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Reviews of Kindle Fire Are a Mixed Bag 381

MrSeb writes "Ahead of tomorrow's full-scale launch of Amazon's new wunderkind, panacea, and lynch-pin of its continuing distribution domination, initial reviews of the Kindle Fire are starting to trickle in... and they're not as fantastic as we had hoped. Unsurprisingly, not a single review is denying that the bright screen, solid construction, and $200 price point make for a perfect holiday season outing — but to actually win the hearts of consumers, to steal those throbbing, Cupertino-captivated organs away from the iPad, the Kindle Fire has to be amazing... and it isn't. Throughout almost every review, one particularly telling observation rears its ugly head: the Kindle Fire can be sluggish. Page turns can lag. Menus can be slow to load. Screen touches can be unresponsive. For a device that is entirely about media consumption, the Fire will live or die depending on its perceived alacrity. If an E Ink Kindle or Nook is better for reading books, and a smartphone or iPad is better for watching movies or listening to music, what space is there for the Fire?"
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Reviews of Kindle Fire Are a Mixed Bag

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  • Surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 14, 2011 @01:41PM (#38049992)
    A $200 tablet is unresponsive and sluggish? Shocker.
  • by DavidinAla ( 639952 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @01:48PM (#38050072)
    I know this is a shock to the fanboys who demand that companies arbitrarily lower prices because they don't want to pay $500 for a tablet, but if you strip something down to a cheap price, there are tradeoffs. You lose some of what people want. OF COURSE it's not as good as an experience as something costing twice as much. Why in the world is this a surprise? If you don't mind the cheaper experience, buy the Fire. If you want something excellent and you think it's worth paying the money, get an iPad. Those are your choices. You can't expect an iPad experience at a Kindle Fire price. Decide whether you want cheap or good, but don't complain that reality won't let you have both.
  • by boristhespider ( 1678416 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @01:50PM (#38050086)

    battery life, most likely. it's the main reason i got a sony reader a few years back. sure, the screen's nice to read from but it's the battery life that's a massive benefit.

  • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @01:50PM (#38050088)

    I'm not saying tablets are a "fad"- they will be around for the foresable future. However, the public's response to tablets at the moment is "fadish".

    It's the cool thing to have- especially for anyone wanting to look yuppyish and in the in-crowd. Not saying they don't have function for many people (although most people would still be more practically served by a netbook).

    So someone needs to fill the niche for the majority of people for whom Apple and other quality tablets are just too expensive.

    So regardless of whether kindle fire is any good- it will sell because there is a need for less wealthy people to feel "with it".

  • by adosch ( 1397357 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @01:52PM (#38050112)

    $200 isn't that bad for a little net portal.

    While I agree 100% with that, how many times over are you going to spend that kind of money to find the 'shining light' that holds it's weight against the iPad before ultimately spending enough of your own money on sub-par devices that you could outright owned an iPad?

    No, I'm not a Apple fan boi, but the iPad is a pretty fantastic device. Nothing can touch it right now and I think what gets all of us as end-point consumers is everyone's marketing bullshit lately to get into the tablet market and make a quick, almighty dollar off all of us.

    I think the e-Reader should remain an e-Reader. Period. Perhaps the slight reach to make it enough to casually surf the internet and check e-mail I can live with, but that's where B&N and Amazon are making their mistake IMHO: Taking something and making it something it's not. Let's not forget the iPad was a touch-screen computing device with 'e-Reader and multi-media capabilities' not the other way around.

  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @01:52PM (#38050114)
    The problem is people comparing it to an iPad2. It's not an iPad2. I don't feel sorry for anyone buying one thinking it's a cheap iPad2, nor do I think any reasonable people thought they would or should be competing for the same audience.
  • $500 vs $200 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .werdnaredne.> on Monday November 14, 2011 @01:53PM (#38050126) Homepage Journal

    Are they suggesting a $500 item might be better than a $200 item? I'm shocked!

    The fact that a $200 item is competitive feature wise with a $500 item should make it the better value, no?

  • by noldrin ( 635339 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @01:56PM (#38050164)
    Reminds me of the joke about futons, "a not that comfortable couch that turns into an even less comfortable bed, wow both those things in one!"
  • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @01:56PM (#38050166) Journal

    Many people, myself included, still find a reflective screen much more pleasant for reading large amounts of text.

