Kindle Fire Review: The Verge

Joshua Topolsky from The Verge reviews the Amazon Kindle Fire

(Written version below!)

The Kindle is Amazon’s first full colour tablet and is on sale for $200, which is a pretty low price. The hardware itself should be somewhat familiar, if you’ve ever seen the Blackberry Playbook. Apparently Amazon used the Playbook’s reference design and the two devices look nearly identical. They have the same size display, a 7 inch, 1024 by 600 LCD display. The device is equipped with 8GBs of storage, wifi and 512 megabytes of RAM.

The home screen of the device is pretty much where you navigate to all your content. In the scrolling list you see your most recent content and that goes backwards in time. You can’t actually remove anything from that list so keep it clean. The Kindle Fire is running a customized version of Android 2.3, aka Gingerbread. It’s actually a forked version so there’s no Google stuff on this, meaning no Gmail and no Android market.

Amazon provides their own app store called the app store which has about 10,000 titles. Compared to Google’s 360,000 titles, it doesn’t seem like that many but there are some fairly good software selections if you dig deep enough. Additionally, the biggest feature of the Kindle Fire is that it ties into all of Amazon’s music, video and book eco system. You get access to prime videos and Amazon music, and of course, the big bookstore and their newsstand, which is a magazine and newspaper store. And that’s directly tied in at the OS level.
So when you’re in your library, you can quickly jump to the store and start looking around for new content. It’s a pretty painless process to get it onto the device.

Another big feature of the Kindle Fire touted by Amazon is the Silk web browser. It’s a webkit based browser that’s apparently doing some server side offloading to speed up web page loading. In my testing, I didn’t really notice any significant boost in speed. And in fact, I think the browser is kind of clunky in comparison to the iPad 2 or the honeycomb browser.

The Kindle Fire is a really great tablet for $200 but it is not an iPad killer. I’m not even sure if it’s a honeycomb killer. I mean it’s a great little package. It makes an awesome holiday gift for a lot of people. But it doesn’t have the app support right now to warrant recommending it over an iPad. And frankly I’d be hesitant to recommend it over a honeycomb tablet given the fact that Amazon is asking developers to split their loyalties and work on an app for their ecosystem as well as the standard android ecosystem.

But the price is great. The content you have access to is great. And i can definitely recommend it for someone who wants to lean back, not mess with apps too much, and just enjoy books and movies.

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