Amazon’s new Kindle 7-inch tablet is out and the reviewers are posting their views. It is not all sweetness and light.
David Pogue, NYT:
There is also, alas, a lot of soot.
For example, Amazon trumpets the Fire’s dual Wi-Fi antennas — a first in a tablet — which is supposed to give you a better, faster Internet signal.
Well, fine, but the Fire still lags the iPad in Web browsing. It took my Fire one second longer than the iPad to pull up nytimes.com or ESPN.com (7 seconds versus 6), four seconds longer for People.com, three seconds longer for Cracked.com — and, amusingly, 1.5 seconds longer to pull up Amazon.com.
There’s a camera on the front, but no camera app to use with it. Until someone writes software for it, you can’t take a picture or record video. Amazon says that for now, it’s for use only with Skype for video calling.
Most urgently of all, Amazon should tackle the apps problem. The Fire still lacks built-in apps for navigation, notes, to-do lists, alarm clock or stopwatch.
Amazon says more than 30,000 apps are available for the Fire, but they include only a fraction of my iPad favorites. For example, I couldn’t find Dropbox, Bump, Flixster, Echofon, Voxer, Flight Track Pro, Nest, Jot Not, Google Voice, Google Search or Taxi Magic.
Finally, there are the bugs. Once again, Amazon seems to have scrambled for the holidays, with the intention of polishing its software later.
Everything lags a bit; some apps take 7 or 8 seconds to open. The Gmail sign-up wizard has bugs; Draw Something’s screen appears upside-down, and won’t rotate upright; and turning a magazine page or zooming in produces blurry, blotchy text. It takes the gasping processor a couple of seconds to catch up with the sharp text you’re expecting.
Walt Mossberg, WSJ:
So, while Amazon is still stressing that these new Fires are best seen as front doors to its online stores, it is now claiming the Fire HD is also “the best tablet at any price.”
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However, after testing the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, I can’t agree with the sweeping claim that it is “the best tablet at any price.”
The Fire HD isn’t as polished, fluid or versatile as the iPad. It offers only a fraction of the third-party apps available on either the iPad or the Nexus 7 (and other standard Android tablets). I found that after prolonged use, the Fire HD showed signs of latency—apps and content displayed delays in launching. This latency disappeared after a reboot.
The Fire HD also assaults users with ads occupying the entire screen every time they start or resume using it. You have to pay Amazon another $15, using an obscure setting on a Web page, to escape these ads. And there are pitches to buy more content on many other screens, even those displaying your already-purchased content.
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The Fire is really a hardware entry point to Amazon’s massive, unmatched selection of books and other content. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the Fire HD saying it shouldn’t be thought of as a gadget. “The Kindle Fire is a service,” he said.
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Overall, I see the 7-inch Fire HD as a good value for those primarily interested in easily tapping Amazon’s large collection of content.
Joshua Topolsky, The Verge:
There are two devices in this review. The first is something like an appliance — a window through which you casually view content, a way to listen to music, an e-reader for the train ride home. On that device, things like a big app selection or elaborate user experience take a back seat to content selection, price point, and simplicity. On that device, it’s not about going toe-to-toe with the competition in every way (as Amazon seems to want to do), it’s about offering a lot of fun stuff to consumers, and getting them to consume more. As that device, the Fire HD is a complete success. A marvel of bottom-line engineering and incredibly clever subsidies. It’s a really, really good tablet for doing some very specific things.
But there’s a second tablet in the review as well. One that gets compared to the iPad and Nexus 7. One that I expect to do more than just show me movies or help me shop. One that should be a companion for all kinds of things I want to do, that doesn’t feel limited, that doesn’t respond to my touches slowly, that doesn’t make me wait.
As that device, the Fire HD still has a long way to go. I think it can get there, but it isn’t there yet.
Tim Stevens, Engadget:
Even if you step up and pay the extra $15 to disable Offers on your Kindle Fire HD, you can never and will never shake the feeling that this is less a tablet and more of a tool for shopping — a Trojan Horse that’s let into your home thanks to its low price and then unleashes a legion of must-buy items to completely compromise any walls you’ve built around your budget.
If you can get past that decidedly subsidized feeling, you do have a compelling package in your hands. The HD is fast, has a nice design, a beautiful screen, proper stereo speakers and, of course, oodles and oodles of premium content. For casual users looking for an inexpensive yet powerful tablet, the Kindle Fire HD should absolutely be at the top of your shopping list. But, for those looking to do more, and do more rapidly, the Nexus 7 is still the king of this diminutive hill.
Disclosure: I am long AAPL.