  • by saider ( 177166 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @02:00PM (#38050216)

    People were probably hoping that Amazon was selling the Fire at a loss and that they were actually getting a $500 tablet.

  • by Threni ( 635302 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @02:02PM (#38050250)

    > If those are its strengths, then why not just use a notebook computer?

    Same strengths as the iPad, though. A "laptop that's not quite a laptop which never goes outdoors".

    I just read both the reviews linked to, and the sluggishness was about the only negative thing, and as someone else just pointed out here, most people don't notice that sort of thing. You dragged the screen left, and the screen scrolled left. That's not something you usually get on the phone to customer services about.

    It's a $200 tablet which looks like it compares pretty favourably with tablets costing 2 or 3 times as much money, with some minor disadvantages. I think that's a pretty good deal.

  • Re:Bad blurp? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aiken_d ( 127097 ) <{brooks} {at} {}> on Monday November 14, 2011 @02:04PM (#38050270) Homepage

    Are you suggesting that /. shouldn't run news that has a negative tone, or that they should have found a more positive blurb for the Fire?

    It seems pretty fair and accurately representative of what I'm reading elsewhere. I don't see that /. has an editorial obligation to support Apple competitors no matter what the real story is.

  • Donotwant (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gmai l . c om> on Monday November 14, 2011 @02:08PM (#38050324) Journal

    I have no use for any locked-down toy computers. I disregard any such devices once I learn of their nature, although sometimes I take an interest again if they can be hacked (like the Nook Color).

  • by Viewsonic ( 584922 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @02:09PM (#38050332)

    Seriously? You can't hold a laptop in one hand, and flick it on and within seconds you're on a web page and passing it around to your friends.

    Laptops are unwieldy devices, not meant to be pop on, pop off for quick info bites. Or sitting on a train doing something. I mean, it's possible, but its a huge PITA and not very fun. $200 is the perfect price point for these devices. Apple will have to play ball if they want to keep the market.

  • Re:$500 vs $200 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aiken_d ( 127097 ) <{brooks} {at} {}> on Monday November 14, 2011 @02:10PM (#38050342) Homepage

    Depends what you mean by "feature wise". If we ignore screen size (7" versus 10"), memory (8GB versus 16GB), construction (plastic versus aluminum), UX (sluggish versus snappy), thickness (0.45" versus 0.34"), glass coating (none versus oleophobic), camera (none versus front and back), and bluetooth (none versus yes), the features are competitive.

    The Fire may be a better value for you if you don't *want* the iPad's extra features, but it's not like there's feature parity for the $300 price difference.

  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @02:18PM (#38050456) Homepage

    The reason netbooks got it so badly is because most people are NOT better served by them.

    So what's a netbook? Netbooks were sold as a category, but they really weren't any different than what had come before. Atom processor instead of Core processor, check -- so they have lousy performance. Otherwise all the components were exactly the same as a laptop. It was never much of a stretch to just drop the Atom and build a regular laptop with cheap build quality (which is pretty much what you see in Best Buy now).

    Most people want a portable device to read, watch videos, browse the web, play games and perhaps write an occasional email or Facebook post. A tablet does all of those better except perhaps writing.

    Boy, here I really disagree. I have an Android tablet and I rarely pull it out for anything. Most Web sites are still designed for a pointing device rather than a touch UI. Anything that requires typing, from word processing to Facebook to Slashdot, works better on a device with a keyboard. Tablets work great for Angry Birds, but otherwise I'm just not sure what they're good for.

  • Re:$500 vs $200 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .werdnaredne.> on Monday November 14, 2011 @02:24PM (#38050516) Homepage Journal

    For what it is worth, iOS devices aren't always fast and snappy. I wait on my iPhone to respond all the time.

    Tablets aren't carried around in pockets in most cases. A tenth of an inch in thickness shouldn't even mean anything to anyone.

    I wipe my iPhone several times a day to remove fingerprints. Supposedly it is finger print resistant but I just don't see it. If the feature worked as advertised, I'd consider it a plus.

    Amazon created a tablet that is primarily there to digest media. You can listen to music, watch movies, read books and surf the web. I think that covers most use cases for most people. The iPad2 does have more features, but is a camera worth an extra $300 when you have a camera in your phone?

