Amazon Releases 7″ Color Kindle Fire [Review: Good, Bad, Ugly]
Today, Amazon unveils three new multi-touch Kindle models, with 6-inch B&W e-ink Kindle touch and 7-inch color Kindle Fire. Priced $99, $149, and $199. Specs and OP analysis of what’s wrong with the locked down Android tablet.
Kindle touch, Kindle touch 3G, Kindle Fire
Here are the three new multi-touch Kindle introduced by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos:
- B&W E-Ink 6″ Kindle touch, $99 ($139 without screensaver ads)
- B&W E-Ink 6″ Kindle touch 3G, $149 ($189 without screensaver ads)
- Color 7″ Kindle Fire, $199 (no 3G)
You can pre-order the 7″ Kindle Fire for $199. The US only device ships November 15, 2011.
Considering Kindle touch is just a touch screen version of old black and white slow reacting e-ink device (and comes with “experimental browser”), it’s no comparison with iOS devices. So we’ll look into Kindle Fire. Specs:
- 7″ display, IPS, with lower pixel count than iPad
- 8 hours battery reading, 7.5 hours battery video playback with wifi turned off, with no mention of battery life when streaming the content as advertised
- 14.6 ounces
- 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″ (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm)
- No mention on how to load user content, although it supports MP3, MP4, and non-drm AAC
- Amazon Silk cloud-accelerated browser
- Amazon Appstore (not Apple App Store) with limited selection of Android titles only in the “thousands”
- WiFi (no ad-hoc, we’ll talk about this later)
- Access to Amazon bought books and music
- $79 per year Amazon Prime members gets streaming of movies and TV shows
Amazon is still selling the slow black and white e-ink devices that requires button mashing input:
7″ Color Kindle Fire: Good
What’s good about Kindle Fire:
- Amazon Silk browser. Supposed to make web browsing faster by offloading site and Adobe Flash rendering to Amazon cloud servers. (It’s not new: Opera Mbile and various “Flash” for iPad and iPhone has been doing this for years.)
- No Google tracking (has Amazon tracking instead)
- $79 per year Amazon Prime gets unlimited TV and movie streaming on “10,000″ titles. However, keep in mind Netflix recently had to raise its price to $96 per year for its video streaming services. And that’s with economy of scale with 12? million Netflix subscribers. (Amazon cannot keep it at the $79 per year pricing for long, not for the same content anyway. Considering that Amazon Prime causes Amazon to lose money due to the unlimited two-day shipping on products.)
Kindle Fire: Bad + Ugly
Some of what’s wrong with the Kindle Fire:
- 7″ display: Amazon advertises that you can read magazines on Kindle Fire. But have you ever read a 4″ x 7″ magazine? Similar to the failed 7″ Samsung Galaxy Tab pockatable train wreck and also the 7″ BlackBerry Playbook, it’s unlikely to work well for certain type of content.
- No mention of how to load your own music or movie (hopefully not through emailing)
- Developers has to submit software to Amazon’s closed Appstore, where Amazon can change product prices to zero and gives a revenue share of 0. Most developers are unhappy with the unilateral arrangement.
- Only “thousands” of titles in Amazon “Appstore”, which tries to confuse customers by naming it close to Apple’s successful “App Store”.
- Runs locked down, customized of Android (unlikely to get security updates in any timely fashion)
- No Google apps (none mentioned)
- No “open” Android marketplace software
- No camera or video recording
- Copies 8GB storage of the 4 year old 2007 iPhone. Amazon lists that it holds “80 apps” or “10 movies”. Wow! Considering Amazon says it’s perfect for on the go:
Kindle Fire “On-the-go”
“Kindle Fire is perfect for browsing, playing, reading and shopping on-the-go.”
Amazon’s PR department doesn’t know that Kindle Fire has no 3G. In addition, although it has WiFi, it lacks ad-hoc network support (often used by tethering software to share internet from mobile phone):
“Does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks”
It has no bluetooth, a more efficient way for mobile phones to share internet connections. Maybe Amazon means “on-the-go” at your house on the toilet?
Kindle Fire 7″ Tablet Conclusion
So, just about everything Apple haters said about the iPhone and iPad is true for the Amazon Kindle fire:
- Walled garden
- No removable battery
- No customization
- No SD card
- No stylus
- Not open! Google openness rules!
In addition, Apple devices supports the following, but Amazon’s Kindle Fire also features:
- No Bluetooth
- No Wireless headphone support
- No Volume buttons (needs multiple steps to change audio volume)
- No Microphone
- No Accelerometer? (None mentioned yet, although the more expensive 2010 Kindle DX has it)
- No App Store (not Apple’s original version with over 300,000 titles)
- No loading your own music?
- No loading your own videos?
The not yet shipping 7″ Kindle Fire costs $199. First gen Apple iPad with 10 hour battery, 10″ display, the real App Store, costs $299 refurb from Apple.