Kindle Fire Pre-Order? Check.

October 3, 2011 | 4 Comments

I pre-ordered a Kindle Fire. The first day. No hesitation.

Going in to last week’s announcement about the new Kindles, I had high hopes for an Amazon Kindle tablet. I hoped that Amazon would create a device that was a hybrid between an iPad and a Kindle e-ink reader, filling an unexplored middle ground. I think they did just that.

For the past few months, I’ve been using a hacked Nook Color. (Allegedly.) I’ve seen the possibilities of what it could be, but hassling with the rooting, modded Android builds, or apps that weren’t designed for this device left me wanting a better user experience. I think the Kindle will deliver. So, here’s why I’m looking forward to the FedEx or UPS truck showing up at my house on November 16.

  1. Content
    You can incite the ire of an iPad enthusiast (me included) by saying that an iPad is a device only for consumption. But a device that is primarily for consumption isn’t all bad, and the Kindle Fire seems focused on a good content experience for both acquiring and consuming content. Even as other book stores have come along, the Kindle format has been my book reader of choice, mostly because of the access it provides to my notes and highlights. It also helps that they have an app available for reading on every device except my dishwasher. I buy more music from the Amazon MP3 store than anywhere else. The Amazon content catalog and delivery convenience means that they are the first hardware vendor to have a content tie-in that rivals Apple.
  2. Form Factor
    Based on my experience with the Nook, the 7″ form factor is pretty doggone handy. It’s fine for reading, and while I haven’t watched any videos on the Nook (and only occasionally on the iPad), the 7″ screen should be fine for an individual viewing of a movie or a show. A 7″ inch tablet tucks away in a lot of places a 10″ tablet won’t. It has a better overall take it with you vibe, and while I’m not the purse carrying type, I can see a 7″ tablet being a big plus for those who are.
  3. Aesthetics
    From the videos I’ve seen and my brief experience with a version that didn’t work quite right on my Nook, the Kindle app for Android tablets is the best looking version of their app. I’m running the phone version on the Nook and it’s a sneak peek of the Fire’s UI. They’ve been investing more time in the Android apps than the iOS apps, for obvious reasons, and it shows. (It looks like the Kindle cloud reader offers a similar take on the direction they are going.)
  4. A Reader with Benefits
    I don’t want or need the Fire to replace an iPad, but knowing it can handle some other tasks makes it useful. InstaFetch can access my Instapaper queue, Epistle can access my Dropbox notes, and RepliGo Reader handles PDF reading and annotation. I hope and expect that the Logos (Bible software) Android app will be made available in the Amazon apps store. These tasks cover about 80% of what I use my iPad for during the workday. It can do enough that I don’t break into a cold sweat when I think about my wife taking the iPad with her on an out of town trip this fall. (I doubt I’ll setup Twitter or email on the Fire, though it’s good to know I can if I need to.) And if one child can play games on the Fire while another plays on the iPad, that brings a little peace to our house too.
  5. $199
    Don’t need to say any more about that.

A Nice and Handy In Between

There are a few things that appear to missing at this point that would be useful on occasion. The Dropbox app isn’t yet available in the Amazon app store, and it would be useful for keeping PDFs in sync across all devices. And I don’t know if it will be possible to load some non-DRM movies files on the Fire, but it could be useful on occasion.

Ultimately, the Fire looks like it will do just enough at a smaller size to settle into the space between a phone and an iPad. Since I mostly carry the iPad with my MacBook Air for reading during the day, I’m looking forward to streamlining a little more, and being able to leave the iPad home more for the kids to use the educational apps during the day.

  • Ian C.

    I did order one, but then cancelled … I don’t see me using the Fire sometimes and the iPad sometimes, and since I have an iPad already, I can’t see usage for the Fire.

    But I think Amazon of everyone should get content (magazines especially) right, which is tempting. I hope we soon see a 3G Fire – that would be win over the iPad as it is smaller so much more useful on the road, with the iPad then becoming the at home device …

    • John Chandler

      Ian,

      I agree that the Fire doesn’t offer enough of a unique experience for someone who owns an iPad already. In my case, there will be a benefit to my family if I leave the iPad home during the day. My younger kids are eating up the educational apps on there.

  • Thanks for the post. Amazon should give you a commission. InstaFetch is one of the best reasons I’ve seen so far for getting a Fire. Dropbox support with a Markdown-aware editor (Epistle) is another. That’d allow a Fire to make friends with Scrivener on my Mac. But are you sure Amazon will allow these Droid apps on the Fire?

    Maybe I am just seeing Amazon through Apple’s control-obsessed app store behavior. Lately, Amazon’s willingness to open up their devices to other-than-Amazon sources has been impressive. I never thought they’d allow library checkout. They did. I doubted they’d allow personal documents to benefit from user markup and note taking. They just did.

    I’d be more relaxed and perhaps even pre-order a Fire, if Amazon talked a bit more about apps on the Kindle. On one hand, I wonder if they’re just being coy, not directing any attention to apps because, for at least the immediate future, the iPad offers vastly more choices. On the other, I wonder if they really don’t intended for the Fire to become a productivity gadget, intending it solely for consumption.

    –Michael W. Perry, author of Untangling Tolkien

    • John Chandler

      Michael,
      They certainly are promoting the apps in their app store as being available for the Fire, with the only caveat being that they intend to test them for the Fire first:

      “Your Favorite Apps and Games

      Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, The Weather Channel and more, plus a great paid app for free every day. All apps are Amazon-tested on Kindle Fire for the best experience possible.”

      I think they have every intention of making as many apps available as long as they don’t directly compete with their own. (And that makes me wonder if that is why Dropbox isn’t in their app store already since it they may see it as a competitor to their own Cloud offering.)