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Amazon's Edsel
December 12, 2011 10:07 AM   Subscribe

Tech pundits and consultants agree; Amazon's Kindle Fire is a huge disaster (New York Times), good for almost nothing (Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper) and a disappointingly poor user experience (Dr. Jakob Nielsen, usability expert). It's the Apple Newton, the Edsel, New Coke and McDonald’s Arch Deluxe in tablet form. By all accounts it should be doomed. So why is it selling so well? And why are user reviews so high?

Amazon confirmed that the tablet will receive its first software update by year end, which should address some user complaints. At least experts can agree on one thing, the Kindle Fire will help/hurt sales of the next iPad.
posted by 2bucksplus (167 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Anyone replaced the Kindle Fire's Android distribution with a real Android distribution yet?

Related : Kindle Touch Gets World’s Simplest JailBreak (Yifan Lu's instructions)
posted by jeffburdges at 10:15 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a cheaper iPad that is being heavily promoted by Amazon.

Look at your parents. Regardless of its flaws, do you really think they would be immune to its allure?
posted by pmv at 10:15 AM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


So why is it selling so well?

Well, considering the other Kindles are good devices, people just assume. The lines of thousands around the block (or down the mall or whatever) in the Apple stores when the new iThing drops don't consist of people who read technical specs and reviews and weighed their option to get the new iThing. It consists of people who have had previous good experiences with the brand and any previous iteration of the product and are probably bleeding-edgers.

How many early adopters of the Fire do you think were people who previously owned Kindles and wanted the next Kindle, rather than a tablet? I don't have the answer, but I'd venture to guess quite a bit.
posted by griphus at 10:15 AM on December 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


/*shrug*/ My father-in-law has purchased Fires for each of my children for Christmas. Right now, I'm of the "better than nothing" mindset, and if they improve the interface, well then, haters to the left.
posted by thanotopsis at 10:16 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm curious about the fate of the 7" tablet form factor. Nielsen thinks it's a bad size (too small for surfing non-mobile websites, too big to slip in your pocket) but I'm not sure. If Amazon irons out these problems and continues to ship lots of Kindle Fires (or Kindle Fire 2s), I wonder if we'll see a 7" version of the iPad.
posted by jcreigh at 10:17 AM on December 12, 2011


So why is it selling so well?

Because it's the Christmas season, and people (e.g. non-techie parents) see 'Kindle' and go 'Oh, that's what Jimmy asked for!' and buy it.

As for the 5-star reviews, looks like it's down to an average of just four stars now:

5 star: (2,282)
4 star: (924)
3 star: (595)
2 star: (429)
1 star: (620)

I expect it'll drop right off once the disappointed giftees start chiming in.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:18 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's not an Apple product--as shocking as that particular feature might seem to some folks.
posted by Sparkticus at 10:18 AM on December 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's a Android tablet, from a major, well-trusted online brand and pioneer in ebooks, that costs 2/5 the price of the cheapest iPad. That's why.

I am a gadget and ebook nerd, and I have the Fire, an iPad (original), and a Kindle 3 (sold my Kindle 2 a few weeks ago). The reading experience on the Fire seems much more pleasant than reading on the iPad. The iPad is just too big to read comfortably, and the relatively low resolution makes the screen less enjoyable to read from. The Kindle has a slightly lower resolution than the iPad, but crammed into a much smaller screen, it actually seems higher rez when one is reading a typical novel. I have no problems holding it for a long period of time, though I should probably point out that I am a relatively large male; your mileage may vary.
posted by Palquito at 10:19 AM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Nielsen thinks the iPad has problems.
posted by victors at 10:19 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I miss the Arch Deluxe.
posted by griphus at 10:20 AM on December 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


I think it was a Weekend Update joke a few weeks ago that said the new Kindle is expected to be hugely popular with parents who always buy the wrong thing.
posted by chococat at 10:20 AM on December 12, 2011 [22 favorites]


Amazon's Kindle Fire lets kids charge up a storm.

There is no good way to disable 1-click ordering, which makes it easy for kids to accidentally order things.
posted by needled at 10:21 AM on December 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


Is there another $200 tablet that is better than the Kindle Fire? A $300 one?
posted by smackfu at 10:21 AM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


I miss the McDLT.
posted by spicynuts at 10:21 AM on December 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


Funny how the Fire is really no different than a Playbook. RIM can't win for losing here.

I suspect a good number of those Fire units will be returned come the new year. I also suspect that Amazon is taking a bath on them in order to angle for subscriptions and online purchases. We shall see.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:22 AM on December 12, 2011


Wow, that bad? I've been playing with it for a few weeks now and it's a flawed but fairly pleasant experience. The form factor is outstanding - better than the iPad in my humble opinion. It feels like a comfy paperback I can hold in one hand, while the screen is still big enough to display all kinds of things. But the main advantage over the iPad, speaking frankly, is how utterly simple it is to pirate thousands of apps. Maybe you can do the same on an iPad but I have no idea how. With the Kindle Fire - "it just works!"
posted by naju at 10:23 AM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


My father-in-law has purchased Fires for each of my children for Christmas.

Looks like the kids will be getting Christmas gifts year-round on his credit card, since purchases deactivate when you unlink the device from the Amazon account, and there is no way to restrict purchases.

On preview, read needled's link.
posted by SirOmega at 10:23 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Gosh, it is just so weird that the reviews on Amazon's own web site are overwhelmingly positive. Those pundits must really be disconnected from the market, huh? Thank god Amazon is there to give us a completely unbiased and 100% accurate view into what its customers are actually thinking. Otherwise, we might not know that every single one thinks Amazon is just the best thing ever.
posted by koeselitz at 10:24 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Funny how the Fire is really no different than a Playbook. RIM can't win for losing here.

The Playbook was $499 at launch, and was crippled if you didn't own a Blackberry. At $199, it's a much more reasonable device.
posted by smackfu at 10:24 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you think you're buying an iPad, the Fire is certainly a disappointment since it isn't an iPad. If you think you're buying a book-reading, media-playing web-enabled device that fits in a purse smaller than a diaper bag and can kinda be held in one hand if you've got pretty strong hands, it's not disappointing at all.

I love my Fire so much. It does the things I bought it for, and it does those things remarkably well in my opinion.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:25 AM on December 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


Gosh, it is just so weird that the reviews on Amazon's own web site are overwhelmingly positive.

There are 1000 1- and 2-star reviews, so they aren't very good at censoring, eh?
posted by smackfu at 10:25 AM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


The biggest problem for me is that its name suggests the continuation "save matches", which then back-propagates to the earlier part of the phrase in an unfortunate way.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:25 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Way back in the very beginning of the world wide web (I swear I can remember seeing this in Mosaic) there was a guy who had a hilarious web page about sporks. How he felt about sporks is sort of the way I feel about tablets. I just tried to find his page but it seems to be gone.
posted by bukvich at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Although I think a one-star review is a little low, considering one-star reviews on Amazon are usually reserved for "this caught fire" or "this broke the first time I used it".)
posted by smackfu at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only slightly related but can't help posting: Am I missing something or are the older models of the, for lack of a better adjective, "text only" kindles more expensive, for similar features, as the new one? I'm interested in one but cost is prohibitive and I'd be very happy with a used, older, clunkier whatever as long as the text is clear and it supports the same format of files. Memail is fine if a sidetrack is a concern, I really want to buy one and have come up short so far...
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2011


It's selling well because non-tech people don't really care about the reasons it's a bad device. They're largely in it because they'd love to have an iPad if it weren't so expensive, and this is a reasonable alternative. All the non-techs I know either have or are lusting after one. The market is largely not populated by people like us.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


So we've heard from a few owners here with pretty much positive or at least "not horrible" opinions. Anyone own it who doesn't like it?
posted by melt away at 10:27 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have no opinion one way or the other about the Fire (or tablets in-general). However, I do believe geeks and techies declared the iPhone DOA when it debuted, too. The nerdosphere tends to evaluate consumer goods through their very narrow and shallow point-of-view, extrapolating their perspective out into the other 99.5% of the world.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:27 AM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Is there another $200 tablet that is better than the Kindle Fire? A $300 one?

