Kindle Fire: First Impressions

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I am a Mac user.  I have been ever since that day with Mac OS X when I opened the Terminal app and found the command line.  I like the fact that I don't have to configure and compile every little thing to get it to work, and worry that it may break something else.  That being said, I like several different platforms for their individual strengths.  So when Amazon announced a sub-$200 Kindle tablet with a version of Android, I was intrigued.

I don't have the funds to purchase every tablet out there, and unlike major news organizations I don't have the luxury of companies sending me products for review (but I wouldn't be adverse to it!).  So when a search for a toner cartridge for a Xerox Phazer 3250 (quite an odyssey in itself) took me to my local Staples, I had to try it out. Here were my impressions:

  • Reading:  The Kindle Fire may be a tablet, but it should be first and foremost an eBook reader.  I've read reviews of some people do did not like it, but on the demo, books looked great.  It was comparable to reading on my iPad in performance and clarity, though the words were crisper on my iPhone 4 (may be because of the Retina display).  Still, it worked well, and I was impressed.
  • Magazines:  Reading books with no pictures is one thing, but magazines are another story completely.  The magazine experience was frustrating, as it was pretty much like reading a PDF on a very small screen:  nothing was readable unless you blew it up.  It didn't flow well, and that's a problem.
  • The Interface:  I liked the interface, as it was similar to Coverflow on the Mac.  I'm not sure how it would perform with more than a few apps on it, as it would be easy to get lost in the icons you have in the coverflow view.  But for the few apps there, it worked well.  When you get to the eReader app, it would blow up to show the books available in a grid, much like iBooks or Kindle for Mac/Blackberry/Android/iPhone, etc.  You get the idea.
  • Web:  I was very disappointed here, as I couldn't test the web capabilities on the demo.  Instead I got a demo video, which I do not trust.  Other reviews I have read were not impressed with the performance of the Silk browser, but until I can test it for myself I can't give an opinion.  Instead, I can give you a rather frustrated opinion of the video:  I was not happy with it.

I didn't test any of the other apps, beacuse at that point it's pretty much like any other tablet.  So my overall impression?  As a low-cost tablet, it could function, but it doesn't really excel at anything.  But without testing the web capabilities directly, I couldn't recommend it as your only computing device.  A larger device that can allow for content creation (like documents) would definitely be a good move if you are looking for a Tablet.  If you are only looking for an eReader with touch capabilities, then purchasing the Kindle Touch would be a cheaper and excellent solution.  The Kindle Fire works well if you are carrying your Kindle with a laptop.

And, interestingly, I don't need a laptop with my iPad.