Kindle Fire HD is very impressive, 10 reasons to hold off on buying it just yet

Disclaimer: All this is written without actually using Kindle Fire HD and thus isn’t really worth anything. Please keep that in mind.

Amazon did five things with Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ I really didn’t expect:

  1. Amazon made a device that can go head to head against the iPad 3. It might not win (it’s highly unlikely) but it has a fighting chance. Detach whatever allegiance you might have and whatever you might know and feel about the respective companies. Detach the price too. Now take a look at both devices – look at them as a new user (unprejudiced by strong tech beliefs) would look at them. It’s not an easy choice. Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ almost match iPad 3 on the screen and would be easier to handle. So, for a new user, it’s not an easy choice.
  2. Amazon made a better Tablet than Google Nexus 7 (of course, your opinion might differ). I would have put the chances of that happening at 0%.
  3. It showed it has courage. It’s one thing to skirt around the iPad or to clone it. To go up against it and aim to make ‘The Best Tablet … Period’ – that is commendable.
  4. It brought the new devices to market at a more ridiculous Value to Price ratio than even Google Nexus 7.
  5. Amazon made Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ available internationally, at launch.

It was very disappointing to see Amazon refuse to go up against iPad in 2010 and 2011. Kudos to B&N for showing there is a non iPad market. Thankfully that forced Amazon into the Tablet Market. And now we have this – Kindle Fire HD 4G LTE taking a shot at the title of ‘The Best Tablet’.

How do we look at the Kindle Fire HD without biases?

All the tech coverage is so unfamiliar. Everyone is looking at Kindle Fire HD through different colored glasses. Varying expectations, varying belief systems. Varying concepts of what a Tablet should be, what it could be, and what it definitely should not be.

It’s very difficult.

The one very interesting thing is that the biggest weakness (in terms of media coverage) for Amazon was that the press (who are mostly wedded to and weaned on Apple products) would ALWAYS compare the $499 iPad with $199 Kindle Fire and NEVER mention price. That weakness is gone. Kindle Fire HD 4G LTE can go up against iPad 3.

10 Reasons to hold off on buying Kindle Fire HD

Although I’ve bought both the 7″ and 8.9″ models, it’s for purposes of writing Kindle Fire HD reviews. If I had to buy one for personal use I’d hold off for a few reasons -

  1. iPad Mini and Nook Tablet 2 aren’t revealed yet. iPad Mini is rumored to be announced in October and Nook Tablet 2 is rumored to be revealed by end of September.
  2. Ads. Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ havs Ads. As of now there is no option to remove Ads. If the option is added in future it will most certainly cost $20 to $35. It’s strange that Ads weren’t mentioned throughout the Kindle Fire HD announcement conference. Please Note: Amazon wants miniAmazon.com stores – so it might NEVER give the option to remove these Ads.
  3. No one has used a Kindle Fire HD yet. Everyone writing how magnificent it is – Is basing it on 5 to 10 minutes spent at a news conference. We don’t know what the hardware and software will be like when USED IN REAL LIFE.
  4. The amount of hype around the launch is incredible. Amazon has done a masterful job of building up hype and Steve Bezos (Freudian Slip) showed Microsoft/Nokia/Motorola/Google how to actually launch a device. Even Apple people were saying it was magnificent. Hype = Making a very good product seem great.
  5. There is no killer feature. Let me repeat that – After getting off the Kindle Fire HD high it struck me as astonishing that there wasn’t any one feature I could point to as – This is THE ABSOLUTE KILLER FEATURE for which you should get Kindle Fire HD. Of course, the same applies to every Tablet. Reality is – No one yet knows of what Tablets are BEST for. We attribute qualities to them that Phones and Laptops and PCs possess in far greater amounts.
  6. There are lots of information holes. $50 for the first year for LTE. What after that? First 250 MB for free. What after that? Ads. That might or might not be removable. Any other surprises? How about Bing being the default search engine on all Kindle Fire HDs. Google hasn’t fully registered the left-handed slap and Mr. Bezos already has the right hand rushing in.
  7. All those features you wanted in the Kindle Fire – where are they? Are they included? Volume Buttons? Page Turn Buttons? Power key on the Top? Folders? No More Carousel Torture.
  8. Availability Date for Kindle Fire HD 8.9″. It’s November 20th. Delivery is November 28th. That’s a long, long time away. Nearly 3 months. A lot might change by then. There might be an updated iPad for all we know.
  9. Faster WiFi and Faster Processor are UNPROVEN. Remember Silk Browser – More like Sandpaper Browser. So the Dual Everything MIMO JIMI JIMO WiFi has to first prove itself as 41% faster. Same for the processor+graphic processor which is supposed to be faster than Tegra 3 (whatever that means). I wish companies would use language that made sense – Our Processor is faster than the Road Runner and our WiFi Card is quicker than Speedy Gonzales.
  10. No SD Card Slot. You can’t expand your memory. Cloud Storage is a myth because you need WiFi or 3G. If you use 3G then you have to pay for all that ‘Free in the Cloud’ storage in terms of bandwidth. WiFi isn’t available everywhere. So you have a device that you can watch movies on in HD. It’s 16 GB of memory. That’s enough for 5 to 8 HD movies. That’s it.
  11. Bonus: Still No Text To Speech + Accessibility Concerns. Kindle Fire doesn’t have Text to Speech and Kindle Paperwhite has no Audio. Is Amazon moving away from the feature completely? It certainly seems so. It does have 100,000 Audible titles to sell. So Text to Speech is probably NEVER coming to Kindle Fire.

I’m leaving out all the articles of faith like DRM and ePub and other things that normal users neither understand nor care about (is the bootloader locked down? tighter than your shoelaces?).

Kindle Fire HD SEEMS TO BE a super, super Tablet. Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ SEEMS TO BE a worthy challenger to the iPad 3.

SEEMS TO BE.

So we have a paradox -

  1. Kindle Fire HD looks absolutely amazing and seems to be great value for money.
  2. We don’t know enough of the details and the details that are coming out (Ads) are awkward surprises. We don’t have enough data yet. In fact we have ZERO user usage data.

My categorization would be – Kindle Fire HD seems like a very good buy PROVIDED the promised features deliver in real life usage. That we’ll know only after Kindle Fire HD ships. If you’ve ordered already, you’ll have 28 days to return Kindle Fire HD if it doesn’t match your expectations. If you haven’t ordered yet, it’s best to wait and see what REAL users like you and me think of it.

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