Kindle Fire Review: Wall Street Journal

Walt Mossberg from the Wall Street Journal takes a look at Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet. How does it stack up against the iPad and the new Nook Color?

(written version below!)

This week tablet buyers have a new low cost tablet alternative from a big familiar brand name. It’s the new Amazon Kindle Fire which is the first color Kindle tablet. It sells for just $199, which is less than half as much as the iPad 2. The Kindle Fire is a Kindle so it connects to Amazon’s ecosystem of books and magazines, but unlike the monochrome, less expensive Kindles, this has the capability to also connect to Amazon’s ecosystem of music and movies and TV shows and the Android app store that Amazon runs.

So it’s got much more of a multi-function aspect to it than the typical Kindle and is somewhat of a competitor of the iPad. It’s certainly not as versatile or capable as the iPad is. It has a seven inch screen which is less than half the display area of the iPad. The Kindle Fire has much weaker battery life. It has half the memory of the base iPad and only really a fraction of the apps. But at $199 I think it’s a good product and a good value even though it does have some flaws.

Now is addition to competing with the iPad, the new Kindle Fire is competing with another new tablet, from another familiar rival of Amazon’s Barnes and Noble. Barnes and Noble brought out the second edition of its color tablet, the Nook. It sells for $249 so it’s still a lot cheaper than the iPad but a bit more expensive than the Kindle Fire. It has its own ecosystem of books and periodicals, and it has twice the memory of the Kindle Fire. What it does have that Apple and Amazon have is the ecosystem of easily buying movies, TV shows and music. The Nook has some third party apps for those things, like Netflix or Pandora, but in fact iPad and Kindle Fire have those as well.

I think the Kindle Fire will appeal to tablet buyers this holiday season, particularly those who are most interested in seeing a tablet, even an iPad as a thing on which mostly to consume content. If you’re looking for a tablet that can take up some of the functions that are typically done on a laptop, the Kindle Fire is not really for you. It does have a rudimentary email client, and it has a pretty good web browser but it doesn’t have a lot of the functionality that you would find on an iPad.

Bottom line is this is a good product. I don’t think it’s a great product. I did find some issues with it. It’s user interface is not as fluid or customizable as I think it ought to be, the hardware is pretty plain. But for $199 you’re getting a lot with the Kindle Fire.

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