As always, depends on what you plan to do with the device. The Nook Tablet ($250) is probably a better device for actually reading ebooks. The Fire is better if you're looking for the broadest media platform and the promise of future new features. If you books and nothing but books then the original eInk Kindles are the best and cheapest option by far.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:28 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tech pundits and consultants also agreed that the iPad sucked at launch as well.

Don't take pundit opinion as fact and don't think that your personal requirements are representative of everyone else's.

Clearly, some people like it and think it's great. Time is the only measurement of overall success, not reviews by critics.
posted by Argyle at 10:28 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I miss the Bell Beefer.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:29 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


No 3G. Less memory than a Nook. Lame.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:29 AM on December 12, 2011 [25 favorites]


Am I missing something or are the older models of the, for lack of a better adjective, "text only" kindles more expensive, for similar features, as the new one?

Not sure what you are looking at. The most expensive eInk one is $189, and that includes free 3G wireless data.
posted by smackfu at 10:32 AM on December 12, 2011


Yeah, I like mine, too. I don't really get it. I mean, it depends on what you thought it was going to do, but I bought mine to be a souped-up Kindle that cost less than my original Kindle cost when I bought it a couple of years ago. It has a few flaws, but interestingly, the same exact set of user reviews on Amazon that are being dismissed here as obviously sanitized by Amazon because they're so positive formulate almost all of the NYT's evidence that users hate it. I'm super-confused about the emerging narrative, to be honest.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:32 AM on December 12, 2011


If the memory's small and it has no 3 or 4G to load more media, that's pretty bad. And I can't see staying around the house or places with free wifi for what's supposed to be a portable device.

I wonder if the interface slowness is because of hardware limitations or just a poor revision pushed out in time for Christmas?
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:33 AM on December 12, 2011


I know of it's limitations and I still wanted one so my dad gave me one early. It does what I want it to do. I know it isn't the end all and be all of tablets but eh, it lets me watch movies, read books, play some games and surf the internet when I want to. I still have my laptop and my iTouch for other things.
posted by govtdrone at 10:33 AM on December 12, 2011


For me, the form factor was the attractive part. It slides into my pocket, and I can read graphic novels on the bus. I really like mine.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:34 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


And incidentally, for me, the lack of 3G isn't a problem, because if I had 3G, I'd have to have another damn data plan, and I do not need another damn data plan. If I need it to connect while I'm not near wifi, I just tether it to my phone.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:35 AM on December 12, 2011 [14 favorites]


These doom and gloom assessments totally miss the mark. It's absolutely true that the hardware specs are inferior to the iPad and higher end Android Tabs and the Web browsing experience is subpar.

But this is a media consumption device: Books, Music, Video, (and to a lesser extent Apps/Games).

On that score, I think the Fire offers a far superior experience than the iPad for discovering and experiencing media. The top-level media tabs on the Fire provide users with three clear options: "On Device" "In the Cloud" and "In the Store." It's dead simple and is training people to trust/store their media in the Amazon cloud.

The streaming video experience is fast and excellent (and much content is free to Prime subscribers).

At the $199 price point, Amazon has bifurcated the holiday tablet market. I don't think this will have an impact on iPad purchasers, but it effectively destroys the margins of all other tablet contenders since Amazon is willing to loose money on the razor and make it up on the blades.

At launch there were plenty of pundits disappointed in the iPod, the iPhone, the Kindle, and the iPad. If your focus is simply "speed and feeds" then these critiques make sense, but in each case these devices are part of a content ecosystem that's the true driver of value.
posted by donovan at 10:38 AM on December 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


Having all three of an iPad2, Samsung Galaxy Tab 7, and the Kindle Fire, I find them difficult to compare and contrast 'fairly', as they all are targeted for different price points.

That said, I'm severely disappointed in the battery life for the Kindle Fire. The iPad and the Tab can both go a week of real-world use between rechargings. The Fire can't go two days between charges just sitting idle. It reminds me of the original Kindle, which had an annoying tendency to go from displaying plenty of battery left to unstartably-dead with little warning, often while trying to read far from an outlet.

But it's still an amazing value for the money, and if someone asked me what to spend their $200 on, the Fire'd be my choice. All the anti-competitive quirks aren't a true barrier to any geek worth their salt.
posted by nomisxid at 10:38 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Am I missing something or are the older models of the, for lack of a better adjective, "text only" kindles more expensive, for similar features, as the new one?

If you want to read books, e-ink screens and a truly amazing battery life are huge features that the Fire can't even approach.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:39 AM on December 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Not sure what you are looking at.

I guess I'm just basing it off the fact that my, admittedly semi-casual, searching and comparison of apples to older, bruised, but still yummy apples leads me to believe that retailers place the value of older bruised apples over new one.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:39 AM on December 12, 2011


I make a living developing for iOS, and I love the Kindle Fire. The early reviews put me off so much that I didn't take mine out of the box for two weeks after arrived. Once I opened the box I was thoroughly pleased and impressed.

People like it because it's got a great screen, it's a nice form factor, and it's easy to use. Maybe I just feel that way because I have small fingers, but as things stand I prefer it to my iPad.
posted by alms at 10:39 AM on December 12, 2011


Missed on preview but, Tomorrowful: Yep, with ya 100%, this is a sidetrack I probably shouldn't have started.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:40 AM on December 12, 2011


Gosh, it is just so weird that the reviews on Amazon's own web site are overwhelmingly positive. Those pundits must really be disconnected from the market, huh? Thank god Amazon is there to give us a completely unbiased and 100% accurate view into what its customers are actually thinking. Otherwise, we might not know that every single one thinks Amazon is just the best thing ever.

If you're suggesting actual tampering with user reviews on Amazon's part, that's a pretty serious allegation.
posted by kmz at 10:41 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the interface slowness is because of hardware limitations or just a poor revision pushed out in time for Christmas?

As I understand it, the hardware is pretty decent. (512 MB RAM, 1.2 GHz OMAP dual-core processor) For comparison, the new Galaxy Nexus has the same processor and 1 GB RAM, and the Droid 3 has 512 MB of RAM and a 1.0 GHz dual-core.

So it seems to me like the hardware should be able to do better, and hopefully as they update it the interface will improve.
posted by jcreigh at 10:42 AM on December 12, 2011


If you want to read books, e-ink screens and a truly amazing battery life are huge features that the Fire can't even approach.

There's a lot of truth to this, and one of the nice things, I would point out, is that it's not like you have to give back your previous e-ink Kindle, if you had one, and you can put your books on there, too, and on your phone, and you can use whatever device is best at the moment. If I were going to be reading a novel for a week, or at the beach, or somewhere else where the e-ink has a huge advantage, I'd grab my e-ink Kindle. But if I'm going to be watching some video, reading a magazine, getting online for a few things, and reading a novel, I'd grab my Fire. I like having both. I agree that the Fire might be a better device for folks (like me) who can fall back on an e-ink reader when that's best.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 10:43 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


My hubby got one for his birthday and he loves it. He's not known for being a pushover for non-Apple devices. Of course, the device has its flaws. But I know that any positive review of a non-Apple product is anathema. Mea culpa.
posted by blucevalo at 10:45 AM on December 12, 2011


I wonder what the planned obsolescence period is. Since it's programmed into the chips I assume to stop working and turn into a brick at some point.
posted by stbalbach at 10:46 AM on December 12, 2011


I do hope the updates fix the occasional jerkiness/slowness of the interface; it's the only thing that even my tech-phobic parents can recognize as obviously, unnecessarily subpar. We've trained our minds to believe these devices will always move and react smoothly to our gestures at all times, and there's a dissonance when they don't.
posted by naju at 10:46 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone own it who doesn't like it?

