Amazon Kindle Fire review roundup
The Kindle Fire hits shelves this week. So how does the first-ever Amazon tablet stack up?
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The interface, part 2Skip to next paragraph
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"The colorful home screen depicts an attractive wood grain bookshelf," writes David Pogue of the New York Times. "Its scrolling contents consist of miniature posters of your e-books, music albums, TV shows, movies, PDF documents, apps and Web bookmarks. There is also a lower shelf where you can park the items you use most often. Your heart leaps. 'This is incredible!' you say, contemplating the prospects. 'It’s like an iPad — for $200!' But that’s a dangerous comparison. For one thing, the Fire is not nearly as versatile as a real tablet. It is designed almost exclusively for consuming stuff, particularly material you buy from Amazon, like books, newspapers and video. It has no camera, microphone, GPS function, Bluetooth or memory-card slot. There is a serviceable e-mail program, but no built-in calendar or note pad."
The interface, part 3
"To be honest, [the bookshelf is] a cute concept on the Fire, but with a somewhat clumsy execution," writes Lance Ulanoff of Mashable. "Whatever you looked at recently – books, a movie, apps, web pages, etc. – all sits on the top shelf. As a result, it’s a hodgepodge of icons. Some are movie boxes or posters, which look good. Book covers look great as well; giant icons for email, Facebook, Angry Birds, the Wired Magazine app – look ridiculous. The shelves use a carousel to let you swipe through your content. This is effective once you get used to the Fire’s tendency to let the moving icons run away with themselves – I constantly missed the item I wanted to access."
"In my experience, the telltale sign of any sub-$300 tablet is poor screen quality," notes Donald Bell of CNET. "On paper, Amazon's tablet seems to buck this trend. The Kindle Fire offers a 1,024x600-pixel resolution display using the same wide-angle IPS screen technology as in the iPad. Unfortunately, the screen's brightness doesn't live up to the iPad's, but it's in the same ballpark and is bright enough to look great indoors. If you want something that will look great in direct sunlight, I'm sure Amazon would be happy to add an e-ink Kindle to your order."
"Then there’s the presence of the Amazon Android App Store, which delivers 10,000 Android apps to the Fire," writes Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times. "Amazon made a great move in choosing to base the whole thing on Android. They made a second great decision in choosing to work exceptionally hard to bury every possible trace of Android from the user. Thus, the Kindle gets the best of Android (a free OS and a large, established developer community and app library) without inheriting the worst of it (namely, a user experience that’s often akin to simultaneously discovering the source of that awful smell and the answer to the mystery of what happened to that old raccoon that you used to see hanging around near the back porch."