Within half an hour of the earliest time it was possible to order a Kindle Fire on Amazon's web site, my one-click reservation had been made.
Within three hours of opening up the Kindle box after UPS delivered it yesterday, I'd decided to return the pseudo-tablet. Which I did this afternoon.
I'm sorry Amazon, but Apple has spoiled me.
I have a MacBook Pro laptop that I love. I have an iPhone 4 that I love. My wife has an iPad 2 that I sort of love, my limited affection for it perhaps being more a matter of our passing acquaintance relationship rather than an intimate bonding.
Apple products have a certain you can't resist me quality that I was hoping would be evident in the Kindle Fire. Sadly, no. I found the device functional, but not Apple oh-so-cool'ish.
My biggest problem with the Fire, though, wasn't a lack of lust but a deficit in usability. After I played around with the thing for a while my overriding thought was, "Why do I need it?" Not able to come up with a convincing reason, the Kindle Fire is on its way back to Amazon.
I tried reading a book on the Fire. Ugh. It was readable enough, but highlighting passages was annoyingly difficult, and I'm a habitual highlighter/note taker. It looks like paper books are going to continue to be in my hands rather than an e-reader.
Then I fired up the video section of the fire. It was easy to access my Amazon Prime free videos and start watching the first episode of the first season of "24," which I'd never seen.
After a few minutes though, I realized that I'd much prefer to watch TV on, well, a television. We have a nice big screen TV, and a bit of Googling led me to realize that it isn't possible to stream videos from the Kindle Fire to a television, which somehow I'd envisioned myself being able to do.
Well, I'd also not evisioned myself doing this, because I couldn't really see how the Fire would be able to get video directly to our television without an intermediary like the Roku. So I ordered a Roku as a streaming video backup plan. It came a day before the Fire was delivered, but I left the Roku in the box until I could test out the Kindle Fire and see if it could perform a streaming miracle.
It couldn't. I then had no trouble connecting the Roku 2 XS to our TV via a HDMI cable, and also to our wi-fi broadband connection.
Yes, it was kind of a pain to click out video searches with the Roku remote control. A tablet like the Fire would make that easier given its virtual keyboard. However, in short order I'd purchased the first episode of this season's "Survivor South Pacific." (Somehow our DVR had failed to record the series; naturally I assume it was DirecTV's problem, not mine.)
The Roku streamed the television program perfectly, in HD, without commercials. This, by the way, was much better performance than Apple TV offered when I tried to do the same thing with that device. Apple TV requires that a program be downloaded, rather than streamed.
I gave up when I saw that Apple TV had only downloaded 21 minutes of a one hour program after taking about ten minutes to do even that. Then, when I went back to see how Apple TV was doing, the download had frozen. I'll probably try to get my $2.99 or whatever it was back from iTunes. For now, I'll content myself with blog-bashing Apple TV. Roku is better, so far as I can tell.
Anyway, back to the Kindle Fire. Since I've never felt that I needed an iPad, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I wasn't turned on by the Kindle Fire. It was ever less gadget-desire-kindling than I anticipated it would be, though.
This review pretty much sums up how I feel. The Fire isn't really a tablet; it's mainly an Amazon content provider. And it's e-reading capabilities aren't as good as lower cost Kindle alternatives, if that's what you're looking for.
The review ends with:
Ultimately, the $200 Kindle Fire lacks many features I consider essential in a serious tablet: the ability to work on it using a keyboard, browse the Internet quickly, view whole magazine pages, and so on. But we can't fault it for not being an iPad. It's only a few hundred fewer dollars, and Amazon has never marketed it as a tablet. This is a basic media consumption device.
I wouldn't be discussing pricing if I didn't have some doubts about the Kindle Fire's value. There are no dealbreakers here, but the Kindle Fire is pretty pokey, and the browsing experience is not (yet) what was promised. The Kindle Fire operating system doesn't improve on Gingerbread in any appreciable way, and all it does is put Amazon's services and stores front and center.