I'm not too impressed, so far. The UI is awful, no hardware controls, and it is slow. It is a good Kindle, but if you want a book reader, just get one of the cheaper models.

People forgive cheap, so Amazon will get one more shot to get it right, or at least better, but this first rev is not a polished work, and it shows in just how sloppy everything is.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:48 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder what Amazon's policy is for returning devices and disposing of them in a way that doesn't pollute the environment. You know, those 12 year old kids burning etrash in Africa and China sucking up the fumes of plastics and heavy metals.
posted by stbalbach at 10:48 AM on December 12, 2011


From needled's link:

So Durham called Amazon and says he was told the ordering from Amazon could not be disabled, and the company suggested he "deregister" the device after every purchase. That, he says, caused the downloaded apps to stop working.

Can anyone explain this to me? Is there a way link the Kindle to a new account, not the one it was bought from? My husband bought three Kindles on his personal Amazon account on request of some coworkers. Are the coworker's Kindles now going to be forever attached to us??

The article mentions a lot of unhappy parents. What about people who gave Kindles as gifts to friends or other people?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:50 AM on December 12, 2011


One, it's cheap, and two, it's from amazon, a trusted, loved source for many people.

I love apple products, but I don't really feel a need to spend 500 dollars on an iPad, as much as I'd love one. I also love my kindle, so if I felt the need for this form factor (tablet) I'd get it. Better than nothing, I like amazon, and it's cheap.

It's not an Apple product--as shocking as that particular feature might seem to some folks.
posted by Sparkticus


There is certainly a sliver of customers that would never buy something from apple. But that's about reason number 4,566 in why the fire is popular. In other words, it isn't.
posted by justgary at 10:50 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I know that any positive review of a non-Apple product is anathema.

Indeed, in almost exactly the same way that any positive review of an Apple product is also anathema to a certain set.

Funny how that works.
posted by aramaic at 10:51 AM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


There is no good way to disable 1-click ordering, which makes it easy for kids to accidentally order things.

Ahh, smurfberrygate all over again.

Because of smurfberrygate, I need to enter in my password anytime I order anything on an iPad, or even update my apps.

Damn kids.
posted by formless at 10:52 AM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Nielsen is a know-nothing. Just look at the guy's web-site. Have you ever seen anything less user-friendly? /derail
posted by mumimor at 10:53 AM on December 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


I guess I'm just basing it off the fact that my, admittedly semi-casual, searching and comparison of apples to older, bruised, but still yummy apples leads me to believe that retailers place the value of older bruised apples over new one.

The screen is the same on all of them, and Amazon is aggressively cutting features to cut prices to the bone. So that means the new $79 may not really be as good as the old one. Like if you want a keyboard, the old one is better.
posted by smackfu at 10:54 AM on December 12, 2011


Can anyone explain this to me? Is there a way link the Kindle to a new account, not the one it was bought from? My husband bought three Kindles on his personal Amazon account on request of some coworkers. Are the coworker's Kindles now going to be forever attached to us??

You can change what account a kindle is registered to fairly easily, but when you do so, any apps and books from the previous 'owner' will be unavailable. So your hubby can buy them and transfer their registrations without issue, but he won't be able to pre-load them with stuff from his own account, deregister them, and expect any of that stuff to be available when the co-workers register the devices for their own accounts. Exactly what will happen to non-amazon content on the device, my guess is it won't be affected, but couldn't say for certain without experimenting.
posted by nomisxid at 10:56 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't used the Fire, but I do have a Kindle Touch and and iPad. If the same UI designers who did the Touch did the Fire interface, then it probably does suck. I alternate between hugging the Touch and wanting to fling it across the room. That's partly because of the eInk display though, which just does what it can.

If you want a full blown tablet, I do think the size fo the Fire is a bit small. I have no problem reading on the iPad, and except for outdoor reading and battery life, find it more pleasant than the Touch.

If B&N put Ice Cream Sandwich on the Nook, I bet they'd get more traction against Amazon.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:05 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


A $300 one?

The $250 Nook Tablet has a better processor than the Fire, and has more memory (and an SD slot).
posted by drezdn at 11:08 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


jcreigh: "I'm curious about the fate of the 7" tablet form factor. Nielsen thinks it's a bad size (too small for surfing non-mobile websites, too big to slip in your pocket) but I'm not sure. If Amazon irons out these problems and continues to ship lots of Kindle Fires (or Kindle Fire 2s), I wonder if we'll see a 7" version of the iPad."

I was in a B&N over the weekend, and got to use a Nook Tablet, and was very, very impressed. I haven't used a Kindle Fire yet, but was really surprised by how nice the Nook was.

Firstly, the screen resolution of the Kindle Fire and Nook Color/Tablet is actually about the same as what you'd find on an iPad, which means that the pixel density is considerably higher. Web browsing was totally usable, and I didn't feel like I was working with a "cramped" interface.

This may be a different experience for somebody who's farsighted, but the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet have the same number of pixels as the iPad, and simply cramming those pixels together seems to have yielded great results. I guess you've got less "room" for UI elements than an iPad, but I found that you could fit about the same amount of information on the screen. Small text is much more legible, and the overall image looks a whole lot nicer.

It's still not on par with the iPhone's 320PPI retina display, but certainly looked like it was. (Actually, I don't believe that tablet-sized 320PPI panels even exist yet). For comparison, the Nook/Fire are 170PPI, while the iPad is 132PPI.

Secondly, I was impressed by B&N's sales tactics. The guy on the floor knew a lot about the device, and was very honest about its capabilities. They were openly marketing them as "Android" devices, which is a term that Amazon have been excruciatingly avoiding, and the guy added the caveat that not all Android apps run well on tablets.

The cheaper Nook Color is actually very similar to the Nook Tablet (they look and feel identical), but according to the guy, had approximately half the processing power and memory, which would be handy if you wanted to use the device as anything more than just an e-Reader. They had demos of Netflix and Hulu playing on the Tablet, and both looked great. Presumably, since B&N don't have a music or video distribution business, they can capitalize on the fact that they're compatible with any entertainment service that supports Android. No complaints about the web browser either. Somebody fired up Netflix on the Nook Color, and although it wasn't as smooth, it was still somewhat usable.

I'm a bit surprised he didn't mention that the Nook Tablet has better specs than the Kindle Fire (1GB RAM vs 512MB). No idea about the processor -- they're both from the same family (Ti OMAP4 dual core), and on par with the latest and greatest Android Phones.

I didn't play around *too* much with the Nook's proprietary UI, but couldn't find much to complain about. The Android Tablet experience is still a work in progress, and it's definitely for the better that B&N provided their own. If you wanna hack it with your own launcher, I'm sure that'll be an option soon.

In terms of fit and finish, both felt like very high quality devices. I daresay almost better than the iPad. I particularly liked the fact that it had a mostly-flat back with a very slightly rubbery texture (like a ThinkPad). One of my complaints about the iPad is that it's a bit slippery. The smaller screen size definitely makes it easier to construct a device that feels sturdy.

clvrmnky: "Funny how the Fire is really no different than a Playbook. RIM can't win for losing here."

Have you actually used a PlayBook? Terrible hardware (and clunky!). Terrible software. Godawful UI. No apps.

