle books. By the time the Fire reaches Blighty, Prime might include free music streams, too. Outside of Prime, blockbuster vids come with a generous 24 hour rental window.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon Kindle Fire – Apps

If you’re an ebook fan, stick with a traditional E Ink Kindle. The Kindle app here is embarrassingly basic, and it’s too easy to turn pages by accident. Bizarrely, the Facebook ‘app’ is nothing more than a link to the website.

The email engine is ace, though, and the on screen keyboard is just fine. The Amazon Store has around 10,000 apps – including one paid app free every day.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon Kindle Fire – verdict

As a portable video viewer and portal to Amazon’s online empire, the Kindle Fire can’t be faulted. It makes consuming media as easy – easier even – than Apple, and it generally provides better value. The Fire is a long way from rivalling full-fat tablets though, especially when it comes to communications, creating content and sheer number of apps.

The lack of support outside the US means importing a Fire is a bit of a waste of time, but we should definitely be excited about the unconfirmed international release next year. 

Amazon's laser focus on media means the Fire is a superb value cloud gadget, even if it's no iPad killer.

Source: Copyright © Stuff.tv

See more about:  amazon  |  kindle  |  ebook

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Comments: 10
12 December 2011
You said it: GPS, camera amd mobile data. A tablet for non-geeks who don't want to sopend a heap of loot on a rapidly depreciating asset-toy. I'd suggest that the majority of activity on all tablets of which the ipad is an example, is not work, it is consumption. Amazon probably has the mix just about right.

As for the idea that a GREATER THAN 50% discount is not a GAME CHANGING ipad sales threat? If that is accurate, I must have learned nothing during my Consumer Electronics retail years and from observing in the intervening decades ...

Comment made about the PC & Tech Authority article:
Hands-on with the Amazon Kindle Fire?
Amazon's laser focus on media means the Fire is a superb value cloud gadget, but it's no iPad killer.

What do you think? Join the discussion.
12 December 2011
Not only a greater than 50% discount on price, but an even greater discount on features.

But then that is not important, users will find the model that suits them. Eventually.
12 December 2011
What a load of crap review.

PC&T_, if you're going to recycle the UK reviews, at least proof read to make sure that you're removed all reference to England.

Last time I checked 'Blighty' was NOT Australia.

I've been trying to put my finger on what was wrong with the UK reviews you recycle(apart from reading like the supplier press release), and over the weekend I found it, looking at some old archives on line.

Back in the 50's and 60's UK motorcycle magazines were too scared to write anything bad about Pommy motorcycles for fear they would be cut off from getting test rides (Matchless were famous for this) This review reads exactly like one of those old MC reviews.

'Blockbuster vids..a generous 24 hour ' I should damned well think so - 24 hours is not generous at all, merely acceptable.

I think the Poms are still too scared to write a truthfull review for fear of not being invited to the next supplier piss-up. At the end they do at least partially redeem themselves by admitting it's not a full-fat tablet.

US reviews of the device have been faint with praise, iffy touch recognition, very slow browsing.

Sorry, Photo, the concensus from US reviewers is this is no way an iPad killer. Yes, it will take some iPad sales from those who want cheap, however, again suggestion is some those people will come back to iPad when it doesn't do what they want. If they only want media, they may be satisfied.

Rubaiyat is generous in saying 50% cost for 50% features.

I am certain there will be 7" Android tablets that will take the fight to Apple at a lower price point FOR THOSE WHO WANT A SMALL SCREEN, however this isn't it. Different market.

A cautionary note, some suggestion it may actually harm Android as those (less educated?) buying one of these, expecting it to do all the 'business' side of things are disappointed and blame Android rather than just this device.

I've previously posted I've used an iPad for business on overseas trips in place of the notebook and been extremely happy (and I'm a fussy bastard), but be damned if I could EVER see me trying that with a 7" screen, in fact 10.1" might be even better than 9.7".

The Asus transformer is a better bet. Still trying to decide which tablet I'll get for myself.

Edited by amcmo: 12/12/2011 01:38:01 PM
12 December 2011
If people buy something that won't do what they want, they may well blame the messenger. People who buy gifts for others, especially non-tech junkies will probably hit the mark well enough.

For short stints 7" is probably fine. How long does it take to read an email and SWYPE a respones? Make a restaurant choice, reas the shipping manifest in the warehouse? A BIG screen can be a PITA - hourses for courses and a pocketable tablet whicjh is looked at 20 mins of the day may be just right for many uses. We'll see. Not everyone will NEED an expensive tablet - EVER. I can't see restaurants advertising they have bigger tablets than the guy down the road.

Lets see what 3-4 months of sales data reveals, shall we? And let's remember when the results are out the FIRE is US-only at the moment. What's that? Forty-something percent of world sales?

Yes that transformer looks the more universally useful format.
12 December 2011
My point is, it's a rather ordinary implimentation focussed on 1 use. The review is rubbish (again)

There WILL be better 7" tablets designed as PROPER tablets that should appeal to a more clued up market.

I have no doubt, with the Amazon name behind it it will sell by the 10/100's of millions, however it is a different beast to a PROPER multi purpose tablet.

We're seeing the development of a separate (largely) market segment that only Amazon addresses sucessfully at present (Barns and Noble are also having a crack).

Obviously there may some bleed of sales from iPad sized tablets, however the combined market segments are growing (not the wholesale dropping of iPad sales by an iPad 'killer' hoped for by some A fanboys).
1 January 2012
Nah it isn't an ipad killer. It WILL affect ipad sales as it does all that many people want and NEED instead of a full-blown tablet can do.
Repeat, repeat, not everyone needs/wants all the frills, so NO need to keep banging on about what customers "SHOULD" need. Is is incorrect to say that people who want a device that serves THEIR NEEDS are somehow stupid or just don't know what they are doing.

"A SMALL SCREEN"?? Amazing, as the iphone has a small screen and that's "good'? Apple is strongly rumoured to be doing two things the visionary Jobs SWORE them off: 1) produce a 7.x inch tablet, 2) make a phone with a decent-sized screen. Based on the indications, I contend that THEY DO foresee an impact and are busy stitching up catch-up product manufacturing for both types of products.

Reminiscent of a shonky retailer:- When THEY sell a product it is great and 'needed', 'changes everything' blah, blah, blah. When they don't have a particular product, any idea is GARBAGE - until they DO have it. Orwell's "ministry of truth" in action.
4 January 2012
Looks like the Fire already sold around 10m units, so it must be doing something right...

I doubt those sales impact Apple that much, the iPad and the fire are very different devices marketed to a different audience and the pricing shows it.
6 January 2012
ory... Absolutely what sensible people have been saying all along. The fruity one may have been the first one to make a SQUILLION out of a tablet, but thankfully it isn't the only one out there.

Consumers are NOT stupid for avoiding slavishly purchases of what apple sells. Their stuff is not some holy grail. That is the HUGE problem with the fan boys "you have to buy it, it is the "best", no one else can do it ... yadda yadda yadda", yawn.

Also quite pathetic when they SHOUT: "copy" because tablet functionality matches or exceeds an ipad, and say 'crap' when it is an entry level device.

Others made useful devices before apple came up with some nifty stuff and are moving beyond now. Life will go on after they are replaced with something more advanced.
How about those foldable screens that innovative companies are currently working on?
Probably could make them sealed - maybe they'd even float, add solar charging and you might give a new capability to "message in a bottle".

Lower priced tablets WILL slow the ipad growth, as consumers have an ever increasing CHOICE, all tablets don't HAVE to be the 'same'.

Most people wouldn't spend $600 on a toy for their kids. They might spend $200 odd - as long as they could roster the bloody thing between their kids.

Although you CAN do some work on a tablet, they are (for the most part) toys, Buzz - TOYS! (albeit nice toys)

Let's see how much the apparently soon to arrive Sammy GS3 bends "state of the art", and the '4' is rumoured for December 2012, yikes!
Does anyone else have the feeling that we are doomed - that consumers will NEVER catch up with the output of clever makers.

16 February 2012
The kindle fire deffinitly wins the battle of the ereaders. :D

5 March 2012
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