  • False metric (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @02:26PM (#38050546) Journal

    "For a device that is entirely about media consumption, the Fire will live or die depending on its perceived alacrity."

    No, not at all.
    That's the measure about whether it's an iPad.

    It's not.

    The fact is that (I believe) many people will be happy to save $hundred$ in exchange for a little menu-lag. The Fire will live or die depending on its perceived VALUE.

    HP Touchpads failed as a market product, but FLEW off the shelves at a lower pricepoint. That has NOTHING to do with how 'quickly' it displayed stuff....that didn't change between the earlier and later sell-rates.

    Capitalism 101, for those of you in academia.

  • by Grizzley9 ( 1407005 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @03:23PM (#38051162)

    We got some iPads here at work to eval for use in various places. I was very underwhelmed. OTOH - My family and I really enjoy our Asus Transformer tablet. Whenever my kids are home for my weekends, a common question from my wife is "Where's the tablet?" I am very happy about not being tied to iTunes either. There's only one iPod left in the house, and it's a nightmare of support when she has problems.

    I'm gonna disagree. You make it sound like you're being impartial but you're not. You didn't elaborate on the usage you tried in the office. Would the Asus Transformer have held up any better? You didn't specify. Has your family ever used an iPad or are they just trained in the usage of the Asus tablet / Android? Then you point out some unrelated issue about nightmare and an iPod.

    If you don't like Apple / iOS, just say so.

  • by lsolano ( 398432 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @03:45PM (#38051426)

    Even if it can be rooted, that will not make it succeed. How many people can actually root a device?

    I think the 90% (maybe more) of the people that buys a Kindle (or any tablet) do not even know about what rooting a device is.

  • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @04:31PM (#38052032) Homepage

    I'm not sure what this has to do with fire, and beside it is mainly just name calling. Underwhelmed by what? Enjoyed the Asus why? Would rather not be tied to iTunes because? A nightmare of support because?

    You aren't actually saying anything.

  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @04:37PM (#38052090) Homepage
    can we really say the palm pilot is dead? or that is has evolved into the smartphone? when you think about it a smart phone is nothing more than a palm pilot with a radio in it
  • by nightfell ( 2480334 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @05:48PM (#38052946)

    Oh no, not page turns. The end of the world. This matters not.

    Yeah, it's not like you'll be doing something like that over and over again, multiple times per hour, while using the device or anything...

    It doesn't justify $400 price premium.

    $300, but what's being off by 33%? Given your inclination to not sweat the little things, I'm sure this matters not...

    All the reviews DO say it's the first iPad competitor they've seen, and mark it highly.

    I see the money you've saved on buying a Fire has allowed you to invest in rose-colored glasses. That's not what the reviews say at all. Most, in fact, say pretty much the opposite. That they had high hopes and that it really had a lot of potential, based on the launch event, but that it fails to live up to the iPad. At best, they say it's a great $200 tablet, but in no way is a proper iPad competitor. The screen isn't even the same size category!

    The Fire isn't an iPad competitor, but it's a great original Kindle competitor, with some understandable compromises.

  • by PaladinAlpha ( 645879 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @08:08PM (#38054376)


    The whole story is partisan trash; I invite anyone to go to the articles source and browse the archives. They literally have a "why this is going to fail" article for every major Android product release, obscure "experts" decrying the benefit of any tech not found in iPhones (quad-core processors, newer nVidia chips, etc.), talk about how new Android versions "won't save them"; they do have a (very few) positive articles about Android features, but the overwhelming majority of content on their site is anti-Android and pro-Apple. There are valid complaints to have with Android, but it's top in marketshare, and it looks just a little fishy when 90% of stories are so heavily critical of Android.

    That's without getting to the meat of the matter, though. They make a lot of talk in the article about the poor reviews, about problems rearing their "ugly heads" throughout "almost every review," and then at the end they link two -- one of which calls the Kindle Fire "revolutionary" and gives it their first Editor's Choice for small tablets, and the other stating it's unquestionably a terrific value. Neither is anything but enthusiastic. So one has to wonder where, exactly, the conclusion in TFA comes from?

    This is just more Apple dittohead speak. Apple makes quality products. I wish they made quality users.

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