I haven't even used a Kindle Fire, and I already know that this is a load of crap.
posted by schmod at 11:11 AM on December 12, 2011


I've actually pondered the Fire, as well as the Nook Tablet, since I've already got an old school Nook that I'm happy with, primarily as a bed computer. You know the use I'm talking about (well, the other one)—just that listless sort of random net wandering you do late at night, when the TV's on and you're flagging, just sort of looking up things while wasting the last hours of another day and then...you wake up with your face mashed into your laptop. There's a lot to be said for a cheap, simple machine. I'm a mostly Apple guy, but my portable these days is a little ASUS netbook because I use a portable machine in the way a three year-old uses a Raggedy Ann doll and I don't want to mash a one or two thousand dollar machine or leave it covered in sleep drool.

When Jobs made the pointy point that there would be no 7" iPads, I scowled a bit, because I love my iPod Touch 2nd gen and 4th gen, but they're a bit small for big doofy fingers and an iPad is big enough that the screen's more fragile. Sucks for me, too, because my primary use for touchy-screeny paddish things is music-making and Android doesn't do music-making with any degree of professional usability yet, and my little netbook is fine as a bed computer except for the time or two when I've groggily snapped it shut on my beagle's ear. Without a primary use to occasion the expenditure, though, I just stay where I am.
posted by sonascope at 11:11 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


FWIW I love mine. The UI is certainly less smooth than the equivalent iOS device would be, but not in any way that would make it unusable and not in any way that affects anything I use it for - if I was planning on doing anything that involved a lot of typing on it I might have more complaints.

I'm using it mainly as an eReader, and I'm using it A LOT, consider me a Kindle convert. It's all the convenience and danger of having a combination bookstore/cash machine grafted to the end of your arm.

I am probably getting more use out of it for that than I would out of a 10 inch tablet, TBH, so the size works in it's favor there. The screen seems fine for rereading as well, maybe not as nice as e-Ink, but hey I can read in the dark.

No complaints either about Amazon primes videos, which have let me watch a lot of Star Trek and Doctor Who in bed. There is something nice about watching Deep Space 9 on something resembling a PADD.

oh yeah, you are going to want to be an Amazon prime subscriber - if you are not it is possibly less of a value proposition. We are anyway so not a problem.

BTW it's ridiculously easy to get non-Amazon content on and off of the thing, if that's a concern. Just download it and use a file system manager to put it in the appropriate folder or plug it in plonk it directly into the file system.

In a rather apple like move Amazon seems to have barred EPUB readers from the Kindle app store, so you'll have to do a little bit of messing around if you want to read any EPUB files. That's a genuine disappointment - they don't even try to rationalize this.

On the other hand there's a plethora of ways to read comics, including the Kindles own which is serviceable but the least good of the lot, and most things read surprisingly well on the 7 inch screen, so I only find myself zooming if the lettering requires it. I have a lot of my own comics as PDF, so I sideloaded them onto the thing and they read fine via the native PDF reader (and, presumably, the dozens of other PDF reader options the thing seems to have) - a bit clunkier to zoom than the comics readers that have metadata for panel positions, but fine nonetheless.

So anyway, there's my general impression. TBH I'm a bit weirded out by the hate-on the tech press seems to have for it and can't really lien that up with the actual experience I'm having using the device in any way - maybe it's an effect of cost being less of an issue when you get free devices handed to you.
posted by Artw at 11:13 AM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


We're a one KindleFire household and we're about to become a two KindleFire household. It does everything we expected and wanted from it. It's actually a bit better than I expected. We weren't in the market for a tablet - we wanted an ereader and thought we'd upgrade to a Fire some added features. I've been evangelical to people that have asked how we like it, but I've been quick to correct anyone that assumes it's just like the more expensive tablets. I don't have any needs to push it's limits - I just want it do what they said it would, and so far that's happened.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:13 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


At the $199 price point, Amazon has bifurcated the holiday tablet market. I don't think this will have an impact on iPad purchasers, but it effectively destroys the margins of all other tablet contenders

This. I think the high volume of sales indicates there are a lot of people who just weren't going to be near the iPad price point. Amazon is cornering the low-end tablet market, hook line and sinker. It's sort of irrelevant what satisfaction levels are.

People forgive cheap, so Amazon will get one more shot to get it right, or at least better, but this first rev is not a polished work, and it shows in just how sloppy everything is.

I don't know. If it turns out to be a media consumption device, the satisfaction is going to come from the media. It would probably need to be a lot worse than it is [disclaimer: haven't touched one yet] for that kind of backlash.

I hate, hate, hate the UI on my TV's Netflix app, but it hasn't stopped me from subscribing.
posted by dhartung at 11:15 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


If it turns out to be a media consumption device, the satisfaction is going to come from the media.

Agreed. If it lets you read a book without getting in your way, and lets you watch a movie without getting in the way, that's all the UI most people care about.

It's like my old-school Kindle 3 sure has a clunky interface for doing some stuff, but 99% of the time I am reading and just hitting the page forward or back buttons. Every time I hit those, it changes the page, so the interface works fine for me.
posted by smackfu at 11:21 AM on December 12, 2011


> Funny how the Fire is really no different than a Playbook. RIM can't win for losing here.

My quick impression after trying a Playbook was that it was effectively unusable. A three minute trial was so unpleasant and difficult to figure out that there was no reason whatsoever to bother with more than a quick impression. RIM's own indications that this was something quickly thrown out the door while it tries to get an integrated product based on QNX into the pipeline made it pretty clear that, regardless of whether it was intended to suck, it was going to remain that way forever.

So far -- and I say this not having tried a Fire yet -- the only real damning thing I've read about the Fire is that one-click purchasing can't be turned off, which severely limits its usefulness as a gift in many circumstances (if you show your kids the toy store on amazon.com, don't ever let the tablet out of your sight again). Some of the remaining problems highlighted by critics, such as stuttering feedback and poor UI choices, are mitigatable with software updates, and some of them are easier to overlook considering the Fire costs less than half the price of a baseline Playbook and has a broader range of genuinely useful things already baked in.
posted by ardgedee at 11:27 AM on December 12, 2011


Amazon's Kindle Fire lets kids charge up a storm.

Brings to mind: The Daily Show Tears Freemium Games a New One [video | 04:45].
posted by ericb at 11:29 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a cheaper iPad that is being heavily promoted by Amazon.

This is the root of the misunderstanding (both of the devices flaws and its success). It's not an iPad. At all. It's not even an iPad competitor in most senses. It's barely a competent tablet.

A few people might be buying it because they want a tablet, but everyone I know who has one just wanted an ereader with a bunch of extras.

If you want a tablet, buy an iPad. There are no real Android competitors right now (and I don't expect to see one for another few months). But my coworkers who own the Fire -- at least 2 of whom have both the Fire and an iPad -- love it, particularly for the price.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:31 AM on December 12, 2011


There are many affordable tablet devices available that compare to Kindle Fire and surpass it for price to feature ratio. http://www.lightinthebox.com/c/android-tablets_4781
posted by PuppyCat at 11:34 AM on December 12, 2011


So, yeah, it's directly tied into an Amazon account, which is directly tied nto a bank account, so basically handing yours to someone is a bit like handing them your debit or credit card. If they were going to add one feature and one feature only to the thing that would make me happier it would be some form of lock on that, and I suspect the same thing goes for many others.
posted by Artw at 11:36 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are many affordable tablet devices available that compare to Kindle Fire and surpass it for price to feature ratio.

That is a very tenuous criteria upon which to base a tablet buying decision.
posted by fairmettle at 11:38 AM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The most amazing thing about all of this is that people actually, after all these years, take anything Nielsen says seriously. The guy is pretty much 0/quadrillion at this point.
posted by dvdgee at 11:38 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


And yeah - tech punditry always requires reading between the lines, because few people go at it without an agenda, or with prior positions stated and assumed going forward even when there's no deliberate bias or payola going on.

