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Amazon Kindle Fire ships early, gets mixed reviews vs. iPad

updated 11:05 am EST, Mon November 14, 2011

Amazon Kindle Fire seen working best for price

Amazon on Monday started shipping the Kindle Fire a day early. Its Android 2.3 tablet reader could now reach its earliest buyers the same November 15 date it was supposed to ship. The device comes in one 8GB version for $199.

Early reviews were unusually mixed for the device and saw it as no danger to the iPad, even if it did well for its price. The Chicago Sun-Times' Andy Ihnatko called it a "marvelous device" whose seven-inch size was, despite Steve Jobs' comments, well-suited to media. He had complaints regarding the interface, though, which had a signature Android sluggishness and had an imprecise and sometimes non-communicative layout.

The New York Times' David Pogue was considerably more critical. Along with a harsher reaction to the interface, which "does not have anything like the polish or speed of an iPad," he disagreed entirely with the notion that the seven-inch screen was suitable, likening it to a worst-of-both-worlds option.

"There is Page View, which shows the original magazine layout -- but shrunken down too small to read, and zooming is limited," he said. "Then there is Text View: simple text on a white background. It's great for reading, but of course now you're missing the design and layout, which is half the joy of reading a magazine."

A Consumer Reports review was unusually glowing and claimed that it wasn't just responsive but at times too responsive. It mostly glossed over interface issues, however, and didn't comment on the appeal of the different magazine views. It, like some others examining the Kindle Fire, saw the $199 price as overcoming any issues of screen size and app variety.

Balance came through a look from The Verge's Joshua Topolsky. It liked the interface but called it buggy, and singled out both the converted BlackBerry PlayBook hardware as well as the inherently limited selection of the Amazon Appstore as problems. The examination appreciated the desire to create an original interface but also warned that the Kindle Fire could be a dead end without long-term support and could damage Android by splintering the platform.

"For an OS that's still playing catch up to iOS, and one which is plagued by fragmentation in its main, fully supported app store, the introduction of a completely separate store on a completely separate product which developers now have to to consider seems relatively awful," Topolsky said. "I respect Amazon's desire for a complete and clean ecosystem, but the divide it's going to cause -- particularly for smaller developers -- could have a chilling effect."

by MacNN Staff



  1. slapppy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Consumer Reports

    After the lynch mob mentality of CR during the so called antenna gate with iP4, CR lost their credibility.

  1. bonaccij

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Need to see for myself

    Here's the thing. I like the 7 inch form factor for reading. It's almost identical to a paperback, and I can appreciate that. For magazines... have to go with the 10 inch or bigger... I'm a layout person. I like that aspect of reading magazines. I guess for ravenous consumption, 7 inches is great. It certainly opens up a price point for those who simply can't or won't afford an iPad.

    The thing is, unfortunately, this is just another "Me Too" product. I think it may be very nice - great even - but it isn't in the same league as the iPad. I really need to get my hands on one of these to see and experience it for myself. Right now, I'm not impressed. That doesn't mean it is a bad device.

  1. PJL500

    Joined: Dec 1969


    not so good and besides...

    it runs Flash???!!!

  1. BigMac2

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Amazon has created their own fork of Android, by choosing an older version of Android pre-dating Tablets, this will assured that Honeycomb and ICS Apps made for other Android tablet won't work on Amazon's Tablets

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Will have a freezing effect

    Re: Toposky saying "... could have a chilling effect."

    The Fire, despite all of its problems, will be the most successful Android xPad. Therefore Android developers will migrate to it, to its closed proprietary fork of Android 2.3, and to Amazon's Market. All of which shut Google out of the loop in profit, mindshare, and customer information.

    That will freeze Android at 2.3 in the xPad space. Amazon doesn't need much more than the Android kernel, and as long as the kernel is stable, that's all they need. No need for Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich or any other desserts. Amazon is going to eat Google's lunch. And dinner.

  1. pam_velazquez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Kindle Fire vs. Other Android Tablet


    So being the great daughter that I am, I was planning on getting my dad an Android tablet for xmas, either Galaxy Tab or Xoom tablet. BUT now i'm not sure if I should consider the Kindle FIre. In terms of online browsing, ebooks, and using apps, is an Android tablet really worth the extra $$ ?


  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: will have a freezing affect

    The Fire, despite all of its problems, will be the most successful Android xPad. Therefore Android developers will migrate to it, to its closed proprietary fork of Android 2.3, and to Amazon's Market. All of which shut Google out of the loop in profit, mindshare, and customer information.

    OMG! A closed, proprietary fork? Man, developers should shun that and go to an open platform, like the iOS!

  1. pmccann

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'm reliably informed...

    ... Joshua Topolsky is a "he" and not an "it".

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Google's newest enemy: Amazon

    Amazon has done irreparable damage to Google and Android. And it was inevitable. Google gets zero benefit from all those cheap Fires, other than the occasional Android reference if and when anyone asks about its base OS.

    Amazon gets all the direct revenue and ad revenue. Google gets zero. Amazon gets all the customer contact info, credit card numbers, purchase histories, product affinities, and browsing history with their own custom Silk browser. Google gets none of that.

    And that's the real killer, isn't it? Fanboys talk about purchase price, processor speed, screen size, thickness, weight, and all those obvious details. The details they can comment about after 15 seconds of knee-jerk reaction. The details that mean little or nothing in the long run.

    Customer knowledge is what the Apples, Amazons, Googles, and Facebooks are fighting over. Because knowing your customers is the key to getting them to spend more. To make it easier for them to spend money in your ecosystem. Amazon has always had the ecosystem. And now they've taken control of Android, molded it to their own purposes, and Google gets nothing in return. It was inevitable.

    Yay open.

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