Kindle Fire Review roundup

The Kindle Fire is in reviewers’ hands and a flurry of Kindle Fire reviews are out. There are lots of very interesting opinions flying around and it’ll be fun to do a Kindle Fire review roundup.

Kindle Fire Review Round-up – Top 10 Things

The Price is Right

The shiniest thread running through all the Kindle Fire reviews is the impressive price of $199. That’s the one area Amazon has really delivered in.

MSNBC has an entirely too positive Kindle Fire review, and has one line that stands out -

 The Kindle Fire can handle about 80 percent of what I want to do on an iPad, for 40 percent of the price.

If 80% of what people do on Tablets is email, surfing the web, watching movies, playing casual games, and reading books – Then this isn’t far from the truth.

The Performance isn’t Perfect

A surprisingly large percentage of the Kindle Fire reviews say performance is sometimes sluggish. It’s a surprise given the assumption that Amazon would use its magic software skills to turn the not-very-impressive hardware into a super fast beast.

Kindle Fire is a Store

Engadget points this out very well. Kindle Fire is basically a very tight integration of Amazon’s digital offerings into a Tablet. It’s a mini Amazon store.

Kindle Fire seems to be very easy to use

While very few Kindle Fire reviews address this directly (since they seem to miss the fact that users care a lot about ease of use), the overall picture that is emerging is that Kindle Fire will be very easy to use.

You have your carousel of everything you opened or read or watched or played with. You have your shelves where you can stack up your favorites. You have your shelves of Amazon purchases. It’s all quite well laid out and simple.

Kindle Fire Reviews miss the core uses of Tablets

It would be really cool if one or more Kindle Reviews listed the 10 uses cases that make up 90% of Tablet usage i.e.

  1. Surfing the Web
  2. Email
  3. Watching Movies
  4. Playing casual games.
  5. Reading Books
  6. Watching TV Shows
  7. Checking Facebook
  8. Reading Magazines and Newspapers
  9. Photo Frames and Photos.
  10. Shopping and Searching.

And discussed those. Rather than talking about how Kindle Fire’s battery life is 5% less than this $399 Tablet’s and 20% less than that $499 Tablet’s.

That really is what is missing. Just tell us whether it does these core things. And how well it does these core things.

The one review that comes closest to doing that is Andy Ihnatko’s Kindle Fire Review. It’s probably the best Kindle Fire review.

Kindle Fire Reviewers keep comparing the $199 Kindle Fire to $400 and $500 Tablets

It’s a bit strange.

Here’s the list of devices Kindle Fire reviewers keep comparing the Kindle Fire to – iPad, Galaxy Tab, Playbook, iPad 2, Motorola Xoom.

What do all those devices have in common? They are all 2 to 2.5 times more expensive than the Kindle Fire.

For some strange reason, most Kindle Fire reviewers don’t know about Nook Color or don’t want to do that comparison. It’s painful that they wouldn’t do the most obvious comparison. Engadget goes to the extreme of comparing Kindle Fire with the T-Mobile Springboard from Huawei.

A lot of hating of 7″ screens going on

Percentage of reviewers who claim that many Tablet functions are useless on a 7″ screen: Approximately 50%.

Percentage of reviewers who point out the weight and portability benefits of a 7″ screen: Approximately Zero.

Found it amusing that people keep claiming that surfing the web, reading magazines, and several other ‘Tablet functions’ are useless on a 7″ screen.

Browsing the web, playing games (casual ones), writing email, etc. are all perfectly fine on a 7″ screen. Of course, I only have a year’s experience with a 7″ Tablet so the 4-day experience of these Kindle Fire reviewers is far more meaningful.

The one area the smaller screen will be an issue is magazines and newspapers.

The advantages no one seems to be mentioning – easier to hold, easier to carry, you can hold it with one hand, itweighs less. 7″ Tablets have a lot going for them and are far more ‘mobile’ than 10″ Tablets.

Silk is good but not as good as expected

Amazon’s Silk browser was supposed to make browsing really fast. It turns out it’s more of a case of Silk making browsing decently fast and compensating for the limited amount of RAM.

Where reviewers ran into trouble was interacting with the pages – things were sluggish and awkward. Amazon really shouldn’t have promised a lot with Silk. It made it seem Silk was Moore’s Law in action and the unfulfilled dream of the Network Computer finally fulfilled. Apparently, it’s neither.

The Dichotomy – People either think Kindle Fire is amazing or disappointing

It’s quite inexplicable.

  1. You have Gizmodo saying – The iPad finally has serious competition.
  2. You have Wired giving Kindle Fire 5 out of 10.
  3. Who’s right?

There’s a rather sharp dichotomy of Kindle Fire reviews - some absolutely adore the Kindle Fire while others treat the Kindle Fire like the Prada-wearing Devil treats her interns.