I thought Marco Arment's review of the Fire was interesting in the context of his appraisal of other current e-readers (spoiler: An Amazon product is preferred), and his thoughts on those give some context to some of the similar problem areas in the fire, such as the ergonomics of on-screen pageturning compared to dedicated buttons.
posted by ardgedee at 11:39 AM on December 12, 2011


(Although I think a one-star review is a little low, considering one-star reviews on Amazon are usually reserved for "this caught fire" or "this broke the first time I used it".)

Or my personal favorite from a toy requested by one of the gift drive kids*, I just bought this today for my niece's birthday. When I saw the other reviews I grabbed the box and sure enough, there is a sticker on the back that reads "WARNING: CONTAINS LEAD. MAY BE HARMFUL IF EATEN OR CHEWED. MAY GENERATE DUST CONTAINING LEAD."

*Thankfully, we were able to find a suitable alternative.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:39 AM on December 12, 2011


In a rather apple like move Amazon seems to have barred EPUB readers from the Kindle app store, so you'll have to do a little bit of messing around if you want to read any EPUB files. That's a genuine disappointment - they don't even try to rationalize this.

Gah, that's irritating.

I'm in the market for either a tablet or netbook, and while the lack of microphone would rule the Fire out anyway, stuff like that would make me leery of spending cash on one.

I mean, Calibre is great, but I hate feeling that it's mandatory to have on-hand.
posted by rewil at 11:41 AM on December 12, 2011


I use both an iPad and a Kindle 3G almost every day. They really don't overlap in my life much... I wouldn't want to read books on the iPad for very long (sore eyes, sore forearms!) and it's not a lot of fun doing anything other than reading on the Kindle.

As such, they're fine devices in different niches for me. And then the Fire was announced, which is pretty much splitting the difference, at least at first glance.

I wanted a Fire instinctively (cheap color tablet, Kindle books, from a known good manufacturer, what's not to like?) But when I realized that it was unavailable with the same free 3G that the old, pokey, black and white Kindle 3 gives me, I stopped.

The (older) Kindle's free 3G wireless is worth at least 4x the cost of the thing. Without it, I don't have a use case.
posted by rokusan at 11:42 AM on December 12, 2011


I've got an Amazon Prime subscription and an older Kindle, so I've been toying with the idea of getting one for my husband & son to share. Does anyone know a) if Sketchbook Pro works at all on the Fire, and b) are the game apps (Plant vs Zombies in particular) decently playable? My husband is mostly interested in a good reader that can handle images, but some extra perks would be nice.
posted by biddeford at 11:43 AM on December 12, 2011


I suspect a good number of those Fire units will be returned come the new year. I also suspect that Amazon is taking a bath on them in order to angle for subscriptions and online purchases.

Amazon Kindle Fire Costs $201.70 To Make, Just Topping $199 Price
"Amazon.com Inc.'s new Kindle Fire tablet computer costs $201.70 to manufacture, about 1.4% more than the company prices the tablet on its website, according to market-research company IHS Inc.

.... 'The Kindle Fire, at a retail price point of $199, is sold at a loss by Amazon, just as the basic Kindle is also sold at a loss at the current $79 retail price point,' said Andrew Rassweiler, senior director of teardown services for IHS. 'Amazon makes its money not on Kindle hardware, but on the paid content and other products it plans to sell the consumer through the Kindle.'

That strategy is similar to video-game console makers, who for years sold consoles at losses or minimal profits, with the expectation of making money from the video games sold, or wireless phone companies who give out the hardware at a loss and make money from service contracts."
posted by ericb at 11:43 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


rewil - People have sideloaded EPUB readers on to the thing with no problem, so if you have a lot of EPUB files you want to read on the thing it's more of a barrier of annoyance than you flat out can't do it. Still, I'd prefer to be able to get one via the Amazon store.
posted by Artw at 11:44 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


you'll have to do a little bit of messing around if you want to read any EPUB files. That's a genuine disappointment - they don't even try to rationalize this.

Speaking of invaluable tools with horrific user interfaces, if you have any e-book reader at all, you need to at least try Calibre, which the only app I have ever seen that can handle the 5000+ e-books I shuffle around.

It converts between all big formats on the fly, will automatically make all compatible versions as needed, and syncs the same library to a Kindle, a Nook and an iPad, much like iTunes does for music.

But, again, beware: godawful interface.
posted by rokusan at 11:45 AM on December 12, 2011


biddeford - Sketchbook pro was a daily free app a little while ago, seems to run okay but a little laggy - so the line you are drawing can sometimes take a little while to catch up with the pointer. Plants versus Zombies, on the other hand, runs perfectly, easily as good as the desktop experience.
posted by Artw at 11:47 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have no opinion one way or the other about the Fire (or tablets in-general). However, I do believe geeks and techies declared the iPhone DOA when it debuted, too. The nerdosphere tends to evaluate consumer goods through their very narrow and shallow point-of-view, extrapolating their perspective out into the other 99.5% of the world.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:27 AM on December 12 [1 favorite +] [!]


Reading all the negative reactions to the launch of the iPod is also pretty hilarious.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:49 AM on December 12, 2011


I think tech reviews, like political punditry, often work as a Rorschach test for people's biases. The NYT article is more about the lack of parental controls on the Fire than an indictment of the device. Marco Arment's opinion is detailed, but consider the source: he makes his living creating software for iOS devices, and if you listen to his podcast you will soon learn of his nit-picky preferences about something as simple as coffee.

The Fire is a nice, cheap tablet that works well enough. If we are to judge it solely as a piece of hardware, sure it's as lame as a Playbook and no better than a TouchPad. But it's tied into Amazon's store, and that's a huge strength. I would like my iPad better if it could play Amazon Video, but it can't.

Kindle Fire is Android without the security and performance worries (Amazon's curated App Store is a GOOD thing), or an iPad without the storage or synching hassles (since everything lives in the cloud). Old people without preconceptions are a great target market. SD slots? 3G networking? Your Boomer grandparents crave not these things.
posted by JindoFox at 11:55 AM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


ArtW: Oh, that's good then!
posted by rewil at 12:11 PM on December 12, 2011


In a similar way to how iPods are iTunes store product delivery devices, the Fire is an Amazon.com product delivery device.

The Fire is a more limited device than the iPad, but what if focusses on, it delivers well. That primarily being books and movies/TV.

From reading the Wired interview with Bezos, it seems like he will be aggressively attacking the lower end of the market, so I can see at least two tablet markets emerging with Amazon owning the low end, Apple owning the high end and various products fighting over the middle ground.
posted by Phreesh at 12:21 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just want them to come out with a new Kindle DX. :(
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:31 PM on December 12, 2011


I suspect ASUS are on to something with the Transformer, on the other hand I'd probably end up using it primarily as an SSD based always on netbook, which takes away some of the point of the whole tablet thing.
posted by Artw at 12:41 PM on December 12, 2011


One more thing:
There were only 2,846 Edsels sold.
The Kindle Fire, whether you like it or not, is more of a VW Beetle.
posted by JindoFox at 12:43 PM on December 12, 2011


If you want a tablet, buy an iPad. There are no real Android competitors right now

i dunno about that...i played around with the asus transformer and transformer prime (at gamestop of all places...bundled w/ 7 free games, woot!) and it/they seemed pretty sweet, also cheaper, also expandable memory, also usb ports, also longer battery, also groovy add-on keyboard, also ICS (coming soon) and etc.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:47 PM on December 12, 2011


Yeah, the Asus is a pretty nice device. It has shortcomings, but most of my annoyances are linked to the (deprecated) Android 3.2 which should be updated within the next few weeks. Sadly, Google have yet to make low-latency audio a priority, limiting its utility for music production. On the other hand, I bought it with the understanding that the software would run about a year behind the I pad and close the gap over an 18 month period or so.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:57 PM on December 12, 2011


From reading the Wired interview with Bezos, it seems like he will be aggressively attacking the lower end of the market, so I can see at least two tablet markets emerging with Amazon owning the low end, Apple owning the high end and various products fighting over the middle ground.

