In Mobility, Product Reviews

I’ve now owned the Kindle Fire for close to a month. I’m very impressed with it but there are a few shortcomings as you might expect. As mentioned in the previous review of the Kindle Fire, what you intend to use it for will help determine whether the Fire is right for you, or if you should step up to the iPad.

Here’s the primary difference between the two: Fire is for content consumption, the iPad is for both content consumption and content creation.

I’ll just come out and say it: from a consumption standpoint Fire is all you need. And, at about $500 less than iPad, you have an extra $500 to spend on consumption. Music, apps, news subscriptions, steaming video, and so on – all at your finger tips. For creation, that’s another story. Before purchasing one or the other, ponder these few things:

Content Creation: There’s no way to connect a physical keyboard, no onboard camera, and next to on-board memory. Finally, there’s no optional 3G/4G – so it’s all wi-fi. In the last month, this has only bothered me once though. At Penn Station, it’s a good ‘ol newspaper apparently. Essentially, if you want to create Word and Excel documents and stream applications to your tablet, you’ll want to wait for the next generation of Kindle. This one isn’t going to cut it.

MS Exchange: Right now, Fire doesn’t have a truly viable MS Exchange integration, not even to purchase at the market. I’m using TouchDown which is slow, clunky, unintuitive and ineffective. Yes, my emails do show up, but only the new ones, no historical ones, and there’s no way to get it to sync your folders (even when you take the time to set it up), leaving you with whatever’s in your inbox. Sync is push only, so don’t count on being notified. For non-Exchange email accounts – works like a charm. Again, it’s push, so no notifications, but it’s clean, concise and effective.

The Silk web-browser: For web-browsing, Fire is absolutely fantastic. It’s surprisingly fast – about one or two seconds behind my brand new Dell Vostro laptop (duo core with 4GB of RAM). So fast in fact that it leaves my Droid X on wi-fi, which is only six months old, in the dust to the tune of 20 seconds. Seriously, 20 seconds. To be truthful, I felt bad even noting this 20 second bloodbath – like it’s not fair or something. But the truth is if you pick up a Kindle Fire this Christmas it’s unlikely that your phone will be brand new as well. So it stays. This is the Silk Browser that Amazon was touting. I guess it is what it was cracked up to be.

Touch sensitivity: The touch-sensitivity isn’t perfect. It does need an update. I find myself having to touch things multiple times at different pressures in order for it to do it. This is where iPad and just about any smartphone will outperform it. But it’s minor. Just a nuisance, and you know they’re working on an update to make it better.

Storage space: I, again, bought the Fire because I knew I was using a tablet for consumption and my laptop for production. So I haven’t even come close to using the 8GB. Everything is streamed these days. Plus, Amazon gives you 2GB (should be 5GB) storage for free, plus you can but 20 GB plus unlimited music for $20 per year. The streaming is perfect across all peripherals: my phone, my laptop, my home computer, etc. If I am reading a book on my Fire I can fold the page and pick up where I left off on my phone, and so on. Really, all I’m waiting for is for them to release an app for my Samsung tv.

Screen size: The screen size is also noteworthy: for what I’m looking to accomplish this 7” screen couldn’t be more perfect. You can hold it and use the keyboard with two hands, much like an oversized smartphone. It is compact, has a nice weight, a great finish and feel, and it’s perfect for reading e-books and browsing the web. I’ve not once wished for extra size thus far.

Reading: Fire offers a great reading experience. I figured I would fight tooth and nail to keep those paperbound books: I read one book on this tablet and I’ll never go back. Pick a word – any word – just press your finger and hold for a second, let go, and you have a full definition, plus the option to highlight that word (or sentence), make a note, or to search Google, Wikipedia, or the rest of the book. No load time, no lag. Everything happens immediately. Very impressive. It has the potential to change how kids learn the language and add precious new words to their vocabulary. One last note on reading: they give you an email address – pretty much it’s the beginning of your email address and they add Simply attach a document and send it to that and it automatically uploads it to your document library and puts in into the e-book format. Great for reading legal briefs and research. What’s even better is it’s not an email address you need to maintain in order for the document upload to work – we all have enough email accounts as it is.

App Selection: right now, there are critical apps missing (such as the noted MS Exchange app); on this list you’ll find Facebook, Google Maps, YouTube and others. That said, the web-browser is so efficient that you really want for nothing. Plus, you know that 2012 will probably mark an explosion in apps as, at this time, the Fire is becoming the only real contender to the iPad.

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