I thought about posting an article consisting of a single word to describe my first impressions with the Kindle Fire. The word is:
Figuring this might be a lacking a little in the detail department, I decided to write something longer. So here you go:
Kidding aside, the Kindle Fire arrived at my doorstep in an unassuming brown cardboard box yesterday afternoon. I've spent several hours playing with it, trying different apps on it, and hooking it up to Eclipse to see if I could write and debug programs for it. And let me just say, I'm impressed.
The Kindle Fire is a sweet little tablet, exceeding my expectations in almost every way. Especially considering the $199 price. Where do I start?
- The screen is bright and colorful, a pleasure to read and play.
- The size is perfect; much easier to carry around than a 10 inch tablet. It even fits in my big pockets.
- The Fire's screen has true independent two-finger multi-touch. Games like Pew Pew 2 have no problem at all with their joystick-like controls.
- All the Amazon user interfaces are beautifully designed and color coordinated.
- Integration with the Amazon ecosystem of books, movies, and apps, is airtight and natural.
- The Fire is fast! App switching, page turning, video watching, no matter what you throw at it, it just purrs along. I've read reviews about it being sluggish, but that hasn't been my experience at all.
- It uses the latest version of Android for which source code was available (2.3.4 API level 10). This is important because it's the first version with decent APIs for native gaming. According to a source at Amazon who asked not to be named, they are working to port Android 4 to the Fire now that the code is available.
- Amazon did a great job handling navigation with no hardware buttons without taking up a lot of the screen (better than stock Android 3.x or 4.x IMHO).
- The Fire allows side-loading of apps, so I can install apps from web sites or email attachments (great for developers and enterprise users).
Using instructions at Amazon I was able to set up a USB driver and plug the Kindle Fire into my PC with a micro USB cable I had laying around. I took 3 programs I had written for the Nexus One and ran them on the Kindle Fire with no problems whatsoever. The Kindle Fire is not a threat to Android at all. Quite the opposite - it's a sterling example of what can be done with the Android and Linux underpinnings.
There are a few negatives and tradeoffs, which I'll talk about in a later article. But overall, I'm amazed that Amazon was able to put together such a gorgeous device for such a small amount of money. Watch out Apple, Samsung, Icona, and RIM - the Kindle Fire is smokin' and heading your way.