I realize that this is a derail, and in my own thread no less, but it's astounding to me the degree to which Microsoft has been absent from the tablet market. The bifurcation of the market is very similar to what happened with personal computers. Only this time Apple's got the lion's share and it looks like Amazon (or Google's Android, depending on your view) has a strong claim the low to mid-range with little serious competition. RIM's done for, HP might start making some decisions in 2013. Dell's been absent. Sony's in flux. I didn't really get all the criticisms of current MS leadership until I thought about the two growth areas of the past 3 years: tablets and phones.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:58 PM on December 12, 2011


I played with a Fire for a couple minutes the other day, and the first thing I noted, when compared to other Android tablets, is that the UI is atrocious. It takes the bookshelf metaphor a little too far, I think, and it seems unnecessarily closed. That said, I would still consider it, as I've been following some of the hacking going on at XDA, and I think that stock Android (or CM) would probably significantly improve it.
posted by mysterpigg at 1:02 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I realize that this is a derail, and in my own thread no less, but it's astounding to me the degree to which Microsoft has been absent from the tablet market.

AFAIK, MS is currently working on Windows 8, which is going to be very tablet-friendly.
posted by griphus at 1:02 PM on December 12, 2011


On phones MS have the product but are strugling to get any kind of grip on the market... on tablets the tied themselves to the Desktop OS == Tablet OS horse which until recently has seemed like flogging a horse that died long before the iPad came around - from what I see on Windows 8 though they may have actually made that paradigm work, so the horse *may* mysteriously rise from the grave.
posted by Artw at 1:02 PM on December 12, 2011


The Kindle Fire, whether you like it or not, is more of a VW Beetle.

The Fire is a scooter. Great for quickly getting to the library (well, Amazon's library, anyway), but not useful for carrying any heavy loads. The iPad has more of the utility of a Beetle, probably — many, many more apps, a bigger screen, and a good foundation make it more useful for creative purposes like writing, making music, painting, or editing presentations or other documents.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:04 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tablets are primarily content consumption devices, and though they've heavly pushed other aspects of it I suspect this is as true for the iPad as any other tablet. Weirdly this puts Apple on the other side of the 80/20 divide than they usually are, expecting people to pay a $300 premium for some relatively specialist functionality that's going to get less use.
posted by Artw at 1:11 PM on December 12, 2011


I suspect ASUS are on to something with the Transformer, on the other hand I'd probably end up using it primarily as an SSD based always on netbook, which takes away some of the point of the whole tablet thing.

This is why I'm not only dumping my laptop but also skipping the Fire and the various flavors of iPad in favor of the Transformer Prime. Having bought a Nook Color a while back purely to experiment with a cheap and easily-hacked tablet without breaking the bank, I was excited when I heard that Amazon had a Kindle tablet planned. What I was expecting was basically an averaging out of the NC and the Transformer: a mid-sized (i.e. less than 10") screen, powerful internals, customized but at least slightly recognizable Android, very good multimedia capabilities, and a manufacturer that could both subsidize it and provide a depth of content enough to be competitive with the iPad. Instead, it's more or less a rehash of the NC with an Amazon portal and some fancy cloud tech that doesn't seem to be working as well as advertised. Now, admittedly, I'm probably not the intended audience for the Fire, but I'm miffed they didn't even try to make themselves all that different than B&N.

I'm still hoping that Amazon will introduce a higher-spec'd FireDX or something like that, but I doubt it. In the meantime I'm really interested in the Transformer Prime with the keyboard dock, which would give me a laptop when I need it for stuff like browsing and word processing, and a tablet when I need it for multimedia or gaming, all for the same price as an iPad 2 without keyboard & trackpad addon. Unfortunately, since Amazon also chose to basically punish Amazon Prime members who don't have Kindles by locking them out of the non-ebook ecosystem, the decision to "settle" for the Transformer Prime is a lot easier for me.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:29 PM on December 12, 2011


And why are user reviews so high?

They aren't high.

iPod Touch reviews < 4 stars: 15%
Kindle Keyboard reviews < 4 stars: 11%
Kindle Fire reviews < 4 stars: 34%

Customer reviews aren't a survey.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:30 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Got a Fire as a gift here. Going to echo others who have said it's just fine as a reading device (and I really expected to hate the transition from paper/e-ink to a screen, so that was a pleasant surprise).

Outside of that, I'm pretty disappointed. Here are my concerns: All that said, though, it's still a nifty-enough device at a very accessible price point, and it'll do fine for my needs. I mostly just like to deconstruct and criticize things (especially interface design).
posted by Riki tiki at 1:31 PM on December 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


I really like my Eee Transformer. I've been dithering about getting a netbook for several years, even before my 5 year old Macbook died earlier this year. (I may have even been thinking about getting a netbook instead of the Macbook when I first bought it!) It does that, and I like the tablet part too. (Blog entry from a bit over a month ago.) Sorta kinda wish I'd waited for the Prime, but not that strongly.
posted by epersonae at 1:48 PM on December 12, 2011


If I ever see any steep discounts on the non-Prime I am going to be sorely tempted. I get the impression that ASUS are pretty stingey with supply though, so there might nit be a high likelihood of that.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on December 12, 2011


> I wonder if the interface slowness is because of hardware limitations or just a poor revision pushed out in time for Christmas?

As I understand it, the hardware is pretty decent. (512 MB RAM, 1.2 GHz OMAP dual-core processor) For comparison, the new Galaxy Nexus has the same processor and 1 GB RAM, and the Droid 3 has 512 MB of RAM and a 1.0 GHz dual-core.

So it seems to me like the hardware should be able to do better, and hopefully as they update it the interface will improve.


It could just be Android, at the moment.
posted by ignignokt at 2:03 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would be expecting minor tweaks and upgrades for a while, but nothing big until they move it to ICS.
posted by Artw at 2:06 PM on December 12, 2011


me: “Gosh, it is just so weird that the reviews on Amazon's own web site are overwhelmingly positive.”

smackfu: “There are 1000 1- and 2-star reviews, so they aren't very good at censoring, eh?”

United Russia also got only 49.5% of the vote in the recent election, so I'm sure they didn't cheat at all. If they'd cheated, they would have gotten 100%.
posted by koeselitz at 2:27 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


...but it's astounding to me the degree to which Microsoft has been absent from the tabletSLATE market.

FTFBallmer
posted by Thorzdad at 2:30 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wasn't going to buy a Kindle Fire. But my wife wanted something super-portable to read books on, and I was going to buy her an iPod Touch, since she keeps borrowing mine; but then, Apple flipped a big middle finger to the consumer with the new iPod Touch being... the old iPod Touch, so no fucking way was I going to buy another one (I was hoping they'd put in a new camera so it becomes a better scanner etc.). That left the iPad. But the iPad is *not* a good reading device for us, because it's too heavy to hold in one hand. That left the Kindle. Since my wife likes to read photography books, color was a must. That meant Kindle Fire.

She loves it. I don't. I hate reading on it - compared to my iPod Touch, the print is atrocious. I can't take it. Plus the battery life sucks. The UI is dreadful. I would not own it, personally. But my wife uses it all the time, and loves it, so there.

In other words, clearly there are people who love it, and that's enough to make it a wild success, even if others can't see what the fuss is all about.
posted by VikingSword at 3:37 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I came here to stand up for the Arch Deluxe. It was a complex, adult hamburger, and I was shocked that McDonalds ever attempted such a thing to begin with. I ate a truckload of those when they were available. So delicious.