How could the same Fire Tablet result in such vastly different reviews?

Amazon needs to beef up the App Store

Not going with the standard Android Market is a problem since it limits apps to what Amazon can get approved and fine-tuned for Kindle Fire.

We are talking about a few thousand apps compared to the iPad’s 50,000 or 100,000 Apps.

Tablets are currently toys but Kindle Fire reviews are pretending otherwise

It’s quite funny to hear lots of people claim the iPad is a full-fledged computer and a productivity machine and replaces a laptop.

Really?

Apparently, the only people who disagree are the ones buying Tablets.

We have a situation where most people are buying Tablets and using them to surf the web and watch movies and check email. Kindle Fire does all of these well (at least it seems that way from the Kindle Fire reviews and videos). However, it’s being dragged across the coals because it’s not ‘a laptop replacement like the iPad’.

The $200 Toy isn’t as productivity-enhancing or computer-like as the $500 Toy. How tragic.

Kindle Fire Review Roundup – Pros and Cons

Pros of the Kindle Fire

  1. Great $199 Price.
  2. Covers 80% of what the $500 Tablets do.
  3. 1024 by 600 IPS LCD screen.
  4. 1 GHz dual-core processor.
  5. 2.4 GHz WiFi works well.
  6. Gorilla Glass display.
  7. 169 dpi is pretty good density.
  8. It has a backlight and will be great in bed (despite its boring looks).
  9. Pretty good battery life. 7 hours and 42 minutes of playing video according to Engadget.
  10. Decent Email App.
  11. Amazon’s Customer Service. None of the Kindle Fire Reviews mention this.
  12. Amazon’s Infrastructure.
  13. Link to the Amazon Store. Of course, there is the accompanying risk of your spending increasing.
  14. Great if you’re already a Prime subscriber.

There are quite a few other benefits. Do read the Kindle Fire reviews.

Cons of the Kindle Fire

  1. Only 512 MB of RAM. Software tweaks and enhancements apparently don’t compensate for this.
  2. The design is painfully unimaginative.
  3. No physical buttons at all – no Home button, no volume buttons. This is madness. No, this is Sparta!
  4. 8 GB memory is rather low.
  5. You don’t get any default editing software for Excel and Powerpoint. OMG It’s not a productivity machine. Burn it at the Stake.
  6. Speakers aren’t very good. Audio even with headphones is lacking.
  7. No HDMI output for playing movies through a TV.
  8. No ambient light sensor. Which is such an important feature to have since using our own eyes to see how much ‘ambient’ light there is might be too stressful.
  9. No 3G.
  10. Can’t read it in sunshine as it’s not eInk. Amazon will have to pull its reading on the beach and by the pool advertisements. What will the snarky lady do now?
  11. Few customization options. Amazon has strangely ruled out all Wallpaper Apps and taken away one of Android’s big pluses over iPhone. Perhaps it will allow custom screensavers instead of showing us members of The Dead Poet’s Society.
  12. 7″ display is a bit small for magazines.
  13. No micro-USB data cable included.

There are also some other negatives. The Kindle Fire reviews cover some of the ones I’ve missed.

Kindle Fire Review Round-up – 3 Biggest Surprises

1) Silk is not silky smooth. Silk either failed or it only managed to compensate for the lower amount of RAM.

2) Amazon’s User Interface and Kindle Fire’s performance isn’t super fast (as had seemed earlier).

3) The Amount of Tablet you get for $200.

I think people still don’t fully realize that you are getting 80% of what the $500 tablets deliver – in terms of usability and utility. Kindle Fire is not going to be as fast, or have as many technical terms to adorn itself with – However, it will deliver 80% of the features of $400 to $500 Tablets at 40% to 50% of the price. Which makes it a winner no matter how you look at it.

Kindle Fire Review roundup – The 3 Best Kindle Fire Reviews

I really wish Amazon had given units to people like Mike Cane and Nate at The Digital Reader. People who could step out of the ‘Let’s compare this $200 Tablet with $500 tablets’ miasma and give a really smart review.

Here are 3 Kindle Fire Reviews that were quite good.

Andy Ihnatko Strikes Gold

The Kindle Fire Review in the Chicago Sun-Times is great.

It starts with the title -

Kindle Fire is no iPad killer – but it is a killer device.

It continues by nailing what most reviewers are missing -

Take an iPad, solve its two biggest problems, and you’d hope to wind up with something exactly like Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The iPad has a 10-inch screen and costs a minimum of $499.

Instead of ignoring the price difference ($499 and $299) and pretending that the 10″ screen has no disadvantages, Andy Ihnatko writes a forthright review.