I hesitate to recommend that people buy a product that is as unpolished as the Kindle Fire, particularly because I suspect it will end up often as a gift from early tablet adopters to late ones (but remember—this isn't a tablet!). With iPads setting the bar for consumer expectations, I don't like to see usability and responsiveness backslide just because the price is lower. It's not impossible Amazon won't further refine the Kindle Fire with software updates, but there's no precedent for that.
The best way to think of the Kindle Fire is as a decent e-reader that can do some extra stuff—namely, play videos and browse the Internet. For $200, that's not a bad deal—but just make sure that it's one you're willing to make.
I got mine yesterday and feel the exact same way. Will Amazon let your return an opened and slightly used Kindle Fire?
Posted by: Chris | December 02, 2011 at 05:40 AM
Chris, I had no problem returning mine. In fact, shortly after I printed out the return labels on Amazon's website, I got an email from Amazon telling me that my credit card already had been credited for the cost of the Kindle. This was even before I'd taken the box to a UPS shipper.
I have Amazon Prime and order an amazing amount of stuff from Amazon, along with my wife (just got a bunch of D cell batteries; why not, why shipping is free and the cost is less than Home Depot?). So that could explain why Amazon was so accommodating with the Kindle Fire return.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | December 03, 2011 at 11:40 AM
well I guess for those of us "less fortunate souls" who can't afford to spend $500 here and $300 there are stuck with the "oh so not coolish" - I'm getting my kindle fire hopefully in the next day or two and since I don't have a nice big screen tv or any kind of cable or satelite ... I think I'm going to be just fine with watching tv shows that I haven't seen in two years on my 7 inch kindle ... I guess to each it's own. I appreciate your insight - but I'm going to have to go the cheaper rout. :)
Posted by: NO NAME | December 28, 2011 at 10:09 AM
NO NAME, I'm not sure what you mean by the Kindle being cheaper than, say, a $79 Roku device connected to your TV, along with an Amazon Prime subscription (though there are other ways of getting free TV shows).
As I noted in this post, the Kindle Fire doesn't offer anything, TV-watching wise, that the Roku doesn't also offer. And with Roku you can see TV shows on a big screen, rather than a 7 inch screen. Shows are "free" on the Roku to the same extent they're "free" on the Kindle Fire.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | December 28, 2011 at 12:48 PM
Yeah that's right Apple really has something that you can't resist to buy. and I do agree that Apple is a lot more better then the kindle. since Apple has a lot more features and functions compared to the kindle. You've done a great decision to return the kindle. Thanks for this wonderful post.
Posted by: Aiping Wang | January 30, 2012 at 09:24 AM
i got my Fire for Christmas and I still love it. I watch tv on my tv but i like reading on my Fire because I do not need a light so i can read a bit later without disturbing my husband.
Posted by: haircutladie | April 28, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Ive had my fire sense last November and I love it, it does kinda. piss me off that amazon trys to get you to only buy their content but that's how they make money off of it. I feel that apple products can be a pain to set up, the fire was easy especially if you already have an amazon account. The fire is good for people who haven't used apple products and you can always root your fire to make it a true android tablet.
Posted by: happy | June 21, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Well I don't know about anyone else but the author of this review is about as annoying as his review. For him to be so let down by his purchase of the kindle fire tells me that he didn't spend much time checking it out bafore he ordered one. On the other hand I knew exactly what to expect when I ordered mine. To compare an ipad to a kindle fire is to compare an apple to an orange no pun intended. Anyone buying a fire thinking their getting a full fledged tablet didn't really look beyond there nose. In this case it felt more like looking down the nose. I do however give him points for his writing skills but I wouldn't trust him to go grocery shopping.
Posted by: Rick | July 11, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Rick, I must disagree! I am an entirely trustable grocery shopper! My wife trusts me to do this deed, at least. I am the Designated Weekly Major Grocery Shopper.
And naturally I have a Grocery List System.
That said, i'll admit that I could have researched the Fire more closely before I bought one. It just seemed like a cool device. I wanted one! Because it's cool! However, I didn't think through enough what I expected it to do.
With Apple products, usually you don't have to, because whatever a device does, you'll learn to love it -- and end up wondering, "How do I ever live without the ability to do this new thing that I didn't even know I needed to do?"
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 11, 2012 at 08:27 PM