And yet, the sandwich they keep bringing back is the horrible McRib? They are stupid.
posted by hippybear at 3:58 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


There's no way to lock the orientation, so if you happen to be reading at an angle you'll be constantly battling its helpful attempts to turn your page on its side.

And we have a DealBreaker.
posted by Aquaman at 4:27 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's no way to lock the orientation, so if you happen to be reading at an angle you'll be constantly battling its helpful attempts to turn your page on its side.

And we have a DealBreaker.


There's an orientation lock right there in the top bar of the UI along with volume, brightness etc...
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a 7 inch tablet and I love the form factor and hopefully the popularity of the Fire causes more development for this size.
posted by fuq at 6:30 PM on December 12, 2011


Right now, I'm of the "better than nothing" mindset, and if they improve the interface, well then, haters to the left.

Is there another interpretation for "X to the left" or did we really Godwin an Amazon Kindle thread in the fourth comment?
posted by d. z. wang at 6:34 PM on December 12, 2011


I bought the Asus transformer because it runs one or more decent (cbz/cbr as opposed to pdf) comic readers, and it's not an iThing. That's been great so far, and all the ebooks and movies are gravy. Even with the keyboard, I have a hard time typing though (my fingers don't work well). Like Artw says above, it's more of a netbook than we had expected. But it's pretty nice to have Wikipedia handy for dinner discussions, the video is great - better than either of our desktop monitors, and the keyboard holds the screen up out of the spilled orange juice.
posted by sneebler at 10:03 PM on December 12, 2011


I am a little worried that by undercutting the iPad the Fire will be seen as a cheap iPad knockoff and will always be compared unfairly to the iPad. It is a psychological phenomenon that purchasing something that you feel is somehow inferior to another product that is out of your grasp actually makes you feel bad.

I am not talking people who do the research and decide on a Fire. I am talking the mass market, where Amazon is hoping to make a killing.

Remember the Walkman? The actual Sony Walkman? People with off brand casstte players took loads of ribbing for not having a "real Walkman" for quite some time. I would hate to see Amazon tarnish their brand with something considered a cheap ripoff.

Also, I really posted this just to say Arch Deluxe 4 Life! That peppercorn sauce or whatever was excellent.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:23 PM on December 12, 2011


For cbrs I'm using Perfect Viewer - it looks a little designed-by-programmers but works well enough and has a lot of options.

Yes, I did basically go out and load comics onto the thing in as many different ways as possible assign as I got it, of course.
posted by Artw at 12:36 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Artw: "There's an orientation lock right there in the top bar of the UI along with volume, brightness etc..."

I stand corrected. I stupidly assumed that button was related to locking the device, not the orientation.
posted by Riki tiki at 5:27 AM on December 13, 2011


Is there another interpretation for "X to the left" or did we really Godwin an Amazon Kindle thread in the fourth comment?

The Beyonce song Irreplaceable, 'Everything you own in a box to the left'? I hope?
posted by Salamandrous at 5:31 AM on December 13, 2011


Coming in late and skipping most of the comments . . .

Kindle Fire owner, here, and self-professed geek.

I like it. It was cheap (almost disposable). It does what I need for it to do (books, bit of wireless web). The games are lame, but most are when you get into my demographic. Ditto with the TV shows (The Office? C'mon.) and videos.

I have a desktop machine for real computer work.
A laptop if I need to move around the house and have a large screen.
A netbook that I take on trips (Ubuntu and no personal data).

Best of all, no iThings in my house.
posted by Man with Lantern at 6:34 AM on December 13, 2011


Brand new Fire owner here--in large part due to this thread--and I'm super pleased. This is going to replace my PSP as my bedside media center, so when I get sleepy after reading, say The Stand, I can prop it up and watch a nature video while I nod off.

Now I don't have to buy a Vita. I hope.
posted by PapaLobo at 8:35 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh, clones of that NYTimes article, with essentially the same set of links, seem to be cropping up everywhere today. "Product isn't an iPad and has only mostly positive custimer reviews" apparently being a story with legs.
posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on December 13, 2011


Apparently some mystery exists around Kindel Format 8, which may be powering the native kindle comicbooks experience on the fire despite Amazon saying it isn't ready. I hope they are taking some time to work on it, because the panel zoom on that comics viewer is really the worst of all the panel zooms.
posted by Artw at 12:10 PM on December 13, 2011


d. z. wang: “Is there another interpretation for "X to the left" or did we really Godwin an Amazon Kindle thread in the fourth comment?”

Huh? What is the Godwin interpretation of "to the left?"
posted by koeselitz at 12:16 PM on December 13, 2011


To the pre-Beyonce generation, it is a reference to concentration camps and splitting prisoners off into two lines, one which meant imminent death. A bit of an overwrought reference, but that's a tech thread on Metafilter, I guess.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:41 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


To the pre-Beyonce generation, it is a reference to concentration camps and splitting prisoners off into two lines, one which meant imminent death. A bit of an overwrought reference, but that's a tech thread on Metafilter, I guess.

I'm certainly a member of the pre-Beyonce generation, and I've never heard of that reference. To clarify: My referencing "to the left" had nothing to do with ...concentration camps. What?
posted by thanotopsis at 1:56 PM on December 13, 2011


Yeah, that's a pretty insane interpretation. And an actual Godwin, FWIW.
posted by Artw at 2:01 PM on December 13, 2011


To the pre-Beyonce generation, it is a reference to concentration camps and splitting prisoners off into two lines, one which meant imminent death. A bit of an overwrought reference, but that's a tech thread on Metafilter, I guess.

To be fair, they were just following orders to send in the clowns.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:08 PM on December 13, 2011


To clarify: My referencing "to the left" had nothing to do with ...concentration camps. What?

I'm not saying you intended it. I'm suggesting why someone might think it is a Godwin. Carry on.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:11 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be fair, they were just following orders to send in the clowns.

This stealth evocation of war crimes goes back further.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on December 13, 2011


(And yes, that IS clearly about Anne Frank)
posted by Artw at 2:43 PM on December 13, 2011


And, hey, to get back on topic: You know who else loaded books onto a Fire?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:52 PM on December 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


You know who else has copies on the Amazon?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:24 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah, sorry for the derail then. Also, how have I been on the internet so long without discovering Urban Dictionary?
posted by d. z. wang at 8:10 PM on December 13, 2011


I love this one, which complains that any software update won't increase the size of the screen, vbecause, you know, that's a thing that people expect software updates to do. Also they found a 53 year old who doesn;t understand the concept of software updates. Gasp!

Also, from the way it's being pushed in some of these articles as so awesomly and obviously superior, that Nook tablet better be made of gold and shit caviar.
posted by Artw at 11:50 PM on December 13, 2011


So the Kindle Fire is like the Tim Tebow of tablets?
posted by charred husk at 9:41 AM on December 14, 2011


Kindle Fire Is Not A Bust, Edsel Or Disappointment
posted by Artw at 10:34 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


(I think I might be part of the post-Beyonce generation. But I'm also a Jewish third generation Holocaust survivor and dividing people to the left - as opposed to boxes - still resonates Auschwitz to me).
posted by Salamandrous at 11:34 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kindle Fire Is Not A Bust, Edsel Or Disappointment
"Here's the difference between the Kindle Fire and the Apple Newton, Edsel, New Coke and Arch Deluxe: aales."
I knew it!
posted by Sys Rq at 3:36 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Twenty four or so hours into my ownership and, yeah, the touch interface is more like a stab interface from time to time, but the biggest annoyance is reading the "director's cut" of King's The Stand--which I've not read before--and finding anachronisms out the wazoo by King's slipshod attempts to move the story ahead ten years. For my first e-book reader, I am extremely pleased at how I can customize the font (and size), margins, line spacing and fore/background colors to my liking. I didn't find glare a problem, but then again, I had nothing to cause any direct glare today.

