7 reasons the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad

7 reasons the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad

Summary: To be fair, I've only had a few hours to tinker with the new device, but I can already say that there are a bunch of ways the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad.


My Kindle Fire arrived last night. I was surprised to find myself excited, waiting for it to arrive. This was especially surprising, because in September, I detailed 12 reasons you might NOT want to buy a Kindle Fire.

To be fair, I've only had a few hours to tinker with the new device, but I can already say that there are a bunch of ways the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad.

Reason 1: Price

This is the Big Kahuna of reasons. The Kindle Fire is $199. The cheapest iPad is $499. There's three hundred big reasons the Kindle Fire is better, already.

Obviously, if the device was terrible, the price savings wouldn't matter. But -- at least on first impression -- the Kindle Fire is solid, fast, and smooth. In fact, it seems to be just as nice, if not nicer than the iPad.

The proof: within about an hour of my using the Kindle Fire, my wife wanted one. And, at $199, it was easy to make her happy and pull the trigger. Hers, though, will arrive in a few weeks since she didn't pre-order.

Reason 2: Flash

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Flash is dead. We all know that. ZDNet has been covering the death of Flash in substantial detail over the last week or so.

But, the real fact is, Flash is not dead. It's baked into many web sites, and I'm talking about real web sites, not just silly casual gamer sites.

Take, for example, educational web sites. My wife is continuing her college education, and she's been using a fantastic mathematics simulator site called MathXL. This site runs on Flash, so it won't run on our iPad. It will run on the Fire.

Did I mention the Fire costs $300 less than the iPad?

Reason 3: Native USB drive mode

These next two reasons are related. There's much better access to the Kindle Fire as a storage device than Apple provides with the iPad. For example, you can take a USB cable, plug it into the Kindle Fire and then to your PC, and drag-and-drop documents for later reading.

There are some hacks for this for the iPad, but native USB drive mode is supported, out of the box, for the Kindle Fire.

Reason 4: PC-format document viewer

Once again, out of the box, the Kindle Fire supports PC-format documents, ranging from Word files and PDFs, even to PowerPoints.

Yes, there are add-on apps that will do this for the iPad (the excellent GoodReader is the best example), but the Kindle Fire supports it, out of the box.

Reason 5: Free Prime video

I'm an Amazon Prime customer and use the absolute heck out of that service. As a Prime customer, I also get free Prime movies and video.

I turned on my new Kindle Fire, jumped over to the Video tab, and within seconds was watching a completely free episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. A few moments later, I was watching John Cleese playing Mozart and mocking both Genghis Khan and A. Lincoln (of the U.S.A.) in an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Minutes later, I was watching Top Gear in all its HD glory. You know, come to think of it, I never realized just how much John Cleese and Jeremy Clarkson remind me of each other.

In any case, Apple doesn't have anything like this. With Apple, you have to buy everything and struggle with iTunes and the iTunes store. With Amazon, it's just there.

Update: I also forgot to mention the free Amazon lending library for books. Another free bonus that Apple certainly doesn't provide.

Which brings me to...

Reason 6: Amazon integration

We've talked a lot about how pocketbook-dangerous the Kindle Fire may be.

That said, the integration between the Kindle Fire and the Amazon cloud is excellent. There certainly is an iPad-based App store and iTunes store, but their integration isn't nearly as smooth. iCloud is still substantially untested, and -- to be fair -- Apple has very little successful experience providing cloud services while Amazon provides them to the entire planet.

Reason 7: Size

There is something deeply satisfying about the 7" tablet form-factor. It's possible to easily hold it in one hand like a paperback, carry it around without worrying that you're lugging an entire window pane in your backpack, and even use it as a live shop reference when crawling around machinery, doing maintenance.

It's easy to hold in the hand, it's easy to prop up on a pillow for bedtime reading or a last-minute TV show, and it's just, plain comfortable.

Now that I've used the Kindle Fire for a little while, I think Apple is missing the boat seriously if it doesn't come out with a smaller, 7" iPad.


So there you go. I've only just started using this, but I may actually like the device. Stay tuned for further impressions.

What do you think? Is the Fire actually a better device than the iPad?

Topics: Apple, Amazon, Browser, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Software Development


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • In two months you'll be back on the iPad

    Citing how the small screen is just too limiting and the memory too constrained.
    • RE: 7 reasons the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad

      @baggins_z This comment is amusing to me, as the call of Apple fanatics everywhere is that it's not the hardware, it's how its utilized. At least, that's what they say when yet another tablet comes out with better specs. To be fair, it definitely is true, and it also applies to the Kindle Fire. If everything runs smoothly, nobody cares about the memory.

      Unless you're talking about storage space, in which I laugh at you. I've used maybe a GB (after OS space and what all) on my iPad, all of them apps. Everything else comes to me straight from the cloud.
      • the touch screen is the primary way you intereact with the thing..

        @Aerowind ..this impact the interaction an UX directly and the most of any component on the device.. you don't understand that the screen size has a huge.. the biggest impact on how you use the device?
      • you don't have kids that like to watch movies in the car..

        @Aerowind ..how's your cloud working for you for video in the car.. 64GB kicks KF but for road trips.. KF becomes basically useless in the car..
      • Watching Movies

        @doctorSpoc...Most movies are wide screen, as is the form factor for the Kindle Fire. A wide screen movie played on a iPad (not wide screen form factor) takes up about the same screen space as the Kindle Fire.

