Today online retailer Amazon fired a shot off the bow of their tech competitors from Cupertino by releasing the Kindle Fire. This new tablet, which will be available on November 15, is a direct rival to the market-dominating iPad. Let's look at the stats …
- Display: 7" multi-touch display with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and anti-reflective treatment, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi, 16 million colors.
- Size: 7.5" x 4.7" x 0.45" (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm).
- Weight: 14.6 ounces (413 grams).
- System requirements: None, because it's wireless and doesn't require a computer.
- On-device storage: 8GB internal. No word on whether it will work with external hard drives, but there's no mention of a memory card slot.
- Cloud storage: Free cloud storage for all Amazon content (likely the reason for the paltry size of the on board drive).
- Wi-fi: 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or 802.1X standard with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
- USB: USB 2.0 (micro-B connector)
- Audio: 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, top-mounted stereo speakers.
- Content formats supported: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8. Big absence: AVI.
The good: It's cheaper than almost anything on the market ($199), works well as an entry level way to get into tablet computing and comes with the support — and media library — of a monstrously large company. Amazon has taken the time to watch the market and hopefully learn from the mistakes of other tech companies in how to make a tablet work. No data plans means the cost is settled up front. New web browser handles Flash. Smaller form factor still has great screen size, less weight than the iPad or other "regular" sized browsers. Kindle sold like crazy, this is better than that by a huge margin at a similar price point. Doing this also dropped prices on less feature-rich Kindles, now starting at $79 along with two other models below $200.
The bad: Anemic storage means making hard choices when you're not around a wi-fi connection. No word on how it would synchronize with a computer, so if you need to manage your files, it doesn't say whether that'll be easy or a nightmare. Amazon's own app store is brand new, and lacks even the degree of development even RIM and Meego have in terms of "stuff you'd know about" off the bat (and no word on who's been doing what). A new operating system means new surprises and new problems — "based on Android" isn't Android, not even as close as Motoblur was, and with the fragmentation on that OS, there's no telling what apps will work and which ones won't. No data plans means the possibility of getting stuck without a way out. A new browser that has never been pounded on, out in the wild, can't be relied upon.
Need more info? How about this chart?
It's often said in the tech world, "never spend money on the 1.0 version," because you're essentially paying to beta test something that's never been in the market with real people. If you're in it to purely consume content and don't have ridiculous amounts of stuff to load on to your tablet, this might be a good choice. However, if you're looking to manage content or do more esoteric sorts of things, you may be in for a wait.