I then compressed my Blu-Ray rips of all the Harry Potter movies (using RipBot264) to MPEG-4 and can fit six out of the eight films on the device. That's about 12 hours of video that looks really good and sounds decent with headphones (no hardware volume control? Get a set of cans with their own volume control built in. Problem solved. For me, it was solved for eight bucks).

Next up: seeing if I can use Silk in combination with TVersity and just stream shit over my network.
posted by PapaLobo at 11:20 PM on December 14, 2011


When I had the Kindle on order and the Nook rolled out with more storage and an Sd card slot I did think that maybe I'd made the wrong choice, given the lack of storage. However they very much seem to have built this with streaming in mind, and with the idea that it will always be bathed in wifi, at least anywhere you might want to watch a movie. I guess that may apply to audio as well, not to books though - kindle books weight next to nothing. So far it's worked out pretty well for me.
posted by Artw at 2:57 PM on December 15, 2011


"Consumers have purchased more than a million Kindles in each of the past three weeks, the company said. The new Kindle Fire tablet -- which sells for US$199 -- is Amazon's most popular product.

The release of sales figures is a departure for Amazon. In the past, it has named Kindle its top-selling item without quoting actual numbers.

The Kindle Fire is the 'most successful product we've ever launched,' said Amazon VP Dave Limp, and has been the company's bestselling product in the 11 straight weeks since its debut.

Week-over-week sales have been increasing, he said."*
posted by ericb at 2:56 PM on December 16, 2011


So, through the Silk browser I am able to get media from my PC to download to the Fire over wifi. It won't transcode, though, so you have to convert (on your PC) whatever file you want to watch on the Fire to, ideally, MPEG-4. And you don't get playlists, so if you want to watch a marathon session of Breaking Bad or something, you'll have to pick the thing up every 44 minutes or so and go on to the next file on your list.

The gallery app for stuff like this is also a bit lacking. It sorts and groups files by date/time downloaded to your device, presents only thumbnails with no visible file description, and requires you to hit the bottom of the screen to bring up the little context-sensitive menu and choose file details.

However, download is speedy, if you compress the file to a 640xsomething resolution it only takes about 300-600 MB per 1 hour show, and it looks and sounds terrific. Better than what you can get from the streaming files. Perhaps the TVersity developers will add Kindle Fire transcode-ability in a future release. That would be nice.
posted by PapaLobo at 7:40 AM on December 17, 2011


The NY Times blogger defends his article - sounds liked got more than a little feedback on this, which is fitting as it's terrible lazy journalism, but decided to stick to their guns with more terrible lazy journalism.
posted by Artw at 7:58 AM on December 17, 2011


Does Kindle Fire Prove A Dissonance Between Consumers & Tech Community?
posted by Artw at 2:43 PM on December 18, 2011


Week-over-week sales have been increasing, he said

Jesus, Amazon. It's the holidays. People like cheap toys.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:57 AM on December 20, 2011


Yo Amazon: Please don’t hijack the web on Kindle Fire
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:03 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is "Kindles are just cheap toys" the designated talking point now?
posted by smackfu at 8:32 AM on December 20, 2011


Sounds like the 6.2.1 is out. Sounds like if you've rooted it but are still running the Amazon UI it'll unroot it, which TBH seems pretty standard.
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on December 20, 2011


Sounds like...Sounds Like

Bah.
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on December 20, 2011


Amazon Kindle Fire lights up mobile ad network
posted by Artw at 10:48 AM on December 20, 2011


How to install CyanogenMod 7 on the Amazon Kindle Fire

Android 2.3 Gingerbread is the base release for both CM7 and Kindle Fire, but JackpotClavin has started developing CyanogenMod on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:25 AM on December 20, 2011


Is "Kindles are just cheap toys" the designated talking point now?

I don't know, but after having one and using it for a few weeks, in certain key respects it definitely earns that "talking point". In any case, Amazon isn't selling the device because it is good, so much as people want a cheap equivalent to an iPad for the holidays. And as numerous reviews show, and my own experience confirms for me, this isn't an iPad killer, sorry. It's a closed-up Edsel, and it is sad watching people try to justify poor decision-making post facto. And that doesn't mean only Amazon.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:24 PM on December 20, 2011


I think everyone can agree it's not an iPad killer.
posted by smackfu at 12:58 PM on December 20, 2011


iOS requires jailbreaking. Kindle Fire requires another Android distribution, like CyanogenMod. Aren't those fairly similar time commitments?
posted by jeffburdges at 1:18 PM on December 20, 2011


I've heard a rumor that Apple was working on something sized between the iPad and the iPod. If they did make one and priced it at $250-$300ish, they probably wouldn't kill off the Kindle, but it would mostly likely take the Nook out for sure (sigh).
posted by drezdn at 1:18 PM on December 20, 2011


Pretty sure everyone who wants an expensive toy can buy an iPad and everyone who wants a cheap toy can by the fire and have the $300 in their pocket and everyone can be perfectly happy with what they've bought. All this screaming and frothing at the mouth about people buying "wrong" products is just silly.
posted by Artw at 1:27 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


More details on the update - Sounds like parental controls and more options for the carousel are the big changes...

* You can now long-press on items in your carousel to remove them from the carousel or device, in addition to adding to favorites.
* There is now a new “enable restrictions” option in the device settings, allowing you to add parental control.
* Seeing some extra UI snappiness.
* Better carousel control & speed.
* Still some delay when switching between horizontal and landscape orientation (disappointing).
* Less delay when re-connecting to Wifi after the device has been asleep and turned back on.
* No noticeable change to web browsing speed.
* More detailed memory management information.
* Some users are reporting increased volume and a fuller sound from the internal speakers.
* For my hacker friends, 6.2.1 does break root…sorry :(

It also appears from the update that Amazon has allocated / separated memory (from the available *6.5 GB) specifically for apps, and additional space intended for content such as downloaded books, videos, docs and music.


That last bit there is a bit odd.
posted by Artw at 1:46 PM on December 20, 2011


I've heard a rumor that Apple was working on something sized between the iPad and the iPod.

Rumor: Apple is developing 7.85-inch iPad to compete with Kindle Fire.
posted by ericb at 1:49 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll believe that when I see it.

(of course, at that time 7" will magically become the perfect form factor)
posted by Artw at 1:55 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Volume Buttons: No
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:15 PM on December 20, 2011


Marco is turning into Gruber.
posted by smackfu at 2:23 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weird gloaty fanboi is weird gloaty fanboi. Unimpressive.
posted by Artw at 2:30 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Marco is turning into Gruber.

Marco is a developer, unlike most people in this thread. Insofar as the Fire's serious shortcomings affect his ability to port his Instapaper software and make it work as well as it does under iOS, it seems like his perspective is easily a thousand times more informed than some certain passive-aggressive and defensive Mefites.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:06 PM on December 20, 2011


I don't know if he's a "gloaty fanboi" but independent of that, that's a great sendup of Amazon's marketing overreach. The Kindle's good for what it is - a $200 device for consuming books and videos bought from Amazon - and that's the honest way to sell it.
posted by ignignokt at 4:42 PM on December 20, 2011


I'm really nOt seeing that - I mean, that Amazon page (apparently linked everywhere - where? I've never seen it before) might overreach a little, but his response overreaches a hell of a lot more and is a bit too bitter and shrill to really come over as humor - even accounting for it being in-crowd stuff for people who are way too invested in their favoured company. The guy is a loon.
posted by Artw at 5:20 PM on December 20, 2011


Hmm, I'm not seeing any of this intensity you're seeing. I guess that's the way of the world!
posted by ignignokt at 5:51 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm still loving my Fire. But then, I bought it to replace my PSP, not to try to avoid buying an iPad.
posted by PapaLobo at 5:40 PM on December 31, 2011


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