        So for movie entertainment Kindle Fire beats iPad.
      • NOPE! iPad screen is almost 2 inches wider than a Fire's screen..

        @Aerowind iPad 7.8 x 5.8... Fire is about 6 x 4.. even with the non-widescreen the iPad screen is 30% larger than the Fire's screen..
      • RE: 7 reasons the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad

        @Aerowind I agree, guys like DoctorSpoc will wax poetic about screen size being essential that it is larger and later on tell you the iPhone Screen is the perfect size regardless of age. =D
      • RE: 7 reasons the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad

        And thats exactly the problem with tablets sized like ipad. The HP touchpad is the same dimension and watching movies on it is extremely distracting. Its like watching letter box movies. All that extra black space is irritating. And I find 10" tablets to feel as portable as my ultra compact laptop. Its just not portable enough. 7" screen is much more convenient when you are on the go and constantly getting on/off a plane like me. No matter how you justify 10" tablets the fact is there are a lot of people who just don't like it. And having that choice of size/form factor is nice. Being told this is the only choice you have is not so good. I already have parents who still tell me what to do. I don't need a gadget parent as well.
      • Apple fans will never come over to the dark side

        @Aerowind You wasting your time. Apple fans will never agree that another product outside of Apple is as good if not better. The took a oath to never doubt Apple and always have plenty of credit to buy whatever Apple makes and whatever it costs they will pay it.
      • RE: 7 reasons the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad

        @Aerowind So, if I understand correctly, its not how big it is, but how you use it? <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink">
      • phones are mobile devices & tablets are portable devices..

        @Aerowind by that i mean a phone is a device to be used when actually moving/mobile.. where as a tablet is a device that is portable, but to be used when you get here or there.. not when you're actually on the go... there is a trade off of how portable the device is vs the quality of the interaction.. for a phone it's biased for mobility sacrificing utility/usability/features.. for tablet it swings a little to the usability/utility/features side while sacrificing mobility.. 7 inch tablet is a lose - lose device.. you can't put in in your pants pocket (unless all your pants are cargo pants) so in real terms it's not any more mobile than a 10 inch tablet since it needs to be carried in a bag or in your hand and the screen is not big enough that you can really get good gains in terms of the UI.. this is why we see phone OS's on 7 inch devices.. i think 4.5 inches is about the biggest you wan to maker a mobile device and 9-10 inches for a portable device/tablet..
      • RE: 7 reasons the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad

        @doctorSpoc 7 inches just isn't enough for someone who wants to use a tablet for work (reading emails, creating documents, et cetera).
      • It's the screens size for me


        I'm not Apple fanatic but it seems like Apple is the only one with the size I want. I'd buy something other than Apple if they were the same screen size and a low price.
    • RE: 7 reasons the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad

      Hate to say it to you, but I have been enjoying the Samsung Galaxy 7" for the past year and have never once have I wished for a bigger screen. The thing is great for viewing what I need in the 7" form factor and the convenience just makes the points even clearer to me. I also recommend the Otterbox case for it as it gives it a nice lip around the edges to hold easy as pie with one hand and is rugged enough we don't have to worry about damaging it. But I have great vision so maybe for those that need some help a 10" may be better.
      • RE: 7 reasons the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad

        Ditto. Loved the samsung 7". It fits in sport jacket inside pocket. It fits in cargo pant pocket. I never worried about screen size. Even my iPad is too small comapred with my giant multi-display desktop setup
      • RE: 7 reasons the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad

        @OhTheHumanity That's great for you. Just like those above that say the Fire isn't as good as the iPad due to screen size or is better, doesn't matter what you think. I don't want a 7" display on a tablet but I am smart enough to realize that not everyone is going to feel the same way. The use of screen size to determine which tablet is better is a complete waste because it comes down to individual use and preference, not what some blogger or those in the talkbacks think.

        Speaking of what a blogger thinks, it's not like it was any surprise that David would do a list of 10 things that make it better than an iPad. If it came down to it he would use something like the format of the serial number just so he could make a better than (insert Apple product name here) post.
    • Perhaps, perhaps not. The thing I don't like about the iPad ...

      @baggins_z ... is the weight. At 1.5 pounds, it is to heavy to hold in one hand to read (using the Kindle app of course) so I go get my six-inch Kindle to read. It takes two hands to type on the iPad because the device is too wide. On my Smartphone and my Kindle (and presumably on my Kindle Fire when it arrives), I can use the keyboard with my thumbs so I don't have to put the device down to type (at which point, you don't have a good view of the screen).

      I have to agree that the smaller screen will make a big difference to me.
      M Wagner
      • I have aching thumbs from using a 7&quot; tablet

        That extra stretching over that required for a phone was just too much. I still have aches months after stopping such use. Chiro helped.

        Win 8's keyboard can be pulled in half and those halves are much more phone sized.
      • The author isn't rating the kindle fire as an ereader,

        but as an iPad replacement. The original point and prediction stands.
      • RE: 7 reasons the Kindle Fire is better than the iPad


        While true that Fire is not a total replacement for an iPad, it remains that is is a much more comfortable device to consume media. At it's price you do get what you pay for so you might not be able to do as many of the productivity aspects that most feel a tablet should support. The Fire is marketed as a consumption device and as such it is more than a match for the iPad with all the infrastructure behind it. The iPad is a more capable tablet than the Fire but still falls short in the productivity area when you compare it to say the ASUS Transformer, not to mention the upcoming Transformer 2 at a similar price point to the iPad when including the keyboard dock.