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Hands-on with the Amazon Kindle Fire

by Suzanne Kantra on September 28, 2011

Amazon Kindle FireAmazon entered the tablet fray today with the new 7-inch, Android 2.3 powered Kindle Fire. At a price point of only $199, Amazon is aiming squarely at those users who want basic tablet functionality, but don't want to kick in the big bucks for an Apple iPad 2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. And at a $300 savings versus those devices, the Amazon Kindle Fire will likely be a huge hit.

Even with its low price-point, the Kindle Fire provides a 1GHz dual-core processor, so apps and navigation should run smoothly, and a 1024 x 600 IPS display made using Gorilla Glass, so it can hold up to the punishment of traveling and provides great colors and off-axis viewing. It has 8GB of storage, but no microSD slot. The Amazon Kindle Fire is also light at only 14.6 ounces.

Beyond price, what really makes the new Kindle Fire a compelling competitor to the iPad 2 is content. Between music, movies and books, Amazon can easily rival Apple's iTunes. The new Kindle Fire will seamlessly  connect with the Amazon store through Wi-Fi. And, that content can be stored in the Amazon cloud for access anywhere, on multiple devices, without taking up unnecessary storage space on the device.

The Kindle Fire uses a proprietary browser technology called "Amazon Silk" that Amazon says can predict your browsing habits and cache pages for faster page downloads.

So what are you giving up with the Amazon Kindle Fire?

It runs Android 2.3, so you're not getting the latest version of Android. But in my experience, that's not much of a loss - I've been very happy with Android 2.3 on mobile devices and haven't seen much real world benefit with Honeycomb. It won't look like your typical Android tablet, though. Amazon has heavily skinned the interface, so you browse your content on bookshelves.

And, there is no built-in camera or microphone. Those are options that few tablet owners make use of, but if you were hoping to use it for video chat, that's obviously not in the cards.

Finally, the 7" display is considerably smaller than the 10" display of the iPad 2. Whether that's a plus or a minus will depend on how much you value portability over screen size. Personally, I prefer a 10" tablet for use at home and a 7" when on the go.

But for $199, there's no question that the Kindle Fire is the best deal going in the tablet world. See our comparison versus its main competition, the Nook Color and iPad 2.

The Amazon Kindle Fire will ship on November 15th and is available for pre-order today.


Computers and Software, News, Tablets & eReaders, Blog

Discussion loading

Nook Color

From Don Current II on September 28, 2011 :: 12:01 pm

So how does it compare to its REAL competitor, the Nook Color which also runs Android?


Here's the comparison

From Josh Kirschner on September 28, 2011 :: 5:28 pm

That’s a great question, so we created a comparison chart of Kindle Fire versus Nook Color vs iPad 2. You can link to it here


Awesome price!

From Susan52 on September 28, 2011 :: 12:17 pm

Thanks for the information!  I’ve placed my order for the Fire - before they sell out.  Can’t believe the price point - awesome!



From Lacy on September 28, 2011 :: 12:29 pm

I had planned to order one of these once they were announced, but I’m very disappointed in the absence of a 3G model.  I’m a huge Kindle fan, but it doesn’t seem like that great of a deal with only WiFi functionality.


Don't Mess With the Best

From Nick on September 28, 2011 :: 12:47 pm

I’m quite happy with my iPad..and will be getting the iPad2 soon. Even with my iPad1, I can make and receive FREE phone calls so I can save my cell minutes. I’m a Professor and the iPads apps for MS Word, PowerPoint, etc. Work great. Besides, I love the size and couldn’t imagine a smaller screen. IPad is worth the extra money.



From bob on September 28, 2011 :: 1:15 pm

Nobody cares what you use or what you think…this is about the Kindle..


micro SD

From Scott on September 28, 2011 :: 1:11 pm

If there is no micro SD card slot….no thanks!

Hey Apple junkie…go trolling else where…...


Touch Screen

From Bob Leonard on September 28, 2011 :: 1:41 pm

Does it have a touch screen? Can it run Android apps?


Yes, it has a multi-touch

From Suzanne Kantra on September 28, 2011 :: 1:43 pm

Yes, it has a multi-touch display and can run Android apps. Apps are available through the Amazon App store or you can sideload them.



From Ray on September 28, 2011 :: 2:35 pm

Suzanne, at 7” it’s a very portable device. You mask over the limitations of 8 gig of storage with your assumption a wifi connection provides adequate connectivity on a highly portable device. It does not. I have a 3G iPad and I use 3G a lot. If I was limited to wifi, the Fire would be a home machine where the smaller form factor becomes less relevant.

I like the Fire a lot but it’s a bit incomplete at this point.  It fits Amazon’s goals but perhaps not the user’s. Having said that, at $200 they will sell boatloads of them.


Kindle Fire looks great

From Virginia on September 30, 2011 :: 2:39 am

I think the Kindle Fire looks really promising. I have a regular Kindle which I love, but just might have to upgrade to the Fire soon!



From chezlou on September 30, 2011 :: 2:53 pm

Can I view photographs using this device?


Yes, it handles JPEG, GIF,

From Josh Kirschner on September 30, 2011 :: 3:18 pm

Yes, it handles JPEG, GIF, and PNG files, but not RAW. I don’t know if it has a native photo viewing app, but you can use any photo app from the Amazon app store (of which there are more than 200).


Thank you

From chezlou on September 30, 2011 :: 3:25 pm

I am going to place an order…LOVE IT!


Nook Color

From Steve Dowling on September 30, 2011 :: 4:53 pm

I really think the ability to have color magazines will match the Nook Color in terms of users, but the ability to stream Amazon Prime should be a huge advantage.


Reluctant Reader who wants Angry Birds?

From Shelley Hall on October 03, 2011 :: 4:34 pm

This seems like a great way to get my young son, who would love an iTouch for Angry Birds, to have a few books handy, also.  Does anyone know if we can password protect purchases, and otherwise kid-safe this device?


Kindle Fire

From Josephine on November 09, 2011 :: 5:56 pm

Is it true that Amazon will be coming out with a 2nd Kindle Fire in the beginning of next year?



From Jane on November 29, 2011 :: 3:13 pm

Um, Suzanne:

“But for $199, there’s no question that the Kindle Fire is the best deal going in the tablet world. See our comparison versus it’s main competition, the Nook Color and iPad 2.”

I think you meant to use “its” in the sentence above, yes?


Thank you!

From Josh Kirschner on November 29, 2011 :: 3:24 pm

Always appreicate the help correcting errors!


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