Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kindle Fire Review

I recently received my Kindle Fire and at first looks I don't see it as a competitor to the iPad.  Where the iPad is a platform that handles gaming, calendars, emails, internet, etc... and also acts as an e-reader, the Kindle Fire is an e-reader platform that also handles gaming, calendars, emails, internet, etc…  The key here is that the Fire was designed as an e-reader first. 

Angry Birds

I think the Fire would be very good for someone who likes to read, but from time to time also likes to get lost in a game of Angry Birds.  The platform is obviously very fast and in playing Angry Birds I felt like it almost ran too smoothly, where I am an Angry Birds expert on the iPhone/iPad I was over shooting the little piggies on the Fire.  While this may sound a tad bit critical it isn't, I'm impressed with the hardware that seems to be in the device.

Movies

Streaming videos from my Amazon Prime account was flawless, I was impressed with the speed and clarity of the screen.  I was disappointed though that I couldn't download the free Amazon Prime movies to the device, that was a bit of a bummer.  I don't see any parental controls either on the Amazon side or the Fire side, which is a concern to anyone with kids.  Here's a device that the child can easily take and watch R-Rated movies on.  I think this factor alone may be a reason NOT to get the device for your children.

Music

You can upload your music to the Amazon cloud and then stream it from there.  This is getting a bit odd though, first I have the iTunes Cloud, now I have the Amazon Cloud, I'm afraid at some point all my music is going to effervesce.  I have to say I do understand the desire to use the a music cloud, I'm currently using the iTunes Cloud (known as iTunes Match).  iTunes Match allows me to upload my music once, and then stream it to my different iOS devices, for this to work I need to be connected to a network of some sort.  Both clouds will let you cache some music, but let's say you're at a party and want to play your great collection of Brazilian music for the crowd, well if you don't have a good connection, you won't be able to play the music.  If you do have a good connection, but it's 3G, you could chomp right through your 2GB allotment very quickly.

What I'm also not sure of is if the music I have purchased on iTunes will be able to move to the Amazon Cloud, to comply with copyright concerns Apple applies DRM (Digital Rights Management) to the songs you purchase, I'm not sure how they get around this issue.  This is bigger than you may think, ideally if you buy a song or album it should be yours for life, but in reality it's yours as long as the company you purchased it from is still in business.  In the world of CD's you would have your CD's for as long as you took care of them.  Not only that, but you could pass your CD's to friends or kids, for example I inherited my mother's collection of Brazilian music, it was all on CD (of course it's all digital now).

Reading

I have to say I'm not very fond of the reading on the Kindle Fire.  For the type of reading I do, on the Metro going to work, I find that my iPhone actually provides a better e-reader for me.  I'll play with the Fire some more though, but I think the size of the page is just a bit too large for me.  The good part is that I can increase the font size and type (despite what I say, I'm NOT 24 any more).

iPad Competitor

Sorry, I don't see this as an iPad competitor, instead I see it as a gateway drug for people wanting to experiment with tablets.  I think in the end, if you REALLY want tablet functionality, then you'll want to buy a real tablet.  I was sort of hoping that this would be more of a Tablet and less of an e-reader, but that's not the case.  I think with the ecosystem that Amazon has, they could put together a really killer tablet, but I think they should team up with Samsung to do this.  The device itself is a bit heavy (almost as heavy as the iPad 2), the construction seems to be a bit cheap and the device seems to be more fragile.

Android Fragmentation

As someone who manages application development, this device scares me.  It further fragments the Android platform, even worse they now have a completely separate store, so if your favorite app isn't in the Amazon store, you'll need to do some work to get to the Android Market.  I'm also concerned with the way that Amazon does business, they tend to say "You sell with us and no one else, if you do sell with someone else, they can't undercut our price, oh and we can give your app way for free if we want".  I'm not sure what business sense it makes to get involved with Amazon just yet.  They've taken the same stance on selling ebooks, I'm just not sure it's going to fly in this market, they'll need to get developers on board and have been trying to get me on board with an app, but I just don't see the need yet to take that kind of risk.

Overall

I think the Fire is a great device for someone who wants to try a tablet out, but I think anyone who's really into this sort of platform will be disappointed in it.  If you have an iPad or even another Android tablet, you may want to pass on it.  If you're using an Android smartphone, then you may want to stick with a tablet that uses the Android Market (or you may need to purchase apps multiple times).  If you don't have an Android or iOS device and really just want to see what all the hubbub is about, then this is a very nice place to start.  Despite the lack of parental controls, it could also be a good device for kids to play with.

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