Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

Summary: I have the new Kindle Fire from Amazon in my hot little hands and I'm not letting go. It's going to take the tablet market by storm.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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I thought about posting an article consisting of a single word to describe my first impressions with the Kindle Fire. The word is:

Wow

Figuring this might be a lacking a little in the detail department, I decided to write something longer. So here you go:

Wow!

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.

Topic: Hardware

Ed Burnette

About Ed Burnette

Ed Burnette is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a programmer, author, and speaker. He has written numerous technical articles and books, most recently "Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform" from the Pragmatic Programmers.

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72 comments
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  • GMail

    Can the official GMail app be side-loaded on the Fire?
    Divergex
    • Re: GMail

      @Divergex Not yet, and that's one of the negatives. But I'm hoping somebody at XDA will figure out how, or that Google will release their app suite (GMail, Maps, etc.) for Kindle. They did iOS versions, so why not.
      Ed Burnette
    • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

      @Divergex <br>Why would you want to do that? You finally have an Android device that does not include integrated Google spyware and the first thing you want to do is install Google spyware. Better to stay away from anything Google and keep your identity for yourself . . . and Amazon.
      jorjitop
      • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

        @jorjitop Hmm, when you're on the net, what sites do you frequent that don't spy on you? Somehow you think Google is the only one. I've got an Igloo for you. None of these companies set up sites just to be charitable. They make money by targeted ads, they see what you type and search for, and yap about, then a relevant ad comes along. How do you think Facebook has a valuation of $100 Billion. Microsoft, Bing, Yahoo, Apple all have the same business model as Google. Make money off what you look for on the web.Take off your blinders.
        holyterror
      • Why the undeserved hatred???

        @jorjitop

        Do you know that your ISP has a lot more information about you than Google? They are required to allow the government access to that information when ever they ask for it. At least when Google was asked, several years ago, they refused for over a year until ordered by the courts to turn that info over. Even then, Google removed a lot of the more sensitive data when it finally was turned over.

        Do you honestly believe that Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, or any other site doesn't track the same info? What world do you live on? Get a life!
        linux for me
  • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

    [i]But overall, I???m amazed that Amazon was able to put together such a gorgeous device for such a small amount of money.[/i]
    I'm not. I've always felt that $500 was way too much for a tablet. I had to laugh at anything higher priced than that. $200 is a decent price for a tablet, could be a little lower though but that's just me.
    LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
    • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

      @LoverockDavidson_ In what world do you live in where a company will build hardware & a user interface, ship a product and lose money or make nothing? Hardware and manufacturing alone for any half decent tablet is going to cost $200-300
      kingcobra23
      • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

        @kingcobra23
        I'm not saying they should lose money otherwise they would be out of business, but $200 or lower is a decent price for a tablet considering their limited functionality. $500 for one is overpriced.
        LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
      • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

        @kingcobra23
        See Windows Phone 7, and most of Microsoft's on-line business which has been haemorhaging money for the last decade.

        Not clear if XBox has bottom line ever broken even too.
        neil.postlethwaite
      • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

        @kingcobra23
        $1000 is a decent price for a car too....will someone build me one please!
        global.philosopher
      • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

        @kingcobra23 Business Model! Business Model! You have got to get your head outside the conventional BM marketing box. Or do you work for the totally rigid & vision-less RIAA?
        The money is not made on the sale of the Tablet, the money is made with what the Tablet will sell, from only Amazon's marketplace. Google does not make any money directly from the sale of Android, nor the sale of the Chrome browser, but these are a big help in controlling the Add marketplace. The new BM is, don't sell into the "general marketplace", but make and control your own market.
        bigpicture
    • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

      @LoverockDavidson_

      Typical nonsense.

      You do realize that the estimated cost of the parts alone for an ipad2 cost Apple over $300. That does not include manufacturing costs, software, or development. Just the marginal costs of the components.

      So please explain how you can sell that for $200.

      http://www.isuppli.com/PublishingImages/Press%20Releases/2011-03-12_iPad2_BOM.png
      yoshipod
      • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

        @yoshipod microsoft loses money on every xbox that is sold. but they know that they will make up that difference because the only games you can play on an xbox have to be bought through them. just like how applications on an iPad have to be bought through the app store

        so apple could easily sell every iPad at a loss and still profit.
        yearofthepony
      • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

        @yoshipod Apple to ripped off on the cameras, they suck!
        slickjim
      • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

        @yoshipod
        You don't sell it for $200. You don't make it at all if its going to be that expensive. This is just simple economics.
        LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
      • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

        @LoverockDavidson_

        "You don't sell it for $200. You don't make it at all if its going to be that expensive. This is just simple economics."

        Well since they have sold 10s of Millions of them, its clearly not too expensive. Just another silly anti-apple troll trying to come up with some way to knock it.

        "$200 or lower is a decent price for a tablet considering their limited functionality. $500 for one is overpriced."

        The Fire appears to be a nice product and may fill the low cost tablet niche. That certainly does not make the iPad expensive since the parts of the iPad cost more than the Fire. You even said yourself that low cost tablets have limited functionality. So what is the right price then for a full featured tablet?


        @ yearofthepony

        So the fact that MS lost Billions over the first few years of the Xbox, only to make a small profit now, makes that strategy a good one? Has the Xbox even broken even over its 10 year life yet?

        You people are simply looking for any excuse to bash the iPad. If you don't like it, don't buy one. But calling it expensive and overprices shows no understanding of the real world.
        yoshipod
      • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

        @yoshipod
        Same as you can get a samsung Galaxy S2 for frree on a cellphone contract - they make the money back off stuff you buy. in this case 24 months of a cell contract. Kindle, Kindle fire no different.

        Even apple could give iPad's away with a long enough data contract.
        neil.postlethwaite
      • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

        @yoshipod You really believe that Apple pays those prices? Somehow I doubt it. Maybe 30% of the prices stated in that screenshot.
        tobja
      • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

        @yoshipod

        "So please explain how you can sell that for $200."

        Please see razor handles & blades, or ink jet printers & ink cartridges...
        SkiddMarxx
    • RE: Kindle Fire first impressions: Wow!

      @LoverockDavidson_ Remember that right before iPad came out, most people (including me) were expecting it would cost $700-$900. $499 was a low-ball price that others are still struggling to match. Which is surprising, considering Apple's reputation for high profit margins.
      Ed Burnette