The Kindle Fire is quite an achievement at $200. It's a perfectly usable tablet that feels good in the hand and has a respectably good looking display up front. Yes, power users will find themselves a little frustrated with what they can and can't do on the thing without access to the Android Market but, in these carefree days of cloud-based apps ruling the world, increasingly all you need is a good browser. That the Fire has.
Most of these gripes are minor, and to fully appreciate the Amazon Kindle Fire, you have to step back and look at all you're getting for $199 (the base 16GB iPad is $499, the Nook Tablet $249). This is a highly polished device and collection of services. It bakes in books, music, movies, apps/games, magazines, multi-tasking, universal search, easy access to anything you have in Amazon's cloud, and a sense that this device and Amazon know you. It is the closest tablet I've seen yet to an Apple iPad: a consistent, well-thought out marriage of hardware and services that offer an almost frictionless environment for app purchase and content consumption. This is why the iPad has been so successful and why I think the Kindle Fire, despite its imperfections, is a winner, too.
If you like what Amazon Prime has going on in the kitchen, the Fire is a terrific seat. It's not as powerful or capable as an iPad, but it's also a sliver of the price-and that $200 will let you jack into the Prime catalog (and the rest of your media collection) easily and comfortably. Simply, the Fire is a wonderful IRL compliment to Amazon's digital abundance. It's a terrific, compact little friend, and-is this even saying anything?-the best Android tablet to date.
New York Times:
The Fire deserves to be a disruptive, gigantic force - it's a cross between a Kindle and an iPad, a more compact Internet and video viewer at a great price. But at the moment, it needs a lot more polish; if you're used to an iPad or "real" Android tablet, its software gremlins will drive you nuts. Then again, Amazon tends to keep chipping away at the clunkiness of its 1.0 creations until it sculptures a hit. Or, as they say in the technology business: "If you don't like the current crop of e-readers, just wait a minute."
There's no question that the Fire is a really terrific tablet for its price. The amount of content you have access to - and the ease of getting to that content - is notable to say the least. The device is decently designed, and the software - while lacking some polish - is still excellent compared to pretty much anything in this range (and that includes the Nook Color). It's a well thought out tablet that can only get better as the company refines the software. It's not perfect, but it's a great start, and at $200, that may be all Amazon needs this holiday shopping season.