Amazon sets block on ‘Fire’

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amazon kindle fire

The latest entrant in the tablet market is the all-famous book seller, Amazon, who have come out with their own version of the tablet, named after their Kindle e-reader line, the Kindle Fire.

Looking at it from the Amazon’s point of view, we could think of reasons as to why buy a tablet. Firstly, everyone is jumping the bandwagon, so why not us? Secondly, it is just another one of our e-readers, a variation to our existing Kindle brand. And thirdly, the best reason is the existence of Amazon’s online store, so consequently, they have their own store for ‘apps’ in form of books, music etc.

However, after months of advance hype, some of the shine is coming off Kindle Firenow that the 7-inch tablet is finally in the hands of users. The $199 slate has plenty of satisfied customers to be sure, but since consumers have had a few days to play with it and subject it to real world, some flaws and cut corners in design are becoming more apparent.

After close scrutiny, the Fire shows a few components missing and some minor glitches. Comparing it with Apple’s iPad, we can know what’s not there and what should have been there. iPad definitely strides ahead, and its $499 price tag speaks for itself. It is faster, the software is more adept and capable, it has bigger storage space, its screen size is big and comes with a slender and sleek body.

THE PROS MUSIC, SIZE, VIDEO

The Kindle Fire has hit the mark with a very impressive price tag, nonetheless. As its screen size is significantly smaller than iPad’s 9-inch screen, it weighs about a third less, almost seven ounces lighter. The smaller size makes it easy to carry around and its rubbery back prevents any slipping.

The Kindle is also good for listening to music, as long as you have music stored on Amazon’s cloud service. Amazon gives everyone five gigabytes of free storage which isn’t nearly as much as you get from Google’s free music service but $20 a year gives you unlimited music storage plus 20 gigabytes for other content – all easily accessible from Kindle Fire.

If you subscribe to the $79 Amazon Prime service (that also includes free two-day shipping on Amazon orders) you get access to thousands of free videos. The library is a lot smaller than Netflix’s but it is hard to moan about the price. You can also rent or purchase new movies and TV shows from Amazon that you can view on Kindle Fire and other devices, including PCs and Macs.

To Amazon’s credit, they loaded the device with a Netflix app which enables Netflix subscribers to immediately access movies and TV shows. Watching a video on the seven inch screen is fine for many and may even be OK for two people who don’t mind sitting or lying very close to each other.

The Kindle Fire, as you might expect, is an excellent e-book reader. Its light weight is actually an advantage while reading. And its back-lit screen means it works well in dark places.

The Kindle’s operating system is based on Google’s Android, but Amazon has changed it extensively.

On the whole, the Fire is easy to use with virtually no learning curve.

CONS

The Kindle Fire, however, lacks a physical home button and the on-off switch is incredibly small, though you will get used to it quickly. There are no dedicated volume controls. To adjust the volume you have to press a tiny settings icon and then slide the volume control.

There is no way to expand the paltry 8 gigabyte memory nor is there Bluetooth, a USB data connector or a 3G cellular option. It’s all about WiFi.

The loudest complaints so far seem to be demanding easier volume control. Almost everything written on Amazon’s tablet mentions the need for physical volume control buttons.

Unlike the iPad 2 or even the newest iPod Touch, the Kindle Fire also lacks a camera, a GPS and a microphone.

BUY OR NOT TO BUY

The Kindle Fire is definitely worth a buy, for those who won’t buy an iPad, for students whose parents could get them a computer with an iPod Touch-like twist, and for those who are not looking for anything fancy and complicated, and could do with a normal, traditional e-reader coming attached with Wifi capabilities for occasional browsing.

Sources: Pcworld, cnn, huffingtonpost

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