The review seems to be a bit too positive at times. It glosses over some points of concern (Is Silk actually faster? Does the hardware measure up in performance?). However, the big thing it gets right is that it talks about what the Kindle Fire is, and not what tech journalists want it to be.

It’s just crazy to compare a $200 Tablet with a $500 one and the only reviewer who seems to realize that is Andy Ihnatko. He throws in a bonus – Kindle Fire is a big threat to iPod Touch sales.

The Second Best Kindle Fire Review – The Verge

While the review is quite harsh, it’s the second best Kindle Fire review on the basis of the thorough coverage. There is also a nice, systematic breakdown. The Verge gives the Kindle Fire (my thoughts in italics) -

  1. Design – 6 out of 10. Have to agree – it’s so box-shaped, cardboard boxes are getting jealous.
  2. Display – 7 out of 10. That’s really unfair. It’s an IPS display with 169 dpi and Gorilla Glass. What more do you expect out of a $200 Tablet? I’ll wait to see the Nook Tablet’s Vivid View display and the Kindle Fire’s display side by side before discussing this further.
  3. Speakers – 7 out of 10. Based on the reviews this seems fair to generous.
  4. Performance – 8 out of 10. This seems fair.
  5. Software – 8 out of 10. This seems fair too.
  6. Battery Life – 9 out of 10. This seems generous.
  7. Ecosystem – 7 out of 10. Not sure about this.

It’s a little crazy that The Verge doesn’t cover Price, Value for Money, Customer Service, Cloud Infrastructure and all the other Amazon strengths. How short-sighted.

Overall, the verdict from The Verge is – There’s no question that Kindle Fire is a really terrific tablet for its price.

Engadget’s Glowing Kindle Fire Review

Engadget’s Review of the Kindle Fire is a bit too forgiving at times. In fact, there are times when it’s practically fawning -

what Amazon has delivered is a device that is intimately familiar yet mysterious

This thing feels incredibly solid, as if Amazon simply put a chisel to a big piece of slate, gave it a good whack and then put the resulting slab into a Frustration-Free box

Unfortunately, it looks like a slab too.

What saves this Kindle Fire review is that Engadget points out both the weaknesses and flaws. It’s a good overview of Kindle Fire’s strengths and weaknesses plus there are 2 well-done Kindle Fire review videos thrown in. Here’s part of Engadget’s summary -

The Kindle Fire is quite an achievement at $200.

When stacked up against other popular tablets, the Fire can’t compete … Other, bigger tablets do it better — usually at two or three times the cost.

Kindle Fire Review Roundup – Summary

It seems that Amazon has managed to exceed and miss expectations at the same time.

Kindle Fire at $199 is way more Tablet for the money than anyone expected. Amazon has certainly delivered on price and value for money.

Amazon’s talk of nattily-dressed UI and elegant software optimizations and strong, muscular 1 GHz dual-core processors and Silky Smooth Browsers had everyone excited (especially romance novel lovers). However, it seems all these embellishments only manage to compensate for the cost-cutting Amazon has done.

We were, perhaps wrongly, hoping for a miracle – a $200 Tablet that is neck to neck with the $500 iPad. Surprise of surprises – it isn’t. Kindle Fire is just a really good $199 Tablet that delivers 80% of what a high-end Tablet would.

The Kindle Fire is about to upend the Tablet Market. Just not in the way we thought it would.

Kindle Fire, Recurring Revenue, & Delaying Profit Gratification

The Kindle Fire gets another stream of content today as Amazon signs a deal with Disney-ABC.

Paid Content (which ironically is free) covers a new, somewhat limited, deal Amazon has struck with Disney-ABC to power Kindle Fire.

 It includes prior seasons of Grey’s Anatomy; all seasons of Lost; … prior seasons of Marvel’s animated shows Spider-ManX-Men EvolutionThor & Loki: Blood Brothers and Iron Man: Extremis; …

This will become part of Amazon’s Prime program – for $79 you get free 2-day shipping on all purchases from Amazon and all this free streaming content.

It illustrates Amazon’s approach i.e. give away lots of free things to create recurring customers.

Why would Amazon pay for Content and then Bundle it for Free with Amazon Prime?

It’s the magic of recurring revenue.

When a customer does certain things that customer’s chances of becoming a recurring Amazon customer increase dramatically.

  1. Buys once from Amazon.
  2. Enters Credit Card information and Shipping Information and saves them.
  3. Buys gifts from Amazon and saves friends’ and relatives’ addresses.
  4. Carries around a Kindle AKA Mini Amazon Store.
  5. Carries around a Kindle Fire AKA 7″ Amazon Store.
  6. Gets a Prime membership program.

On the surface, it seems pretty crazy to PAY Disney-ABC for content and then just bundle it for free. However, it makes perfect sense when we think in terms like ‘lifetime value of the customer’ and ‘recurring revenue from the customer’.

If you’re a company that only makes money from one-time purchases or makes negligible money from recurring purchases, then this approach seems crazy.

However, let’s consider an example.

What is the Monthly Recurring Revenue and Lifetime Revenue from 10 million Kindle Fire owners?

Let’s assume Amazon is selling Kindle Fires at a loss of $25 and sells 10 million on them in the next 9 months.

That’s a massive loss of $250 million. The end of the world. The Press Kings and Queens of Profit are now frowning upon Amazonians and shall drown them in a deluge of Short-thinking drivel. Wall Street is aghast because its yearly bonus shall not benefit from pump-and-dumps of Amazon stock.

However, it’s not that the Kindle Fire owners buy their Tablet, pay the money, and just disappear.

No, they become Kindle owners and Amazon customers and far more likely to buy things from Amazon.

Let’s say the ‘profit’ they will generate per month will be approximately -

  1. $3 a month from books bought (physical and electronic).
  2. $4 a month from Gift purchases.
  3. $1 a month from music and video purchases (physical and electronic).
  4. $3 a month from other purchases (including electronic).

That’s $11 a month in profit. From 10 million Kindle Fire owners that’s $110 million a month.

Amazon keeps focusing on showing the $250 million loss and is happy to let everyone think they are losing money. Because they really, really, really don’t want people to understand that the $250 million loss (aka customer acquisition investment) will create a revenue stream of a massive $110 million a month in profit.

If Amazon can get 25% to subscribe to Prime, the profit figures for that 25% go up to -

  1. $4 a month from books bought (physical and electronic).
  2. $7 a month from Gift purchases.
  3. $2 a month from music and video purchases (physical and electronic).
  4. $5 a month from other purchases (including electronic).

That’s $18 a month.

For that 25% who sign up for Amazon Prime – Amazon is losing $25 per Kindle Fire and $x on shipping and content. But it’s gaining $18 every single month.

If, by magic, Amazon can get all 10 million Kindle Fire owners on Amazon Prime, then it’s added $180 million a month in profits.

Recurring Revenue is RECURRING

If Amazon has 10 million Kindle owners and 5 million Kindle Fire owners by end of 2011. With each generating $11 per month in profits.

That’s $110 million a month from Kindle owners and $55 million a month from Kindle Fire owners.

Amazon has to do nothing extra for these users. No customer acquisition. Minimal maintenance costs.

The biggest bonus is the predictability. Unless there is a massive cataclysm and the world gets reset to 1100 A.D. that $110 million a month and $55 million a month is safe for the next 1 to 4 years. Very few companies have that guarantee.

So, Amazon is 100% Right and Delaying Profit Gratification is Awesome?

Well, there’s a slight problem.

Amazon’s plans assume a few things that aren’t 100% guaranteed.

  1. That there will be no huge event which changes the economy massively.
  2. That companies which are building up huge reserves of money won’t enter the market with their huge reserves. This is actually not a bad bet – Why would companies getting 40% margins on hardware or 70% margins on software get into retail with its 10% margins?
  3. That WalMart won’t hire the people at B&N that turned Nook and Nook Color into successes. People are laughing at the fact that B&N has started selling rugs to its customers. It’s the beginning of a very dangerous move that might end with B&N becoming the Pepsi to Amazon’s Coke.
  4. That a company won’t figure out a way to circumvent the bond Kindle owners have with Amazon. People will, and do, put their own self-interest over their sense of connection with Amazon. WalMart does have an opening if it decides to find it and take it.
  5. That Profit gratification is the best strategy if you have recurring revenue. As opposed to cashing in and ALSO building up recurring revenue.

That last one is the most dangerous. It would be obvious to anyone that there is one thing massively better than recurring revenue - recurring profit. Yet Amazon seems unwilling to consider that possibility.

Amazon’s current approach is maximizing things like recurring revenue and ‘profit in the future’ while minimizing things like ‘profit in the present’. It’s also not building up its cash hoard or its patent arsenal and sooner or later companies with one or both will come knocking.

Amazon’s ’100% focus on the future’ strategy is a very dangerous strategy because it assumes things will either get better or stay the same. In some ways Amazon is doing too much of a good thing.

Can Amazon transition to Recurring Profit?

The problem is that Amazon wants to take over the World’s Retail. So its horizon is 40-50 years. It’ll be pretty happy to keep having short-term and middle-term losses. As long as its vision of huge recurring revenues in the future stay alive.

My feeling is that Amazon doesn’t want recurring profit. That, at some deep level, it feels that profit means it isn’t investing enough in the future. That some other company might beat it, unless it keeps building up more and more Delayed Gratification.

If there is an intervention and someone gives Amazon psychological/subconscious freedom to channel 10% of its earnings into a cash hoard – that would make for a very nice hedge against the possibility that all its delayed profit gets eaten up by a swooping Black Swan.

Amazon is doing the most intelligent thing out of all the big tech companies when it comes to recurring revenue and investing in the future (to be fair, another Seattle company is investing very heavily in its future). Amazon is the doing the least intelligent thing out of all the big tech companies when it comes to profiting in the present and building up its cash and patent reserves.

Kindle Fire 2 in 1st half 2012, Kindle Fire might sell 4-5 million units in 2011

Kindle Fire seems to be doing so well that Amazon has kicked off production of Kindle Fire 2.

DigiTimes claims that Foxconn (maker of iPhones and iPads and Kindles; torturer of its own workers) has landed orders for assembling Kindle Fire 2. Kindle Fire 2 release date will supposedly be in the first half of 2012.

Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) reportedly has secured orders from Amazon for assembling second-generation Kindle Fire tablet PCs, with shipments to begin in the first half of 2012, according to Taiwan-based makers. In response, Foxconn declined to comment.

The sources pointed out that the first-generation Kindle Fire is handled by Quanta Computer, but Foxconn has already successfully gained orders for the second-generation model.

Kindle Fire was produced/assembled by Quanta Computer.

Kindle Fire must be selling well for Amazon to already sign a deal for Kindle Fire 2. It must be selling particularly well for Amazon to target the first half of 2012 for the Kindle Fire 2 release.

How well is Kindle Fire selling?

Kindle Fire might sell 4 to 5 million units in 2011

DigiTimes thinks 4 million Kindle Fires will be sold by end 2011 -

Sources said sales of Kindle Fire may reach four million units by the end of 2011, which may contribute to shipment growth of its suppliers.

Meanwhile, market observers expect Amazon to drop the 7-inch Kindle Fire’s price from the current US$199 after the release of the 10-inch version in 2012.

Given that ‘leaked’ inventory records show sales of 50,000 Kindle Fires a day, it’s not a stretch to say that 2 million Kindle Fires might sell in 2011.

4 million still seems a high estimate. However, Analysts mostly agree.

A Rodman & Renshaw analyst lifted his estimate from 4 million Kindle Fire sales in 2011 to 5 million Kindle Fire sales. He points out that the monthly run rate (based on ‘leaked’ inventory records) is over a million Kindle Fire sales a month. He also points out that Amazon is constrained by display availability.

Forrester has also predicted Kindle Fire sales of 5 million in 2011.

Barclays analyst Antony DiCelemto threatens to destroy analysts’ years of built-up undependability by predicting a very realistic 2 million Kindle Fire sales in 2011. He also predicts 6.4 million Kindle Fire sales in 2012, and a further 1.5 million sales of Kindle Fire 10″.

Why no love for Asus Transformer and Nook Color?

It’s quite remarkable that in all the iPad and Kindle Fire hysteria everyone is forgetting two Tablets that have been quite successful i.e. Nook Color and Asus Transformer.

Transformer is supposedly selling half a million units a month. Nook Color has sold millions of units. Why don’t they qualify as successes?

For that matter, why is everyone ignoring a potential Nook Color 2?

There seem to be two fallacies that the Press and Analysts are wedded to -

  1. The $199 Tablets couldn’t possibly affect sales of the iPad.
  2. The $199 Tablet market is automatically handed over to Kindle Fire.

In this stark black and white world there are no shades of grey (obviously, since no eReaders are allowed to exist). The Tablet market is magically carved into two sections – High End and Low End. Apple is then handed over the High End market which not only is permanently exclusive to Apple but also immune to whatever happens in the low-end Tablet market. The Low End Tablet market is handed over to Amazon even before anyone has seen what Kindle Fire is like.

All the Kindle Fire sales estimates (both ones for 5 million Kindle Fire sales in 2011 and ones for 10 million+ Kindle Fire sales in 2012) assume that no other low-priced Tablets exist. They do, and they will play a role. Sales of either Kindle Fire or iPad are going to be affected - Probably both.

Kindle Fire stealing Kindle’s thunder?

The Kindle Fire is supposedly selling at the rate of 25,000 devices per day. It’s supposedly selling more than all the other new Kindles combined.

The natural question that comes up is – Is Kindle Fire going to turn Kindle the eReader into an afterthought?

Customer Interest in Kindle Fire is overwhelming the official Kindle Forum

One data point supporting the claim that Kindle Fire sales are very strong is the amount of interest regarding the Kindle Fire at the official Kindle Forum -

  1. The first page (at 1:39 am EST) had 6 threads about the Kindle Fire and just one about the eInk Kindles.
  2. The second page had 8 threads about the Kindle Fire and 4 about the eInk Kindles.
  3. The third page had 7 threads about the Kindle Fire and 3 about the eInk Kindles.
  4. The fourth page had 5 threads about the Kindle Fire and 5 about the eInk Kindles.
  5. The fifth page had 7 threads about the Kindle Fire and 2 about the eInk Kindles.

Across the first five pages there are 33 threads about the Kindle Fire and only 15 threads about all other Kindles combined.

Search and News is dominated by Kindle Fire

Take a look at this image to see just how dominant Kindle Fire is (in terms of search interest and news coverage) -

Kindle Fire is taking over

Search Interest in the various kindles

The Blue line represents Kindle Fire interest. The upper graph is for Internet Searches and the lower graph is for News Articles. You can take a look at it at Google Trends.

By the way, the other device that is getting a lot more attention than eInk Kindles (though much less than Kindle Fire) – Nook Color.

Analyst Estimates and Forecasts are all claiming Kindle Fire is selling more than all other Kindles combined

While estimates vary, the common thread is that all of them suggest that Amazon is currently selling a lot more Kindle Fires than Kindles.

There’s still the 10″ Kindle Fire

There are very strong rumors that a 10″ Kindle Fire Tablet will arrive early in 2012. And that too at a low, low price of $299.

If the 7″ Kindle by itself is selling more than eInk Kindles, it’s a safe bet to assume that the two Kindle Fire tablets together will dwarf the eInk Kindles in total sales.

Are people going to start associating ‘Kindle’ with the Tablets?

Probably.

If we have a lot more people buying Kindle Fire and a lot more people searching for Kindle Fire and a lot more people asking questions about Kindle Fire – ‘Kindle’ will start being associated with Kindle Fire.

Does all of this even matter?

Well, in a way, it doesn’t. If you’re Amazon you leverage the ‘Kindle’ brand and make it stronger and sell a ton of Tablets and now people can buy movies and games and music in addition to books.

In a way, it does. If you want a dedicated reading device that keeps improving and evolving, then you have to wonder about what happens if this trend continues – if Kindle Fire keeps outselling all other Kindles combined, if it becomes what people think of when they think ‘Kindle’.

Amazon has shifted from ‘eInk is better for reading than LCD’ to selling both eInk and LCD devices. The lines are getting blurred and we don’t really know what future it’s going to lead us to.

There is a possibility that we’ve finally gotten a Kindle Killer - it’s strange that it’s the Kindle Fire. The rest of 2011 is going to be very interesting and 2012 even more so. Barclays is very optimistic and thinks 23.5 million eInk Kindles will be sold in 2012 and that eInk Kindles will outsell Kindle Fire in 2012. However, user interest and search trends and news coverage are telling a very different story.

Kindle Fire FAQ

The Kindle Fire is threatening to set the world on fire. Thought a Kindle Fire FAQ would help.

What is the Kindle Fire?

Kindle Fire is a Kindle Tablet from Amazon. It is a 7″ Tablet that is optimized for watching movies, surfing the web, checking and sending email, playing games, listening to music, and reading.

Think of it as ‘an iPad for the rest of us’ or ‘an iPad near-equivalent for $199′.

Should I get a Kindle Fire?

Perhaps.

It depends on your needs. It depends on whether you prefer to see actual reviews before buying.

Kindle Fire seems quite a good device (very good for what it’s meant to do) and $199 is a tempting price. That being said, it’s best to gather as much information as possible. Which this Kindle Fire FAQ will help you with.

Should I get a Kindle or a Kindle Fire?

If you would like a device primarily for reading – get a Kindle Touch for $99.

If you want a device that does lots of things - please read the next few questions.

Should I get a Kindle Fire or a Nook Color?

You should wait for B&N to announce a Nook Color 2. It should be sometime soon i.e. within the next 2-3 weeks.

If you like Amazon and the Kindle Fire seems compelling then you can go with it. However, even if you pre-order, my recommendation would be to keep an eye out for Kindle Fire vs Nook Color 2 comparisons once Nook Color 2 is announced.

Should I get an iPad 2 or a Kindle Fire?

Should you get a second generation Apple Tablet that is $499 and also doubles up to show people how well-off and original and unique you are?

Vs

Should you get a first generation Amazon Tablet that is $199 and also doubles up as an easy way for Amazon to let you buy all sorts of content from Amazon?

They are, for all practical purposes, completely different devices. Kindle Tablet isn’t going to give you the Status/Money Signalling Benefits that an iPad 2 will. Kindle Tablet is also a first generation device and has a markedly smaller range of Apps available.

If you can afford both – then an iPad 2 is probably a better choice. If the price of the iPad is making you think twice – then the Kindle Fire is probably a better choice.

Please note that both are closed and neither is going to satisfy you very much if you like to tinker around with your device.

Tell me more about the Kindle Fire – What are its selling points?

Kindle Fire is very impressive for a $199 Tablet -

  1.  7″ IPS color screen. This is a very good screen with 1024 by 600 pixel resolution and 169 ppi pixel density. It also has two finger multi-touch and an anti-reflective treatment.
  2. Lots and lots of content – lots of magazines, over 100K movies and TV shows, lots of Android Apps, over 1,000 children’s illustrated books, around 1 million books from the Kindle Store.
  3. Quite Light at 14.6 ounces (413 grams). Pretty compact - 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″ (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm). Makes it easy to hold in one hand (though probably not for long) and easy to carry around.
  4. Very good value for money. Some analysts are even claiming that Amazon is losing $50 per Kindle Fire sold.
  5. A pretty powerful dual-core processor from Texas Instruments.
  6. The user interface, based on everything we have seen so far, is fast and simple and easy to use.
  7. Gorilla Glass display means more durability and less scrapes and scratches.
  8. Built-in Browser that will let you access Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. There is support for Flash too.
  9. Built-in Email App.
  10. WhisperSync (automatic syncing across devices) now extends from Kindle Fire to Kindles and TVs. The point at which you stopped reading a book or stopped watching a movie is synced across devices.
  11. Kindle Fire is better for Children’s Books and Textbooks than the Kindle. Mostly due to touch and color.
  12. Free Cloud Storage for Amazon content. Doesn’t really make up for the limited 8 GB space and lack of SD card.
  13. There’s a USB port. You can transfer files from your PC or Mac to the Kindle Fire. You can also charge is via USB.
  14. Support for Flash.
  15. You could stretch it and say a free month of Amazon Prime is a benefit.

Those are most of the main Kindle Fire selling points.

What drawbacks does the Kindle Fire have?

Let’s see -

  1. It’s not cutting-edge in terms of the hardware. For example: The multi-touch is only two finger multi-touch.
  2. There’s no 3G. That means you have to find a WiFi network to get web access.
  3. The battery life at 8 hours (7 hours of video playback) is a bit shorter than ideal.
  4. 8 GB memory will fill up very quickly. There is no SD Card slot which is a major pain. The free Cloud storage is nice but it’s only for content bought from Amazon.
  5. At 14.6 ounces the weight is not optimal. Note: It’s lighter than Nook Color but it’s still a bit heavier than ideal.
  6. There’s no camera so that if you wanted to miss the birth of your grandchild and watch it over your Tablet instead – you couldn’t.
  7. The design is a bit bland.
  8. It will not play DRM protected media bought from elsewhere. So ePub books from Sony, B&N, and Kobo won’t work and neither will music files that are DRM protected.
  9. No plug-ins in the browser.
  10. Netflix doesn’t have an app for it though Amazon has said Netflix is enthusiastic about adding an App.
  11. It’s a very customized version of Android (Gingerbread-based Honeycomb variant of 2.3 – which is even more confusing than Split Browser Amazon Silk). That means updates only when Amazon does updates.
  12. It does not have an eInk screen and will not be readable in sunlight. If the anti-glare layer is anything like the Nook Color’s anti-glare layer it won’t make much difference.
  13. It seems that there is no Text to Speech capability which is a definite negative.
  14. The USB port is the type that is used to connect with your PC and can’t be used with general USB devices. It will let you charge your Kindle Fire and will let you move files from PC to Fire and back. However, you can’t plug-in something like a camera or a USB keyboard.

Overall, it’s clear that Kindle Fire is not a $500 Android Tablet or a $500 iPad. It is, however, very impressive for $199.

What’s all this Split Browser/Amazon Silk nonsense Amazon keeps talking about?

Amazon has figured out a way to make browsing websites faster when using the browser on the Kindle Fire.

In a nutshell:

Instead of loading the parts of a website one by one (i.e. first the picture from one place, then text from another, and so forth) – Kindle Fire’s browser lets Amazon’s Cloud load the entire website to the Cloud and then gets the entire website in one go from the Cloud.

It also makes intelligent guesses of what page you might want next and preloads those pages. This makes surfing faster.

It’s like doing all your shopping at one supermarket (with a personal helper) in 30 minutes instead of visiting 10 different 7/11s and taking 2 hours to walk around and 1 hour for the actual shopping.

Is this Amazon Silk stuff a big deal?

We don’t really know. It promises to be significant (though probably not life-changing). We’ll know once the Kindle Fire actually arrives.

Your WiFi network speed is probably more important.

You know what is puzzling though – Why did Amazon go to all this trouble to talk up this feature when it could just call it ‘Faster Browsing’? Why is Amazon going to all this trouble to explain the technology underlying it when no one really cares?

Is this Amazon Silk thing a privacy nightmare?

Have no idea.

Depends on what Amazon does with the data and how it anonymizes data. It’s sort of impossible to anonymize perfectly so that’s another thing to keep in mind. Every single site you visit will be through Amazon’s Cloud and there might be sites you don’t want anyone to know you visit (for example - health stuff).

Kindle Fire FAQ – Common and Uncommon Questions

Can my Kindle Books be transferred over?

Yes. It’s a Tablet and it has a Kindle App (probably a version of Kindle for Android). You just connect to your account and download whatever books you like.

Note: You cannot transfer the actual files from your Kindle to Kindle Tablet – Kindle Books have to be downloaded separately for each separate device or app.

Does it have Apps? How Many? Does it have App X?

Yes, Kindle Tablet will have access to Amazon’s App store for Android.

There are ‘thousands of apps’ according to Amazon. Every day one paid app is made free.

At the Amazon Android App Store page you can see what apps are available and can also search to see if the app you want will be available.

Is Kindle Fire screen as easy on the eyes as eInk? Can it be read in sunlight?

No. No. It’s a LCD screen – very similar to a computer. The higher pixel density makes it prettier and IPS gives you a wider angle of view. However, it is not easy on the eyes like eInk. It also is hard/impossible to read in sunlight.

Can i use Kindle Fire as a phone? Does it have Skype?

Kindle Fire has no microphone so you can’t use it for Skype or as a Phone.

Does the Kindle Fire browser support Flash?

Yes.

Will Kindle Fire support ePub? Will it support Nook Books or Nook Reading App or Google Ebooks App?

No. No.

Is there an SD Card slot on the Kindle Fire? How do I transfer files over?

No, no SD Card. You can transfer files via USB.

Will Kindle Fire support PDF and Word?

Yes. You can read documents in PDF and Word. For editing there are apps like QuickOffice and Documents To Go in the Amazon Android App Store. The ones with better functionality are usually paid apps.

What formats does Kindle Fire support?

Documents and Books: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, DOC, DOCX.

Audio: Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV.

Movie: MP4, VP8.

Picture: JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP.

With Apps you might be able to extend to more formats.

Will Kindle Fire support Excel and Powerpoint?

Amazon’s Android App Store has apps like Quick Office that allow opening and editing Excel and Powerpoint.

Is the Kindle Fire screen back-lit?

Yes.

Do I get a discount if I own a Kindle already?

Unfortunately not.

Will Kindle Fire have Collections/Folders for Books?

Probably not. It will use Kindle for Android and that doesn’t support Collections yet.

It might get added by the time Kindle Fire ships.

Does Kindle Fire come with Bluetooth?

To the best of my knowledge – No. Amazon certainly doesn’t mention it anywhere.

Is there a contract for the Kindle Fire?

No.

If you want Amazon Prime (free 2-day shipping on orders from Amazon, free streaming movies) then you have to pay $79 a year.

Is there a docking station for the Kindle Fire? Is there a physical keyboard add-on for the Kindle Fire?

Not yet.

Will there be an on-screen keyboard?

Yes.

Does the Kindle Fire have GPS?

No.

I have Questions about Amazon Silk (the browser on the Kindle Fire) - Where can I find answers?

At Amazon’s Amazon Silk Help Page.

Can we buy a Kindle Fire if we’re outside the US?

Not at the moment.

Does Kindle Fire have HDMI capability?

No. It does not have HDMI out.

Can we plug in USB devices like USB Keyboards into Kindle Fire?

No. The micro-USB B type connector can only be used for moving files from your PC or Mac and for charging from your PC or Mac.

This means you can’t plug in a flash drive (USB external drive) or something similar.

Note: There is one thread claiming that USB host support is present on Kindle Fire. However, I seriously doubt it. Will update this section if this feature is confirmed/denied officially.

Will Kindle Fire be available at brick and mortar stores?

No idea. Given that Amazon sells Kindles at Staples, Best Buy, and lots of other stores it’s quite possible. On the other hand, if Kindle Tablet sells out then Amazon won’t be able to sell it through Brick and Mortar stores.

Does Kindle Fire have anti-virus protection?

No. If you only buy apps from the Amazon App Store for Android then you should be fine.

If you start side-loading apps or hacking the Kindle Fire then you might introduce an app that has a hidden virus. You might also introduce something problematic if you’re downloading files from the Internet and transferring them over.

You can use an app called Lookout to scan apps. However, that’s outside my area of expertise.

More Kindle Fire Questions?

Leave a comment and if possible, will add an answer.

Thanks to everyone at the official Kindle Forums for all the questions and answers.

You can find the Kindle Fire at Amazon for $199. It ships on November 15th, 2011.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,228 other followers