Written by Quinn M. Redfield
So you’re a book lover, or maybe a student, and you’re tired of carrying around the extra weight. Or maybe you’re book shelves are already exploding, but you just aren’t sure you want to drop a ton of money on what amounts to a stripped down lap top. Well the Kindle Fire could be just the balanced your looking for.
This 14.6oz, 7-inch tablet brings you everything from television and movies to music, books, games, and apps. Essentially it’s an all in one media player with internet access. Everything is controlled via touch screen – even the volume. The user interface is simply, making it quick and easy to access books, news, music, and other frequently used functions. The Kindle Fire can be turned and used in portrait or landscape mode. The battery lasts for about 8 hours of reading or 7 hours when using audio or video.
169 ppi & more than 16 million colors
E-mail and cloud-accelerated web browser
Notes, highlights, and “furthest page read”
1GHz dual core CPU
Up to 7.5 hours of video playback (wireless)
Easy to use
Music, video, book, and magazine services
Most big name apps available
Syncs with most other devices
Free cloud storage
Accelerated web browser
No premium features
Only 8GB of storage (and no expansion slot)
Limited parental controls
Some features require Amazon Prime
Typing on a touch screen definitely requires some getting used to. Not only will your fingers have to adjust to the slightly different angle, but also the lack of give or real contact to guide them. Typing in landscape can be especially challenging, as it makes the keyboard very broad. Even the best typists will likely find themselves staring at their fingers like a beginner – at least at first.
The Kindle Fire does very well with books and music. Finding media is quick and easy, and the display is muted, similar to other e-readers, making it more readable. The lack of bright back lighting makes it easier on the eyes during long reading sessions. Amazon has essentially tried to balance the benefits of both e-readers, like the Nook, and more beautiful color displays, like those of the iPad.
Something has been lost in the effort though, because the Kindle Fire doesn’t do so well when it comes to playing videos. While its color reproduction and view angles are excellent (thanks to the LCD IPS display), the lower ppi (pixels per inch) can leave things looking blurry or blocky. Additionally, that shiny LCD means glare in outdoor or direct light settings.
Its small size makes the Kindle Fire easy hold when reading in bed or curled up on the couch. Of course, the smaller screen can make it a less than ideal web browser. It is possible to force the page to display at normal size though, instead of the shrunken version meant for phones, at which point it’s just a matter of scrolling. Magazines and apps are well formatted to the Kindle Fire’s screen size at least, and reading periodicals on them feels perfectly natural.
Kindle Fire vs. iPad
In my opinion, the Kindle Fire’s greatest disadvantage is the small amount of storage space available, which limits how much media you can pack around with you. If you’re planning to use the tablet mostly around the house, however, this shouldn’t be a big issue. The free cloud storage helps to offset some of this, but if you’re really looking for a portable media store-house, the iPad might be a better deal. Otherwise all we can do is wait and hope Amazon will up give future versions a major memory upgrade.
Compared to the iPad, the Kindle Fire offers fewer premium features, half the memory, and a smaller screen with not quite half the ppi (pixels per inch). However, it has the same processor, almost equal battery life, and weighs almost half as much. The Kindle Fire also boasts stereo (instead of mono) speakers, flash support, and more versatility when syncing to other devices.
For Amazon Prime members, the tablet also offers instant video streaming and a virtual library from which to borrow books at no extra cost. Though, this does mean you have to get the membership.
In the end, it’s possible to do most of the same activities on a Kindle Fire as you would on an iPad, but at half or even one third of the cost. So if memory and preimum features aren’t a necessity, it’s certainly a better deal. I mean, why pay more than twice the price for features you won’t really use? For what you do get, the Kindle Fire is definitely worth $199.