The Tech.pinions Amazon Kindle Fire Review Roundup

Ben Bajarin / November 13th, 2011

Well the reviews are out and it seems like they are mostly positive. Other than a few user interface gripes it appears most reviewers believe the Kindle Fire to be a worthy Android tablet competitor but not much of an iPad competitor. From our own experience with the Kindle Fire we tend to agree on both fronts.

For an in depth analysis on the Kindle Fire and the potential impact on the tablet landscape check out Tim’s analysis after using the Kindle fire both on the road and at home.

Here are some of the more notable reviews and a few of their highlights.

Joshua Topolsky at the Verge

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 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.

Tim Stevens at 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.

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.

So, the Kindle Fire is great value and perhaps the best, tightest integration of digital content acquisition into a mobile device that we’ve yet seen.

Mark Spoonauer at Laptop Magazine

The Kindle Fire isn’t an iPad killer, but it is a killer deal. At $199, it’s really hard to beat the package Amazon has put together. Assuming you’re willing to carry a smaller 7-inch device, it combines an easy-to-use interface and one-tap access to loads of content in a well-built design

Lance Ulanoff at Mashable

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.

Perhaps the most powerful review comes from David Pogue of the NY Times. Powerful because out of all the reviews his may be the most influential with the everyday consumer. Therefore Pogue’s review may arguably be the one most mainstream consumers, who don’t read gadget blogs, may read and use to inform their decision about whether to buy a Kindle Fire.

David Pogue of the NY Times

Your heart leaps. “This is incredible!” you say, contemplating the prospects. “It’s like an iPad — for $200!”

But that’s a dangerous comparison.

For one thing, the Fire is not nearly as versatile as a real tablet. It is designed almost exclusively for consuming stuff, particularly material you buy from Amazon, like books, newspapers and video.

Most problematic, though, the Fire does not have anything like the polish or speed of an iPad. You feel that $200 price tag with every swipe of your finger.

The Fire deserves to be a disruptive, gigantic force — it’s a cross between a Kindle and an iPad, a more compact Internet and video viewer at a great price. But at the moment, it needs a lot more polish; if you’re used to an iPad or “real” Android tablet, its software gremlins will drive you nuts.

Then again, Amazon tends to keep chipping away at the clunkiness of its 1.0 creations until it sculptures a hit. Or, as they say in the technology business: “If you don’t like the current crop of e-readers, just wait a minute.”

The Kindle Fire may pose a real test for Amazon. This device is clearly a risk on their behalf advancing away from their traditionally successful Kindle E-reader model. Obviously Amazon is not standing still and the rumors are they will have more tablets in 2012. The first Kindle’s evolved quite quickly and Amazon embraced their customer feedback and refined the Kindle experience. If they want to take the Kindle Fire to the next level they will need to do the same with their tablet strategy.

Despite what the reviewing media says the real test is with the mass market. We will know what mainstream consumers think about the Kindle Fire soon enough.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
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