It would make my technology life immeasurably easier if Apple, Google and Amazon would all just learn to get along. Imagine: hardware and software designed by Apple; search and apps provided by Google, available as iOS apps; and cloud storage of media by Amazon.
But alas, it’s not to be.
In this world, Apple, Amazon and Google all compete to offer roughly the same set of products. As does Microsoft, for that matter, but most of their recent product offerings have been, shall we say, less than inspiring. See generally, Zune.
Competition is supposed to be good for consumers though, or so sayeth the Book of Adam Smith, 1:16. I’m an iPad fan, and have been since I got my greedy hands on my first iPad 1 last year. Most of the Android tablets have not even caused me to look twice in their direction.
But last month, when Amazon released the Kindle Fire, their $199 tablet to throw into the mix, I wistfully gazed over the fence. Yesterday, my fence gazing ended as I came into possession of a slightly used Kindle Fire of my very own.
I’m planning on putting it through its paces over the next few weeks and will update more if there is more to say.
For now, though, I wanted to share my initial impressions.
Before I go further, I want to affirm my bona fides – I might be an Apple iPad fan, but I am also rooting for Amazon here. I love Amazon. The UPS guy is at my house so much I’ve started to be suspicious that my wife may be having an affair. Plus my dog keeps calling him “daddy”, but that is another matter.
I am an Amazon Prime customer, I stream video from Amazon Instant Video over my Roku, and my wife and I love their Subscribe & Save feature – so much so that we had a package of Pepcid delivered yesterday in a box so small I couldn’t even look the delivery guy in the face.
All of which is to say, I am an Amazon fan, too.
That settled, on to initial impressions.
The case is nice; it is very solid feeling, heavy but not in an unpleasant way. The rubberized back is very nice to the touch. I miss the “home” button from the iPad, but that may just be a matter of time.
This is a surprise to me, but I love the smaller form factor as compared to the iPad. I haven’t done much with it yet, so web browsing and other functions may be inhibited by the smaller size, but just as a device to hold on and type with two thumbs, I really like it.
Set up was pretty easy. I reset all the factory settings and entered my Amazon credentials and was off to the races. Unfortunately, the race didn’t last long; shortly after connecting to my home wifi, the Kindle Fire mysteriously couldn’t hold the signal or reconnect. A short examination of my million other devices confirmed the wifi was working fine.
A little poking around on the web and I found this wifi problem to fairly common. Following advice in the Kindle Forums, I rebooted my modem and all was well. A hiccup, to be sure, but that is life with a first generation product.
The home screen and carousel are easy to navigate, but the set up send a very different message from the iPads moveable app icons. Whereas the iPad says, “customize me, put things where you want”, the Kindle Fire says, “look at all the great books and movies you already bought from Amazon that you can use on your Fire”.
The difference is not a small one.
When the iPad first came out, the question on everybody’s mind was, “is this a computer replacement?” (I think the answer is no, but that is outside the scope of this review.) By contrast, the Kindle Fire is clearly not a computer replacement; the question it raises is, “is the Fire an iPad replacement?”
My initial reaction is that the Fire is in no way an iPad replacement, but at less than half the price, that’s probably to be expected. I’ll keep playing with it and let you know how it goes. The recent New York Times article about the Fire was even less sanguine.
Until then, here’s a little musical interlude for you on the wisdom of playing with fire generally: