Kindle Fire

Yeah, cheers Amazon:


I didn’t expect the Kindle Fire to be launched in the UK at the same time as in the US, but it would be nice if they at least acknowledged its existence on the UK site, and mentioned that it would be coming sometime next year or whatever, given how much hype they have given it internationally.

Looks nice though.

Oh, and surely that’s not the same Kindle they are hyping in the UK store as now only costing £89 as the one in the US store for $79 (£50)…

I don’t know how I feel about those new e-ink Kindle designs. The loss of a keyboard: I guess it’s back to index cards for taking notes on books in the future, which is kind of strange since I’ve been taking digital notes now since the late '90s, all the way back to spinach green screen Palm Pilots. Hmm, pretty much everything about the new e-ink Kindles fails to excite me. Touchscreen on e-ink seems… pointless, especially if you remove the hardware buttons. The touchscreen is my #1 complaint against the iPad as a reading device. It just limits to a great degree how much you can use it since you have a huge percentage of the device’s surface area that you have to avoid at all postures, and the compromise between padding the device sides so as to allow your thumb a place to sit means it’s hard to read on your side. It’s just not a good interface for reading in my experience. I know there are lots out there that like it, but frankly I just don’t get it. A nice big button and a text change, that’s all I need to read, and it works hanging off of a tire swing, if that’s how I feel about the day. So, putting such a (in my opinion) crippling interface design on a device that doesn’t even do real-time graphical feedback, which is arguably the whole point of multi-touch screen use, is just bizarre. I must be missing something.

Meanwhile the standard Kindle’s hardware buttons look awkward, like Sony’s were. Small and located on the sides facing outward. I always felt the Kindle’s top-facing buttons were superior to that design since your fingers/thumb are already facing that direction while holding the device, and making them broad and something you press down on rather than in on, again increases how many postures you can use to read. Could be okay though; it’s just hard to say from the pictures. Looks like more design trumping usability to me though. No reason to remove a keyboard except that it is supposedly “ugly” at this point in industrial fashion design history, no reason at all. I thought Amazon had more spine than that, oh well, I guess you can still buy the keyboard models; maybe they aren’t phasing it out.

Basically, everything I worried about the iPad’s introduction. Not that it would kill the Kindle, I never really worried about that, but that it would dumb down the Kindle’s design ultimately. I don’t mean to say the iPad has a “dumb” interface, but that it is appealing enough to cause customers & pundits to raise a stink over how many visible buttons something has, even if it is not a relevant argument to make since the devices are so radically different.

Otherwise, not to entirely be a grouch, I’m curious to see how the Fire performs. Budget tablets haven’t done so well as of yet, as the technology to make the experience a good one doesn’t come cheap on the manufacturing side. Amazon is one to sell hardware at a loss though. On paper it looks good; so maybe it isn’t a budget tablet and is just priced like one. Certainly has some interesting qualities. I like its focus. I hope it (sigh ) lights a fire under Apple’s design teams, because the iPad2 was a very “slim” upgrade. They haven’t had enough incentive to throw a bunch of brains at fixing the original concept’s flaws, such as weight.

Nah, tech companies never screw over the U.K. Must be an optical illusion.


snot funny!! :imp:

I used to resist the idea of e-readers replacing traditional books. I still like the feel and smell of paper books. But carrying sixty pounds (25-30 kgs?) of textbooks on my shoulders every day is changing my mind quickly. Now I yearn for the day when schools cross over into the 21st century.

I don’t know. The new Fire is thicker than the iPad2, so I don’t think it is more advanced than Apple’s tablet on the engineering side. Being smaller and mostly made of plastic, it will for sure weight less, but I suppose there are technological limits for weight compression.


I love the fact that on a BBC news item on the Kindle Fire, the reporter, having already said that Apple have roughly 75% of the tablet market in spite of all the tablets hyped as “iPad killers” that have been launched, goes on to say at the end that the market is “wide open” and maybe the Kindle Fire will be the one …


In most portable devices, the two heaviest components are the battery and the display. Battery size correlates pretty directly to battery life, so there’s not much the designer can do to cut it down. With the display, a crystal clear color LCD (like the iPad) is always going to weigh a lot more than the Kindle’s e-paper display. It’s also going to be more power-thirsty, which ties back to the battery life problem.

In other words, the iPad is likely already about as light as it’s going to get given its other design constraints.


I’m not sure about the latter assertion but sure, leave it at maybe—perhaps the masses do want something that is slightly more focussed on consuming media; wouldn’t surprise me actually. On the market, though, they are quite right. 75% of the current sampling of humanity that owns tablets is very tiny compared with the sampling of humans that speculatively will own tablets in twenty years time. It’s like saying Apple had 75% of the PC market in 1981 (I don’t know if they actually did, but they did have a good chunk). Then the Commodore 64 came along, and the IBM PC, and we know the rest of the story. That’s roughly where we are in the tablet game right now, as I have no doubt it will eventually eat into much of the PC market as most people don’t need a workstation. The only reason they have one is because it is the only thing that does what they want to do. Cellular phones are close, but not quite enough, you can’t make a flier for the yard sale on a cell phone and print out 40 copies yet. Right now most of the people buying tablets are people that still need computers so that form of replacement isn’t happening yet and won’t with the current market.

What is different about this comparison with tablets to PCs, is the makers. What the people want is roughly similar (whether they know it or not, just like most people didn’t know they wanted e-mail in 1982). The makers are radically different than the early PC companies. They are all IBMs. Huge companies the size of small nations. We don’t have any Apples or Commodores or ZX Spectrums out there. That’s kind of sad in my opinion, as it means less innovation and creativity and more just trying to come up with “the winner” at all costs. That’s no good for us; that’s just a world full of IBM PC’s. Over-priced, under-powered, and over-sold. IBM had its place in the PC boom, but it’s happening too early in the tablet boom and I’m afraid that ultimately means it won’t be what it could have been.

As for weight: I would gladly take a design with four (real) hours of battery time and a slightly smaller display. Small enough so the video card gurus can get it up to 300dpi to compensate for the loss in space. The iPad’s chief advantage is portability and form factor. So it’s kind of awkward that it is no more portable than an MBA 11"—which yes, doesn’t have the walk-around-with-a-clipboard form factor, but does have a built-in keyboard.

I am pretty much anti-kindle, although in a ‘I don’t need one’ rather than a ‘I don’t want anyone to have one’ kind of a way. It may be lighter than carrying 9 books on holiday, but leaving it on the beach while I take a dip in the ocean is going to cancel out the stress-relieving benefits of my swim. Also my bookshelves would look kind of rubbish.

But, Sin’s point is the major plus that I can see. I would totally use a kindle device (and it ould have to have the keyboard, sorry) for academic or reference texts… anything where a computer based search facility is going to be helpful. Sadly, however, I am no longer a student so textbooks areathing of the past, and all my reasrch is done via the interweb on the far mroe versatile laptop. I really can’t see me ever moving from my laptop to somthing with no buttons.

If it makes you feel better it’s $109 in Canada (£70).

I have noticed that most “iPad Killers” are only called such because they aren’t made by Apple.

Seriously. No one ever tells me why I need to buy something like the Kindle Fire but rather why it’s not an iPad and therefore its a gooder thing :unamused: . So in reality what we have are people who want it for what it is not. Which will lead to lower sales.

The Fire is intriguing but I am more in fear of the Nook taking a hit then iPad. For some reason my wife has taken the Nook…so my Nook Books are considerably more then my Amazon books (just embarrassing to have books covers of bare chested men in my Nook App). iPad is far more versatile. It is a real tablet computer rather then a “tweener”. The Fire, Nook…they are in between. They do one thing (ebooks) REALLY well and everything else is just ok or an after thought.

As for the Kindle Fire’s other features like videos and such? I would have to see it. Amazon is not a software company. They are a content company. They have to prove to me they can write software or even design hardware. Yeah…a little doubt there.

Even still I doubt that we will be able to read other ebooks on a Kindle Fire. Right now I can read nearly all ebook store books on an iPad. Nook, Amazon, Kobo, Google Books…have them all on iPad. Sure the way you buy isn’t what some may want but you can still read them there. Far better then NOT being able to.

The one trouble I think Fire will have is that people sunk money into other models and don’t see the need to buy the brand new. Folks that buy Apple products are one of two things: have a large disposable income, or they want cutting edge products. In that they will buy the newest iPads…not to read books but to do a lot of things. In fact while the iBook store is nice and fun to browse I don’t buy that many books there. I buy them from Barnes and Noble estore. I know a few others that do something similar but with Amazon or Smashwords. I see iPads in the office and meetings everyday. have yet to see a Kindle outside of the lunch time reading. So unless someone can think of a reason why I need the Fire in my life I am fine with iPad.

The fire is interesting…just not $200 interesting.

Though I’m not an expert, I think I agree with you. Why would I spend $200 on an inferior product (with content limited to what Amazon sells? Is that right?), when I could just save up a little more money and get the “real” thing? And if I all I’m really wanting is a good e-reader, then why not just buy a cheaper Kindle that already does those features well?

I thought the Fire was using the Droid OS and apps… Or am I mistaken?

It is using Android, yet its layered its own User Interface on top much like the Nook.

If you have never used the Nook it has some problems because B&N is not a software company. So using it as a game console or to surf the web is a lesser product. It does it but you have issues. Namely if you try to do anything while its charging (meaning plugged into the wall) it goes all wonky (yes…that is the technical term). Then you have to reboot and its fine.

While I am sure that the Fire works as a reader fine I am less sure of its ability to be anything else. I could be wrong. YET based on the nook I doubt that users will have access to Android Apps stores without having to jailbreak it (or root it as the Android users call it). The Nook is limited to apps that B&N allow on it…then again why? You bought this as an ebook reader.

Again my case in point. Seriously doubt the Fire as an iPad competitor. its great ebook but not much else.

I caveat this that I can be proven wrong, I am just calling it based on deduction. Mainly stemming from the fact that Amazon is not a software company.

Apple has its own App Store, though, so Android developers should be able to submit and sell through there. It looks interesting, but I’ll save my opinion for when I get my hands on one in a year or two. :frowning:

Keith, you’re allowing your personal doubts about the Apple App store surface … surely you mean Amazon … I doubt that Android developers would be able to sell through the Apple App store! :wink:

I have a friend — though we haven’t been in touch for a while — who having completed her first degree in Computer Sciences here, went on to do a Masters and PhD at Arizona State — admittedly on some aspect of 3D recognition — and who is now working for Amazon, so they do have someone who knows about programming, albeit not necessarily in UI design etc.


Yeah, Amazon has a lot of programming experience under its belt! Not as much as Apple, probably, but they are far away from some company meddling in realms of which they know nothing. :slight_smile: Kindle (and that includes a pretty good UI in my opinion, I’d rate it higher than iBooks anyway, so they aren’t just bits and bytes), AWS, client applications, not to mention their website and all the custom sub-systems and physical delivery mechanisms coming off of that—which is slightly high-traffic and thus very complicated.

I do agree the Fire seems more like a futuristic book than “an iPad”. My point in the earlier message is completely compatible with that. The general purpose solution, better or not, doesn’t always win—in fact that is the argument that Apple folks make all of the time in regards to Windows with all of its options and hardware configurations. Who knows how the Fire will play for movies, television, web browsing, and other popular consumption. It might in fact be superior to the iPad experience in every way. We don’t really know it yet—so this might turn out to not be just a super-book, and end up being a general entertainment and information module a step above a cell phone but more portable than an iPad. A lot of people here see the iPad as something almost akin to a computer, which is fine and great and there are some great apps to make that possible, but I really do think the only thing driving tablet sales going into the future will be all of the things people use workstations for now because they have no better solution. That may in fact not be a general purpose tablet computer like the iPad. It is an assumption that what makes the tablet market speculatively massive has to do with what makes it currently reasonably successful (it is not, in the grand scheme, massively successful yet). That was my point in bringing up early PC history, before. What make the early PC successfully had nothing to do with what ended up causing an estimated one and a quarter billion units sold in both developed and undeveloped parts of the world (with projections at 2 billion by 2014). Perhaps these numbers can now demonstrate why 15 million iPads is comedic in terms of the raw potential here, when one speaks of “computer replacement devices”, and why 75% of 15m means very little for 2020.

Personally, I think the “tablet”, like the “microcomputer” of the past, has yet to see its ultimate format. I don’t think the device that ultimate becomes what everyone has one or two of is going to look anything like an iPad or a Fire, in other words. These are both just a touch too clumsy to always have with you—and a cell phone is just a touch too small to really be useful for what a tablet can do. Meanwhile touch screens just aren’t quite it. They are close, but they have some pretty severe limitations on pure efficiency of the like a computer commands. Something lateral is going to come along and blow the market up. After that there will be no iPads and no smart phones except amongst the hobbyists and collectors.

I think it will be interesting to see how it goes. I’m a fan of Amazon as I am a fan of Apple. I wish them both well in this current pitch. There is plenty of space for them both here; nobody needs to “win” at this point.

I think the first mistake marketing wise is comparing this to an iPad. Face it. It ain’t no iPad. In reality its more of a direct competitor against the Nook.

Compare it to an iPad and it fails miserably. Compare it to other ebook readers and it shines.

HP came out with an Android iPad clone that could run flash. Marketed it as an iPad “killer”.

47 days later HP dropped out of the tablet market and the PC market all together and the HP iPad killer went on a fire sale ($99) to get rid of stock.

The reality is Apple beat everyone else to the punch and is now the bar that people will compare others tablets too. The Kindle Fire appears to be a nice color ebook reader but compared to an iPad its pretty ghetto fabulous.

Since a large market now for iApple products are young whipper snappers who like trendy things, getting a young kid a Kindle Fire instead of an iPad is like buying that kid some bobo skip shoes from walmart instead of the new trendy “whats in style-Igotta-have-to-fit-in” shoes. Apple products are trendy in the young market.

Now in the older “I look at use and features not at trends” market iApple is still shining. They are offering ease of use, a lot of features, and a lot of options (software wise and accessories wise).

The Fire doesn’t offer anything ground breaking in the tablet market but rather is one of the most limited tablets offered (with the proprietary browser that limits downloads on conditions).

The Kindle touch ($79 and $149) versions will sell more than the fire. The e-ink feature is the one saving grace for kindle products and surprisingly from what I read is not even on the Fire version.

Face it. iPads have the momentum right now.